Fail to Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket? Missed Court and New Tickets, What Happens
Missing Court is never a good idea. . .but we all make mistakes. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away – Bill Powers
Failure to Appear
A Failure to Appear is when someone does not show up for court on the scheduled date of their case.
In North Carolina when a person fails to appear, after a specified period of time, the “FTA” will eventually be reported to the North Carolina Department of Transportation / Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by the Clerk of Court.
Failure to handle a Traffic Ticket in a timely manner can result in:
- Additional Fees / Penalties
- Suspension / Revocation of Driver’s License
Traffic citations in North Carolina can be expensive. In addition to normal Court Costs, Fines, etc., an Administrative Penalty can be added, see: NCGS § 7A-304(a)(6)
It can be complicated navigating the legal system alone. Without an attorney, it’s easy to waste a lot of time walking around the Courthouse, trying to figure out what to do.
Indeed, the Court and the Office of the District Attorney cannot give legal advice.
As such, Judges and DA’s generally avoid answering questions about how insurance may or may not be affected, or how a specific factual or historical background may result in the issuance of “points.”
Here are some examples of North Carolina License Suspension Costs and the law involved, as prepared by the North Carolina DMV:
Are there Differences based on the type of Offense?
Infractions and Non-Criminal Citations:
- Sometimes a limited grace period is given after missing the scheduled court appearance
- THERE ARE IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS
- The Clerk may enter a Failure to Appear FTA in the official court system / record
- Late fees can be added in certain circumstances
- If no action is taken within a proscribed period of time, DMV can administratively revoke a license
- DMV must send Notice of an impeding revocation
- Certified Mail is NOT required for such Notice
- Until the matter is handled, and if revocation has gone into effect, the license will remain suspended
- Additional citations can add to the consequences, costs, and complexity of handling the matter(s)
- Driving after a period of Revocation or Suspension may result in additional Criminal Charges
- Driving While License Revoked for Impaired Driving is VERY serious
Misdemeanor and Felony charges:
- There are instances where Failing to Appear may also result in the issuance of an Order for Arrest OFA by the Court
- The Court may also direct an Order of Forfeiture OOF of any bond originally posted to secure release
- If the Court issues an Order for Arrest -OFA that normally takes place immediately
- Law enforcement may “serve the Order for Arrest” and take the person into custody, if Directed by the Court
- The Court may set Conditions of Release
- Posting Bond in order to assure appearance at the next court date is an option available to the Judge
- Forfeiture of previously posted Bond is also a possibility
Motor Vehicle Offense – Revocation for Failure to Appear
- Division MUST Revoke
- Charged with Motor Vehicle Offense AND
- Failed to Appear after Notice
- Failed to Pay Costs of Court, Fines and Penalties Ordered by Judge
What should I do if I receive a letter stating I Failed to Appear from the DMV?
- Act with Due Haste
- Do NOT Wait Last Minute to Handle
- If License Revoked, Do NOT Drive
- Be prepared to immediately Pay Costs of Court, Fines, and Penalties (if any)
- Be prepared to pay restoration fees
What Does it say on NCCOURTS.org
You may also want to consult with an attorney about the consequences of your failure to appear – NCCOURTS.ORG
North Carolina Criminal Offense – Misdemeanor Failure to Appear
Modified Transcript of “Missed Court and New Tickets, What Happens” for the Hearing Impaired
Hi there. We’ve got another online internet kind of board question here and it’s a good one involving traffic issues. What are my options of getting this taken care of on my second court date? I got citation at the end of last year, lost the citation, forgot about my court date and forgot to appear. Then in the new part of this year I got another citation for what appears to be a non-moving violation. Should I just pay these things off? That’s a great question. It brings up several different issues. We all can get a ticket, the question is if you get a citation and forget to do something about it what happens? Then if you get another citation in the interim what happens I guess again?
The first response would be that when you have a failure to appear a lawyer will want to know the timing of things, the calendaring of things, when the ticket took place, when the court date was missed or you were supposed to show to court, and how long has expired or gone without taking care of that ticket. The reason is is that there are different levels of failures to appear within our system. We have something that’s referred to as a twenty day failure, where after twenty days something takes place. Then with DMV there’s something else called a one hundred and twenty day failure, which may result in the suspension of your driver’s license. The key factor here is when you get your second citation were you in a period of revocation or suspension on the first ticket for failure to appear?
It’s complicated, it involves the Clerk of Court’s office and it involves DMV. There could be late fees. There could be penalties. In some instances, if it’s a serious enough traffic offense, some traffic offenses are criminal offenses as well, there may be legal process outstanding. There is a difference between a failure to appear on a minor traffic offense and a failure to appear that may have a order for arrest for failure to appear. We at Powers and McCartan will give a free confidential consultation to people. We’ll answer some general questions.
If it’s something that we think you can handle by yourself, and you can always handle a case by yourself, it’s your right in North Carolina … But if it’s a pretty minor thing, if you get your inspection fixed or your tags or something, you may just be able to go up to the courthouse and explain what happened. There’s some jurisdictions that have an online resolution type of program. There’s other instances where it’s a little bit more serious and you may need the help of a lawyer. Maybe a lawyer can work out a payment plan or something with you. Again, this is one of the more common areas of law that people are involved with, traffic type of offenses. The question is how serious is it. I would not assume it’s terrible, nor would I assume it’s minor. Give us a ring. We’re here to help. A great question. Thanks for posting it.