“Oops! I missed my court date.”

Missing a court date can be frustrating.  I’d be happy to help you out!  Give me a call at 919-683-2175

If you forgot to go to traffic court last week (or last month, or last year, or five years ago), I probably can help you avoid some or all of the consequences.

The first situation I will discuss is the very-recently-missed court date.  By “recent” I mean within the past 20 days.  If it has been 20 days or less since you missed your court date, I can file a motion for a new court date.  Then, on that new date, I handle the case in the normal fashion, and you probably will have avoided the consequences of missing your court date.

If your missed court date was more than 20 days ago, the clerk of court will notify the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  DMV then will send you a letter stating that  unless you take care of the ticket by such-and-such a date, your license will be suspended. In that situation, you will need to get a new court date and resolve the ticket before the suspension date listed on DMV’s letter.

An unpleasant consequence that  kicks in after 20 days is the late fee.  Unless you have a really good excuse for missing your court date and then not resolving it within the first 20 days, the court adds a $200 late fee to your court costs.  (That’s  harsh,  especially since until about two years ago the late fee was only $50. . . .)  In any case, I sometimes can get the court to forgive the late fee, but you do need to have a good excuse — more than it just slipped your mind.

Sometimes people will call me, often from another state, saying that they went to their local DMV to get their license renewed and were told that their license was suspended because of an unresolved ticket in North Carolina from two — or ten! — years ago.  In that situation, the process is basically the same. I file a motion to reopen the old case, and we work out a plea reduction if possible, and enter the plea.  You then pay the fine and court costs (including the $200 late fee in almost all of those cases).

In many old cases there is one more step before you are “cleared” to renew your license.  North Carolina DMV may charge a fee  to remove you from the national database of persons who are blocked from getting a license because of unresolved tickets.  Click here to read my post about that.

So, it’s a good idea to take care of your ticket on your court date.  But everybody makes mistakes, and if you’ve  missed your court date, there are some ways to straighten things out.

P.S.

Here’s one final piece of advice on this issue.  Inform DMV when you move!  Clients often tell me that their license was suspended because they didn’t know their court date had changed or because they failed to take some action that DMV supposedly had notified them to take. When I call DMV to find out why my client had not gotten the notice, DMV will tell me that they sent the notice to the address that was on the client’s driver’s license.   The law requires all drivers to notify DMV within sixty days of moving.  As far as DMV is concerned, your official address for receiving official notices is the address that’s on your license. I know it’s a pain, but when you move, get your license renewed with your new address.

About ken

I've been practicing law in Durham, NC for 30 years now. I focus on traffic cases, personal injury and workers compensation. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 1980 with a BA in political science. I went to Mercer University for law school, graduating in 1983. I began practicing in Durham the next year, and I have been here ever since.

Initially, I did just about any kind of case that came in the door. However, it's hard to get good at any area if you're trying to do them all. So, I settled on personal injury, workers compensation and traffic cases.

I am married and have two sons (ages 20 and 16). My wife is a physical therapist. My older son is a college sophomore and my younger is a high school sophomore. We also have three pets -- a Havanese dog named Blitzen, a tabby calico cat named Donner, and a black cat named Olive. (I'll let you figure out those names. . . )

I hope to hear from you!

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