One Basic Rule for Staying Out of Jail for Traffic Tickets

Always Keep Your Address Updated With the State Department of Revenue

Why It’s Important

If you happen to forget to deal with a traffic ticket by missing court or forgetting payment deadline, you are going to get notice from two sources. The first is the court that will issue a warrant when you forget court.  The second is the State Department of Revenue which will mail you a notice if you have a failure to appear suspension (see below) on your driver record.

Most times you can avoid this issue by letting the officer know that you have moved and to put an address different from your license address on the ticket.  However, you can always avoid this issue if you simply keep the state licensing authority aware of a valid mailing address.

Staying “Off the Grid”

Some people, especially young people move many times and find it difficult to keep up with address changes.  A very few prefer that their address not be updated so that if the police come knocking, they can avoid arrest.  Not a very good reason, but it happens.  I just want my clients and the public to be aware that avoiding the police knocking on your door is really no better than the inevitability that you will be pulled over and arrested on an outstanding warrant for traffic ticket.  It’s just not worth it.

I Didn’t Get Notice is No Excuse

I been in court many times when defendants think they can get out of a driving while suspended ticket because they were not aware of the suspension.  Ignorance of a fact (like license suspension) is simply never excuse under our laws.  The judge will simply tell you what I am expressing here – you should have kept your address updated.

Failure to Appear Suspensions Always Catch Up To You

Those new to traffic tickets and interaction with police in general are not aware that if the ignore a traffic ticket, not only will a warrant be issued, but your driver license will be suspended for what the Department of Revenue or Driver Control (KS) calls a “failure to appear suspension.”

A failure to appear suspension stays on your driver record until you take care of the forgotten ticket.  While the suspension is active, it is illegal for you to drive and if you are caught driving, you will be charged with driving while suspended – the same as any person suspended for points or drunk driving.

Getting Your License Back After a Failure to Appear Suspension

You can deal with a failure to appear suspension by appearing and court to see if you can pay your fine, by posting a bond, or by hiring a lawyer to lift the warrant on your case.  In Missouri, once you resolve your case, then you need a “compliance letter” or “compliance notice” from the court.  Take that notice to a State Driver License Office, pay the reinstatement fee, and then you can drive legally.

If you have a Kansas License and a Kansas ticket, the reinstatement process takes place at the court where the original citation occurred.  You pay the reinstatement fee at court after the original fines are paid and reinstatement is automatic.  If you have a Kansas license and a Missouri ticket, get a compliance letter from the Missouri Court, send a copy to Driver Control and then call to check if you owe a reinstatement fee.

Good Luck Out There!

So there’s my basic rule for avoiding warrants and suspensions for minor traffic offenses.  Keep your address updated so you know what is going on with your case and always, always go to court when you are assigned a court date!

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