Whether you have received a traffic citation or have pending criminal charges in a Georgia court, failing to appear in court can have significant consequences. These consequences may include:
- Arrest on a bench warrant,
- Driver’s License Suspension,
- Jail for up to 3 days or a fine of up to $200.
What is a Bench Warrant?
Per O.C.G.A. § 17-7-90, a Georgia judge may issue a bench warrant for a person’s arrest when that person fails to appear in court after receiving notice of court. What is notice? Under Georgia law, you have received “notice” if:
- Someone (judge, court staff, or someone else) told you your next court date in open court,
- A notice was mailed to the person’s last known address containing the court date, time, and location, or
- You receive notice of an impending court date personally, in writing, by a court official or an officer of the court.
If a bench warrant is issued, all law enforcement officers within the jurisdiction are required to execute the warrant and arrest the individual. That means that if, for example, you are pulled over speeding while you have an active bench warrant, the officer will take you into custody.
A person arrested on a bench warrant must stay in jail until they make bail.
License Suspension Resulting from an FTA
O.C.G.A. § 40-5-56 mandates the suspension of the driver’s license of any individual who fails to appear in court in Georgia or in another state for a traffic violation (not including parking tickets). Georgia traffic citations must include language informing Georgia drivers of this provision. The language included in the traffic citation is sufficient notice of suspension under Georgia law. A person who continues to drive may be convicted of Driving on a Suspended License. The Department of Driver Services is also required to send a notice of suspension via certified mail.
The suspension pursuant to an FTA shall last until the person responds to the citation. They also must pay any fines and complete any other court-ordered conditions. Once all court conditions have been met, the person can notify the Department of Driver Services and pay a reinstatement fee of $100 to reinstate driving privileges.
Jail Time or Fine
O.C.G.A. § 40-13-63 provides a legal penalty for the “willful failure of any person to appear following the written promise contained on the citation and complaint and served upon such person.” This penalty may result in a fine not to exceed $200 or a period of confinement in jail not to exceed three (3) days.
Do I Need an Attorney for an FTA?
If you think you might have an FTA due to missing a court date for a traffic or other offense, you shouldn’t panic. You should call a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Most of the time, your lawyer can resolve both the FTA and the underlying offense on the same court date. You should never try to handle your case alone. Don’t run the risk of being arrested or having your license suspended. Click here to get in touch today.