Why you should never “blow off” a court date

If you receive a Florida speeding or other traffic ticket, do not throw it in your glove compartment and forget about it, thinking that it is unimportant and something you can just ignore. It is not, and you cannot afford to do this. When you sign a traffic ticket after the officer gives it to you, this is your promise to either pay the fine without going to court, if applicable, or appear in court on the scheduled day and time.

Unfortunately, many people fail to take a traffic citation seriously and “blow off” their court date. If you do this and fail to appear in court at the scheduled time, however, you face serious consequences.

Potential penalties

In Florida, failure to appear is a separate criminal offense from your alleged traffic offense and carries its own penalties. For instance, per Section 901.31 of the Florida Statutes, you could face a fine equal to the amount of the one associated with your traffic ticket, whether or not those traffic charges ultimately are dropped or reduced. In addition, you could face arrest.

Bench warrants

If you fail to appear in court, the judge can, and likely will, issue a bench warrant, i.e., a warrant the judge issues from his or her bench, for your arrest. This is a no-bond warrant that requires law enforcement officers to arrest you wherever and whenever they find you.

Admittedly, officers likely will not show up at your home with the arrest warrant in hand because you failed to appear in court on a traffic violation. The warrant, however, goes into the court and law enforcement computer systems. What this means is that if officers pull you over for a subsequent alleged traffic violation, they will discover the existence of your outstanding warrant and immediately take you into custody.

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