Complete Information about Traffic Court is available at the Traffic Court Website.
How do I know if I have to go to Traffic Court?
A ticket marked “YOU MUST APPEAR” or “COURT APPEARANCE REQUIRED” is issued for a violation for which the violator must appear in court on the date and time indicated. Tickets do not all look the same (see examples)–check your ticket carefully.
Why do I have to appear in Traffic Court?
The Illinois Supreme Court requires individuals cited for violations which create a great potential for harm or carry mandatory minimum penalties to appear in court to answer the charges.
Can they send me to jail because of a Traffic Ticket?
Traffic violations requiring a court appearance are distinguished in the following way: those for which the only punishment on conviction is a fine (petty offenses) and those for which the punishment on conviction can be a jail sentence. Traffic violations that can result in a jail sentence are known as misdemeanors.
Persons charged with such offenses should consult an attorney immediately. Even if they have to pay only fine, a judgment of guilty results in a criminal record which can never be expunged.
What Traffic Violations are Petty Offenses (NOT Misdemeanors)?
The following is a partial list.
- failing to secure a child in a moving vehicle
- driving without a valid license or permit
- driving an uninsured vehicle
- passing a school bus while loading children
- speeding in excess of 20 mph but not over 26 mph over limit
- speeding in school zone when children are present
- speeding in construction zone when workers are present
- violation of cruising zones
- using an alley as a through street in violation of signs
- failing to yield to an emergency vehicle
What Traffic Violations are Misdemeanors?
- driving under the influence (DUI)
- driving on a suspended or revoked license
- speeding 26 mph or more in excess of the limit
- drag racing
- reckless driving
- leaving the scene of a property damage accident
- fleeing or attempting to elude the police
- driving a commercial vehicle while license is suspended, revoked or driver has been placed out of service
- any other Class A or Class B misdemeanor
What will happen in court on my court date for a Petty Offense?
Your trial will be held on that date. Moving the trial to another date (getting a continuance) will happen only if there is a very good cause.
Do I need an Attorney for court for a Petty Offense?
What will happen in court on my court date for a Misdemeanor?
The initial court date for a traffic violation classified as misdemeanor is an arraignment date. This is not a trial date. The trial date will be set at the arraignment.
Do I need an Attorney for court for a Misdemeanor?
Yes. Persons charged with a misdemeanor should appear in court with an attorney. Illinois Law requires that you have an attorney to defend you if you could go to jail if convicted.