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What are Illinois Traffic Tickets?

Illinois traffic tickets are official notices detailing the violation of traffic laws by motorists. These tickets are issued by law enforcement officers and contain details of the traffic offenses committed. The Driver Services Department of the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) is responsible for maintaining driver records and enforcing penalties.

In the State of Illinois, traffic violations are categorized as either minor or major offenses. According to the Toll Highway ActIllinois Vehicle Code, and Child Passenger Protection Act, a traffic offense is minor if it is a petty offense. It is considered major when it is deemed severe according to state traffic law, as mentioned earlier. Motorists who commit minor traffic offenses may be subject to less than one year of imprisonment. Not all violations require court appearances or attract jail sentences; some require motorists to pay fines. However, in most instances where the driver pays a fine, a conviction is put on the driver’s record, or the driver may be required to attend a traffic school. In other cases, the Driver Services Department adds points to the driver’s license. Depending on the violation, the defaulter’s license or permit may also be suspended or terminated.

Records of traffic violations and all other public records may also be accessible from some third-party websites. These sites expedite the record search process by enabling inquirers to lookup multiple records, across multiple jurisdictions per query. To use these search engines, interested parties are typically required to provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved

Since third-party sites are managed by private companies, record availability, accuracy and validity may not be guaranteed.

What Does a Traffic Citation Mean?

A traffic citation is a written order issued by law enforcement officers to motorists who have violated traffic laws. An individual who is issued a citation in Illinois may be required to appear in a traffic court. According to Supreme Court Rules - Article V (Rules 501–600), a court appearance may be necessary for the following categories of traffic violations:

  • All major traffic offenses
  • Minor traffic offenses where the fine is above $95, except truck violations
  • Violations such as excess size or weight permit, no valid driver’s license, operating without insurance, violation of a restricted license, or permit.
  • Violations of the Child Passenger Protection Act
  • Traffic offenses that involve accidents which cause the death of a party

How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Illinois?

When issued a traffic ticket in Illinois, the offender can plead not guilty and contest the ticket, or plead guilty and pay the fine indicated. Either option may require that the individual pay or contest the ticket before the court date specified on the ticket. Eligible offenders may contest a ticket by sending the application form to the Circuit Court’s Clerk in the county of violation at least ten days before the set court date. Parties who opt to pay the ticket fine may mail the Plea of Guilty and Waiver Form attached to the back of the ticket to the Clerk of Court. This should be done no later than three business days before the court date.

It is also possible to pay traffic tickets in person or by phone in some counties. However, counties may have different payment methods, ticket deadlines, and dismissal options. Therefore, it is advisable to lookup traffic ticket procedures of the specific Circuit Court with jurisdiction over the traffic violation location. Available payment forms for mail-in payments may include money order, certified check, bank draft, or traveler’s check made payable to the applicable Clerk of Circuit Court. Cash payments can only be made by in-person visitors.

Can You Pay Illinois Traffic Tickets Online?

Yes, accused parties can pay traffic tickets online in Illinois, per the Illinois Supreme Court on December 20, 2006, Order M. R. 18368. However, the traffic violations covered by these provisions are only minor traffic and conservation violations. Under this order, circuit courts in the State counties are usually required to provide electronic payment options where defaulters may resolve their tickets.

How Do I Pay a Ticket Online in Illinois?

Accused parties may pay a ticket online in Illinois using the electronic system, e-Guilty Program, provided by the Circuit Court with jurisdiction. According to Supreme Court Rules 529, 530 & 531, the Standards for Accepting Electronic Pleas of Guilty serves as a guide to electronic guilty pleas in the courts. Persons interested in resolving their tickets using the system may be required to provide the following details about the ticket:

  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Zipcode
  • Driver’s license number
  • A traffic ticket or citation number

Acceptable methods of payment include credit/debit cards and other electronic funds transfer methods. Usually, there is a convenience fee attached to credit card payments.

What is the Illinois Traffic Ticketing System?

The Illinois traffic ticketing system, known as the Illinois Offense Table, is used to assign penalties to drivers who have violated traffic laws. These points and actions are set by the Administrative Code of The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and are assigned based on conviction reports from the applicable courts. The table uses a classification-based (Type Action) and point-based system to mark the driver’s record, based on the type of offense and law violated. Traffic offenses that are assigned points include offenses that violate the Chicago Traffic Code, like negligent driving (10 points) and offenses that violate the Illinois Vehicle Code. Interested parties may look up more violations and the points or classifications assigned on the Illinois Offense Tables.

The Driver Services Department may also suspend or revoke driving privileges due to driver violations. These offenses may include DUIs, failure to appear, parking violations, automated traffic violations, failure to pay fines, failure to pay child support, and tollway violations.

How Do I Know if I Have a Traffic Ticket in Illinois?

When a traffic ticket is issued in Illinois, violators are typically notified by mail. However, state residents may opt to contact the traffic court in their residential area to inquire about outstanding traffic tickets. Interested parties may also look up their driver records or someone else’s, through the SOS Driver Services Department by paying a $12 fee. These records can be obtained online, in person at a Driver Services facility, or by sending a written request to the SOS at the address below:

2701 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62723.

Online requests can be made using the Driver Record Abstract Platform. However, parties can only use the site to request and purchase their certified records. Applicants are required to use the information on their Driver’s License to make the request. Available forms of payments include credit or debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).

Interested parties may obtain their records or another party’s records through the SOS’s in-person or mail service. To obtain driver records in-person, parties should complete an Abstract Request Form and pay the record fee of $12 at a Driver Services facility. To get these records by mail, the requesting party the application form and the records fee of $12 should be mailed to the address below:

Secretary of State
Driver Analysis Section
2701 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62723

Mail submissions should include the full name, date of birth, sex, and Illinois Driver’s License Number of the person named on the record.

Acceptable forms of payment for in-person applications include credit/debit cards. There is a $1 fee assessed for credit/debit card payments. Mail requests are payable by check or money order to the Secretary of State. It takes ten business days to process mail requests for personal or third-party records and 11 to 15 working days to process in-person requests made for third-party records. If the record request was made in person by the record owner, the results are obtained immediately. The SOS Abstract Information Unit may also be contacted during weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. using (217) 782–2720.

How Can I Find a Lost Traffic Ticket in Illinois?

Interested parties may find lost traffic tickets in Illinois by contacting the Circuit Court in the district where the violation occurred. The presiding court usually provides online solutions for retrieving these tickets. Usually, parties are required to provide their driver’s license numbers or citation numbers. Individuals may also opt to contact the Illinois Secretary of State on (800) 252–8980.

How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your Record in Illinois?

In the State of Illinois, a traffic ticket issued for a moving violation may stay on a driver’s record for 4 to 5 years from the conviction date. Traffic violations that resulted in a suspension or revocation can remain on a driver’s record for at least seven years from the license reinstatement date. If the breach was for a drug or alcohol-related offense, it remains permanently on the driver’s record.

Is a Summons Worse Than a Ticket in Illinois?

A court summons or citation may not necessarily be worse than a ticket in Illinois. Upon receiving a subpoena, the individual may be required to appear at the Circuit Court indicated on the ticket. On the other hand, receiving a traffic ticket requires the individual to pay applicable fines through in-person, mail-in, or online services.

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