California Traffic Ticket Due Dates Go Beyond The Calendar - Traffic Fines & Citation Tips
What Due Dates Are Essential After Getting A Traffic Ticket?
Getting a California traffic ticket means you were given a traffic ticket by a law enforcement officer in violation of traffic laws such as speeding, running a red light or a stop sign, changing lanes without your indicators on, and driving with an expired vehicle registration. If you sign a traffic ticket in California, you must know that it doesn’t mean you’re guilty of any traffic violations. By signing a traffic ticket or a citation, you agree to pay the ticket or appear in court to pay court fees on the effective dates in front of an authorized representative. If you don’t agree to signing the ticket, you may be arrested on the spot by a police officer.
Types of traffic tickets
There are two different types of traffic tickets in California which you can get:
- A ticket for traffic infractions or minor offenses, such as speeding and ignoring a stop sign
- And misdemeanor of severe crimes, such as driving without a valid driver license, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
Now, for every traffic ticket, you get a due date. Due date is the date displayed on your traffic ticket that indicates the day you are expected to appear in court or pay the fine. The date is clearly stated on your ticket, but you can contact the court if you have any difficulties locating it. The California Traffic Ticket fine is easy to pay, but if you’re planning on contesting your traffic ticket, please contact your court branch for further instructions.
What are my options before a speeding ticket is due?
If you are getting a traffic ticket, you must act on your “Notice to Appear” before the due date runs out. All courts are expected to give you a reminder notice, which describes your options. Even so, you do have the duty to act before the date specified in your “Notice to Appear.” If you fail to appear in court or take action as ordered on your ticket or court papers to pay court fees, your license may be revoked, and the court may charge you with a misdemeanor or violation and issue a warrant for your arrest. Your failure to appear can also lead to other fines or appraisals. You should check the due date and act before that due date when the traffic ticket is sent to you by mail. After a CA traffic ticket has been issued, you have to decide how to plead.
Plead options are:
- No contest
- Not guilty, or innocent
If you plead guilty or no contest, the ticket must be paid before the date of mandatory appearance posted on your citation at the court address or via the internet. If you want to plead not guilty, visit your court website for specific instructions about how to proceed, including on what to do when fighting a traffic violation. Whatever your plea may be, please notify the court branch of your intention before the date of appearance expires.
What Kind of Ticket Courtesy Notices Can I Expect?
Some of the courtesy notices you may receive are:
- A courtesy violation information notice—or citation mail—which the court will mail to your ticket address about two to three weeks after you got your ticket.
- If you are eligible for traffic school, then the violation may be dismissed by showing proof of correction on your due date, and the ticket must be confirmed or taken care of by you personally.
- If you do not get a reminder notice after your calculated violation date, please contact the court listed at the bottom of your ticket before the due date. Surf the court’s website for more information, or give a call to your judicial branch to clear your doubts.
Where Are the Dates on My Ticket Notices?
Find your traffic ticket number, or citation number, on your copy of your traffic ticket—at the top right side of the ticket. It may take the court 30 days or more for the law enforcement agency to receive the citation and enter it into the system. A reminder of notice will be generated and sent to the address listed on the citation.
The appearance date is at the bottom of the speeding or traffic ticket. If you misplaced your ticket, you can look it up on a California’s Court website by using your name. You must close your case or appear on or before the due date. Use the public access site of the Court of Justice to search for your photo citation and get payment information.
What Are my Options In California When Clearing a Citation or Fine?
In speeding cases, the court may suspend your driving privilege on the first offense for 30 days, 60 days on the second offense, and up to six months for a third offense that is still on your driving record. The California Vehicle Code 40610 provides that specific case numbers may be correctable and eligible for reduced bail. Next are some of the options you have when clearing a signed citation.
Pay the Ticket Before Due Date
The officer should write the court date at the bottom of the California traffic ticket when a citation is issued. It can take the court 30 days or more for the law enforcement agency to collect the citation and enter it into the system. If the citation is filed at court, a reminder notice would be produced and sent to the address specified on the citation. if you don’t want to get a late charge, you must close your case or appear on or before the due date at your court location.
Then, you need to use the Court of Justice public access site to search for your citation and traffic violations. Unless you have entered a plea of not guilty and a trial has been set, the police officer is not required to appear. When a jury is scheduled, it will inform the citing officer that his or her appearance is needed. You can always contact the Superior Court of California to get a bigger scope on your situation.
What are the payment options?
Plead guilty and pay the traffic fine
You can plead guilty and pay the fine (also known as “bail”), and you must send your payment and copy of the citation, along with the list of reminders to the courthouse. If your citation contains correctable infringements, such as expired registration, be sure to include the correction proof. If this has not been corrected, you will appear in court to decide the correct total fine amount.
You may be able to pay your ticket in different ways depending on which California county you received the traffic ticket. You can pay the traffic bail:
- By mail
- By phone
- In-person (credit card, debit card, cash)
If you do not know how much you have to pay, please contact the Court of CA County, and ask about your fare. Make sure you pay the fee by the date on which the ticket is due (found on the traffic ticket) to escape further penalties and punishments, including revoking a driver’s license.
A Payment Plan
Getting a green light on a payment plan to pay for traffic tickets might be seen as prolonging the agony, but for some, it is their only option. A wiser move before doing so will be to consult with a traffic lawyer before making any decision. A minor traffic violation can allow the automobile insurance provider to place you in a higher risk category and increase the premiums if you’re not eligible for traffic school. The decision to use a traffic ticket payment plan, such as a red-light camera-enforced ticket, could also end up costing you over $1700 over three years, and the conviction would stay on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR). A traffic attorney is of great help in these situations, as they can assist you on your payment plan so you can have a ticket removed or a fine reduced.
