If you receive a bench warrant for failing to appear for court for a criminal traffic matter, such as a No Valid Driver’s License (NVDL) charge, a Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) charge, a reckless driving, DUI, or expired registration (more than 6 months), your driver’s license will incur a suspension.
Criminal traffic bench warrants include a D6, or driver license suspension. The information is electronically transmitted to Tallahassee and within about 10-30 days, your driver’s license will be suspended.
If you drive on a suspended license with knowledge of the suspension, you are committing a crime. With an active bench warrant, a cop who pulls you over will most definitely take you into custody instead of issuing a written promise to appear (PTA).
People miss their court dates all the time, especially their arraignments. Since most criminal traffic cases are initiated by citation and not physical arrest, a court date must be sent to you in the mail. If the address on the ticket is wrong or if the clerk’s office makes a mistake, you will not receive notice of your court date. If you don’t show up, or if you haven’t hired an attorney who can file the proper written pleadings thus waiving your physical appearance, a bench warrant will be issued.
Setting aside a bench warrant can be done but it must be done right. Trying to do it yourself may end up with you being taken into custody on the warrant or being pressured (scratch that, FORCED) by the court into pleading guilty so that the case can be closed out.
When given the choice between jail and accepting a conviction and fine, what are you going to pick?
An attorney can file the requisite motions and can represent you without your needing to be present in court (in most cases). This is especially helpful if you don’t reside in Miami-Dade County or Broward County.
Setting aside a bench warrant that carries a driver license suspension will result in the suspension being lifted. You may have to pay a small reinstatement fee but its well worth it to regain your driving privilege.
Once the warrant is set aside, your case will be set for trial.
Eric Matheny is a DWLS attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.