Life is messy and busy, and if you get a ticket, the last thing you need is to have to show up for court. It takes valuable time out of your already busy schedule.

Do you always have to go to court? Whether or not you or just your lawyer must go to court depends on the severity of your ticket.

Appearance mandated

If your traffic violation is considered criminal in Virginia, you must appear in court. Criminal traffic violations include DUI, reckless driving, hit and run and more.

You will receive a summons that gives you the date and time of your criminal court hearing. For these criminal violations, you cannot just prepay the fine online or by mail. You must show up at that time, and your potential penalties could include jail, license suspension, fines, community service and other penalties.

When you do not have to personally appear

The traffic violations that are Virginia civil infractions do not require you to be personally present in court. Instead, you can have your lawyer appear. These crimes include speeding, running a stop sign, improper lane change, driving without insurance, etc.

If you received such a civil infraction (ticket), you can plead guilty and pay your fine online or by mail. You can also plead not guilty. If you plead not guilty, then you request a trial. And, you can hire an attorney to appear for you at that trial, if they cannot work out a dismissal or lessen the ticket to one that you would accept. Though, the judge could order your presence at the trial.

Benefits to not having to appear

Taking a day off for court means you cannot make money, and most of your day is gone. You also may miss other family or friend responsibilities. Not having to actually go to court means avoiding a day of anxiety and stress. And, your defense is not left up to you.