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Idaho Traffic Court


Duties of the Traffic Court in Idaho

Idaho Traffic Court will hear cases related to traffic violations.  Most of the court trials will have a prosecuting attorney from the County or City Prosecutor’s office, the officer who wrote the citation, the judge, and the judge’s clerk attending the trial.  You can bring an attorney or any witnesses that might help your case.  Remember that the fines and court costs are set by the Idaho Supreme Court.  They cannot be increased, decreased or suspended by the Magistrate Judge hearing your case.  

A judgment will be entered against you if you fail to show up for your trial, enter an admission of guilt, or the court finds you guilty.  You will have to pay any fines in the amount of the penalty assigned to the offense.  If you cannot attend court or you change your plea to guilty and pay the fine, you should notify the court in writing 1 week prior to your court date.  If you do change your plea, simply mail the required amount or pay at the courthouse before your trial date.  The Idaho Department of Transportation will suspend your Idaho Driver’s License for 90 days if you do not pay the judgment or fail to pay as required in your payment agreement with the Clerk of Court.  The only way to get your license back is to pay in full your penalty and a reinstatement fee.

Once you get to court, your case will be called and you will step forward and sit at the table labeled “Defendant”.  If you are absent and your case is called then a default judgment will be entered against you.  You should not argue, interrupt, or ask for legal advice from the judge.  The State’s evidence will be presented first by the officer who wrote the citation.  You will be allowed to question the officer and then present your evidence.  This is the time that you would call witnesses and/or testify yourself.  The judge can let the officer “rebut” your evidence by presenting further testimony.  The judge usually makes his decision immediately.  If the judge chooses, they may take the matter under advisement and issue a written decision later.  The judge may find in your favor, the citation will be dismissed and your case will be closed.  If there is beyond reasonable doubt that you committed the offense then you will be required to pay the fine/fixed penalties.  If you wish to appeal the judge’s decision then you must file an appeal to the District Court within 42 days.

Services Provided by the Idaho Traffic Court

In the Idaho Traffic Court, people have the right to present their defense, to an infraction, in front of an impartial judge.  This is done by the Magistrate Division of the district court.  If the infraction is a misdemeanor then the trial is usually held in the county in which the infraction occurred.  You can request that it be moved to another county.  If a defendant fails to appear in court on the trial date, the Magistrate Judge can issue a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.  This warrant, when served, can lead to the arrest of the defendant and even incarceration if the defendant cannot post the bond set by the magistrate.  You can find the amount of bail for misdemeanor traffic offenses in the Misdemeanor Criminal Rules.  If a penalty is imposed during a trial then the defendant will remain in the custody of the court until the fines and court costs are paid.  If the defendant cannot pay the fine, or refuses, they will find themselves in the county jail.  Many courts will offer defendants the opportunity to perform community service work instead of paying the fines.  Minor traffic offenses are considered in Idaho to be infractions, a public offense.  Idaho Supreme Court has set fixed penalties for infractions and there is no imprisonment.  Since an infraction is not a crime, there is never an arrest.  The defendant cannot be prosecuted for failure to appear in court, and a default judgment will be entered.  Since they are civil in nature the defendant will participate in a court trial only.  If a judgment has been entered against a defendant, a notice will be issued to pay the fixed penalty amount.  The Idaho Department of Transportation will suspend the defendant’s driver’s license if these fines are not paid.  The defendant must pay all fines and reinstatement fees before the Department will get their license reinstated.

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