What Happens If I Fail to Appear in New York Traffic Court?

Getting a New York traffic ticket comes with a wide range of additional issues: worrying about how much it will cost you, being late to wherever it was you were going, and rising insurance costs, to name a few.

Things get even dicier if you have to go to a hearing. Will you have to take the day off work? What if you are an hourly employee and now your paycheck will be lower this month? It can all be too much. And whether it is because you cannot take the day off, or you forget, or an emergency comes up, if you miss showing up for the hearing, you will be left facing more serious consequences.

Did you fail to appear in Court in New York after a traffic ticket? Our traffic attorneys have extensive experience and they are ready to give you free advice on your available options. Call us at 212-683-7373, or fill out our online form today!

Failure to Appear in New York Traffic Court

New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 226 establishes that if a person charged with a traffic violation fails to answer the summons, their driver’s license may be suspended. In addition, depending on the violation, their vehicle registration may also be suspended.

Similarly, a person who fails to appear at a traffic hearing, his or her driver’s license and vehicle registration may also be suspended, pending their appearance at a subsequent hearing. A suspension of even one day can have severe affects on your insurance rates for 36 months.

It is also important to keep in mind that failing to appear at a hearing can, at some point, be treated as a default conviction to the original traffic violation. As such, you would also be responsible for the points and fines related to that ticket, as well as all related surcharges.

These consequences do not happen behind your back. Let us assume you forgot about the ticket or the hearing. Before entering an order for a fine or any additional consequences, you would be notified by mail of the following information:

  • The violation
  • The impending entry of an order and fine
  • That the order may be filed as a judgment with the County Clerk where your car is registered
  • That you can avoid such a fine and order by either entering a plea or making an appearance at a hearing within 30 days of the notice by mail.

Of course, if you do not have an up-to-date mailing address with DMV, you will not get these notices.  You are responsible for updating DMV.

What Are the Penalties for Failing to Appear in Court?

When failing to appear in court can eventually be treated as a default conviction, you will have to pay the fines and surcharge for the ticket.

In addition, you could be facing any and/or all of the following:

What is Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) as a Result of Failing to Appear?

Section 511 of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Laws states that when a person is pulled over for a traffic violation when you knew or should know that your driver’s license was suspended, they are guilty of aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO) of a motor vehicle. This is a criminal charge (misdemeanor) in New York State.

The penalties for AUO depend on the circumstances. If this was your first time getting caught driving with a suspended license, you face a fine between $200 and $500, and up to 30 days in jail. You can also face both.

However, you can face significantly higher fines and even up to six months in jail if any of these scenarios apply to you:

  • You have been charged with an AUO in the past 18 months
  • Your original ticket was due to driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • You have had three or more suspensions for either failure to pay a fine or appear

Things get even more serious if you are caught driving with a suspended driver’s license while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. In such event, you are facing fines of up to $5,000 and up to four years in prison. This means that in addition to needing a New York traffic lawyer, you would likely need a criminal defense attorney.

Planning Ahead: What if I Need to Postpone My Traffic Court Appearance?

You can reschedule your hearing only twice. If you make the request by mail, it must be received by the court at least 10 days before the hearing; not mailed 10 days before.

If you have less time than that, you can reschedule it online, or you can request it by phone by calling 718-488-5710, at least twenty-four hours before the date of your hearing.

If you are thinking of missing court because you cannot afford to pay the fines, you can request a payment plan. It is much better to do so than to expose yourself to additional penalties, suspensions, and criminal charges.

Keep in mind that if the reason why you are thinking you cannot attend your hearing is because of work or other life obligations, you may not have to worry about it in the first place. If you are represented by an attorney, your lawyer can go to the hearing on your behalf; while you do whatever you need to do, without disrupting your life.

My Driver’s License Was Suspended After Failing to Appear. Now What? 

If your driver’s license was suspended, your driving privileges are paused until the suspension period ends or until you do the required action specified in the suspension notice. In the case of a suspension based on failing to appear, you will have to:

  1. Enter a plea of guilty or pay for your ticket online. You can contact the local court listed on your notice of hearing; or
  2. If the missed hearing was recently (within the past 30 days), contact a traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible to request a new one.

Also, keep in mind that a suspension on your record — of any type, for any duration — can result in your insurance rates being hiked for 36 months.

Driver’s license suspensions are not immediate. They usually start around 30 days from the missed plea deadline or court date. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your suspension, to see if it can be set aside.

A New York Traffic Ticket Attorney Can Help

At Weiss & Associates, PC we provide the best representation you could receive. We offer an initial free consultation, flat fees, and experienced traffic lawyers who will show up on your behalf, so you do not have to waste time in court trying to clean up this mess.

We have extensive experience fighting thousands of traffic tickets in New York City and throughout New York state; and we have a skilled team of lawyers who are ready to give you free advice on your available options. Call us at 212-683-7373, or fill out our online form today!

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Santo Torres
    June 28, 2023 6:36 pm

    What if I miss my speeding ticket court date
    How can I get another court date

    • Matthew Weiss
      June 28, 2023 6:44 pm

      Santo Torres,

      It depends how long ago you missed your date.

      Contact the court right away!

      Matthew Weiss

  • Adam Winters
    May 16, 2023 8:00 am

    I missed my court date for unlicensed operator ticket I tried calling and left a message and they haven’t returned my call


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