How to handle a traffic ticket warrant
One consequence of ignoring traffic tickets is bench warrants or OFA ("Order for Arrrest"). A judge can issue a warrant for criminal defendnats who fail to show up in court for a criminal offense, which can include traffic tickets.
If you have unpaid traffic tickets from long ago, you might be wondering what to do about them. The time you had time to contact the courts, schedule a hearing and pay the fines to resolve those tickets is long gone. Now you may have warrants to deal with as well.
Many individuals are not immediately aware that they have a warrant for their arrest until they are pulled over or have some type of interaction with law enforcement that results in their arrests. Bench warrants, even if only for traffic tickets, are not to be taken lightly. Ignoring them can result in jail time, stiff fines and additional penalties.
Here is a brief overview of how to resolve traffic ticket warrants.
Pull your Driving Record
Your driving record and/or a criminal background check will give you the road map on where to start if you have older charges that you previously ignored. It will also provide your attorney with the information need to advise you of the pending charges and how best to proceed.
Consult with an attorney
Warrants of any nature are very sensitive and serious matters. You may want to speak with an attorney so you can gain a better understanding of your situation. Be prepared to resolve the issues that led to the courts putting warrants out for your arrest. It is important for you to understand that not all warrants can be dismissed without your arrest. An attorney can examine the evidence and your circumstances to recommend actions you can take to improve the outcome of your situation. In some instances, an attorney can appear on your behalf and get a judge to strike the order for your arrest to allow you to handle the underlying charge without you being arrested.
Call the local law enforcement station
Do not wait until law enforcement apprehends you to find out if you have warrants. If you have unpaid traffic tickets, there is the possibility that some warrants exist. Contact your local police station over the phone to inquire. You may feel inclined to appear in person, but doing so could result in your arrest.
Contact the courthouse
Contact the courthouse that issued the warrants to find out what you need to do to get them rescinded. A court representative can look up your case and provide you with the conditions you must meet. Depending on the circumstances involving the tickets, you may be able to show up in court without being apprehended by law enforcement. If you have to show up in court, you may want to have an attorney present or appear on your behalf.
Even if you are not financially able to pay the fines from the traffic tickets that resulted in you receiving warrants, you should not continue to ignore them. Unresolved warrants can result in a cascade of consequences, including a criminal record, more fines, jail time, the suspension of your driving privileges and impact your life in ways you may not think possible.
This information is only intended as general educational material and should not be used as legal advice. Every state has different laws regarding warrants and each criminal/traffic case is different.