Handling a Lost Out-of-State Traffic Ticket

Date posted: 07/12/2012

by Kat Saks on
in Tickets & Violations

4307 Handling a Lost Out of State Traffic Ticket

Plenty of things go missing when you’re traveling on the open road: spare socks, souvenirs, and sometimes, out-of-state traffic tickets.

You can let go of spare socks and postcards, but unfortunately, you can’t put an out-of-state speeding ticket out of mind. Learn how to handle a lost out-of-state ticket so you can move on.

A Lost Ticket Is No Excuse

Telling a court that you lost a traffic ticket is like telling a teacher that your dog ate your homework. That excuse won’t fly. Even if you can’t find your out-of-state traffic citation, you still need to address it. Courts won’t accept a lost traffic ticket as a valid excuse for late payment or for failure to appear in court.

Online Traffic Ticket Search

You might find your lost ticket information online. Some states offer online traffic ticket searches via state or county run websites.

Recall who issued your ticket: Was it a state official or a local official (i.e., a county sheriff)?

If a state official cited you, search for a state-run website.

If a local official cited you, determine which county you received your ticket in and search for a county-run website instead.

Once you find the right website, you might need the following information to locate your citation:

  • Your full name as it appears on your drivers license.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your drivers license number.
  • Your license plate number.

Check to see if your issuing state offers online lost traffic ticket search options.

Check Your Mail for a Traffic Ticket Courtesy Notice

Many states send courtesy notices to remind drivers of the important information regarding their traffic citations. In this case, you don’t need to worry if you lose your out-of-state speeding ticket. Just look for this note in your mailbox and follow the instructions enclosed.

Contact The County that Issued Your Out-of-State Traffic Ticket

Many states handle speeding tickets at the county level. Determine which county you received your citation in, then contact that county’s court for information on your citation and your next steps.

Consider How You Will Plead

Once you find your out-of-state traffic ticket, you need to decide how you will plea.

Most state offer three options:

  • Not guilty
  • No contest (nolo contendre)
  • Guilty

Your plea will impact your next steps.

If you plead not guilty, you might need to go to court in the state where you were cited. Traveling out-of-state for a court appearance might be more hassle than it’s worth, so, even if you don’t believe you were at fault, you might still choose to simply pay the fine and move on.

When you plead guilty or no contest you can often pay your fine without a court appearance. Check with the issuing state or county to learn your next steps.

Have you ever lost an out-of-state traffic ticket? What did you do? Tell us in the comments section below.

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About Kat Saks

Kat Saks is a Denver-based writer and yoga teacher. She is also Firefly Partners' Client Solutions Manager. She blogs for and shouts safe-driving tips to teens while driving the city streets. More articles by Kat Saks

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