What Happens if You Miss a Court Date in Georgia?
Many people do not realize that if they miss a traffic ticket court date or criminal case court date in Georgia that the normal standard practice is for the Georgia Judge to issue a Failure to Appear (FTA) Order that results in (1) a license suspension even if the Defendant does not live in Georgia or have a GA license and (2) a bench warrant for their arrest.
Georgia Regulation 375-3-3-.12 Suspension of License for Failure to Appear states:
The Department shall suspend the driver's license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this state of any person who has failed to respond to a citation before a court of competent jurisdiction of this state or any other state for a traffic violation other than a parking violation.
If such customer is not a resident of the State of Georgia, information on his or her failure to appear shall be sent to his or her state of residence for the imposition of the suspension in that jurisdiction as provided in the terms of the Non-Resident Violator Compact or such other interstate agreement or law that applies to such customer.
Resolving a Failure to Appear (FTA)/Bench Warrant in Georgia
The Georgia Court normally does not send notice to the Defendant that a license suspension and/or bench warrant has been issued in Georgia which oftentimes creates major issues because the Defendant then gets arrested for either driving on a suspended license or open bench warrant at a later date when he or she is least accepting to be arrested.
Some Georgia courts quickly issue the license suspension and bench warrant for a missed court date. Other Georgia courts move slower and will wait for anywhere from 7 days to 30 days until the Georgia court issues the license suspension and bench warrant.
If you have forgotten about or missed a court date for a traffic ticket or criminal case in Georgia, it is important to contact a Georgia criminal defense or Georgia traffic ticket lawyer who is very familiar with handling FTA cases to avoid or quickly resolve any license suspension or arrest warrant.
Can You Get a Failure to Appear Dismissed?
Many people assume that if they have a Georgia FTA case resulting in a license suspension and arrest warrant if they just pay the ticket fine to the Georgia court clerk, the FTA license suspension and an arrest warrant will automatically disappear or be withdrawn. Truthfully, this is probably how things should work but unfortunately, this is not the case with Georgia court and DMV procedure.
To remove the license suspension from a GA FTA case, the Georgia court clerk must issue an actual written Release that has the Georgia Court’s seal on it and the Defendant must then provide the original Release to his or her home state DMV. An FTA Release in Georgia is sometimes referred to as a “912” because 912 is the GA Department of Driver Services (GA DDS) form number for the Release.
Equally, in Georgia, you want to make sure that the Georgia court takes the affirmative step of actually removing an FTA bench warrant when resolving an underlying FTA traffic ticket or criminal case because the bench warrant does not automatically disappear once the case is adjudicated by the Judge or closed out by the court clerk.
Some Georgia courts issue an actual written Order removing the bench warrant and others just electronically remove the arrest warrant from the criminal database that holds arrest warrant information.
If the Georgia Court actually issues a written Order removing the FTA bench warrant, it is always advisable to keep the written Order on your person just in case you have an encounter with the Police to ensure that you do not get arrested on an FTA that has already been resolved.
Should You Hire an Attorney for an FTA?
Each Georgia traffic ticket court or Georgia criminal court has its own court procedure to resolve an FTA which normally requires a court appearance by either the Defendant or the Defendant’s attorney. It is very important to know and understand the specific Georgia court’s FTA procedure to obtain the best result when resolving an FTA traffic ticket or FTA criminal case in Georgia.
One of the major problems that many people encounter when trying to resolve their failure to appear (FTA) case in Georgia is not being able to identify the specific court where they missed their court date which has resulted in their license being suspended and a bench warrant being issued for their arrest.
One simple way to go about determining the specific Georgia court where a court date was missed is to contact your own home state DMV office and your DMV should normally be able to provide this information for the name of the court where the case was missed.
Occasionally, the home state DMV suspends a driver’s license due to a missed court date in Georgia but somehow the DMV does not know the specific court where the court date was missed in Georgia. This happens sometimes with the North Carolina DMV, Florida DMV, and California DMV.
In this rare situation, there are other ways to go about identifying the specific court in Georgia where the court date was missed so that the resulting FTA case can be resolved and the arrest warrant and license suspension removed.
Georgia criminal defense and traffic ticket attorney Sean J. McIlhinney has more than 20 years of experience successfully resolving failure to appear (FTA) ticket cases in courts all over Georgia with a proven track record of excellence! Attorney Sean J. McIlhinney has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of Georgia's best traffic ticket attorneys in the state and go-to guy to handle open FTA cases for out-of-state licensees and drivers, GA licensees, CDL drivers, and under 21 drivers!
Hire an Attorney Who Knows Georgia Courts
Georgia traffic ticket attorney Sean J. McIlhinney is the best attorney choice to handle your Georgia FTA case because he is intimately familiar with the criminal and traffic ticket courts, handles the case quickly, and has a long history of providing great results for clients!
If you missed your court date and have been issued a bench warrant or license suspension, call us today at (404) 724-5461 to discuss your legal options!