Empty CourtroomIn North Carolina, you must attend a mandatory court hearing to resolve many traffic ticket violations. You cannot just plead guilty and mail in your payment like in other states. In addition, you face harsh penalties if you do not attend your scheduled court hearing.

When Are You Required to Attend a Court Hearing to Resolve a Traffic Ticket?

There are at least 17 traffic violations in our state that require you to attend a mandatory court hearing to find out your sentence. Even if you are able to waive going to court, it is rarely in your best interests to simply plead guilty given the serious punishments and long-term consequences you face. Here are a few common traffic infractions where you must go to court:

  • Driving when your driver’s license is suspended or revoked
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle after drinking
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding by 15 mph or more while driving over 55 mph
  • Aggressive driving
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Driving without required auto insurance

Penalties You Face If You Miss Your Court Hearing

If you fail to appear at your court hearing, you will be given 20 days to make up the missed court hearing. After this 20-day period elapses, the judge would issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). Here is what could happen to you once a FTA is issued:

  • You would be assessed an additional $200 late fee that must be paid in addition to the fine for the traffic violation.
  • The court clerk would report your FTA to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV would send you a letter advising you that they would revoke your driver’s license if you do not resolve your court hearing by a certain deadline.
  • If your traffic violation was a misdemeanor offense, such as reckless driving, the judge could immediately issue a FTA instead of giving you 20 days to attend a new hearing and issue a warrant for your arrest.

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