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Traffic Court in Illinois

The police pulled you over and gave you a traffic ticket--now what? The answer: Your next stop will usually be Traffic Court.

So What Did I Sign?
When you receive a ticket, you are required to sign an affidavit agreeing to appear in court on the day and at the time fixed for your case to be heard. You are not being asked to admit that you did anything wrong, just that you will show up in court.

Do I Really Have to Go to Court?
Not necessarily. In some cases, it is possible to admit that you are guilty and pay the ticket. If you do so, a conviction will appear on your driving record, but you will not have to go to court. However, if the charge is a serious one, or if you are unwilling to plead guilty, you have to go to court.

Do I Need a Lawyer?
Perhaps. You have a legal right to have a lawyer represent you, and if the charge is serious (such as DUI), you should probably retain a lawyer. If you are facing the possibility of jail time and cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one to represent you. Be prepared to prove that you cannot afford a lawyer: W-2s, current pay stubs, proof of public assistance, and other such documents are useful.

What Are My Rights?
You have all of the rights of anyone accused of a crime. You have the right to a lawyer. You have the right to confront and examine witnesses, such as the officer who wrote the ticket. You have the right to remain silent and not be forced to testify at all (although you may choose to do so). If you are dissatisfied with the result of your hearing, you may appeal, although the time to do so is limited.

What Might Happen to Me?
It depends on the charge. In most cases, traffic citations carry the threat of only a fine, ranging from $1 up to $1,000. More serious charges (such as DUI, speeding far above the limit, and reckless driving) carry the threat of both a fine and jail time. Also, if you have 3 or more convictions in a 12-month period, your license can be suspended.

It is also possible to avoid a conviction entirely if you are placed under "supervision." A court may grant supervision if you are guilty but have a relatively clean record. The court will issue a fine and often require you to go to traffic school. Afterwards, you are placed on supervision for a fixed period of time. If, during that period, you keep a clean record, no conviction will appear on your driving record.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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