What should I do about a traffic warrant?
There is no need for you to risk an arrest and jail time. If you have a warrant for a traffic offense, we can help you get it set aside and favorably resolve your case.
Don’t wait to be arrested. There is no need for you to go to jail.
Many people wonder if a warrant can be issued for a traffic offense, civil infraction, or traffic misdemeanor. The answer is a bit complicated. If a warrant is issued, does that mean there is a misdemeanor? What should I do to get rid of the warrant?
A warrant is a court order requiring the arrest of a person and commanding their appearance before the judge. A warrant can be issued for most traffic offenses. There are two types of traffic cases, civil infractions, and traffic crimes. Traffic crimes can be felonies; however, they are most commonly misdemeanors.
Warrant for a Civil Infraction
A warrant can be issued by a judge if someone fails to deal with a civil infraction ticket or fails to appear in court for a hearing. Most courts do not issue arrest warrants in cases where there is a speeding, failure to stop for a red light or stop sign, improper lane usage, or other similar civil infraction. In the majority of cases where a driver fails to appear in court or pay the fine for a civil infraction, the court will suspend the person’s driver’s license and only set aside the suspension when the person comes before the court and resolves the traffic ticket. On the other hand, some judges will not hesitate to issue a warrant, and this results in a serious problem. Someone with a warrant can be arrested anytime, anywhere, and can remain in jail until he or she goes before the judge and resolves their case. It is better to deal with a traffic citation without delay. This does not mean just pay the ticket. It is almost always in a driver’s best interest to demand a hearing and “fight a ticket.” Prosecutors routinely give a driver a deal if they appear in court for a hearing on a traffic ticket. In many cases, the prosecutor may be willing to waive the points or dismiss a ticket if a fine is paid. The best chance of getting the points eliminated and keeping a ticket off a driver’s record is with an experienced defense attorney.
Warrant for a Traffic Misdemeanor
Warrants are routinely issued in misdemeanor cases. In fact, many misdemeanors start with the issuance of a warrant. In other cases, a defendant who fails to appear for a court hearing or abide by a court order risks a warrant being issued for their arrest. In many traffic misdemeanor cases, police tell the person that they will be contacted when a warrant is issued. Unfortunately, courts and police departments routinely fail to send a notification when a warrant is issued, and this results in some unsuspecting person being arrested and stuck in jail when they didn’t even know they were charged. Common traffic misdemeanors include:
- Driving with License Suspended/Revoked
- Reckless Driving
- Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Accident (Hit and Run)
- Failure to Stop or Identify After a Personal Injury Accident
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI, DUI, OWPD, OWVI, etc…)
- Open Intoxicant in Vehicle
- Drag Racing
- Drove on a Sidewalk
- Failed to Display License / No Operator’s License on Person
- Failed to Obtain Michigan Plates
- Improper Plate / Registration
If a warrant has been issued because of a new traffic misdemeanor, the defendant may have to appear to get the warrant dismissed. The judge may or may not set a bond that requires a cash deposit. If a cash bond is required for a misdemeanor traffic offense, the defendant will have to post money with the court to avoid serving time in jail while the misdemeanor case works its way through the court.
A “bench warrant” is issued when a defendant fails to appear for a scheduled court hearing. If a “bench warrant” is issued, the defendant must appear before the judge and offer some reason why he or she failed to appear in court. A judge may decide to forgive the failure to appear. If this happens, the judge will set aside the warrant, reinstate the bond, and set a new hearing date. On the other hand, an unforgiving judge may forfeit any bond previously paid to the court, and then order that additional money must be deposited before the defendant can leave the court or jail.
Any time you have to appear in court, it is always best to hire an experienced, reputable attorney to protect and defend you. A lawyer can not only help convince a judge to set a low or personal (no money) bond, he or she will likely be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to have the charge dismissed or reduced. If a charge cannot be amicably resolved, the defendant in a misdemeanor traffic case has the right to a trial.
Can I just pay a fine to get rid of a misdemeanor traffic warrant?
No. You can pay a fine to resolve a civil infraction ticket, like speeding or a seatbelt violation; however, a misdemeanor cannot be resolved without appearing in court. In some cases, an experienced lawyer may be able to appear on your behalf or negotiate an appearance by mail, phone, or video. Many unsuspecting drivers pay the cost of a misdemeanor traffic violation mistakenly thinking that the payment will resolve the case. These individuals inevitably end up getting arrested on a misdemeanor traffic warrant. Because a misdemeanor is punishable by the possibility of jail (in some cases up to 1 year) and up to 2 years of probation, simply paying a fine will not be sufficient to resolve or close a case.
How can a lawyer help with a traffic misdemeanor, and why is it worth hiring an attorney?
There are various reasons why a person accused of a traffic crime should retain the best lawyer he or she can get to defend and protect them. A surprising number of judges impose jail time for traffic misdemeanors, especially in Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb Counties. Probation, up to 2 years, is routinely imposed by judges throughout Michigan. Probation can be costly, and judges can prohibit you from consuming alcohol, driving, using medical marijuana, and much more. A traffic misdemeanor conviction can also result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. Many people do not realize that a misdemeanor traffic conviction stays on your record forever. It cannot be removed or expunged because Michigan’s expungement law specifically excludes misdemeanor convictions under the Motor Vehicle Code. Do not go to court without a lawyer because if things go wrong, you will not get a second bite at the apple. The stakes are surprisingly high, the rules are complex, and there is no room for error or lack of preparation.
Traffic Warrant Attorney in Michigan
If you are charged or may be charged with a traffic offense, especially a misdemeanor or felony, it is critical that you retain a lawyer to protect you. A seasoned and skilled defense lawyer gives you the best hope of avoiding jail and preventing a criminal conviction. The lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience and an unparalleled track record of successfully defending clients with traffic warrants and other traffic misdemeanors and felony charges.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.