Failure to Show Up for Traffic Court

I got a speeding ticket in Tennessee a few months ago, and planned to pay the ticket, but then put it on my bedside stand and completely forgot about it until today, when I noticed I was I supposed to be in court this morning if I didn’t pay.

I plan to show up to the courthouse tomorrow morning to offer to pay the ticket, but what are the likely repercussions of my oversight?

This happened to me in NJ. They actually sent me a notice saying they had a warrant out for my arrest. I panicked for a couple of days and said to myself… “well self, time to face the music” and walked into my local police precinct. The guy pretty much laughed at me and said… “I ain’t arresting you, just call’em and settle it with them” (the guys who ticketed me were in the next town). I called them and pretty much told them I had forgotten to pay the ticket. The receptionist said, oh, just send a check and we’ll consider it closed. That’s all that happened.

It your state is anything like mine, you’ll just have to stand in line and pay the fine. Going to court could have gotten you a reduction, though.

I got a jaywalking ticket in San Diego a few years ago (I know). They sent me a ticket in the mail for $115. I was appalled, but since I was moving and I didn’t live in San Diego anyway, I figured I’d just pay it and move on with my life. So, I mailed it off with my credit card information. Three months later, I received a forwarded letter in the mail saying that I never paid the ticket, and that there was a default judgement against me. I was ordered to pay $320 at this point, and my license could be suspended if I failed to pay by such-and-such a date. They had already given it over to a collection agency, too. I called up the collection agency and said I’d payed it, and maybe they lost the mail, and the response was, “We never lose anything.” Grr.

Someone who knows specific things about TN law will have to answer. Most states have updated their codes to make traffic infractions civil offenses against your driver’s license (i.e. Don’t pay the fine, we will suspend your license, but that is all the further it can go) Other states still consider traffic offenses to be misdemeanors and by receiving your citation, you agreed to appear in court on your own recognizance. When you didn’t appear, now there is a warrant against you.

In any event, I don’t think that the FBI is looking for you over this ticket, and I can’t imagine that even the most corrupt local jurisdiction would want to deal with jailing you if they found out. Go to the court and tell them what happened, and then pay the fine.

I forgot to go to court on a ticket. All I did was show up the next week when they had traffic court. There wasn’t anything said.

Thanks, everyone. I wasn’t expecting a big to-do, but was still slightly concerned. You’ve set my mind at ease.

Heck, half the chases on COPS end with the officer asking the guy why he ran and the answer is almost always “unpaid tickets man”.

Years ago, I fought a ticket in MA (55 in the Ted WIlliams tunnel heading to the Airport, 35mph speed limit). I didn’t like the small reduction (actually, it was the points I was afraid of), so requested a further appeal. I missed the date, as they sent the notice after the actual date. Nothing bad happened other than my having to pay the original fine, rather than the reduced fine.

YMMV, depending on state, of course.

I knew someone who lived in Idaho. They told me “I don’t travel through Oregon to get to California any more because they agve me a ticket and I didn’t pay it. they may arrest me if they stop me driving through the state.”

I suppose worst case, if they caught you, they arrest you, call a tow truck, and the most annoying and expensive thing will be paying the tow charges and to retreive your car after you pay the fine.

That’s not as bad as someone I knew who skipped out on a simple possession charge in Idaho and so would drive south through Nevada or even north through BC to avoid the state altogether. Personally, I think he was running more of a risk crossing the international border, but whatever. I never heard if he ever got caught.
Also, on the original topic, some of those little towns that lived exclusively on speeding ticket revenues used to be notorious for sending cops to your work to arrest you (with as much fuss as possible) if you didn’t pay up.

This was early 90’s and in MD but…

A friend told me “You want to get the court day moved (less chance of cop being present) - so don’t show up”. That can’t be right, I thought, and called the number on the ticket a week or so ahead of time to tell them I couldn’t make that court date. “Just don’t show up”, they said. “The date will automatically reschedule and you’ll get mailed a new date”.

Who knew?

Tennessee apparently does the latter as I just beat the warrant being written and issued by showing up first thing in the morning. The clerk just asked for the cash and wished me a Merry Christmas, and I was only and hour and a half late for work.

That never would have entered my mind. I was mostly just concerned about heavier fines.