I have traffic tickets on my driving record. Can I get these removed?
Yes. It is possible to have vacate a conviction from your driving record. Further, under certain circumstances, even a DUI conviction can be vacated (removed). The process of removing a ticket is called “vacating a conviction.”
Method to get a ticket removed?
The first step to remove a ticket is to file a Motion to Vacate. The motion is filed at the courthouse the ticket is located. Hence, if the ticket is from Cook County, 5th District (Bridgview) then the motion would have to be filed at the Bridgview courthouse. Likewise, a DuPage ticket would require a motion to be filed in DuPage County.
How does a Motion to Vacate work and is there a fee?
A motion to vacate is a request for the judge to re-open the case and change the outcome. Court clerks require a filing fee to file a Motion to Vacate. Each county’s fee is different. Cook County is $80.00, whereas DuPage, Kane and Will County is $40.00. Each ticket will require a separate motion and fee. The fee must be paid at the time you file the motion.
Does the Judge have to remove the conviction?
No. A judge does not have to grant your motion. If the motion is filed within 30 days from the date the conviction was entered, a judge is very likely to remove the conviction. However, past 30 days the conviction becomes a “final judgment” and is far more difficult to remove. However, I have routinely vacate tickets that are years old.
Why would a Judge remove a conviction?
A judge typically will not agree to vacate a conviction unless the prosecutor agrees to have the ticket vacated. If both sides agree, (prosecutor and defense) then the judge is very likely to go along with the agreement.
Why would a prosecutor agree to vacate a conviction?
Although a prosecutor is not inclined to vacate a conviction, they nevertheless do because of agreement with your attorney. I usually employ several methods to get a prosecutor to agree. By explaining my client’s story and why this ticket is damaging their record, I’m able to have a prosecutor also want to help my client. However, if they do not agree, I simply continue the case and try another day. I try very hard to get the prosecutor to agree to consider the matter. Once I have the agreement for them to consider it, I continue the matter. When I return on the following court date, I usually am able to have the ticket vacated.
Should I try to vacate the ticket myself and if I cannot get it done then hire an attorney?
No. When vacating a conviction you only have one shot at it. If you try without a very experienced and smart attorney the motion will be denied. Once the motion is denied, another attempt would have to be a “Motion to Reconsider,” rather than a Motion to Vacate. A Motion to Reconsider is not possible after 30 days from the date that the judge said he would not vacate the conviction.
Final thoughts on vacating a conviction.
I have been vacating tickets for over 23 years and it takes 25% skill, 25% knowledge and 50% salesmanship.