Frequently Asked Questions

This information is provided by the State Court of DeKalb County Traffic Division and is current and accurate, but is not intended or meant as legal advice. It is your responsibility to confirm independently the information provided on this website. Policies of the court are subject to change. Legal questions can be explained by an attorney, independent research into the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) or the DeKalb County Code of Ordinances. State Court of DeKalb County Traffic Division employees are not allowed to give legal advice or to help anyone fill out any forms or pleadings. Anyone who wants legal advice should contact an attorney.


1. What is the effect of paying my fine online?
You can only pay certain citations on-line. If the system permits you to pay your fine on your citation, you are no longer required to appear personally in court. Your payment of the fine will be accepted as a guilty plea. If points are associated with the citation, it will be reported to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

 

2. I tried to pay the ticket on-line or at the cashier BEFORE my court date, but they said it was mandatory court. What does that mean?
There are certain offenses for which Georgia Law requires you to appear in court. Additionally, there are other offenses which the Court has determined that an appearance is mandatory. Therefore, you must appear in person on the date and in the location that is listed on your citation. If you fail to appear on your court date, you may lose your bond, a warrant may be issued for your arrest, and your license may be suspended.

 

3. I tried to pay the ticket on-line or at the cashier AFTER my court date, but they said it was mandatory court. What does that mean?
You must come to the 2nd floor of the Bobby Burgess Building where the Warrant Division is located for information on payment, re-reinstatement of your license, and FTA Court.

 

4. What do I do if I miss my Court Date
You must come to the 2nd floor of the Bobby Burgess Building where the Warrant Division is located for information on payment, re-reinstatement of your license and re-scheduling of your court appearance.

 

5. Are there any valid legal reasons for missing court?
Yes. Under Georgia law, there are legal excuses for failure to appear.
1. You were incarcerated at the time of the hearing (must bring proof of incarceration to court to get a reset).
2. You were hospitalized or institutionalized at the time of the hearing (must bring proof of this). Routine doctor’s appointments or an emergency room visit on the date of the hearing will not satisfy this requirement.
3. You were active in the military stationed elsewhere at the time of the hearing (please bring in documents showing you were not free to leave the base and come to court).
4. The person receiving the ticket has been deported (ICE documentation is required).
5. The person receiving the ticket died or was terminally ill at the time of the court date and has since died. Please bring in a death certificate or program from the funeral service.
6. You did not get notice of the hearing. This can happen if you were injured in an accident or arrested and were not given the ticket by the officer. Your case will be reset.

 

6. Why isn’t my citation in your system?
Please allow up to 14 days for your citation to appear in the system. If you are unable to locate your citation in our system, you must appear on your court date listed on your citation.

 

7. Will my trial take place on the date on the citation?
No. The first court date is an “Arraignment.” Your constitutional rights will be explained to you by a judge, and then you may enter a plea of “Guilty,” “Not Guilty,” and in some cases, at the discretion of the judge, a plea of “Nolo.” You will also have the opportunity to fill out an application with the Office of the Public Defender to see if you qualify for their services. If you already have an attorney, or want to hire an attorney on your own, please tell the judge or the Solicitor General.

 

8. If I enter a plea of “Not Guilty” at Arraignment, and the officer or witness is not there, can I ask that the judge dismiss the ticket?
Officers and witnesses are not required to attend an Arraignment. They must be subpoenaed to attend trials. If you enter a Not Guilty plea, your case will be reset for a future trial date and officers and any witnesses listed in the accident report will be subpoenaed by the Clerk’s Office. Both parties (the defendant and the prosecution) also have the right to subpoena any additional witnesses they wish to be present at trial.

 

9. What happens if I enter a plea of Guilty?
If you enter a plea of guilty, you may be immediately sentenced and a report may be sent to the Georgia Department of Driver Services where points to your driver’s license may be assessed and a fine immediately imposed. However, if you are placed on deferred sentencing, your sentencing, any DDS reporting and assessment of fines will be deferred to a later date. In that case, the Court will inform you of the fine it is considering imposing for your conviction and give you a date by which you can pay your fine or re-appear in court for formal sentencing.

 

10. What happens if I enter a Nolo (no contest) plea?
You have a right to request a Nolo (contender) or no contest plea, but it is completely in the discretion of the judge to grant or deny your request. A Nolo may prevent your license from being suspended or prevent points being assessed to your driving history. There are many limitations to this general rule. For example, if you are under 21 years of age, a Nolo will not keep you from getting points or from being suspended.

How many points does it take to suspend a license?
For information regarding points and their effect on your license, please refer to the Georgia Department of Driver Services by clicking here. www.dds.ga.gov

 

11. Do I have to come to my Arraignment if I already know I want to enter a Not Guilty plea ?
Yes.

 

12. I think I need an attorney. Will the court appoint me an attorney?
You will have to fill out an application provided by the Office of the Public Defender for DeKalb County to see if you qualify. Qualification is based on your family income and assets. If you do not qualify, you will have to hire an attorney on your own. Please refer to the links provided on the “Other Related Links” tab for information on local Bar Associations.

 

13.What do I need to know to conduct my own trial?
If you decide to represent yourself, you will be held to the same standards as an attorney. Neither the court, nor the clerks are allowed to give you legal advice, make any calls for you, or obtain evidence for you.

 

14. Can I subpoena witnesses for myself?
Yes. You can get subpoenas for witnesses from the Clerk of Court.

 

15. Can I request a jury trial?
Yes, depending on the offense, you have the right to request a jury trial. A jury trial can be requested for any misdemeanor traffic offense, including but not limited to: driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, reckless driving and driving on a suspended registration.
If a jury trial is requested, your case will be transferred to the DeKalb County State Court Jury Division located in the downtown Decatur courthouse at 556 N. McDonough St, Decatur GA 30030.

 

16. What happens if I am convicted at trial?
In general, the maximum punishment which can be imposed on a State law misdemeanor is 12 months in jail and $1000 in fines per citation. For some offenses, such as first time speeding charges, the maximum fees are less. Most traffic citations are State law misdemeanors. Some offenses also carry with it a mandatory suspension of your license. If a suspension of your license is required by law, or if the court for any reason feels a court or medical license suspension is necessary, your license can also be suspended.
Further, a person who is convicted of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $5,000.00 or by confinement in jail for up to 12 months.

 

17. Can I appeal a guilty verdict?
Yes. For state law cases, you can appeal within 30 days of the date of the conviction by filing a Notice of Appeal with the State Court Traffic Division Clerk’s office and pay the mandatory fee of $25.00. The appeal will be either to the Georgia Supreme Court or the Georgia Court of Appeals. An appeal will not automatically delay or defer any suspension of your license that may be required by law. You may also want to consider seeking the aid of an attorney to help with any post-conviction filings.

 

18. The officer told me that he would make this a warning. Why do I need to come to court?
Once the officer files the citation with the court, you must appear on the date shown on the citation. If the officer wants to make it a warning, the officer may recommend that to the prosecutor. This takes place at trial, not on the first court date, which is the date listed on your citation. If you do not appear on that first date, known as an “Arraignment,” your license will be suspended by the Department of Driver Services and the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.

 

19. I was cited for an expired tag, suspended registration or no insurance in a borrowed car. Since it was not my car, why did I get the citation?
For the purposes of registration and insurance, Georgia law does not distinguish between the owner and the operator of the vehicle. You are responsible for knowing the registration and insurance status of any vehicle you drive.

 

20. I was cited for an expired tag (not suspended registration) or I was cited for an equipment violation such as no tag, tail, brake, head light, cracked windshield at the time of the stop and have gotten it fixed: Do I still have to come to Arraignment ?
If this was the only ticket you received at the time you were stopped, you may be able to have your citation administratively reduced and the fine reduced. You must come to court no sooner than 10 days after the ticket was issued and no later than 10 days before your Arraignment (court date on the ticket) and ask about the “Standing Order.” A minimal fine will be imposed. For more information, click on STANDING ORDER.

21. I was cited for no license on person, wrong address on my license, expired license, wrong class license, wrong endorsement on license, failure to obtain a Georgia license, and I have corrected whatever problem was in place when I was cited, Do I still have to come to Arraignment?
If this was the only ticket you received at the time you were stopped, you may be able to have your citation administratively reduced or dismissed. If the charge is dismissed, no fine will be assessed. If the charge is reduced a minimal fine will be imposed. You must come to court no sooner than 10 days after the ticket was issued and no later than 10 days before your Arraignment (court date on the ticket) and ask about the “Standing Order.” For more information, click on this link.

22. When do I have to pay my fine?
You are expected to pay your fine upon a plea or conviction. While there may be other options, it is up to the judge who handles your case.

23. How can I find out my fine amount(s)?
Please click on this link for information on your citation(s).

24. Why is the fine so high?
Each court assesses a base fine. Added to the base fine are all of the State surcharges required by acts of the Georgia Legislature. We are legally required to assess and remit the add-on surcharges approved by your State Legislators. These surcharges add to the amount you are required to pay.

25. What methods of payment do you accept?
You may pay by credit/debit cards, cash, money order or certified check in person at the court. Your citation may also be payable online

26.What if I take a Defensive Driving Class before I come to court?
Unless the class was ordered by a judge of this court, there is no guarantee that it will result in any reduction of fine or consideration on sentencing. It is completely in the discretion of the judge you see on your court date.