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What Are Georgia Traffic Court Records?
Georgia traffic court records are legal documents and case files generated from the proceedings of the traffic courts in the state of Georgia. These include records related to moving violations and non-moving under the motor vehicle code, within the state of Georgia.
How Do I Find Georgia Traffic Court Records?
Members of the public can gain access to physical traffic court records by approaching the custodian of all such records, primarily the municipal court clerk’s office. Traffic court records may also be available online on the official municipality court’s website or via third-party websites. To view or obtain physical traffic court records from any court, the applicant may visit the court clerk’s office where the case was filed and the records were created. The applicant may be able to look through the records free of charge if they do not request a copy. Copying of court records typically attracts fees.
What Information is Required to Obtain Georgia Traffic Court Records?
Any person interested in obtaining traffic court records must provide necessary information such as the first and last name of the person whose traffic court records are requested. Depending on the type of record required, whether an abbreviated or a complete abstract, the interested person may be required to provide valid identification for verification of their identity. Payment of court fees, if and where applicable, is also a prerequisite for obtaining court records in Georgia.
Are Traffic Court Records Open to the Public in Georgia?
Yes, they are. As with all other states, Georgia traffic court records are public records, as defined under the public access to information law, and may be accessed and viewed by members of the public. Georgia law states all public records shall be open for personal inspection and copying, except when the record is made confidential by a court order or by law.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
How Does One End up in a Georgia State Traffic court?
You end up in a Georgia state traffic court if after receiving a traffic ticket from a ticketing officer; he indicates on the ticket that a court appearance is required. This usually occurs when the offense is considered more serious than a minor traffic violation.
You can also end up in traffic court if the ticketing officer indicates no court appearance is required on the ticket and
- You choose to enter a plea of no contest or
- You choose to plead not guilty and want to request a trial.
Both instances require an appearance in court to enter these pleas.
Which Courts in Georgia have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
In Georgia, traffic cases are assigned for hearing in the municipality or county where the violation was alleged to have occurred, and are heard by the requisite municipal or county courts.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Georgia
What’s a Georgia Traffic Ticket?
A Georgia traffic ticket also referred to as a Georgia Uniform Traffic Citation, Summons and Accusation Ticket is usually a computer-generated long-form issued for traffic violations. This represents a sworn statement from the officer describing the infraction, misdemeanor, or felony observed. It is issued by a state, county or municipal police or sheriff department officer and will be completed by the officer. It will show the bio-data of the offender including full name, date of birth, social security number, physical and mailing addresses (if different) and details of the license and vehicle involved.
What’s included in a Georgia Traffic Ticket?
Georgia traffic tickets contain the nature of the charge being cited for, along with the location where the alleged offense occurred with the date and time. The statute or ordinance the offender is accused of violating will also be included on the ticket and the county court which the offender will need to appear before. The ticket should also show the amount to be paid, the due date for a response and whether a court appearance will be required. If the fine to be paid is not listed on the ticket, then you will need to contact the county court listed.
What Happens After You Get a Ticket?
Georgia traffic tickets come with financial repercussions, which may include penalty fines and court fees. Offenders also face the possibility of points being added on their driving record, which can lead to license suspension or revocation. Fines vary by the violation (determined by presiding laws and statutes) and the county in which the ticket was received, so a fine for speeding above the designated limit will differ from a fine for a DUI.
In addition to fines, based on the nature of the cited violation and the outcome, some penalties can be incurred. The offender's license type and driving record history also have an effect on these penalties. A specific number of penalty points, again based on the violation, will be added to the record of a convicted driver. Accumulation of a certain number of points over a certain period, usually 15 points or more over 24 months will result in a suspension, or possible revocation, of the offender's license.
What Are the Different Classifications of Traffic Violations?
Traffic violations are classified as moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations are traffic laws violated by a vehicle in motion, while non-moving violations tend to relate to parking or faulty violations. Non-moving violations also can also occur when the car is moving but are differentiated by the treatment of the courts and Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) as non-moving violations are not reported to the DDS and will not appear on your driving record.
The state of Georgia employs a “Super Speeder Law” which levies an additional amount of $200 (payable to Georgia DDS) if you are convicted of speeding at 75 mph or more on a two-lane road or at 85 mph and above on any road or highway in the State of Georgia. Failure to pay this leads to an automatic suspension of your license.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Georgia?
Upon receiving a traffic ticket in Georgia, you can either
- Pay the fine
- Enter a Plea
Accepting to pay the fine is an admission of guilt and can also, depending on the violation, result in points being added to your driving record and an increase in your insurance costs. Paying the fine can be done in person at the county court clerk office, by mail or, in some cases, online. The amount to be paid should be printed on the ticket. You will need to contact the county court if this is not the case. It is advisable to make the payment at least 2 weeks to the court date specified on the ticket. If you are mandated to appear at court on the ticket, then you must do so.
You can choose to enter a plea of NOT GUILTY, in which case you have decided to contest the charge. You can contest your ticket by either mailing the courtesy notice back to the court with the trial date box checked, or you appear in court on the hearing date printed on your traffic ticket. You can request an arraignment hearing and obtain a future trial date by checking the appropriate box on the ticket and delivering it to the court. A date will be communicated to you, once the court receives your request and sets the date for the arraignment. This must be done before the due date specified on the ticket.
You may also be able to enter a plea of NO CONTEST. This works out the same as a guilty plea but will prevent points from going on your license. If you choose to ignore the ticket, i.e. no fine is paid and you do not make an appearance on your court date, it will result in a “failure to appear”, which could be viewed as an automation admission of guilt. This will result in your liability for the fine, suspension of your license and in the extreme the issuance of a bench warrant for your arrest.
Are all Traffic Violations handled the same way, in Georgia?
While the fines and penalties differ for Georgia traffic violations and these are typically indicated on the ticket, the process for handling a citation is executed in the same manner, regardless of the type or severity of the citation. So while the penalties associated with not wearing a seatbelt will most likely be less than the penalties for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), the process for responding to both citations, and the subsequent processes will be the same.
Can Georgia Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
Georgia’s new law, effective July 1, 2013, does not use the word “expungement.” Instead, the process is now referred to as “record restriction.” Record restriction means that eligible records on your official criminal history report are restricted from public view and are only accessible to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes. According to Georgia law, most traffic violations are considered misdemeanors. If you were charged but not prosecuted, your record will be restricted automatically after a waiting period of two years for misdemeanors. You are not eligible if an indictment or filed accusations were dismissed or entered into a plea deal. Certain actions such as driving under the influence, sex crimes, and traffic infractions are not eligible for expungement.