Fight Traffic Ticket in IowaPage Overview
Unless your ticket states you must appear in court (i.e. it’s a “non-scheduled” ticket), you can plead guilty or no contest and pay your ticket, or you can plead not guilty and fight your ticket in court.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine.
- Accumulate driving record points.
- Risk license suspension or revocation.
- Possibly have to attend driver improvement school.
- See an increase in auto insurance rates.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
It’s quite straightforward: 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―this includes points and violations on your record as well as increased auto insurance rates.
However, if the judges finds you guilty, you must pay all ticket fines and related fees and deal with all related penalties―for some drivers this means being labeled a “habitual offender,” loss of driving privileges, and higher car insurance rates.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
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 violation isn’t a serious one (speeding five miles over vs. eluding a police officer) and your ticket doesn’t read “non-scheduled” or “unsecured,” you probably can pay your ticket online or by mail and put the situation behind you.
Head over to Paying Your Traffic Ticket to learn more.
Avoid Additional Charges
Failing to show up in court on the date printed on your ticket or the hearing date you call to schedule (see below) can result in license suspension; some courts even will increase the fine from a “scheduled” fine to a “non-scheduled” fine.
Determine Where to Plead
Your ticket should include information about the county and court handling your ticket. Each 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 court of your not guilty plea and schedule a hearing, you can either:
- Show up on the date printed on your 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 ticket for specific instructions on sending a written request to your clerk.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
You can contact your 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.
Most people feel more comfortable going before a judge with a skilled attorney by their sides, and people going to traffic court are no different.
- 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.
As you prepare for your case, keep in mind:
- You must present your side of things. This is called your testimony, and 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 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.
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. (Meaning, 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 will be one of your penalties.
Filing an Appeal
Your traffic ticket attorney can handle the appeals process for you, or you can ask the clerk about the necessary paperwork, fees, and deadlines.
Mostly, Iowa’s point system is geared toward habitual offenders; however, that doesn’t mean every driver shouldn’t check his record from time to time.
After a traffic ticket hearing is an especially good time to order your driving record because you can check to make sure that if you were found:
- Not guilty, no violations appear on your record. li>
- Guilty, only the applicable violation(s) appear(s) on your record.
Typically, drivers found not guilty don’t have to worry about their 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.Other Topics in This Section