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What Are Ohio Traffic Court Records?
Ohio traffic court records are the legal documents and case files created, from the proceedings of the traffic courts in the state of Ohio. These include records related to moving violations & non-moving under the motor vehicle code, within the state of Ohio
Are Ohio Traffic Court Records Public Records?
As with all other states, Ohio traffic court records are public records, under the public access to information law, and may be accessed and viewed by members of the public, except where these records have been restricted from public access by a judge.
What Information is Required to Obtain Ohio Traffic Court Records?
Any person interested in obtaining traffic court records must provide necessary information such as the first and last name of the person whose traffic court records are requested. Depending on the type of record required, whether an abbreviated or a complete abstract, the interested person may be required to provide valid identification for verification of their identity. Payment of court fees, if and where applicable, is also a prerequisite for obtaining court records in Ohio.
Are all Traffic Violations handled the same way, in Ohio?
While the fines and penalties differ for Ohio traffic violations and these are indicated on the ticket, the process for handling a citation is executed in the same manner, regardless of the type or severity of the citation. So while the penalties associated with not wearing a seatbelt will most likely be less than the penalties for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), the process for responding to both citations, and the subsequent processes, will be the same.
Can Ohio Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
According to the state of Ohio Revised Code section 2953.36, “The records for DUI/OVI convictions and other traffic offense convictions cannot be sealed”. Consequently, a conviction for traffic offenses is a permanent record and can neither be sealed nor expunged in the state of Ohio.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Ohio
An Ohio traffic ticket also referred to as an Ohio Uniform Multi-Count Traffic Ticket (MUTT) is usually a 5-part carbonless computer-generated long-form issued for traffic violations, approximately 4.25 x 11 inches. This represents a sworn statement from the officer describing the infraction, misdemeanor, or felony observed. It is issued by a state, county or municipal police or sheriff department officer and will be completed by the officer. It will show the bio-data of the offender including full name, date of birth, social security number, physical & mailing addresses (if different) and details of the license and vehicle involved. The nature of the charge being cited for will also be listed, along with the location where the alleged offense occurred with the date and time. The statute or ordinance the offender is accused of violating will also be included on the ticket and the county court which the offender will need to appear before. The ticket should also show the amount to be paid, the due date for a response and whether a court appearance will be required. If the fine to be paid is not listed on the ticket, then you will need to contact the county court listed.
Ohio traffic tickets come with financial repercussions. These could come to include penalty fines and court fees. The offender is also facing the possibility of the conviction being added on their driving record, which can lead to license suspension or revocation. Fines vary by the violation (determined by presiding laws and statutes) and the county in which the ticket was received, so a fine for speeding above the designated limit will differ from a fine for a DUI.
In addition to fines, based on the nature of the cited violation and the outcome, some penalties can be incurred. The offender's license type and driving record history also have an effect on these penalties. A specific number of penalty points, again based on the violation, will be added to the record of a convicted driver. Accumulation of a certain number of points over a certain period, usually 12+ points over 24 months will result in a suspension of the offender's license.
Traffic violations are classified as moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations are traffic laws violated by a vehicle in motion, while non-moving violations that relate to parking or faulty violations. Non-moving violations also tend to occur when the car is moving, but are differentiated by the treatment of the courts and Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) as non-moving violations are not reported to the BMV.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Ohio?
Upon receiving a traffic ticket in Ohio, you are required to respond and either
- Plead Guilty
- Plead Not Guilty
Ensure some part of either action is taken before the due date indicated on the ticket (usually 15 days after the citation was issued), as a failure to respond to an Ohio traffic ticket will result in license suspension and also the potential of a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. For less severe violations, a court appearance is not required and must only be made if you choose to fight the charge i.e. plead NOT GUILTY. The ticket will indicate if a court appearance is mandatory.
If you plead GUILTY to an Ohio state traffic ticket, you have accepted responsibility for the violation and agreed to all associated penalties, including all fines, fees, and surcharges arising from this plea. You have also consented to waive your right to challenge the ticket in court.
If a court appearance is not required, the ticket can be paid in person at the county court, via mail and some counties allow for payment to be made online. If you choose to go this route, the ticket citation, your driver’s license and proof of insurance will be required (no matter the chosen mode of payment). Different courts may require different forms of payment, so verification with the particular court should be made beforehand.
If a court appearance is required, the first appearance (arraignment) will be where you will enter your GUILTY plea and thereafter sentenced by the judge. At this juncture, you may have the option to enter a plea of NO CONTEST which, while it is still technically a GUILTY plea, allows you the opportunity to provide an explanation before the judge passes down the sentencing, and this could help you in receiving a lighter sentence. This will be at the discretion of the judge and is not guaranteed.
If you choose to plead NOT GUILTY to an Ohio state traffic ticket, you have decided to contest the ticket in court and should be prepared to do so.
You will be required to make a court appearance before or on the designated due date and time for the arraignment, to enter your plea. After entering your plea, a date for your trial will be set of which you must appear or risk being found GUILTY in your absence. If this happens, then you are liable for all penalties and court charges.
You will have to prepare your defense and should consider professional representation.
- Found Not Guilty: On completion of the trial, if you are found NOT GUILTY by the court, then all charges will be dropped and there will be no fines, penalties or points added to your driving record. However, you will be liable for court costs.
- Found Guilty: On completion of the trial, if you are found GUILTY you will be instructed on your penalties by the court and these could include fines and other penalties (depending on the severity of the charge) and points will be added to your driving record. You will also be liable for court costs.
You should note that Traffic tickets in Ohio fall under the purview of the courts in the individual county in which the citation was written. Accordingly, fines and inquiries will need to be directed to the specific county listed on the traffic ticket you received and not the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
How Do I find Ohio Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records may be available online, on each county or municipality court’s website or third-party websites. In all jurisdictions, the public may gain access to physical court records by approaching the custodian of all such records, the municipal court clerk’s office. To view or obtain physical traffic court records from any court, the applicant may visit the court clerk’s office where the case was filed and the records were created. The applicant may be able to look through the records free of charge if they do not request a copy. Copying of court records may attract fees.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a 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.
How does one end up in an Ohio State Traffic court?
You end up in an Ohio state traffic court if after receiving a traffic ticket from a ticketing officer; he indicates on the ticket that a court appearance is required. This usually occurs when the offense is considered more serious than a minor traffic violation. You can also end up in traffic court if the ticketing officer indicates no court appearance is required on the ticket and
- You choose to enter a plea of no contest or
- You choose to plead not guilty and want to request a trial.
Both instances require an appearance in court to enter these pleas. Also, a notification must be sent to the court prior, if you wish to plead not guilty. A date for the trial will be set at this stage, of which you must be present for or risk having a verdict reached in your absence which will be binding on you.
Which Courts in Ohio have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
In Ohio, traffic cases are assigned for hearing in the municipality or county where the violation was alleged to have occurred, and are heard by the requisite municipal or county courts. Also, though they are not courts of records, traffic cases can be heard in a Mayor's court. Mayor's courts are local-level courts, established where there are no municipal courts, which hear cases regarding traffic violations and other minor misdemeanors and offenses of which there will be no jail time.