You know that feeling. The creeping sensation you get when you know you’ve forgotten to do something.
Did I leave the oven on?
Did I forget to wear pants?
Or, worst of all: Did I forget my TVB hearing?
First, don’t panic.
Motorists miss their TVB hearings all the time. You are not the first person this has happened to, and you won’t be the last. Most of the time, it’s not that big of a deal.
Life happens. Judges understand this. People get preoccupied with family or work commitments. They fall ill or injured. Or they just forget about their traffic court date.
But isn’t my license going to be suspended?
Not immediately, no. On the day after your missed hearing, nothing happens. The next day, ditto.
TVB will grant you 30 days from the hearing date to get a new court date. (If the 30th day falls on a weekend or holiday, you will have until the next regular weekday.)
When you miss a hearing, the court will mail you a letter with a scary phrase: NOTICE OF IMPENDING SUSPENSION. Clients who get this letter often call my office in a panic. But if you read closer, you can see there is no reason to do so.
The letter will tell you exactly when the suspension will begin for the missed hearing — the aforementioned 30 days out. If you reschedule before then, you will not be suspended.
If you reschedule after 30 days, you will be suspended, but that suspension will be lifted once you get a new date and pay a $70 suspension fee to the court.
How do I get a new date?
If you miss a hearing, you will need to see a judge to reschedule. In the post-pandemic world, this is done via telephone. You will need to call the DMV phone line and provide some information on your driver’s license. Be warned, you might be on hold a while. Eventually, you will speak to a judge, who will ask you to explain what happened that caused you to miss your hearing. You’ll give your reason, and the judge will assist you a new court date.
Easy peasy, as they say. (Do they still say that?)
But, keep in mind a phrase I used before: “most of the time, it’s not that big of a deal.” Most of the time is not all of the time. And sometimes, missing a hearing can be a problem.
When is missing a hearing a problem?
It depends on the history of the ticket.
If a ticket is old, has been rescheduled by the motorist on numerous occasions, or has been bonded, it will be very difficult to reschedule once missed.
Example 1: Your ticket is six months old and has had one court date, which you missed. This ticket will not be difficult to reschedule.
Example 2: Your ticket is three years old. You have rescheduled this case three times. For the last reschedule, you paid a bond, but you missed that court date. This ticket will be challenging to reschedule. Click here to find out what happens when you try to reschedule a court date with a bad history.
There is a belief held by some that a TVB ticket can be rescheduled almost indefinitely. That is not the case. Eventually, you have to have a hearing.
Ultimately, it’s up to the judge.
All of the above constitute general guidance for what happens when you miss a court date. If only every case were that straightforward.
At the end of the day, the judge decides. Some judges are quite lenient with reschedules, and some barely allow any reschedules at all. Most fall somewhere in between. An attorney will know which judges are ideal for this, and what to say to get reschedules that you might not get on your own.
What if I just do nothing?
After 30 days, your license will be suspended. And eventually, the ticket will go into default. This is supposed to happen 60 days after the missed date, but in reality, it usually takes longer. Once the ticket goes into default, you are in for a very different and more difficult process. Click here for more information about default TVB summonses.
Can an attorney help?
Of course. If you hire me, you don’t have to call anyone or go to court. I handle it all for you.
With an attorney, you get the benefit of experience. Nothing happens by accident. Sometimes, it makes sense for you to reschedule. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
I reschedule when it helps you. But what if you have a good judge? Or what if the police officer is not ready? In these instances, you should proceed — rescheduling will only hurt you.
You’ll have a much better chance at a good outcome, and you won’t have to deal with the stress and difficulty of fighting the ticket on your own.