Postponing Your Traffic Court Date: Getting a "Continuance"

Requesting more time to pay a ticket or prepare for a traffic court trial.

By , Attorney

If you have a traffic court date coming up and don't think you'll be able to make it or need more time to prepare, you might be able to postpone the date by asking for a "continuance" or "extension of time."

Postponements and Continuances in Traffic Court

In most areas, traffic ticket due dates and traffic court trial dates aren't set in stone. If you have a good reason for requesting a due date extension or that a traffic court trial date be moved back, there's a good chance you'll be able to get your request granted.

Every jurisdiction has different operating procedures. But most traffic court websites specify what you need to do to request an extension of time for a traffic ticket due date or traffic court trial. Generally, you can request an extension in writing, by phone, or by showing up to the traffic court in person.

Whatever method you use to request an extension of time, you'll probably need to have a reasonable explanation of why you need more time. Depending on the situation, you might be able to obtain an extension based on:

  • being out of town (for work or a preplanned vacation, for example)
  • prior work, school, or family obligations
  • financial hardship
  • needing more time to prepare for a traffic court trial, or
  • a key witness for your case is unavailable.

But whatever your reasons, try to be as specific as possible. In other words, if you have a wedding or funeral that conflicts with your court date, say so specifically rather than using general language like "family obligations."

Make Court Date Extension Requests as Soon as Possible

It's also important to make your request for an extension well in advance of your due date or trial date, especially if you're making your request in writing. Courts generally don't like getting last-minute extension requests.

How Much Additional Time to Request

In some jurisdictions, there's a standard period of time for due date extensions and the like. This standard time is often 30 days. In other jurisdictions and situations, you'll need to specify how much additional time you're asking for. Generally, you'll want to request an amount to time that is adequate but not overboard. Unless there are special circumstances that warrant requesting a longer extension, it's fairly standard to ask for 30 days or less.

Avoid Going to Traffic Court Altogether by Paying Your Ticket

For some people, going to traffic court at all is too much hassle. In most jurisdictions, you don't have to go to court if you're willing to pay your ticket. But when you do this, you're essentially pleading guilty to the violation. Generally, you can pay a ticket by mail or on the court's website.

Some jurisdictions also allow eligible drivers to sign up for traffic school without going to court. Traffic school generally allows you to avoid insurance rate increases, but you might still have to pay the fine, depending on the rules of your state.

Getting Assistance With a Traffic Ticket

If you're unsure about how to deal with your ticket, you can get in contact with an attorney who specializes in traffic tickets. It's also possible to get information by calling the traffic court clerk or going to the court's website.

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