Office of the State's Attorney
Traffic - Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers are designed to address frequent
concerns raised by people charged with traffic violations. They
are not a substitute for legal advice from your own attorney.
Q: What is the status of my case? When is my next court
The Circuit Clerk's office, located on the first floor of the
courthouse, will be happy to answer any questions regarding your case
status. They may also be reached by phone at 217-384-3727, or you
can find information about your case on the web, at
Q: Do I need an attorney for my case?
Receiving a traffic ticket is always an unpleasant experience.
For people unfamiliar with the court system, trying to resolve a traffic
ticket can be confusing and stressful. For this reason, many people choose
to have an attorney represent them in their traffic cases. An attorney can
help by explaining your rights in traffic court, and by helping to make sure
your case is resolved fairly. The decision to hire an attorney is entirely your own.
Depending upon the type of offense you are charged with, you may have a right to
have an attorney appointed for you by the court if you cannot afford one on your own.
If you do have such a right, the judge will explain it to you when you come to court.
Q: Can I ask an attorney from the State’s Attorney’s office for advice?
Attorneys from the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s office are responsible
for prosecuting all traffic tickets issued within the county. Because these
attorneys represent the People of the State of Illinois as a whole, they are
legally prohibited, in most cases, from giving legal individual advice to people
charged with crimes – even those charged with minor traffic offenses. Furthermore,
because attorneys working for the State’s Attorney’s office are the ones assigned
to prosecute your case, anything you would tell them could be used against you in
court. If you have questions not covered in these pages, your best option is to
consult your own attorney.
Q: Do I need to appear in court for my ticket?
Some traffic tickets do not require a court appearance. Take a careful look at the
bottom of your ticket to determine whether you need to appear in court at all. Many minor
traffic tickets may be marked, “No court appearance required.” If your tickets is marked,
“Court appearance required,” however, then you must appear on the date indicated on your ticket.
Q: I just want to pay my ticket. What do I need to do?
If your ticket is marked “No court appearance required,” you may pay your ticket at the Circuit Clerk’s
office, on the first floor of the courthouse. Simply check the appropriate box on the back of your ticket,
and turn it in to the Circuit Clerk. The Clerk will be able to tell you the amount of the fine.
If your ticket is marked, “Court appearance required,” you will need to come to court on the date
indicated on your ticket before you can pay. In such cases, the fine will be set by the judge.
Q: I received a no insurance ticket, but I was insured on the date of the ticket.
If you have proof that the car you were driving was insured on the day you got your ticket, you
can show that proof in court, and that ticket will be dismissed. If you received other tickets on
the same date, those can be resolved at the same court appearance.
If your court date is at least 7 days away, you can file a Mandatory Insurance Affidavit at the
Circuit Clerk’s Office downstairs. You will need to bring the proof that the vehicle you were driving
was insured on the date of the ticket. If your proof of insurance is accepted, your ticket will then be
If your court date is less than 7 days away, you will need to come to court to resolve it. Be
prepared with proof of insurance to show to the prosecutor on that date.
Q: Will this ticket suspend my driver’s license?
Your driver’s license status is something decided entirely by the Secretary of State. The
State’s Attorney’s Office is not involved in issuing driver’s licenses, or in suspending them.
If you have questions about what may happen to your driver’s license, you can contact the Illinois
Secretary of State toll-free at 1-800-252-8980. A private attorney can also advise you regarding
Q: I believe I am not guilty. How do I fight the ticket?
If your ticket is marked “No court appearance required,” you may plead “not guilty” at the Circuit
Clerk’s office, on the first floor of the courthouse. Simply check the appropriate box on the back
of your ticket, and turn it in to the Circuit Clerk.
You will need to decide whether you want a trial by jury, or a trial by the court (bench trial).
The decision is entirely yours. If you choose a trial by the court, you will receive notice of your
trial date by mail, and your case will be resolved on that date in a 10-15 minute trial.
If you choose a jury trial, the next court date you receive will be a “pretrial” date. At the
pretrial, you will be given a “trial call” date. At trial call, you will be given one or more trial
dates at which you must appear. It is possible that you may have to appear at several pretrial, trial
call, and trial dates before your case is resolved.
When your case is reached for jury trial, you can expect your trial to last for most of a full
day – or possibly longer. A jury trial is usually a more formal process than a bench trial, and
you will be held to the same rules of evidence as an attorney. If you wish to have a jury trial,
it is a very good idea to have your own attorney with you.
Q: I cannot come to court on the date on my ticket. How can I reschedule it?
All court dates are set by the judge who presides over traffic court. The State’s Attorney
cannot change your court date. In order to reschedule your court date, you will need to file a
motion to continue, and have that motion granted by the judge before the date you are trying to change.
There is a fee for filing such a motion, and there is no guarantee that the court will grant it. The
easiest way to change your court date is to have an attorney enter an appearance for you. If you
decide to file a motion to continue on your own, the Circuit Clerk can explain the filing fees. You
may be able to receive further information by contacting the judge’s clerk at 217-384-3895.
Q: I missed my court date. What will happen now?
It is important to be present at all required court dates. If you fail to appear, several
things can happen. If your ticket is for a minor traffic offense, the Court will usually enter
a judgment against you, just as if you had pled guilty. You will then be responsible for paying
any fines assessed by the court.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, and you fail to appear for court, the
judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. Any bond you have previously posted may be
If you want to ask the court to vacate (undo) a judgment against you, or quash (take back)
an arrest warrant, you will need to file a motion with the court. In these cases, it is a
very good idea to hire an attorney to assist you. If you decide to file a motion by yourself,
the Circuit Clerk can explain the filing fees. If you have a question about a warrant, you can
also contact the Champaign County Sheriff at 217-384-1204.