Can I Really Get Arrested for a Traffic Ticket?

Short answer, yes.  In case out of Texas, Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, the US Supreme Court upheld the power of the police to arrest you for any offense, even traffic tickets punishable only by a fine (like the seatbelt law).  Worse yet, in a more recent case, Florence v. Burlington, the Court held that it was lawful to strip search anyone who’s been arrested, even it was for a minor traffic ticket.  And if that’s not depressing enough, many cities (like Dallas) are pushing for more “warrant roundups,” mass arrests of people with warrants for failure to appear on traffic ticket cases, as a way to raise revenue.  This can be especially troubling given that you may not even know you’ve received a ticket in the first place; tickets aren’t always handed out at the scene of the crime (so to speak) and if you haven’t updated the address on your driver license, you might not learn about a ticket or a court date until it’s too late.


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