Navigating Your Traffic Violation Case at the DC Traffic Court
You may be ordered to appear at the DC traffic court if you have been accused of committing a traffic violation in the District of Columbia. Learn more here.
Basics of the DC Traffic Court
Many drivers get pulled over by the traffic police each year. Traffic violations are some of the most popular infractions and misdemeanors in the United States, with Washington DC being the city with the highest number of cases. In fact, in just three years, DC has issued $1 billion in parking and traffic tickets.
Traffic violations are taken very seriously in DC. Besides getting negative points to your license, you can be criminally convicted due to traffic violations. So, if you happen to find yourself in the traffic court, here is what you need to know to achieve the best possible outcome.
Infractions that will normally land you in the DC traffic court are moving violations. Moving violations are those that occur when the vehicle is in motion. For instance, if you are speeding, recklessly driving, fleeing a scene of an accident in which you are involved, running a red light or a stop sign, driving under the influence, driving while impaired, or eluding a traffic officer, you could be faced with a moving violation. These violations are considered misdemeanors, and they can attract grave consequences. Quite often, you will find yourself in court for committing one of those crimes.
Furthermore, whenever you are given a traffic ticket, you are awarded traffic violation points on your driver’s license. For example, driving while impaired can earn you up to twelve points, speeding will get you from one to five points, and reckless driving gets you up to six points on your driving record. Accumulating twelve points or more can lead to a revocation of your driver’s license, a steep increase in your insurance premiums, and a hit to your credit. You may not drive again until your driving privileges are officially reinstated by the court.
This is one of many reasons why it is vital to consult a traffic attorney after being accused of committing a moving violation. Here, the reputable DC traffic & DUI attorneys at Scrofano Law, PC will guide you through everything you need to know when facing a case with the DC traffic court.
DC Traffic Court Address
After getting a ticket or being charged with a serious moving violation, you should aim to resolve the issue as soon as possible. The more you delay, the more you will be penalized. Therefore, your first course of action should be to find the nearest traffic court location to resolve the charge or infraction. It is also wise to consult an attorney who is experienced in representing drivers before the District of Columbia Courts regarding traffic violations.
DC Superior Court Location
The court location where your case will be handled depends on the type of violation you were accused of. For instance, if you were charged with a criminal offense such as driving without a permit, unregistered auto, operating after suspension, operating after revocation, driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, or driving while impaired, your case will be heard at the DC/Traffic Community Court in courtrooms 115, 116 and 120 of the William Agosto Moultrie Courthouse, located at 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001.
This is a division of the DC Superior Court. The hours of operation are as follows:
- General court hours of operation: Mondays-Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Criminal Finance Office: Mondays-Fridays: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Arraignment Court (Courtroom C10) Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays: 1:00 p.m.
- Other hours of operation on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays: Citations are heard at 10:00 am and Lockups are heard at 1:00 pm
DC Traffic Court Location for Minor Traffic Offenses
The DC Superior Court does not handle minor traffic offenses. If you were issued a traffic ticket for a low-level moving violation, your case will be handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The DMV also handles parking tickets — although these generally do not need to be taken to court, some individuals choose to contest them if they feel it was unjustified, especially if the fine is particularly steep. If you find yourself in this situation, especially if it involves a minor traffic ticket, take note of the ticket number, follow the steps outlined on the ‘contest tickets’ page of the DC DMV website, and contact an experienced traffic attorney immediately.
What Happens When Out-of-State Visitors Face Traffic Violations With the Washington DC Traffic Court?
If you don’t live in Washington DC and happen to get a ticket here, don’t blow it off thinking it will go away. Make sure that you deal with it while still in DC. Albeit different states have different traffic laws, violations in one state can affect you in another. For instance, failure to resolve traffic issues here in DC may lead to more punitive actions in your home state. Your license might still be revoked and you may pay your fines and/or face a jail term.
It would be beneficial to consult a Washington DC traffic attorney who is familiar with the traffic laws here and has experience representing out-of-state drivers before the District of Columbia courts in traffic cases. This also applies to people who reside in DC.
Washington DC Traffic Court Case Search
The Freedom of Information Act has made it possible for you to access your state’s public records. There are hundreds of public and private websites online that will provide you with information about your traffic court case. You can also visit the local county offices in person to access all the information you need about your traffic ticket.
Keep in mind that traffic violations are time-sensitive, so make sure that you do a court case search early enough to avoid increased penalties.
How to Handle Tickets for Minor Traffic Offenses
There are three ways you can handle a moving violation ticket:
- You can pay the ticket
- You can admit to your mistake with an explanation
- Or you can contest the ticket
To know more about the ticket issued to you, together with the court’s decision on that ticket and any other related information, you should register with the DC traffic court address commonly referred to as Ticket Alert Service (TAS).
With TAS, you can get real-time email notifications concerning your traffic tickets. It will also send you reminders that can help you avoid missing deadlines and getting severe penalties.
What’s more, you will also get all the information concerning your traffic case, such as the images associated with your ticket, expected outcomes, payments to be made, and your ticket history.
The only catch here is that you must have been issued at least one ticket within the last 18 months. Visit the website of the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register for TAS.
DC Traffic Court Records
Your previous traffic violations can be used to build a case against you in court. Thus, to better defend yourself, you should make an effort to acquaint yourself with your previous records.
DC traffic court physical records are found at the Washington National Records Center. If you want to access them, simply ask your lawyer to request them for you through the courthouse clerk five to ten days before the administrative hearing.
Remember that there is always some fee to pay. For instance, the search fee is roughly $32.00, and retrieval costs $64.00. Visit the website to see other charges you may incur.
Electronically submitted files can be found on the District of Columbia Courts website here. To find your e-file, you will need the appellate case number, the court or agency case number, and the date the file was created. You can access all this information from the clerical office. You can also liaise with your lawyer to get it for you.
How Do DC Traffic Court Cases Work?
Traffic court cases are slightly different from criminal court cases. First of all, you will rarely get a jury trial. Minor traffic violations like running a red light, speeding, or heedless driving are usually decided by a single judge in a traffic court if you cannot or choose not to simply pay the traffic ticket and move on.
Traffic courts are less formal. It is not a must that you bring an attorney. It’s common to find many people without any legal representation. Furthermore, the stakes in a traffic court are much lower. Most of the time, you will only pay a fine when found guilty.
However, serious traffic misdemeanor offenses like vehicular homicide, reckless driving, driving under influence, and driving when impaired will go to a criminal hearing at the Moultrie Courthouse under the Superior Court. In this case, you will need an attorney, and your case will be presided over by a jury.
You could face jail time, the suspension of your driver’s license, significant fines, a permanent criminal record, and more if convicted of these serious traffic offenses, so you should never face the District of Columbia Courts alone. For more information, contact DC DUI lawyer Christopher J. Mutimer of Scrofano Law, PC by phone or email to request a free consultation.
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