In Georgia does failure to appear in traffic court for an expired tag result in a bench warrant?

Based upon my experience, the answer is yes. Although I know that not all counties will do so, I know it happens in Henry County, Georgia. Due to some confusion about when I needed to renew my tags after purchasing a new car at the same time I moved to Georgia from out of state, I got a citation for expired tags. Because I lived nearly two hours away from the county in which I was cited, I attempted to simply pay the penalty and waive the hearing. Yet, there was no penalty on the citation and every attempt I made to contact the court about paying the penalty was met with a "I don't know, you'll have to talk to so and so." Of course, no matter when I called old "so and so" was never available, including he/she was on an extended vacation. Because I had to be out of town on the court date, as I explained to the person answering the phone, I did not show up for the court date. I planned to take care of it when I returned, but by then the citation was buried under other work on my desk and I simply forgot about it. At this point, too, I'd already renewed my tags.

Several months later, when I was only a couple of days from moving out of the State of Georgia, I got pulled over for missing a stop sign. I was arrested based on a bench warrant. Because I seriously had forgotten about this whole expired tag matter, I had no idea why I'd been arrested or had a bench warrant. The police in my county did not either. I was extradited to Henry County, processed, and only after several hours was I told why this all had happened. I paid the original fine for the expired tag, which again took the police quite some time to figure out, and was released. Now, I'm nearly two hours away from home, and my car had been towed back where I was arrested. Because our movers had already loaded all our belongings, my Mother and I were staying with one of my co-workers as I wrapped up my final business in Georgia. I had to make a collect call to this co-worker and ask her to come nearly two hours away to pick me up, take me to get my car from the company that towed it, and get me back home. This whole event was so absurd that she did not believe me at first that I'd been arrested for failure to appear for an expired tag ticket!

Although the officials that I paid in Henry County assured me that I would not need to appear at the final court date, seeing as I'd already paid the fine, I still drove all the way from IL back to Georgia to appear for the hearing. I've had to explain this more than a dozen time since.

Thus, my advice is that any citation in Georgia is nothing to take lightly. If you failed to appear for this hearing, I recommend that you contact the county in which you were issued the citation and make arrangements to deal with it. Do not make the mistake I did. I cost me a lot! I read about a similar situation that happened to a women in Kentucky, too.

Good luck!