If you are like most people, you likely pay little attention to a traffic ticket, especially if the officer issued it to you on the basis of an alleged minor violation, such as speeding. However, you need to take such tickets seriously, especially if they list a court date. Failing to appear could result in a whole new set of problems you do not want to deal with.
FindLaw explains that if your blow off your court date, the judge could, on his or her own authority, charge you with failure to appear and issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Keep in mind that a failure to appear charge is a separate charge from that listed on your traffic ticket. Consequently, you now face two charges, each of which carries its own penalties if convicted.
How a bench warrant works
A bench warrant, so named because the judge issues it from his or her bench, works basically the same way as a regular arrest warrant does. Law enforcement officers can arrest you wherever and whenever they find you.
The bench warrant goes into not only the court’s computer system but also the systems of police and sheriffs’ departments in the area. If you live in a reasonably large city, this means that officers in multiple jurisdictions have the right to arrest you on sight. Furthermore, the bench warrant remains in these computer systems until an alert officer spots you and arrests you. At that point, he or she likely will take you to jail, where you could remain until you or your attorney gets the warrant set aside and your charges rescheduled before the appropriate judge.