A: Read your “Notice to Appear.” You will find:
- The name of the court that will decide your case;
- The deadline to pay the ticket or go to court; and
- What you must do to respond to the ticket.
However, if you were under age 18 when you got the ticket, this information could be sent to you later by the court. Courts have websites that include information about how to handle traffic tickets.
A: The court's address is on your "Notice to Appear." If it is not on your ticket, you can find your court's address and contact information on your court's website.
A: For a "Notice to Appear" ticket, call the court listed on the ticket or look for the Traffic Department in the Government Pages of your phone book. Or get their phone number from the court's website.
A: If you got a ticket for an infraction (like running a stop sign), you may be able to do everything you need to do online or by mail. You may also be able to call the court to deal with your ticket without having to appear. You may call the court before your “Notice to Appear” date. However, the necessity of your appearance at court will be determined by how you chose to deal with your traffic ticket and may be determined by the nature of your violation. If you have any doubts, contact the court clerk or talk to a lawyer.
You MUST go to court for a misdemeanor.
A: Read your "Notice to Appear." You have two options when it comes to having a trial:
- To ask for a court trial
- To ask for a trial by written declaration.
Click for more information on traffic trials.
If you appear in court at arraignment, you will not have to deposit bail to schedule a court trial, unless:
If you request a trial by written declaration, deposit of full bail with your request is required. (Veh. Code, § 40902.) If you wish to schedule a trial date without appearing in court for an arraignment, deposit of bail is required. (Veh. Code, § 40519.)
A: Yes. If you have a trial and are found not guilty, the court will return the bail to the person that paid it.
A: If you have a financial hardship and can show that you are unable to pay the full amount for the offenses in your case, you may ask the court to consider your ability to pay in deciding the amount to order for the conviction. (Veh. Code, § 42003(c).) In addition, you may ask for an installment payment plan that is based on your ability to pay or ask the court to approve community service as an alternative to payment. After consideration of ability to pay, the court has discretion whether to reduce your fine, approve community service, or approve a payment plan.
A: You can go to traffic court without a lawyer. If you want a lawyer for a traffic infraction (like speeding or running a red light), you can hire one. But the court will not give you one.
For a misdemeanor, like driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is a good idea to have a lawyer because of the potentially high fines and possibility of a jail sentence. If you cannot afford one, the court will give you one, so make sure you tell the judge you want the court to appoint a lawyer to represent you.
A: After you pay your fine, points may show up on your DMV record unless you can go to traffic school and you complete traffic school before the deadline, the points should not show up on your record.
If you get points on your record, your insurance company may ask you to pay more for insurance because of this, or they may cancel your policy and tell you to find insurance elsewhere. Points can stay on your record for 3 to 7 years.
A: Generally, you can go to traffic school if:
If the court issues you a Courtesy Notice, it will say if you are eligible for traffic school. You may also contact the court to see if you are eligible. You must do so by your “Notice to Appear” date.
You CANNOT go to traffic school for:
You are also NOT eligible for traffic school without approval of a judicial officer if you have gone to traffic school for another ticket that you got in the last 18 months.
There are other reasons you may not be eligible for traffic school. Talk to a lawyer if the court says you are not eligible for traffic school but you believe you should be.
If you are eligible to go to traffic school and you are unable to pay the full amount of the fee for traffic school for the eligible offenses due to a financial hardship, you may ask in court at arraignment or after a trial that the court consider your inability to pay and lower the fee for traffic school for the offenses or approve a payment plan. (Veh. Code, § 42007(a)(1).)
For more information, visit the Traffic School page.
A: If a police officer gives you a "fix-it" ticket on a "Notice to Appear," the "yes" box will be checked below "Correctable Violation" on the front of the ticket. The police can give you another ticket if you do not fix the problem immediately.
When you fix the problem, get an authorized person to sign the "Certificate of Correction" part of your ticket. Take the proof of correction to the court and pay the dismissal fee before the deadline. You can check your ticket or contact the court to see if the court accepts proof of correction by mail.
The court will then dismiss your case and it will not go on your record.
Read the Correctable Violations (“Fix-It” Tickets) page to learn more.
A: There are many ways you can handle this problem.
One way is to go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) office. Ask a clerk at the DMV to help you. After you correct the problem, the DMV will sign the “Certificate of Correction” part of your ticket.
You must take or mail the signed ticket with proof of correction to the court along with your dismissal fee. Do this before the deadline on your ticket.
The court will then dismiss your case and it will not go on your record.
A: In California, you must have car insurance that covers you when you are driving any car. If a police officer stops you, you must show proof of insurance.
A: When you sign your ticket, you promise to go to court or pay the fine.
If you do not go to court or pay your fine, your driver's license can be suspended. And you may not be able to renew your car's registration. Your failure to appear may also limit the ways in which you can address your ticket. It may also limit the ability of the court to consider your financial hardship or ability to pay your traffic fine.
The court can also charge you with "a failure to appear." If that happens, the court can charge you with a misdemeanor and issue a warrant for your arrest or add an additional fee (called a "civil assessment") of up to $300. If you receive a notice of a civil assessment, you must respond by the due date to show good cause for the failure to appear and be able to renew your driver’s license.
A: If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, you may go to jail for up to 6 months and pay close to $5,000. You may also lose your driver's license for 6 months and be ordered to complete a 3-month or 9-month program. For more details about second and third offenses, visit the Payment of Fines page.
A: When the court has decided your fine, you can pay in person at the court or by mail. Some courts allow you to pay your ticket online. Check the ticket, courtesy notice, or court website to see whether you can also pay by phone or online. If the court allows payment online, you can pay online at the State of California website. For more information, visit the Payment of Fines page.
A: If you have a financial hardship and can show that you are unable to pay the full amount for the offenses on your traffic ticket, you may request the court to consider your ability to pay. However, you must appear before the court to do so. When you appear in court and plead “guilty” at arraignment, you may request that the court consider your ability to pay in reducing the fine to be paid. If you plead “not guilty,” after a trial and conviction, you may request that the court consider your ability to pay in deciding the fine ordered for the offenses. (Veh. Code, § 42003(c).) Additionally, regardless of your plea, if you are ordered to pay a fine you may ask the court for an installment payment plan that is based on your ability to pay or ask the court to approve community service due to financial hardship.
A: The Information on Appeal Procedures for Infractions (Form CR-141-INFO) has instructions on how to appeal infractions, and the Noticeof Appeal and Record of Oral Proceedings (Form CR-142) is used for a notice of appeal for infraction cases. For more information, visit the Appeals page.
If you were found guilty after a trial by written declaration, you must first file a request for a new trial. Use a Request for New Trial (Trial de Novo) (Trial by Written Declaration) (Form TR-220). Also check out Instructions to Defendant (Trial by Written Declaration — Traffic) (Form TR-200).