Courts will issue warrants for any number of reasons, including in cases of unpaid traffic tickets. In fact, an unpaid traffic ticket warrant is one of the most common arrest warrants issued, as traffic tickets happen quite frequently. With the length of time the offender is given to either pay or argue the fine in a traffic case, it is common that a person will simply forget about the citation. The problem with this situation is you typically don’t know until it’s too late, and you’re being put in handcuffs. Trying to explain to the court that you just forgot simply doesn’t go over very well with any judge, as it is your responsibility to know and be aware of your legal status. Learn more about bench warrants.
Finding Out if a Traffic Ticket Warrant Has Been Issued
There are some ways, however, that you can be proactive and get a handle on your warrant before it turns into an arrest.
- Speak with a Law Enforcement Officer - One of the easiest ways to become aware of your warrant is to contact your local police station, or to ask a police officer. They can instantly access your record in their database and tell you, at no charge, whether or not you have an active warrant. It’s risky to speak directly to a police officer if you do have an active warrant, because they may arrest you then and there. Your best bet is to call the police department on the phone, and they’ll give you the answer from out of arm’s reach.
- Contact the Local Courthouse - If you think there’s a chance you have an active warrant for your arrest in a specific area or jurisdiction, contact the courthouse for that jurisdiction and speak with either a bailiff or a court clerk. They have the ability to inform you of the existence of any arrest warrants, and can let you know if you can come into the courthouse without being arrested to resolve the issue that caused the warrant. Typically, you won’t have to undergo an arrest to satisfy a warrant unless the crime stated on the warrant is of a serious nature.
- Online Resources - There are a multitude of resources available on the Internet that will tell you whether or not you have any active warrants, and what other offenses are on your criminal record. In most cases they charge a small fee, but courthouses in counties across the United States have begun posting public knowledge criminal record databases online, and at no charge to the person searching.
A qualified attorney can also help you to find out if you have a warrant outstanding. Your lawyer, in addition to helping you find out about whether you have an unpaid traffic ticket warrant, can also help you to determine how best to handle an outstanding warrant and deal with your legal problem.