Traffic Court FAQs
Q: If I want to pay my civil infraction traffic ticket, what do I do?
Read the information and follow the directions provided on the back of the traffic ticket and on the fines and costs sheet you received from the police officer. If your traffic offense is listed on the fines and costs sheet, you may pay the ticket by mail (exceptions will be noted.) within 10 calendar days of the date on the ticket. Sign the back of the ticket in the appropriate place, make your personal check, money order, or certified check out to the Fifth District Court, and mail the signed ticket/citation and payment to the court address on the front of the ticket.
If your offense is not listed on the fines and costs sheet or you have questions, call the court at 269-982-8680. Pay your ticket with a credit card via the Internet or phone! Visit the Courts' Payment Options site for more information.
Q: If I want to deny responsibility for my civil infraction traffic ticket what do I do?
Read the information on the back of the ticket. In the third box, circle #1 if you want an informal hearing before a magistrate or circle #2 if you want a formal hearing before a judge. Sign your name in the box and return your ticket copy to the court within 10 calendar days from the date that you were issued the ticket. The court address is on the front of the ticket. In two or three weeks you will receive a notice in the mail with a hearing date for you to appear at the court. If you have questions, call the court at 269-982-8680 if your ticket has a court address in St. Joseph, MI. Call 269-684-5274 if your ticket has a court address in Niles, MI.
Q: If I want to plead not guilty to my misdemeanor traffic ticket what do I do?
You must appear in person at the court within 10 calendar days of the date on the ticket. If you would like to plead not guilty by mail send a letter to be received by the court within 10 calendar days of the date on the ticket with that request. Include a copy of your ticket along with your request. If you have questions, call the court at 269-982-8680 for a ticket with a court address in St. Joseph, MI, call 269 684-5274 for a ticket with a court address in Niles, MI.
Q: Do I have to appear in court if I gave the police officer money when (s)he gave me the traffic ticket?
The money you gave the police officer is your bond money. If you decide to pay the ticket within 10 calendar days, that money will be applied to the total amount of fines and costs that you owe. Refer to the question that asks about paying a ticket for directions.
If you deny responsibility or plead not guilty your bond money will be held in trust at the court until your case reaches a final disposition.
Q: Is there a warrant for my arrest?
If a police agency contacts you and advises you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you must appear in court for arraignment. The police agency will advise you when to appear for arraignment, either in St. Joseph at the courthouse or in Niles at the South County Building. However, you may be arrested at any time prior to arraignment.
If, in the past, you were given or received a notice to appear in court for a hearing on a specific date and time for a misdemeanor criminal offense, a misdemeanor traffic offense, or a felony offense and you didn't appear, a bench warrant was issued for your arrest. You must appear for arraignment either in St. Joseph at the courthouse or in Niles at the South County Building. Call the court at 269- 982-8682 in St. Joseph or 269-684-5274 in Niles. You may be arrested at any time prior to arraignment.
Q: May I go to a court ordered or sponsored traffic school so I don't get points on my driver's license?
No, the Berrien County Trial Court does not have legal authority to order a traffic school in lieu of points on your driver's license.
Q: What if I've already received an extension on my traffic ticket but I still need more time?
Appear in person on or before your extension due date and explain the situation to the traffic clerk who may refer you to a magistrate. Second extensions are not granted over the phone without extenuating circumstances.