Civil Traffic Hearing: Protecting Your Rights and Contesting Your Citation

If you are scheduled to attend a civil traffic hearing, the State’s witnesses, typically the citing officer, will attempt to prove that you committed the violation listed on your citation. The State must prove the violation by a preponderance of evidence, and they may present evidence such as diagrams, photographs, and other forms of evidence to support their case.

Explanation of What a Civil Traffic Hearing is and why it is important

During the hearing, you have the right to hear all of the State’s testimony against you, question any witnesses who testify against you, testify on your own behalf (although refusal to do so cannot be used against you), call your own witnesses to testify, and present your own evidence. However, you do not have the right to a public defender and must secure your own private attorney if desired.

It is essential to arrive on time for your hearing and have any witnesses and evidence prepared and with you. Failure to do so may result in a default judgment against you, a fine, or even suspension of your driver’s license. Any evidence you want the judge to consider must be presented in court as testimony or admitted into evidence as an exhibit.

Digital evidence, such as photographs or recordings, must be scanned for viruses by court staff before it can be displayed on the court’s equipment or admitted into evidence, potentially causing delays. Any media containing digital evidence must not have anything else on it, and it must be in a common format to avoid any issues.

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Requests for subpoenas or reasonable accommodations for disabilities should be made in writing and filed with the court in advance, and in-person hearings can be waived through a written request subject to certain limitations.

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If you wish to contest a civil traffic violation, you can request a hearing by mail or online and must do so before the court date on your citation. The court will schedule a hearing based on its availability and notify you of the date via email within 7-10 business days.

Civil Traffic Hearing FAQ’s

Q: What is a civil traffic hearing?

A: A civil traffic hearing is a court proceeding where witnesses of the State, usually the officer who cited you, will attempt to prove that you committed the civil traffic violation on your citation.

Q: What is the burden of proof for the State in a civil traffic hearing?

A: The State must prove a civil traffic violation by a preponderance of the evidence.

Q: What are the rights of the defendant in a civil traffic hearing?

A: The defendant has the right to hear all of the testimony the State presents against them, question any of the witnesses who testify against them, testify on their own behalf if they want to, call witnesses of their own to testify on their behalf, ask the Judge to issue subpoena that require the witnesses to appear and testify on the trial date, and present diagrams, photographs and other forms of evidence if they wish.

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Q: Can a public defender represent a defendant in a civil traffic hearing?

A: No, a public defender cannot represent a defendant in a civil traffic hearing, but the defendant may be represented by a private attorney of their choice if they wish.

Q: What happens if a defendant does not show up on time for their civil traffic hearing?

A: If a defendant does not show up on time for their hearing, a default judgment may be entered against them, a fine may be imposed, and their driver’s license may be suspended.

Q: What types of evidence can be admitted during a civil traffic hearing?

A: Examples of items that are commonly admitted during a civil traffic hearing include signed written statements from witnesses, written documents, diagrams, photographs, maps, and video or audio recordings.

Q: What should a defendant keep in mind if they are bringing digital evidence to court?

A: Any evidence in digital format has to be scanned for viruses by court staff before it can be displayed on the court’s equipment or admitted into evidence. Any media such as a DVD, CD, or flash or jump drive that contains digital evidence should not have anything else on it, and the media itself has to be admitted into evidence to be considered. If possible, defendants should bring their own laptop or other device through which they can display their evidence.

Q: How can a defendant request subpoenas for witnesses?

A: Subpoenas for witnesses can be requested at the Records Counter on the third floor of the courthouse.

Q: How can a defendant request accommodations for disability?

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A: Requests for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities or persons needing an interpreter should be made in writing and filed with the court at least five days before the hearing.

Q: Is it possible to request an alternative to an in-person hearing?

A: Yes, a defendant can request a hearing in absentia which does not require them to appear in court in person, but a written request for such a hearing must be submitted to the court.

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