What happens if I don’t show up to court for my traffic ticket? What happens if I don’t pay the fine?

Failure Appear for Your Court Date
First of all, it is very important to understand that the there is a big difference in what happens should you not show up for a criminal traffic ticket versus a civil traffic ticket. Criminal traffic and civil traffic cases are treated differently by the court. (see The Difference Between a Criminal Traffic and a Civil Traffic Case in this blog)

The consequences of failing to appear on a criminal traffic and civil traffic case assume that the court has proof of proper notice on your case.

Criminal Traffic Case
If you fail to appear on your assigned court date in a criminal traffic case the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.

Civil Traffic Case
If your fail to appear on your assigned court date in a civil traffic case and the issuing officer does, the court will enter a default against you. What is a default? A default means you didn’t show up, so you lose. The Court will then access the fine and notify Motor Vehicles Division (MVD) to suspend your driver’s license until you have paid the fine.

Consequences of Not Paying the Fine
If your do appear and are found responsible for the civil traffic violation, but do not pay the Court ordered fine, the Court will again notify the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) that you are in default. Motor Vehicle Division will then suspend your driving privileges until you have paid the fine.

If your driver’s license or privilege to drive is suspended as the result of a default judgment, you will be required to pay the fine, a default fee, and additional fees to the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) in order to have your driving privileges reinstated. If you drive while your license or privilege to drive is suspended, you will be subject to criminal penalties and additional sanctions. (see Driving on a Suspended License in Arizona in this blog)

In addition, for all civil violations for which a default judgment has been imposed, the Court may notify a credit bureau of any outstanding and delinquent balances, notify the Arizona Department of Revenue to attach your tax refunds, and take any other legally appropriate collection action against you, your income, or your property. If the Court refers your account to a collection agency or the Arizona Department of Revenue, additional collection fees will be added to your account balance.