One of the most common questions people ask me is “do I have to go to court for my traffic ticket?” The answer is: it depends. If you’ve been charged with a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor, then the answer is yes, you do have to appear in court for your case. These include charges such as DUI, Reckless Driving, No Operator’s License, Hit & Run, and Suspended License, to name just a few. If you look at the ticket (Summons) you received from the police officer, it will state the name and address of the court you are required to appear in, and the date and time that you are required to appear.
So make sure to mark the date on your calendar – if you miss your court date, the Judge can issue a warrant for your arrest and you’ll be charged with the added charge of Failure to Appear, which is also a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. That means you’ll get arrested and go to jail.
Under Virginia Code § 19.2-128, “[a]ny person . . . charged with a misdemeanor offense . . . who willfully fails to appear before any court as required shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.”
In some cases, it may be possible to hire an attorney to appear in court on your behalf. If you’re not sure, contact a traffic attorney for further guidance. In the meantime, look at your ticket and make sure you know your court date!