Does a Traffic Warrant Show in a Criminal Background Check?

An unpaid traffic ticket can come back to haunt you.
Image Credit: kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

The drama of a warrant isn't spectacular if you're job hunting. Warrants are issued for forgetting to attend court or pay a fine for a moving violations. If you got a speeding ticket, for example, and didn't pay the fine or appear as required in court on the designated date, the court issues a warrant for your arrest. Any outstanding warrant, including those for unpaid tickets or missed court appearances for traffic violations, are revealed when a potential employer runs a background check.


Open Warrants

Open warrants are public record, created in the local jurisdiction when you fail to appear in court or don't pay the required fine, says David A. Harris, the Balk Professor of Law and Values at the University of Toledo College of Law in an interview with "The Wall Street Journal" law blog. Harris notes that these types of warrants are surprisingly common, and you often won't even be aware that one is outstanding, though you may suspect it if you've been caught violating traffic laws and not paid the associated fine.


Video of the Day

Closed Cases

If you suspect you have a warrant, work with legal counsel to arrange to turn yourself into the jurisdictions where the warrant is outstanding and make the required court appearance. Once a warrant is cleared, it no longer appears on your background check. If you are convicted of a crime after going to court to take care of the warrant, that conviction will appear. For example, if you had a warrant for failure to appear on a misdemeanor charge and the court later convicted you of the misdemeanor, the conviction will appear on your criminal background check.


Traffic Incidents Other Than Warrants

Minor traffic violations such as speeding tickets do not show up on criminal background checks unless you don't resolve them properly by either paying the fine or appearing in court, or both in some jurisdictions. Check your ticket carefully to see what's required of you should you violate the traffic laws as jurisdictions have varying requirements. If your employer orders a driving record instead of a criminal background check, your traffic tickets will appear in that record regardless of whether there are outstanding warrants related to them.


Costs Involved

Besides paying the outstanding fine and any additional fees for late payment, you may need to pay legal costs to clear a warrant. Hire an attorney to represent you in court on warrant issues. You can also request a public defender if you cannot afford an attorney.