Utah Traffic Tickets, Warrants and License Suspensions
Utah traffic tickets don’t seem like a big deal to some, you get pulled over, you pay your ticket and you move on with your life. However, traffic tickets can end up being a big pain and a black hole if you don’t deal with them. In Utah, say an individual gets a traffic ticket. For some reason or another, they forget to pay the ticket. When that happens, or they forget to attend a court date, the state of Utah will issue a warrant for not paying the ticket.
So now, whenever a police officer is driving around and you have a warrant out for your arrest, they can scan your license plate and pull you over for that warrant. What is even more crazy is that a warrant for missing a court date or failing to pay a fine means you are in contempt of court. If you are in contempt of court then the police officer, if he is in a bad mood, can book you into jail. If you are in Salt Lake County, it can take over 8 hours to get processed and another 8 hours to get released.
So now, with a little parking ticket a typical law-abiding citizen could be facing up to 16 hours in the slammer. On top of that, you can’t forget the driver’s license side of things. The Driver’s License Division has the ability (and does) suspend your driver’s license if you have an outstanding warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket. So back to the police officer scenario, if a police officer pulls you over and you fail to pay a traffic ticket and the driver’s license division suspends your license, now you have another criminal charge, driving while your license is suspended.
Usually that type of a citation should be an infraction as well, however, there are times when the prosecutor will mess up and charge someone with a Class B misdemeanor instead. Class B misdemeanor doesn’t sound so bad right? It’s a Class B. Not a class A or felony. It doesn’t sound bad but it is.
Class B misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of $1000 fine and up to six months in jail. A Class B misdemeanor on your record can also affect your immigration status, your employment and housing. DUIs are in the category of Class B misdemeanors as well as drug possession charges, theft and assault. So now we have an average citizen who didn’t wear their seatbelt or had a taillight out and is now in the same category as someone charged with a drug possession charge.
The problem is too, many younger people that are in college and are just getting started in life move around a lot, so they never receive notice of their license suspension and never get a chance to address the issue with anyone. Also, one thing to look out for is the point system. If an individual has too many traffic tickets on their record, they may get so many points that the driver’s license division will also suspend their license.
If a person just pays the fine to a traffic ticket, that means an automatic guilty to that charge which will show up on that person’s record and the points get put on the driver license as well. On top of that, if a person pleads guilty to a driving while license suspended charge or other traffic charges, their car insurance company will find out and raise their premiums. So in the end, traffic tickets can be more of a headache than originally thought.
Many people plead to traffic tickets or Class B Misdemeanors without knowing the full consequences. They think that going to the judge and explaining everything will get them off easy, however, it usually doesn’t and they end up paying almost the full amount on the fine.
The small justice courts in Utah make their living off collecting fines and they will find a way to make more money come in the coffers. Also, if a person just pays the fine to a traffic ticket, that means an automatic guilty to that charge which will show up on that person’s record.
It is sad but true. If you have a traffic ticket, I would suggest you at least give us a call so we can take a look at your case instead of trying to explain your case to a judge or prosecutor. After many years in this business, I have learned never to believe that the judge is going to take any kind of empathy for your case. Get an attorney on your side before you fall into the Utah traffic ticket black hole.