How to Handle Your Citation
If you are issued a ticket or citation by a police officer for any type of motor vehicle violation (e.g., speeding, parking, use of a cell phone while driving, fender bender, injury accident, driving under the influence, etc.) you will have to deal with the municipal traffic court that has jurisdiction over the place where the incident occurred.
Accepting Your Citation
If you believe that the citation issued to you by the police officer was warranted, you do not have to appear before a judge in municipal traffic court. You only have to arrange payment to the court prior to the payment due date that is written on the citation. Note that failure to pay on or before this date can have serious legal or financial consequences.
Each municipal traffic court maintains its own calendar of hearings. If you decide to plead guilty to the offense, it is not necessary for you to appear before the court. You do have to arrange to pay the fine before the due state. You generally have two payment options.
Pay by Mail
Send a check or money order to the address printed on your citation. Do not send cash.
Pay in Person
Again, you can pay using a check or money order, although cash or debit/credit cards might be an option. It is a good idea to call the office of the appropriate municipal traffic court in advance to verify business hours and discuss the types of acceptable payment methods.
A possible third option, this allows you to pay your fine using a debit or credit card. It is not offered by all local municipal traffic courts at this time, so call to ask if this option is available.
Contesting Your Citation
If you would like to contest your citation, you must schedule an appearance before the judge. Again, each municipal traffic court sets its own days and hours of business, so call ahead to verify these and to schedule your appearance. It is best to call as soon as possible because dockets can fill up fast.
Failure to Comply
If you fail to pay your citation or do not make an appointment to contest your citation, you may be subject to other fines and penalties that can be imposed by the judge. These can include additional legal charges, additional fees, suspension or loss of your driver's license, and perhaps the possibility of incarceration.
When to Contact an Attorney
Personal Injury. If you or any person in your vehicle or any other person in another involved vehicle or a bystander believes an injury has been incurred during the incident, whether that injury be minor or major.
Driving Under the Influence. If you had been drinking alcohol or taking drugs (including prescription medications) in the period leading up to the incident or if you believe a person from any other involved vehicle might have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident.
Substantial Damage. If there has been substantial damage to your vehicle or any other involved vehicle or vehicles, or if there is minor or major damage to other property (e.g., hitting a utility pole or tree, crashing through a fence or other barrier, or running into a building, etc.).