What Happens If a Police Officer Fails to Appear in Traffic Court?

If you’re pulled over and accused of breaking a traffic law, the law enforcement officer may issue you a traffic citation or ticket that details the violation, the associated fine, and your options for paying it. Many drivers’ first instinct after receiving a citation is to pay the fine, accept the consequences, and move on from the ordeal. Unfortunately, moving forward with a violation on your driving record doesn’t always turn out as simply as you thought it would.

While in some cases, it makes sense to pay the fine, it’s usually worth contesting the ticket in traffic court. Unquestionably, the single biggest mistake drivers make is not thoroughly preparing for court. This means knowing how to handle unexpected situations that may occur, such as the officer who issued your ticket failing to appear in traffic court or realizing you can’t make your court date.


It’s widely believed that if an officer fails to appear in traffic court, a citation is automatically dismissed. Court appearances by police officers are crucial in determining the outcome of traffic ticket cases. The reality is that it depends on the judge’s discretion and other factors. There’s never a guarantee that your Maryland traffic court case will be resolved if a cop is a no-show; however, that’s not to say some people don’t get lucky.

All courts, cases, and police agencies follow different guidelines. Generally, police officers are subject to a window of days each month where they are expected to attend court. The officer’s absence can lead to different outcomes depending on the circumstances. Most officers never miss a court day because it’s their duty and missing one could result in disciplinary actions from their supervisors. The officer’s presence is often necessary to provide testimony and evidence.

Typically, officers fail to appear in court due to an unforeseeable circumstance, such as illness, a death in the family, or a work-related emergency, which can impact the officer’s testimony and the case outcome. In such a case, the officer can call or email the court explaining their situation and your case will be scheduled on a later date. Police officers rarely fail to inform the court of their inability to show up to court, but if that were to happen, your case would presumably be dismissed.


Missing a traffic court appearance is not uncommon in traffic cases. Some people forget or have an emergency; others assume that missing may get their court date postponed to a day that an officer cannot attend so their case will be closed. It’s never recommended to miss a court date, but it’s understandable that things happen.

In such situations, you have three options. The first being you visit the clerk’s office in the jurisdiction you were charged in and request a case reset; in other words, you may request to reschedule your court date. You will need to pay the fine amount as a penalty deposit.

Your second option is to simply pay the fine. If you choose this option, points will be added to your driver’s license, your insurance rates might increase, and any other penalties associated with the charge may be applied.

What is your third choice? You can work with an experienced traffic attorney in Maryland who will appear on your behalf, so you don’t have to stress about your court date. Seeking legal counsel can help you navigate the complexities of your case and ensure the best possible outcome.


Receiving a traffic ticket may be an inconvenience, but finding out you have to appear in court can be even more of a disruption. If a Maryland police officer fails to appear in court, it can affect the outcome of your case. However, not showing up to court may end up being costly. If you’re unsure of what options you have to resolve your traffic violations or can’t make it to court on your assigned date, reach out to a Maryland traffic ticket lawyer who will help you through each step of the process. The Law Office of Hillel Traub aims to provide the people of Maryland with effective legal representation for traffic tickets and other related matters.

For 30 years, Attorney Hillel Traub has helped those facing a range of legal matters get the justice they deserve. Only by understanding your options can you make conscious decisions regarding your ticket. Learn more about what your rights are and find out what options are right for your situation over a free consultation by calling (410) 580-1100 or contacting us today.