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Louisiana Court Records

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What are Louisiana Traffic Court Records?

Louisiana traffic court records refer to records and documentation regarding the 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, the records of proceedings from traffic court are considered public records and, as such, can be reviewed by members of the general public. Only traffic records with access restricted by a court order or the law are exempt 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 in Louisiana. It represents an affirmation by the officer detailing the observed incident. The officer may complete the ticket, and it may contain the defendant's information, including full name, date of birth, address, sex, and other germane bio-data. The ticket may also include information about the defendant's license. Details about the vehicle involved in the violation may be added as well. The location of the violation may be noted with time and date. The officer may list the violations witnessed, with title and section code, and affix his name, officer ID, and signature to the ticket. The ticket may indicate if a court appearance is required and list the court's name and location, with a date and time to appear. The defendant may 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 may be included on the ticket.

The Louisiana legislature and city council set Louisiana traffic fines, which may vary by violation and court. The actual fine amount is not printed on the ticket and you may 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 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 in the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS). The PDPS is a component of the National Driver Register (NDR) and serves as a repository for driver's license histories from other 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. Following too many traffic offenses, you could be liable to different punishments from the OMV, including a license suspension or revocation. It may 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 mainly relate to parked cars or faulty vehicle equipment. Notices for Non-moving violations are not sent to the Louisiana OMV and may 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 may opt to either

  • Plead Not Guilty & contest the ticket
  • Plead Guilty & pay the traffic ticket

If the action you decide on was entered before the court appearance date noted on the ticket, 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 may be recorded as a conviction. A report of the conviction may be sent to the OMV.
  • Suppose you are not required to appear in court to answer the charges. In that case, 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 acceptable amount to the court listed on the ticket. You may need to verify the court's acceptance of the amount. Payment may 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 may 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 may be entered into your record and notice may be sent to the OMV.
  • It may be possible to get the ticket dismissed by completing a state-approved driving course. Still, you may be eligible for this, and eligibility may depend on where you received the ticket, your judge, and the nature of the citation.
  • If you choose to plead not guilty, you have exercised your right to contest the charges. If you choose this option, it may be advisable to retain the services of an attorney.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in Louisiana

If you choose to fight the ticket, you may appear in court on your arraignment date and enter your pleas. A trial date may be set, and you may be available. At the trial, you may be expected to present your case.

  • If, at the end of the trial, the judicial officer finds you "Not Guilty," then the charges and fines may be dismissed, and you may only be liable for court costs, if applicable. Since you were not convicted, your record may not indicate the violation, and no notice may 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 may 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. If it is a third-party request, you may need to provide information about the record. You may also need to provide valid identification before access to the record is granted. The court may charge a fee for this, especially if record copies may 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 serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties may be required to provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is 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?

The information required to obtain a traffic court record in Louisiana may depend on whether you are making a third-party request. If so, you may need to provide details about the record, including the defendant's full name, date of birth, and case file number. You may also need to provide a valid ID when making the request. The same may occur if you are requesting your records. You may also be liable for court costs, especially if you require copies of the documents.

Are all Traffic Violations Handled the Same way, in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, traffic violations are usually handled similarly despite the nature of the breach. Fines and penalties for violations may differ based on existing laws and statutes governing the violation. The processes involved in responding to a citation and most following procedures may 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 acquitted you may 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 the 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 can end up in traffic court if a law enforcement officer cites you for a traffic violation and indicates on the ticket that a court appearance is required to respond to the ticket. This is a mandatory summons, and you may 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?

Louisiana traffic violations and infractions are heard in the traffic division of the local court of the city or parish where the violation was alleged to have happened. If a city police officer issued the ticket, it may be heard in the city court traffic division. If a trooper issued the ticket, it may be heard in the traffic division of the district court.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court in Louisiana

 Louisiana has unique traffic laws, such as its approach to speeding violations and using traffic cameras in certain areas. Some parishes, like Orleans Parish, offer diversion programs for certain traffic violations, allowing offenders to attend a driver improvement course in exchange for dismissing the citation. While preparing for traffic court in Louisiana, research the options available in your parish and be prepared to present any relevant documentation or evidence of your eligibility in court. Also, consider seeking legal counsel or representation.

Louisiana Traffic Court Records
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