What happens to a traffic ticket if the officer did not serve the individual at the road? This is a common question in the traffic ticket defense practice. When an officer does not serve the driver with the infraction on or at the roadside, typically that means that the infraction involves a crash. An accused driver being transported to the hospital may delay the actual receipt of notice by hours or weeks. Most traffic crashes resulting in fatalities are not served at the scene but, many months later. Blood drawn at a crash means an investigation into DUI and a lawyer should be consulted immediately.
Although it may come as a surprise to some, the Constitution applies to traffic tickets. Notions of Due Process, the evidence code and the right to a speedy trial all apply to traffic ticket cases like other criminal and civil cases. However, there are tremendous differences between the criminal and traffic rules or procedure. Due Process is basically the right to have notice and opportunity to be heard. Notice happens when the officer provides the citation to the accused driver. The citation is the only charging document in a traffic ticket case and can be the only charging document in a criminal case.
Failure to serve the citation is therefore a violation of the Constitutional right to Due Process. A ticket that is never served is subject to the Statute of Limitations. In a noncriminal violation, a prosecution must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed. A prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced when a charging document is filed, provided the Summons or Information or other charging document is served to the person without unreasonable delay.
The government still has to serve the ticket without unnecessary delay. If they do not, then the case is dismissed. There is no cure for the government; it is a hard line. The reasonableness of the delay depends on the facts over the next year but, things to consider are a Defendant’s absence from the State, homestead declarations, licensing of any type or, in the old days searching the phone book, today that would be an internet or social media search.
A ticket filed but not served and therefore not addressed by the driver, will result in a suspended license for failing to address the citation. Usually, a client finds out when the driver’s license is suspended for failing to act, sometimes the Court will have issued points and suspended the license. When this happens, the Court may still allow for a hearing and we will file a sworn Motion claiming improper or lack of service. Many times, the suspension can be lifted pending the hearing.
In a civil traffic ticket, the accused does NOT have the right to have a lawyer appointed; however, a person always has the right to hire their own lawyer. For assistance responding to a traffic summons or suspension please click, call, or fill out the form.