If you received any type of traffic ticket during your trip to the United States, you have a decision to make. Sure, you could just ignore the ticket, not pay it and return to Thailand on your scheduled flight. We do not recommend doing that. There could be consequences that you might regret in the future. Here is what could happen.
A Possible Warrant for your Arrest
If you were driving on a California license, that license could be suspended. California cannot suspend a Thailand driver’s license, but it could impose further penalties. Failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket on a designated date and time is a crime. You could be charged accordingly. What is known as a civil assessment of up to $300 can also be imposed against you. Expect the maximum on a failure to appear. A warrant for your arrest could also be issued. That could be a big problem next time you try to enter the United States.
How to Avoid the Problem
There are two ways to avoid the consequences of a failure to appear. First, you can simply pay the ticket. There will not be any consequences on your Thai driver’s license. If your ticket says that you are required to appear in court, an experienced traffic lawyer in the county that you received your ticket in should be able to help you with your problem, even if you are scheduled to return to Thailand before your court date. Judges are human too, and nearly all of them are very reasonable people. Most judges are not going to expect you to extend your trip for three weeks, just to attend traffic court. Retaining an attorney for this purpose will show the judge that you respect the laws here in the United States, so it is likely that the judge will try to accommodate you. On that basis, it is highly unlikely that an arrest warrant will be waiting for you upon your return to the United States.
People get traffic tickets for minor infractions every day in the United States. Do not approach the situation like many people do in Thailand and try to bribe the police officer. You will get yourself in big trouble if you try to do that. Either pay your ticket or pay your lawyer to attend court for you. The last thing that you want to do is to simply ignore it and fly home. You can also read these articles such as “Do I really need a lawyer”, or “will a ticket affect my Visa”.