Traffic courts are responsible for trying all cases involving violations of traffic rules and regulations. Generally, traffic offenses are divided into two categories: parking violations and moving violations. Parking violations include illegal parking, parking in a handicapped space without the appropriate authorization, parking at an expired meter, parking during street cleaning, and parking without a permit. Moving violations include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, failing to yield the right of way, failing to obey traffic control devices (not stopping at stop signs or red lights), operating a vehicle without a valid license, and reckless operation.
A person who receives a traffic citation or ticket has the option of paying the traffic ticket or contesting the ticket. Some courts allow traffic tickets to be paid on-line by using a credit card. Traffic tickets can also be paid by telephone, by mail, or in person. If a ticket is contested, it is generally necessary to request a trial date on or before the date that appears at the bottom of the traffic citation. A person who was arrested must report to the traffic court on the date and time written at the bottom of the traffic citation. Failure to appear will result in forfeiture of the bail bond, and an arrest warrant will be issued for the person.
Defendant’s Rights in Traffic Cases
Any person receiving a traffic ticket has the following rights:
- Right to a copy of the written charge
The ticket must contain the accused’s name, the charge, the law allegedly violated, and the date, time, and location of the violation.
- Right to know the penalty for the offense
The penalties for traffic offenses are set by law and range from a fine to a prison sentence.
- Right to an attorney
Any indigent person charged with an offense that carries the possibility of a jail term can have an attorney appointed to represent the person.
- Right to a jury trial
A person charged with violating a law that provides for imprisonment of the violator has a constitutional right to a trial by jury.
- Right to confront witnesses against the person and to present witnesses on the person’s own behalf
A person charged with violating a law has a constitutional right to cross-examine any witnesses testifying against the person and to call witnesses to testify on one’s own behalf.
- Right to remain silent
A person charged with violating a law has a constitutional right to remain silent. The person does not have to say anything. The prosecutor is required to prove the charges.
- Right to an appeal
A person is found guilty of a traffic violation has the right to take an appeal to a higher court.
Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.