A Court Appearance IS Required
A reckless driving charge in the State of Illinois does require a court appearance. It being a Class A misdemeanor, a jailable offense does require that the individual appear in court.
If an individual fails to appear in court, it depends on the judge on any given day, but technically that individual could have a warrant issued for their arrest if they do not appear on their initial appearance date for a reckless driving charge.
Here’s What Will Happen at Court
Receiving the Ticket
I work personally in Cook County, which is Chicago and the metropolitan area around it, as well as DuPage and Will Counties, which are the counties directly west and southwest of Cook County.
Cook County is a very different animal than the other two surrounding counties. For the purposes of reckless driving, the court procedure itself does function very similarly.
In Cook County, you would receive a reckless driving ticket. If you are pulled over by an officer, it’s really at their discretion whether or not they’re going to choose to issue you your ticket and let you on your way on a recognizance bond or an I bond, as they’re called in Illinois. What this means is that you’ve signed the ticket and you promise to appear in courts, they’re going to let you go.
If the particular act is egregious enough for them to pull you over and not feel comfortable allowing you back on the road, because it is a Class A misdemeanor, it is within an officer’s discretion to arrest you, have your car impounded and have you transported to their police facilities, where you could then either bond out at that time on an I bond or have to have somebody come in and post a bond as a promise to appear in court.
Going to Court
Cook County itself is split into six municipal districts. The first district is the downtown proper and the other five kind of go counter-clockwise from the north to the northwest to the southwest to the south. There’s six in total. The district you ought appear in will depend on where you were on the roadway at the time you’re pulled over.
When you arrive at court you will be given a room number to appear in. Go to that room number. Check in with the clerk or the clerk will check you in. They each have their different styles in terms of whether they have people line up or whether they just call people’s names out.
You appear on time at this prescribed courtroom. At that time, if you do not have an attorney, your case will be called before the judge. The charge will be read so that you are aware of what you are being charged with. The state will be there as well, as they are in all courtrooms.
Bringing in an Attorney
The state’s attorney will be there and have your file. The judge, at that point, because it is a Class A misdemeanor, will often ask the driver if they are intending on hiring an attorney to represent them. It being a Class A, most courtrooms really require that an attorney be involved because of the jailability of the offense.
If the driver indicates that they are indigent or not working, unable to afford an attorney, their case may be passed so that they can apply for the public defender. The public defender may assist them through the rest of the process.
If they indicate that they are employed and able to hire an attorney, the judge will often give them a continuance to a date in the next month to give them a month’s time to go out, hire an attorney, discuss the case and have that attorney appear with them on the next court date.
Cook County, actually all three counties I practice in, work on what is called a key date system, meaning every officer has one day per month that they are scheduled to appear in court. If a continuance is necessary, it is continued to the officer’s next key date.
You’re able to go “off key” sometimes but for the most part every court wants to keep everybody coming back to the room at the same time so that everybody is on the same page.
If you hire an attorney before your court date, it’s likely that a disposition can be reached on that day, although sometimes reckless driving charges do take multiple court visits. The basic procedure with an attorney is that he discusses with the state’s attorney what kind of plea negotiations could be had to determine if it is a case that they would rather not have to take to trial.