What are Traffic Warrants?
Traffic warrants are legal documents issued by a court that authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest a person suspected of committing a traffic violation, such as speeding over the limit or running a red light. These warrants can be issued for various reasons, including failure to appear in court for a traffic hearing or pay outstanding fines or fees related to the traffic violation. In other words, if you have been issued a traffic warrant, you are effectively on the run from the law and can be arrested at any time.
Many people underestimate the seriousness of traffic warrants and assume they will go away if ignored. However, ignoring a traffic warrant can result in severe consequences, such as jail time or hefty fines. Moreover, having an outstanding warrant on your record can make obtaining loans, finding employment, or even renting an apartment very difficult. Therefore, individuals must resolve their outstanding warrants as soon as they become aware.
Traffic warrants are orders issued by a court of law that compels the recipient to appear before the court to answer for traffic violations or other offenses. Typically, these warrants are issued when an individual fails to appear in court after receiving a citation. Traffic warrants may also be issued when an individual violates their probation terms related to a previous traffic violation.
Types of Traffic Warrants
There are two types of traffic warrants: bench warrants and arrest warrants. Bench warrants, also known as failure-to-appear warrants, are usually issued when a person fails to appear in court as scheduled. On the other hand, arrest warrants can be issued for more severe traffic violations such as DUI or reckless driving.
How are Traffic Warrants Issued?
Any court can issue traffic warrants with jurisdiction over the alleged offense. This includes municipal courts, county courts, and state courts. Once a warrant is issued by the judge or magistrate, it is entered into a law enforcement database so that police officers can access it during routine checks. Warrants may also be served through various means, such as certified mail or personal service by law enforcement officials. In some cases, offenders may even be arrested on-site if caught committing another traffic violation while the warrant is pending. Failing to address these matters adequately could lead to severe consequences such as fines, suspension of driving privileges, and even imprisonment in some cases.
Bench Warrant vs. Arrest Warrant for Traffic Violations
Regarding traffic warrants, there are two main types: bench warrants and arrest warrants. A bench warrant is often issued when a person does not show up in court for a traffic violation. Unlike an arrest warrant, a bench warrant does not authorize the immediate arrest of an individual. Instead, it directs law enforcement officers to bring that person before the court the next time they are arrested or detained. While not as severe as an arrest warrant, a bench warrant can still result in fines and possible imprisonment.
On the other hand, an arrest warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to take someone into custody immediately. This type of warrant is usually issued when a person has committed a more serious offense or if they pose a threat to public safety. It’s important to note that while rare, it’s possible for someone with an outstanding traffic-related arrest warrant to be taken into custody during routine traffic stops.
How to Check if You Have a Traffic Warrant?
If you suspect you may have an outstanding traffic warrant, it’s good to check as soon as possible. The easiest way to find out if you have any pending warrants is by contacting your local court clerk’s office or searching online through your state or county’s court website. When contacting the court clerk’s office, have your full name and date of birth ready, as this information will be used to search for any active warrants under your name. It’s also important to note that some jurisdictions charge fees for accessing this information online or over the phone.
Consequences of Ignoring a Traffic Warrant
Ignoring a traffic warrant can lead to severe consequences that affect various aspects of your life. One of the most significant consequences is license suspension or revocation. If you fail to appear for a traffic violation, the court can notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your license. An outstanding traffic warrant can also result in fines and even jail time. If law enforcement officers find you with an outstanding warrant during a routine traffic stop or any other interaction, they have the authority to arrest and detain you. Ignoring a traffic warrant can also affect your credit score. The court can send unpaid fines or fees to debt collectors, negatively impacting your credit rating. Therefore, taking any traffic warrants seriously and handling them promptly is essential.
Why would someone have a traffic warrant issued against them?
People can get traffic warrants issued against them for various reasons. One common reason is failing to pay a traffic ticket or appear in court after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation. Other reasons might include violating probation related to a previous traffic offense, failing to complete court-ordered community service, or not fulfilling the terms of a plea agreement. Another less common reason for issuing a traffic warrant is if the person has outstanding arrest warrants in other jurisdictions. In such cases, law enforcement officials may issue a new warrant if they find out the person they’ve stopped has other pending legal issues.
How long does it take for a traffic warrant to expire?
Traffic warrants don’t usually have an expiration date, which means that they remain active until resolved. This means that regardless of when the warrant was issued, addressing it as soon as possible is essential to avoid serious legal consequences. However, some states have statutes of limitations on certain types of traffic offenses, which limit how long prosecutors can file charges and bring cases to trial. For example, in California, misdemeanors generally have one year from the date of the alleged incident before prosecutors must file charges.
What occurs if you get pulled over with an outstanding warrant?
Taking traffic warrants seriously and addressing them promptly is essential to avoid legal complications. If you happen to get pulled over by law enforcement while there’s an outstanding traffic warrant against you and haven’t addressed it, you could be arrested immediately. The officer will likely search your vehicle and take you into custody until you can appear before the judge who issued the warrant. Even if your offense wasn’t severe enough for an arrest at the time of issuance of the original ticket or citation and only resulted in a fine or community service, ignoring this matter can turn into being charged with additional offenses related to failure to appear in court. It’s always best to consult an attorney for professional guidance on resolving the issue.
Resolving a Traffic Warrant
One significant reason why resolving a traffic warrant is essential is that doing so demonstrates respect for the law and its process. When you acknowledge your responsibility and take action toward complying with the law by resolving your warrant, you’re contributing to society’s greater good. Resolving your traffic warrant also allows you to move forward with your life without fear of being pursued or arrested by authorities for outstanding legal matters.
If you’ve discovered an outstanding traffic warrant against you, don’t panic. The first thing you need to do is seek professional guidance from a qualified attorney who can guide you through resolving the matter accurately. When working toward resolving your traffic warrant, make sure all paperwork related to the case is correct and complete before appearing in court or contacting authorities. Failing to have accurate documentation can complicate matters significantly and possibly result in further legal problems. Always remember that prompt attention to any legal issue shows responsibility towards society, whether paying fines on time or attending court dates promptly. So if ever caught in a situation like a traffic warrant, be proactive in resolving it.