You got a routine traffic ticket. Marked on your calendar the date it has to be paid and went on about your business. Even though you have every intention of taking care of it on time, suddenly the due date has come and gone. Worse yet, the ticket gets misplaced and you don’t know what to do. You are otherwise obliviously unaware of the process currently underway to suspend your license and result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest! All the while, the entire incident has completely slipped your mind. That is, until you receive a letter from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) notifying you that your license has been suspended (or is about to be suspended) due to the Failure to Appear (FTA) issued by the traffic court.
An even worse scenario is the one when you don’t see the notice from DHSMV, and you are notified of the suspension and possible capias (warrant) by a police officer on the side of the road as he writes you a ticket for driving on a suspended license and places you in handcuffs to take you to jail on the new, more serious charge. Further complicating things is the fact you will be unable to get out of jail until you pay the warrant that the Judge issued when you missed your first court date.
Just like that, an innocent, and seemingly all too common mistake of overlooking an “appointment” can lead to highly disruptive and wildly unexpected and ridiculously expensive consequences!
This sequence of events is far more common than most people would normally suspect, and although you may feel this is an unnecessarily harsh consequence for someone who inadvertently misses a traffic court appearance, the court looks at it is an extremely cost-effective method for getting those people who do initially miss court, to return to court to handle the initial citation. As a result, almost all traffic courts impose this penalty for missed court dates.
Once you are aware of the FTA and/or warrant, it may be a relatively simple matter of communicating with the issuing court, paying an FTA fine and getting the appropriate paperwork (indicating the court’s removal of the FTA suspension) to DHSMV in order to lift the suspension. The process will vary from court-to-court and some courts will require you to physically appear before the Judge – especially if you want to handle it yourself, without the assistance of an attorney. One of the benefits of hiring an attorney however, is that in many instances the attorney can have the FTA and/or bench warrant lifted without requiring you to also appear in court and therefore incur further court costs.
A competent attorney can also address one of the more permanent consequences of this type of suspension, the fact that an FTA License Suspension can stay listed on your driving history indefinitely. For many drivers, this may not have significant adverse consequences, however, for those whose occupation is related to driving, this can and does create a real problem for your employer. In some settings this kind of suspension can lead to termination when the employer discovers it either through employee-disclosure, or simply through a routine driver’s history background check. Therefore, it is always in your best interest to have this removed if possible.
If you are facing an FTA suspension and are unsure as to what your next steps should be, contact an attorney today to find out what options may be available to you.
Quality representation can benefit you and your family for years to come. As a member of the National College of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the law offices of Russell B. McComick provide an unrivaled viewpoint on criminal defense and are equipped and ready to handle all of your criminal and traffic defense needs.