Failure to Appear in North Carolina

Failure to Appear in North Carolina Traffic Court

North Carolina takes its traffic laws very seriously. According to Esurance North Carolina is one of the top ten states in the US that issue the highest volume of speeding tickets. While not all of these traffic laws will result in severe punishment, refusing to abide by the procedure stipulated under the law will result in harsher consequences. This is why if you have been charged with a speeding offense, failure to appear in traffic court will result in an even more serious punishment. If you’ve ever wondered what happens if you miss court this article is for you.

If you have a failure to appear in a North Carolina traffic court, you should immediately speak to a traffic lawyer in North Carolina. It may be possible to help mitigate the likely consequences of the traffic violation but success will often depend on securing the services of an experienced attorney as fast as you can.

Contact the traffic attorney at Stowe Law Firm, PLLC to immediately start on your defense. When you contact us, we will review the circumstances of your case and identify what defenses can be raised in your favor.

Failure to Appear

Breaking traffic laws in North Carolina typically results in two categories of offenses: infractions and criminal violations. Infractions are offenses that are commonly considered less serious. They usually carry a fine or some other administrative penalty such as license points or a suspension of your driving privileges. Most traffic offenses are usually considered infractions. Criminal violations are more serious and typically are misdemeanors. Those matters may result in harsher punishments.

In North Carolina, breaking any traffic law can require you to appear in traffic court in North Carolina. You will be required to appear explain why you should not be punished for the actions that resulted in an infraction or violation of the traffic codes.

When a person who is required to appear in traffic court fails to do so, their issues become much larger. What may have been a simple fine could end resulting in jail time. Typically, when you’re charged with a traffic offense our office can appear on your behalf; therefore, eliminating the possibility of a failure to appear.

However, as is often the case, there may be circumstances that justify your absence from traffic court, or explain them at the very least. If you are unable to convince the court of these circumstances, you will be facing much more severe punishment. These offenses can cause your insurance to increase, require you to pay fines and court expenses, in addition to the possibility of having your license suspended or revoked.

Traffic Offenses that Bring You to North Carolina Traffic Court

There are a wide range of traffic tickets that may be issued in North Carolina, including NOL (No Operators License), speeding and unsafe movement. Reckless driving, no insurance, stop sign violations, failure to maintain lane control, following too closely, DWLR, and DUI/DWI.

However, these offenses are generally classified into moving violations and non-moving violations, and vehicle maintenance or modification infractions.

Moving Violations

Moving violations take place whenever a vehicle in motion violates a traffic law, the most common moving violations are:

  • Passing another vehicle illegally;
  • Driving over the posted speed limit;
  • Running a stop sign or red light;
  • Failure to yield the right of way;
  • Making an illegal u-turn;
  • Not stopping for a school bus or pedestrian;
  • Driving in a carpool lane illegally;
  • Racing on a public street;
  • Driving on a suspended license; or
  • Reckless driving.

For less serious moving violations, a driver may have his or her license temporarily suspended or permanently revoked depending on the severity and frequency. For the more serious moving violations, the offenses can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, and may carry possible jail time and/or heavy fines.

Even when insured, these offenses often cost the individual thousands of dollars in additional insurance premiums.

Non-moving Violations

Non-moving violations usually involve illegal parking or receiving a “fix-it” ticket to repair a faulty equipment, or even having to remove illegal modifications you may have made to your car. Generally, non-moving violations attract significantly lower fines in comparison to moving violations, and, unlike moving violations, generally do not show up on your driving record.

The most common non-moving violations are:

  • Blocking the sidewalk;
  • Parking in front of a fire hydrant;
  • Double Parking;
  • Parking in a no-parking zone;
  • Parking in front of an expired meter; or
  • Parking in a handicapped space without DMV authorized disabled plate or placard; etc.

For these violations, the traffic ticket is issued against the vehicle and not the driver, unlike in moving violations. If you fail to respond or have not responded to a parking ticket over a given time period, a notice will be mailed to the address of the registered owner of the vehicle demanding that the parking ticket be paid.

If you still refuse or are unable to pay your parking violations, your vehicle may be subsequently towed and then impounded.

Vehicle maintenance and vehicle modification infractions

These may include:

  • Driving with expired registration tags;
  • Cracked windshield;
  • Excessive muffler noise;
  • Headlights or taillights not working;
  • No license plate;
  • Window tint is darker than the law allows; and
  • Illegal lights installed on your vehicle; etc.

What happens if I don’t show up in court?

Two of the most common and misunderstood situations are the failure to appear and the failure to comply. The failure to appear is when a person does not show up for court on the scheduled court date. The failure to comply is when a person appears and is found responsible for an offense but then fails to pay court costs within 40 days of the court date.

In North Carolina, if a person fails to appear for any traffic violation, here’s what will happen:

  • The first thing that happens is that the failure is reported by the clerk of court to the North Carolina DMV. Upon receiving the report, the DMV then issues and sends a letter to the offender indicating that if the charge is not resolved within 60 days then DMV will revoke their driver's license.
  • In addition to issuing the letter, 20 days after the failure to appear, the court clerk also enters the failure to appear on the court system and this kicks in an administrative penalty of $200.00 on top of the court costs and fines. The consequence of all these is that, even a minor citation can result in a revocation and a hefty court fee.
  • If the court considers that the offense was serious, it may issue an order for your arrest, which essentially operates as an arrest warrant. This means police officers may come to your home or place of work to arrest you.
  • In addition, if you are an out-of-state driver, a failure to appear could result in your inability to renew your license in your home state until the North Carolina ticket is resolved

How we can help you

The best way to ensure a positive outcome is to hire an experienced North Carolina speeding ticket attorney. At Stowe Law Firm, we will evaluate the strength of your case and analyze your driving record to determine the best way to move forward. Based on your circumstances, we will apply the most appropriate defenses to your case in order to get the order for arrest struck and have your case rescheduled.

Ryan Stowe understands how these incidents can adversely affect your life, your career, and in some cases even your ability to get a loan. Let us fight your speeding tickets, DWIs, Reckless driving, and other traffic violations.

You can count on attorney Ryan Stowe to fight hard on your behalf, and make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions to your alleged traffic offense. Contact Stowe Law Firm for a free consultation today about your alleged offense throughout the areas of Rowan County, Cabarrus County, Mecklenburg County and surrounding counties

Categories: Traffic Violations

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Ryan Stowe is the principal attorney at Stowe Law Firm, PLLC. Mr. Stowe is proud to be practicing in his hometown of Salisbury, NC, and is a first generation Rowan County attorney. Mr. Stowe takes pride in being a criminal defense attorney. He focuse…

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