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What are Minnesota Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records provide official documentation of moving and non-moving violations under the motor vehicle code in the state of Minnesota. They are a representation of all legal documents and case files generated from the proceedings of the traffic courts of Minnesota. These include records created for petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors and come to include records for gross misdemeanors and felonies.
Are Minnesota Traffic Court Records Public Records?
All proceedings from a court of record are classified public records and, as such, are available to members of the general public under the public access to information law. Ergo members of the public can request access to any traffic record, with the exemption of records that have been restricted by a judge.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Minnesota
A traffic ticket or Citation is a computer-generated long-form document issued by a law enforcement officer for violations of traffic statutes in the state of Minnesota. It is indicative of the sworn statement by the officer regarding their observations of the alleged violation. The citation will be completed by the officer and contain a citation number and information pertinent to the violation. This information will include the full name, date of birth, address, height, weight, gender, the race of the alleged violator. If the offender is a juvenile, then name and address (if different) of parents or legal guardians must be provided. Details about the violator's license and information about the vehicle involved in the violation will be noted on the ticket. The citation will indicate the time, date and location of the alleged offense, including county. The offense(s) noted will be listed with a charge description and the statute/ordinance deemed to have been violated.
It will also indicate if the offense is a petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor and if this is up to the offender’s third violation. If any on-site tests were given, they will be noted as well. The officer will append his name, ID number, agency and record the date the ticket was issued. If the “Endangering Life/Property” checkbox is marked, then a court appearance is required and a court date will be included. If a court date is not noted on the ticket, then a notice to appear will be sent to the address provided on the citation. It is your responsibility to ensure the court has your current address. The reverse side of the ticket will contain information about responding to citation and should be strictly adhered to.
Minnesota does not operate a points-based driving record system, but violations are reported to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Convictions are noted on your driving record and repeat or habitual offenders and violations that demonstrate a pattern of dangerous driving will receive added penalties, including having your license suspended or revoked. There are 4 basic levels of traffic violations- petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and felonies- and each carries different fines, penalties and jail time (where applicable). Certain violations are deemed Payable Offenses. These offenses are mostly petty misdemeanors, come with no jail time and can be handled sans a court appearance. Some misdemeanors fall under this classification as well.
Traffic citations come with penalties consisting of fines and other charges. Total fine amounts are not available until after the law enforcement agency files the citation with the court and it is input in the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS), a process that could take up to ten business days. Afterward, you can use the courts web-portal to search (by citation number) for the total amount and make the payment or you can contact the Minnesota Court Payment Center (MNCPC) for help.
Typically traffic violations are separated into moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations are traffic laws offenses by a moving vehicle. Non-moving violations tend to take place with parked vehicles or as a result of faulty or broken vehicle equipment. Non-moving violations can be cited on moving vehicles but such violations will be differentiated by law. Non-moving violations are not reported to the Missouri Department of Public Safety and are not recorded up on your driving record.
Counties, cities, and towns in Minnesota are authorized to establish administrative citations that may be imposed, by peace officers, instead of petty misdemeanors in specific circumstances. The statutes and ordinances violated will be the same, the legal process and penalties will be different.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Minnesota?
If you receive a traffic citation in Missouri, you are expected to either
- Pay the Fine
- Contest the ticket
A response must be made to the citation before or on the scheduled court date by entering one of the above actions. If no court date is indicated, you must respond within 30 days of the date the citation was issued.
Choosing to pay the fine is seen as you are entering a GUILTY plea to a Missouri state traffic ticket. It is an indication of your acknowledgment of the charges against you and an agreement to settle all imposed fines, fees, and penalties, and a waiver of your right to contest the ticket in a court. This option is essentially a conviction and will be reported to the DPS and will show on your driving record.
If a court appearance is not required i.e. your violation is a payable offense, you can pay the fine and other charges
- Online on the Minnesota Court Payment web-portal
- By phone or mail by contacting the Minnesota Court Payment Center (MNCPC)
- In-person to the court's clerk of the county where the citation was issued
You will need to verify your total fine amount on the portal, with the MNCPC or court clerk and should give 7-10 working days, to ensure citation has been filed.
If a court appearance is required (Endangering Life/Property checkbox is marked) a court date will have been noted on the ticket or you will receive a notice to appear with a date and time. You must appear on date, at time and location and enter your plea, at which you will be assessed of the total fine payable.
If this is your only ticket, you may be eligible for a Continuance for Dismissal which will keep the ticket off your record, and the court will be able to let you know the details if you qualify. Choosing to exercise your right to contest the ticket is seen as a NOT GUILTY plea and you must appear in court to do so. It is advisable to retain the services of a traffic attorney at this point.
Certain counties provide you the option of meeting a Hearings Officer at the Hearing & Fines Management Office of the Violations Bureau, where you can talk about your options for dealing with the citation and if a resolution is reached, you need not appear in court. Otherwise, you must appear at the appointed court, at the indicated time for trial. At the end of the proceeding, the judiciary official will rule on your case, and you will be adjudged Guilty or Not Guilty.
A guilty verdict will result in you having to pay all accrued fines and fees and a conviction on the charges will be noted on your driving record and reported to the DPS (if applicable).
A not guilty verdict will see you freed on all accounts and you are not liable for fines and charges, though court costs may still apply, and no record of the offense will appear on your driving record.
How Do I Find Minnesota Traffic Court Records?
Minnesota traffic court records can be reviewed to ascertain whether they are available online using the Minnesota Judicial branch website. The name on the record being requested and the case file number are required. This only shows which records are available and online access to actual files can only be made from public access computers at the courthouse or State law library. Alternatively, you can visit the appropriate court in person and make your request at the court clerk’s office. Court charges will apply if copies of the record are required and verification of identity is mandatory. It is also possible to find traffic records on third party websites. By law or court order, some documents in a court file may be "confidential," "expunged," or "sealed" and such files cannot be viewed or copied.
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 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.
What Information is Required to Obtain Minnesota Traffic Court Records?
You will need to provide information about the particular record including full name (as it appears on the record), date of birth and the case number. The person requesting the record will also need to provide information including full name, address and a valid form of identification. Court fees will apply depending on the scope of the request and must be paid before you can receive the records.
Are all Traffic Violations handled the same way, in Minnesota?
Minnesota traffic violations are typically handled in the same manner regardless of the level of the offense. There will be a difference in fines and penalties received, but the underlying procedures will be the same. The exemption to this is if the ticket is an administrative citation and issued by a peace officer.
Administrative citations are contested through a civil process and this must be set up by the local unit of government. The process must include a hearing and rulings by a neutral third party when a citation is being contested. This process takes the place of the court system in handling the case. These are only issued for petty violations.
Can Minnesota Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
Minnesota laws allow for the expungement of a wide collection of offenses including petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, and certain felonies. It will require that a specified period has elapsed, dependent on the type of offense and that the person making the request has not been convicted of any other crime within that time.
How does one end up in a Minnesota Traffic court?
One ends up in Minnesota traffic after one receives a traffic citation and
- You wish to plead not guilty
- You wish to plead guilty and offer an explanation
- The officer has indicated you endangered persons or property
Which Courts in Minnesota have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
Minnesota traffic violations are heard in the county or district courts where the violation was alleged to have happened.