Understanding Failures to Appear - FTA in North Carolina

If you’re stopped by an officer in North Carolina for a traffic offense, you’ll be issued a traffic ticket which includes a court date. In some cases, if the offense is minor (such as a minor speeding ticket), you can handle the case by paying the fine ahead of time without appearing in court. The officer will usually indicate on the ticket if the fine is “waivable,” meaning you can waive your appearance in court. However, be sure to consult your criminal defense attorney before you do so!

If your traffic offense is not waivable or you do not pay the fees ahead of time, you must show up in court on your scheduled date. If you don’t, you’ll be issued a failure to appear – commonly called an “FTA.”

What’s an FTA?

When you miss a traffic court date for any reason, the judge will issue you an FTA. While missing traffic court might seem like a small issue that you can ignore, you will want to resolve your FTA as soon as possible: Once an FTA is issued, it is best to enlist the help of a North Carolina criminal defense attorney, as not only do you have to resolve the FTA, you must still return to traffic court to resolve the underlying, original traffic offense.

What Are the Consequences?

There are a few undesirable consequences of receiving an FTA, the first being a license suspension. When you miss your traffic court date, the NC DMV will report your absence to the court system. The DMV will send you a letter informing you that the charge must be resolved promptly, or you’ll face license suspension.

In addition to a license suspension, an FTA will also result in a fine of $200 on top of the original court costs and the fine for the underlying traffic offense.

What Should I Do If I Get an FTA?

If you receive an FTA, your best course is to hire an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney with experience in traffic citations to help you resolve both the FTA and the original traffic offense. Your lawyer can assist you in getting your case back into court to resolve the charge, update the DMV records to restore your license, and, in some cases, reduce your fine.

Attorney Cotten has served thousands of satisfied clients through Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties and can help you handle both your FTA and your underlying traffic charges. For guidance, give him a call or head to the main page to chat with a legal assistant any time of day.