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  • Fight Traffic Ticket in Iowa

    SUMMARY: How to Fight an Iowa Traffic Ticket

    Depending on where you received your traffic ticket, you may be able to submit your “not guilty" plea in person or by mail. Check your Iowa traffic ticket or contact the appropriate court to find out exactly how to proceed.

    Fighting Your IA Traffic Ticket

    Unless your Iowa traffic ticket indicates you must appear in court (i.e., it's a “non-scheduled" ticket), you can plead "guilty" or "no contest" and pay your fine OR plead "not guilty" and fight your traffic ticket in court.

    Pay Ticket
    (Plead Guilty or No Contest)

    Learn more about
    paying your traffic ticket »

    Fight Ticket
    (Plead Not Guilty)

    • Contest the ticket during a hearing.
    • Seek legal counsel or prepare and present the case yourself.
    • Have no penalties if found not guilty (except any applicable court/attorney fees).
    • Possibly have to attend driver improvement school.
    • Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).

    What It Means to Fight Your Iowa Traffic Ticket

    When you decide to fight your IA traffic ticket, it means:

    • Going before a judge (with or without legal help).
    • Contesting the charge.
    • Pleading your case for innocence.

    If the judge finds you " not guilty," you don't have to worry about dealing with any penalties (including driving record points and violations on your Iowa driving record, or increased auto insurance rates).

    However, if the judges finds you " guilty," you must pay all traffic ticket fines and related fees, and deal with all related penalties. In some cases, this means being labeled a “habitual offender," loss of driving privileges, and higher car insurance rates.

    Avoid Additional Charges

    Failure to show up in traffic court on the date printed on your IA traffic ticket OR on the hearing date you schedule could result in an Iowa driver's license suspension; some courts even will increase the fine from a “scheduled" fine to a “non-scheduled" fine.

    Pleading Guilty or No Contest in Iowa

    For some drivers, pleading "guilty" or "no contest" is the easiest (and least expensive) route―this especially includes drivers who know they're guilty.

    As long as the moving violation isn't a serious one (e.g., minor speeding ticket vs. eluding a police officer) and your traffic ticket doesn't read “non-scheduled" or “unsecured," you probably can pay your IA ticket online, by mail, by phone, or in person, and put the situation behind you.

    Read our page about Paying Your Iowa Traffic Ticket to learn more.

    Notify the Iowa Traffic Court

    Determine Where to Plead

    Your traffic ticket should include information about the county and court handling your case. Each Iowa county's Clerk of Court handles traffic tickets, so this is the office where you'll enter your "not guilty" plea.

    Check the state's Clerk of Court Directory for address and telephone information.

    Inform the Court

    To inform the Iowa traffic court of your "not guilty" plea and schedule a hearing, you can either:

    • Show up on the date printed on your traffic ticket. You'll enter your "not guilty" plea, and the court will schedule an actual hearing.
    • Send a written request to the clerk, who will then respond with your hearing date.

    Most clerks recommend sending in a written request because it cuts down on the number of court visits you must make. Check your traffic ticket for specific instructions on sending a written request to your clerk.

    Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing

    You can contact your Iowa county clerk to reschedule or postpone your hearing, but you must do so as soon as you find out you can't make the original date. Clerks don't recommend waiting until the day before your hearing to ask for a postponement.

    Hire an IA Traffic Ticket Attorney

    Most people feel more comfortable going before a judge with a skilled attorney by their side, and people going to traffic court are no different.

    Consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer if you:

    • Don't want to speak for yourself in court.
    • Aren't sure how to best prepare for your case.
    • Need to reschedule or postpone your hearing, but the clerk says it's too late.
    • Want to appeal a "guilty" verdict.

    Prepare Your Traffic Case

    As you prepare for your traffic case, keep in mind:

    • You must present your side of the story. This is called your testimony. It's a good idea to practice it before you get in the courtroom.
    • You can present evidence and witnesses. Be sure to contact your Iowa clerk's office about any required subpoena procedure.
    • The judge might offer you a plea agreement. Consider which bargains you're open to accepting.

    Seem overwhelming? A traffic ticket lawyer handles all of the above and more for you.

    Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

    In Iowa, your traffic ticket hearing will play out much the same way all hearings do.

    The judge will:

    • Listen to and view testimony and evidence from both sides.
    • Allow time for cross-examination (i.e., your lawyer can question the officer who arrested you, and the prosecutor can question you if you opt to testify).
    • Make a judgment.

    If the judge finds you " not guilty," you can go home; however, if he finds you "guilty," he'll make you aware of all the related ticket fines and penalties for which you're responsible.

    NOTE: If you're found guilty of committing certain moving violations within a certain time period, driver improvement school may be one of your penalties.

    Filing an Appeal in Iowa

    Your traffic ticket lawyer can handle the appeals process for you, or you can ask the clerk about the necessary paperwork, fees, and deadlines.

    Check Your Iowa Driving Record

    After a traffic ticket hearing is an especially good time to order your IA driving record because you can check to make sure that if you were found:

    • Not guilty: No violations should appear.
    • Guilty: Only the applicable violation(s) will appear on your driving record.

    Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

    Typically, if you're found "not guilty," you don't have to worry about your auto insurance rates increasing.

    However, if you're found "guilty"―or agree to a plea bargain that makes you guilty of a lesser charge―your provider probably will increase your rates the next time you renew.

    You can start shopping for lower rates now and get a head start on maintaining affordable coverage.

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