North Carolina has some of the strictest traffic offense laws in the country. Unlike many other states, a person who receives a traffic ticket will often be required to attend a mandatory court hearing. This means that even if you want to plead guilty and pay the ticket, you will most likely have to attend a court hearing to do so. However, an experienced traffic law attorney may be able to attend this hearing for you and obtain a better outcome with less harsh penalties than if you go to the hearing on your own.

What Are Waivable Offenses That Do Not Require a Mandatory Court Hearing?

There are a few “waivable” offenses where you can handle the ticket without going to court by paying the fines and costs prior to the court date. By doing so, you are waiving your Will a Court Appearance Be Mandatory After a Traffic Offense? right to appear at a court hearing. Waivable offenses are very minor ones, such as having a broken headlight. The police officer who issues the ticket should indicate on the back of the ticket whether the offense is one that can be waived. If it is, the costs and fines that you must pay should also be listed.

By paying the ticket, you are also pleading guilty to the offense. This can affect your driver’s license and automobile insurance costs. It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney before deciding to just pay the ticket to be certain that you do not have better options—which is often the case.

Traffic Offenses Which Require a Mandatory Court Hearing

The majority of traffic offenses require attendance at a court hearing in North Carolina. In addition, if you intend to plead not guilty to the traffic offense, you must attend the court hearing to enter your plea. Tickets that require a mandatory court hearing include:

  • Tampering with an ignition interlock device
  • Driving while a driver’s license is suspended, revoked, disqualified, or revoked for an impaired driver’s license revocation
  • Driving a commercial vehicle without a valid commercial driver’s license or when the license has been suspended, revoked, or disqualified
  • Failing to obey the instructions of a traffic officer or a fireman at the scene of a fire
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving with an open container after drinking
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving over 80 mph, including in a work zone
  • Speeding 15 miles or more over the speed limit while driving over 55 mph, including in a work zone
  • Racing
  • Aggressive driving
  • Failing to give right of way to the right when being passed if this results in a crash that causes bodily harm or property damage
  • Making unsafe movements that cause an accident that results in serious bodily injury or property damage more than $5,000
  • Failing to yield involving serious bodily injury
  • Failing to stop at the scene of an accident or to report it
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Violating the financial responsibility laws

What Happens If You Miss Your Mandatory Court Hearing?

If you fail to attend your mandatory court hearing, you could face more serious consequences. You may be assessed additional court costs, a warrant could be issued for your arrest, and your driver’s license could be revoked. Depending on the traffic offense, you may be facing additional criminal charges. You should contact an attorney immediately for assistance in getting your hearing rescheduled so that you do not face these consequences.

Have you Received a Traffic Citation in Charlotte, NC?

If you received a traffic citation, you need to speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.


Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer