If you received a federal violation notice (ticket), the back of your ticket has instructions specifying if you must appear in court or not. That information is also detailed on this page.
Mandatory Appearance in Court
If no date is shown on the front of your ticket, the Central Violations Bureau (CVB) will mail you a "Notice to Appear" approximately four weeks prior to the scheduled court date. The notice will include the date and time you must appear in federal court. If you do not receive a "Notice to Appear" within 60 days of the date the ticket was issued, call CVB at 1-800-827-2982.
Optional Appearance in Court
Pay Your Ticket
You may pay the "total collateral due" amount shown on your ticket online or by mail to end your case without appearing in court.
Your payment must be received by the date of your scheduled court appearance, or penalties may be imposed and the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.
By paying the amount due you may be admitting to a criminal offense and a conviction may appear in a public record with adverse consequences to you. You have a right to know more about the charge against you and may obtain a complete statement of the charge by calling CVB at 1-800-827-2982. By paying the amount due you waive your right to:
- contest this violation notice
- to a trial, and
- to be represented by counsel.
If you are charged with a motor vehicle violation, your payment may be reported to your state’s motor-vehicle or driver-licensing agency. As a result, points may be assessed against your driving record, your license or registration may be suspended, and additional fees may be imposed by your state. A driver education course (traffic school) may be an option to avoid these consequences. If you are interested in a driver-education course, do not pay the amount due. Call CVB at 1-800-827-2982 for more information.
Dispute Your Ticket
To dispute your ticket in federal court, you must appear at the time, date, and place shown on the front of your ticket. If no date is shown, you'll receive a "Notice to Appear" by mail approximately four weeks prior to the scheduled court date of when to appear. If you haven't received this notice within 60 days, call CVB at 1-800-827-2982.
If you appear before the court and plead guilty, or are convicted after trial, the court may impose any penalty the law authorizes, not limited to the amount due shown on the violation notice, and will add a special assessment of $5, $10, or $25 for each offense.
Making Special Requests
To make any special requests, such as taking a driver's course, community service, or not being able to pay your ticket, you must appear at your scheduled court date to make the request.
If you are required to appear in court or you choose to contest your ticket and you relocate after your ticket is issued, you must notify the CVB in writing of any change in your address. Otherwise, you may not receive the "Notice to Appear." If you fail to appear at your scheduled court hearing, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.
You may mail, email, or fax your notice of an address change to the CVB.
Include your name, location code, violation number and current contact information (phone and email) in your request. Filing a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service is not sufficient.
Take No Action
If you fail to pay the amount due by the date of your scheduled court appearance, and fail to appear in court on the date and time scheduled, the U.S. District Court may issue a warrant for your arrest. If you are charged with a motor-vehicle violation, the court may also report your failure to pay or appear to your state’s motor-vehicle or driver-licensing agency, which may affect your driving privileges, or your vehicle registration, or both.