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What Are Delaware Traffic Court Records?
Delaware Traffic Court Records refer to files that hold comprehensive information on motor vehicle violations that were handled in the traffic courts in Delaware. The documents may contain the motorist offender’s information, traffic ticket charges, citations, exhibits, and case dockets. A Custodian is responsible for managing and preserving the records.
Which Courts in Delaware Have Jurisdiction to Hear Traffic Violation Matters?
In the State of Delaware, the Justice of Peace Court and the Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court in New Castle County have concurrent jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters. Part of the state’s judicial system, they’re authorized by statute to hear and exact judgment on offenders who violate the motor vehicle laws and regulations of the State. The Justice of Peace Court has original jurisdiction over traffic violations; including, traffic offenses committed by juveniles aged 16 to 17 years old, or older. Given that the violation is not within the Family Court’s jurisdiction.
Ticketed motorists who have been convicted in the Justice of Peace Court can appeal to transfer their cases to the Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court. The Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court has a distinct procedure where it combines the arraignment and trial into one court appearance to expedite the trial process and it can accept all appeals except motor vehicle violations that involved driving after judgment prohibited and driving under the influence.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Delaware
A resident or nonresident of Delaware can get a traffic ticket if he/she fails to comply with the motor vehicle laws of the State. Delaware statute gives law enforcement officers the authority to ticket any motorist who is believed to have committed a motor vehicle violation. This includes running a red light, speed violations, driving without a seatbelt, disregarding traffic direction orders, illegal overtaking, and any other moving/ non-moving violation.
An individual who breaks a traffic law is issued a traffic ticket by the law enforcement officer. He/she may request the ticket to be a voluntary assessment or the arresting officer may offer it. This action gives the individual two options:
- He/she may pay the ticket fines without a trial, or
- He/she may choose the not-guilty/ contest plea and go to trial to defend the allegation(s)
When the traffic ticket is not classified as a voluntary assessment, he/she is required to appear in court to answer for the violation, without fail, at the time, date and location stated on the summons.
Persons who fail to answer a summons to appear in court, or pay the fee of a voluntary assessment ticket are liable to face consequences. If they fail to answer a summons, they may be liable to pay a fine, not under $25 or over $50 for a first offense. For consequent offenses, motorists may be liable for a fine not under $50 or over $100. He/ she may also be subject to a term of imprisonment between 2 to15 days, or both. If they fail to pay a voluntary assessment ticket: A suspension of the individual’s driver’s license or permit, or driving rights in the State of Delaware.
How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Delaware
Individuals who want to make full payment of a voluntary assessment traffic ticket in Delaware to the Justice of Peace Court may do so within 30 days of ticket issuance using these methods:
- Individuals may visit the closest/ any Justice of the Peace Criminal Court with a copy of the ticket to make payment
- They may enclose the fine and copy of the ticket, and mail it to:
State of Delaware
Voluntary Assessment Center
P.O. Box 7039
Dover, DE 19903
The ticket contains a mailing address, which may be as stated above.
- They may pay by faxing a copy of the ticket to (302) 739-7590
- Persons who have information such as the offender’s last name, ticket/case number may make payment online through the ePayment platform or place a call to (302) 739-6911.
- They may also pay in any kiosk location with cash, credit or debit card (Mastercard, Discover, or Visa) using the same case information
Anyone unable to pay the complete fine for a voluntary assessment may contact the Voluntary Assessment Centre on (302) 739-6911. When this inability occurs after a hearing where an individual was found guilty, the Court may set up a payment plan.
Payment of the full fine of a voluntary assessment ticket may benefit the offender as:
- No demerit points are assessed on his/her driver’s license by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If it was a speeding violation under 14 miles/hr over the speed limit and the individual has no preliminary convictions of speeding violations within 3 years.
- No unpaid traffic tickets show up his/her driving records when an insurance company wants to offer a policy.
How Do I Find a Delaware Traffic Court Record?
Most Traffic Cases are treated as criminal offenses in the State of Delaware. Persons who want to find a Delaware Traffic Court Record may seek access at a Justice of Peace Criminal Court location where the record is located during business hours. This request must carry sufficient information about the case and it can be made in writing, in-person, via mail, or fax to the appropriate addresses/ fax numbers.
The interested party may also attach the Application to Access Records form, filled with adequate information of the case to the request. An individual who wishes to make copies of a record shall bear the resulting fees. The Court determines these fees. The Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court also uses similar record access procedures, but with the exception that requests are directed in person or mail to the Records Custodian of the Court at:
Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
(formerly New Castle County Courthouse)
500 North King Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Additionally, publicly available records may be 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.
How to Contest a Traffic Ticket in the TrafficCourts
Any individual who wishes to contest/ plea not-guilty on a voluntary assessment traffic ticket may by faxing or mailing an answer to contest on the signed ticket to the Justice of Peace Court location (or Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court) as indicated on the ticket. He/she should place a call of confirmation to (302) 739-6911 after faxing the ticket. Once he/she returns the ticket to the applicable courthouse, the Court sends a notice to the individual indicating when and where they are required to appear before any of the Traffic Courts.
Note: Persons who have been issued a summons cannot choose to contest a ticket. They are required by law to appear at court at the time, date, and location specified on the summons
The Trial Process in the Justice of the Peace Court
A majority of traffic violations are tried as criminal offenses in the State of Delaware.
Individuals who are to be arraigned before the Justice of Peace Court are required to have all the documents necessary to defend their case. This may include the ticket number, proof of documents such as license registration or insurance when the offense occurred.
They may also bring their own witnesses.
Anyone found guilty will have fines assessed against them and per the DMV policies, they will have demerit points assessed on their licenses.
Convicted persons who were fined more than $100 or given a prison sentence may appeal to the Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court within 15 days of their conviction.
The Trial Process in the Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court
The Court of Common Pleas Traffic Court will most likely try a Traffic case on a Tuesday, as Court is in session on that day. A defendant with an exceptional need to postpone the trial is required to notify the Court in writing 3 days prior.
The procedures in this Traffic Court benefit the defendant as the Court combines arraignment and trial of most traffic cases into one appearance to hasten the trial process. As such, individuals may be tried and/or prosecuted on the same day. Defendants are required to procure all documents necessary for the case. At the Courthouse, the individual may speak with the Deputy Attorney General on the possible results of a guilty plea. If the individual takes the plea, he/she may not request a trial and their case may be resolved quickly.
Individuals who do not take the plea will be brought before the court on the same day. They may appear with their own witnesses. The defendants have the right to be represented by a Public Defender provided they schedule an interview at the Courthouse 5 days prior to their court appearance; however, not all traffic cases are eligible for this.
A defendant who speaks another language may also schedule an interpreter for court proceedings at the Courthouse 7 days prior to his/her court date. If the individual is found guilty after trial, he/she is required to make full payment at the Office of Cost and Fines. If they cannot, the Court will draw up a payment plan.