Here in Las Vegas, traffic warrants are rampant, with easily over 100,000 active warrants as of 5 years ago. For those who have warrants, there’s that Machiavellian fear that the cops are just around the corner, waiting to pounce. I’ve had several friends in this predicament, and the following questions get asked over and over…
Will a traffic warrant show up on a background check?
In most cases, yes. Obviously there will be variation from city to city, and there are also variations in different types of background checks. Here in Las Vegas, the answer will almost always be yes. If you need a background check done and have an outstanding warrant, you should be proactive and take care of the warrant. More info here.
Can a traffic warrant prevent me from getting a job?
Yes. If the employer runs a background check and sees your warrant, this may be sufficient reason not to hire you. A courteous employer may let you know the issue, and a few may even give you time to clear it up. In many cases, if an employer sees a traffic warrant, they will probably not even call you back.
Here in Las Vegas, most casinos will run a background check for potential employees. Be sure you have a clear record before applying.
Can you actually get sent to jail for traffic warrants?
Absolutely. While I’ve seen nicer cops let people go with a warning for traffic warrants, it isn’t uncommon for a person in a routine stop to be arrested for an old warrant. Even celebrities such as Suge Knight and Flavor Flav aren’t immune to arrest due to warrants in Las Vegas.
How do I get a warrant off of my record?
Pay it! If it’s more than a few months old, there’s a good chance that it has been handed off to a collection agency such as NCO Financial to hound you for it. NCO doesn’t own it, so you can’t haggle with them like you could with other debt. Here is the official court website, with information on how to remove a warrant. Once you pay it, there may be a 48-hour delay before the warrant is marked as cleared.
There have been amnesty programs in the Vegas Valley in recent years, offering reduced fees and payment programs. These typically happen at the beginning of the calendar year. If you see one of these being promoted, take advantage of it.
It’s sad that a simple traffic stop can wreak havoc in a person’s life. It’s also unfortunate that a traffic warrant can prevent a person from getting a job. How can a person pay a ticket if they can’t get a job to earn money to pay it? Even though the system seems screwy, it’s the state of things and probably won’t change anytime soon. The best advice I can give is do your best to stick to the rules of the road, and if you get a ticket, get it out of your hair as soon as possible.
The information above is based on experiences in Las Vegas, Nevada. Your city may be different.