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What are Louisiana Traffic Court Records?
Louisiana traffic court records refer to records and documentation regarding all dealings of a traffic court within the state of Louisiana. These include case files, evidence notes and other pertinent records involving the adjudication of moving and non-moving violations under the motor vehicle code of the state of Louisiana.
Are Louisiana Traffic Court Records Public Records?
Under the public access to information law, all records of proceedings from traffic court are considered public records and, as such, are available to be reviewed by members of the general public. Only traffic records which have had access restricted by a court order or the law, are exempted from this.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Louisiana.
A Louisiana traffic citation, otherwise called a Uniform Traffic Summons/Complaint Affidavit, is a long-form document issued for traffic violations, by a law enforcement officer within the state of Louisiana. It represents an affirmation by the officer detailing the observed incident. The ticket will be completed by the officer and it will contain the defendant's information including full name, date of birth, address, sex, and other germane bio-data. The ticket will contain also have information about the defendant's license. Details about the vehicle involved in the violation will be added as well. The location of the violation will be noted with time and date. The officer will list the violations witnessed, with title and section code and affix his name, officer ID and signature to the ticket. The ticket will indicate if a court appearance is required and will list the name and location of the court, with a date and time to appear. The defendant will be expected to sign the ticket before receiving his copy. This is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment of the charges against you. Information on responding to the citation will be included on the ticket.
Louisiana traffic fines are set by the Louisiana legislature and city council and will vary by violation and court. The actual fine amount is not printed on the ticket and you will need to contact the parish listed on the citation to obtain your actual fine costs. It is possible to obtain the costs for each violation from the website of the listed parish, but this might not include all your costs. Always verify your actual costs before making payment.
Louisiana does not operate a state points-based driving record system but is a participant of the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS). The PDPS is a component of the National Driver Register (NDR) and serves as a repository for drivers’ license histories from all states. The Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) keeps track of aspects of your driving habits, including your Louisiana driver's license status, the types of offenses and the number of offenses you commit. Acquiring too many traffic offenses, and you could be liable to different punishments from the OMV, including a license suspension or revocation. It will also have a negative impact on your insurance costs.
Traffic violations are generally classified as either moving or non-moving violations. Moving violations are committed by vehicles in motion, while Non-moving violations mostly relate to parked vehicles or faulty vehicle equipment. Notices for Non-moving violations are not sent to the Louisiana OMV and will not appear on your driving record.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Louisiana?
If you receive a traffic ticket in the state of Louisiana, you can opt to either
- Plead Not Guilty & contest the ticket
- Plead Guilty & pay the fine
If the action you decide on was entered before the court appearance date noted on the ticket, or you may be liable for additional penalties.
- If you choose to plead guilty and pay the fine, then you have effectively waived your right to contest the citation and it will be recorded as a conviction on your record. A report of the conviction will be sent to the OMV.
- If you are not required to appear in court to answer to the charges, you can pay the fine online, on the website of the designated court, in person, at the office of the clerk of the court handling the violation, or mail, by signing the appearance, plea of guilty and waiver section and mailing with fine amount to the court listed on the ticket. You will need to verify the fine amount from the court. Payment must be made by the court appearance due date indicated on the ticket.
- If you are required to appear in court by the ticket, then you must appear in court on the scheduled day and time for your arraignment, to enter your plea and pay your fine as determined by the judge. You may have to pay other court fees as well. A guilty conviction will be entered into your record and notice will be sent to the OMV.
- It may be possible to get the ticket dismissed by completing a state-approved driving course, but you must be eligible to qualify for this and eligibility will depend on where you received the ticket, your judge, and the nature of the citation.
- If you choose to plead not guilty, then you have exercised your right to contest the charges. It will be advisable to retain the services of an attorney if you choose this option.
- If you choose to fight the ticket, then you must appear in court on your date for your arraignment and enter your pleas. A trial date will be set, of which you must be available. At the trial, you will be expected to present your case.
- If, at the end of the trial, the judicial officer finds you “Not Guilty”, then all charges and fines will be dismissed and you will only be liable for court costs, if applicable. Since you were not convicted, your record will not indicate the violation and no notice will be sent to the OMV.
- If, at the end of the trial, you were found "Guilty", then you have been convicted and are liable for the fine and may face additional fines, court fees and penalties as stipulated by the judicial officer. The conviction will be entered into your record and notice shall be sent to the OMV.
How Do I find Louisiana Traffic Court Records?
Louisiana traffic records are stored in the traffic court of the parish or city where the violation was committed and the case was heard. To obtain records of a particular case, you can visit the court clerk’s office and make a request. You will need to provide information about the record if it is a third-party request. You will also need to provide valid identification before access to the record is granted. The court may charge a fee for this, especially if copies of the record will be required.
Publicly available records are also accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
What information is required to obtain Louisiana Traffic Court Records?
Information required to obtain a traffic court record in Louisiana will depend on if you are making a third-party request. If so, you will need to provide details about the record including the full name of the defendant, date of birth and the case file number. You will need to provide a valid ID when making the request. The same will occur if you are requesting your records. You may also be liable for court costs, especially if you require copies of the records.
Are all Traffic Violations handled the same way, in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, traffic violations are usually handled similarly, despite the nature of the violation. Fines and penalties for violations will be different and based on existing laws and statutes governing the violation. The processes involved in responding to a citation and most following procedures will be similar.
Can Louisiana Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
In Louisiana, the law allows for the expungement of records under certain circumstances. If you were arrested for a misdemeanor or felony but were not convicted you can petition for expungement of your record if
- The D.A. declined to prosecute the charge.
- The statute of limitations expired with no proceedings initiated.
- You were acquitted.
- Charges were quashed by the court.
A DUI arrest requires a 5 year waiting period from the date of the arrest before applying for expungement.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can petition for expungement if 5 years have elapsed since the end of the sentence, probation or parole and you had no other felony convictions during the waiting period and none are pending. You can only expunge one misdemeanor in a 5 year period.
If you were convicted of a felony, you can petition for expungement if the conviction was set aside and prosecution was dismissed or if more than 10 years have passed since you completed all terms of the sentence and you have not been convicted of any crime in that period. You can only expunge one felony in a 15 year period.
How does one end up in a Louisiana Traffic court?
In Louisiana, you end up in traffic court if you were cited for a traffic violation by a law enforcement officer and he indicates on the ticket that a court appearance is required to respond to the ticket. This is a mandatory summons and you must appear in court or risk the consequences. You can also end up in traffic court if no court appearance is required but you wish to plead "Not Guilty" to the charges and contest the ticket.
Which Courts in Louisiana have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
In Louisiana, traffic violation matters are heard in the traffic division of the local court of the city or parish where the violation was alleged to have happened. If the ticket was issued by a city police officer, it will be heard in the city court traffic division. If the ticket was issued by a trooper, it will be heard in the traffic division of the district court.