Can I contest a closed case?

Question:  I got a ticket a few months ago that I went to traffic school for. Is there anything I can do to contest it after the fact? Could I contest other tickets in the past as well?

Answer: No. Generally speaking, once a case is closed via traffic school dismissal it cannot be contested. Also, once you plead guilty (if you had not gone to traffic school) the court collects your fine, reports a conviction to the DMV and closes the case. The court has no reason to reopen a closed case. If a case is closed prematurely due to a court error, a judge may reopen the case upon request.

I’ve seen red light camera cases reopened when the defendant declared that he had never received the citation notice in the mail. Since no “Promise to Appear” is signed in these automated cases, defendants often miss appearance deadlines when courtesy notices are misplaced. Missing an appearance deadline will cause the court to add a $250 Failure to Appear fine to the original $341 red light fine.

Some defendants are not aware of their citation until a $600 collection notice arrives in the mail. Quite often the judge will dismiss the $250 FTA assessment and reopen the case when the defendant appears and disputes that the original citation was never received. Since there is no signed “Promise to Appear” at the original appearance date in these cases, there is much more leeway from the court (since they can’t prove you intentionally missed your court date.)

Expect no leeway if you miss an appearance date after signing a “Promise to Appear.” Emergency hospitalization or military deployment are about the only excuses the court accepts if you fail to appear on a signed promise.

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