Claim financial hardship and inability to pay
If you are experiencing financial hardship and can provide valid proof that you are unable to pay the full amount of the offenses on your traffic ticket, you can ask the court to consider your ability to pay when determining the fine amount. You can apply for a payment plan based on your ability to pay or apply for community service consideration. Your options if you’re unable to pay are:
- Make an appointment to appear in court to make the request. Schedule your court time on the Supreme Court website of your county.
- Fill or mail a written request to the court (the TR-320 court form) If your financial hardship doesn’t allow you to make a scheduled court-ordered fine payment, you may request the following:
- A 30-day extension to pay the fine (maximum two extensions). Contact the court at its phone number, or by mail.
If possible, appear at the Traffic Business Office and request:
- A 30-day extension to pay
- A fine reduction
- A community service/volunteer work for up to half the total fine
- A payment plan, or reduction in payment amount (if it’s above $35 per month)
- A courtroom appearance to ask for a reconsideration of your ability to pay the fine (an appointment is required)
- You can also fill or mail a written explanation of your financial hardship and inability to pay to the court (TR-320 court form). The court will send you a response.
If you fail to respond in any of the cases mentioned above before your due date, it may result in any of the next possible scenarios:
- A warrant for your arrest.
- A suspension of your driver’s license and not being unable to renew your current registration.
- A referral to a collection agency and up to an additional $300 civil assessment, according to Penal Code Section 1214.1.
- Being subject to wage garnishments, tax refund interception, and bank charges through the Franchise Tax Board.
What are the payment plan due dates?
Most courts have a monthly payment arrangement, which allows for several months of traffic ticket fines payment. When the fare is to be charged in months, certain courts charge an installment fee. If you choose a payment plan, you have to pay by the due date, or you’ll get extra penalties, such as a bench warrant charge and the possibility of being arrested. Also, the ticket fee may be sent to collections and placed on your credit report.
Because fines can get costly, a traffic ticket payment package is now available for several California counties, under the CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 40510.5, and it’s called a Bail Forfeitures Installment Payment, which basically gets you a forfeit bail. The method is simple in comparison to other payment systems. After you have given a traffic ticket, you can enter a ticket program rather than pay the fine in full.
The court clerk is required to begin the process in most of the CA counties. You must sign papers to show that you accept the terms and conditions of the signed agreement to start the payment process, and you must make a minimum down payment of 10%, so you can later submit the completed forms to the court and finish the process. In failure to comply with the terms of the California traffic ticket payment plan, the driver might only be able to drive for working or school purposes only.
Provide Proof of Correction (Or Fix-it Ticket)
Following §40610 of the California Vehicle Code, some infringements may be rectifiable and qualify for reduced bail. If you are eligible to show evidence of correction, a charge of $25.00 for each violation will be assessed. If you do not have proper proof of correction, your bail will not be reduced.
If the officer’s checkmarks the box with a “no” under the correctable violation section, then it means that your violation is not eligible for correction, so you have to pay the entire amount of bail or appear before the court or the due date. A photocopy of an official card, insurance company policy or letterhead statement provided as follows may constitute valid evidence of correction in respect of insurance:
It is a correctable violation or a fix-it ticket if the box is checked “yes,” and it should appear on your notice to appear. The courtesy notice sent by the court will say whether you can pay for the infringement, or whether you’re expected to show evidence.
The court shall dismiss the applicable charge if you show evidence of correction and pay dismissal fees. Check your traffic ticket or contact the court to see if proof of correction is accepted by mail. If this happens, the court will reject your case, and it won’t be on your record.
How much time do I have to get the problem fixed?
Self-certification is not suitable for corrections. Proof of correction cannot be provided over the phone or on the Internet. Also, the sale of the vehicle does not relieve you of your responsibility to correct the violations cited for you.
Proof of correction, plus any charges and fines for other violations, must be received at the beginning of your citation on or before the due date indicated. There will be no extensions. Appointments are not suitable for postmarking.
Fight the Ticket at Traffic Court to Contest Your Citation
To most people, paying a California traffic ticket is better than trying to fight them, mostly when it’s a minor traffic violation. There are, however, moments when it’s worth fighting it. For example, it may be worth fighting a ticket if the traffic ticket leads to too many points on your driver’s license or results in higher insurance premiums.
What evidence is needed?
It’s essential to have some evidence to bring to the judge for you to create the best possible argument. Go back to the ticket scene and take pictures from the sidewalk, as well as the driver’s point of view at the same time of day. The more that you can show it that it is safe to go above the speed limit on a specific stretch of road, the better. You can also try to diagram the road section where you got the traffic ticket, and display any other variables on the diagram that may be of interest to your situation. For example, if you can prove that you’ve got your ticket between two cities on an open stretch of the road instead of a busy urban area, you have an excellent chance to demonstrate that your speed was safe considering the situation.
How do I set my court date?
You may appear at court on the due date found on your ticket, or contact the court before the mandatory court appearance date and ask for any of the following:
- An arraignment to tell the court that you want to plead guilty, be notified of the fine amount and discuss how to pay your fine or ask the court to consider your ability to pay and find a discount, approve community service or put it on a payment plan.
- Plead “no contest” or “not guilty” and request a trial date.
You can also ask the court to have your case tried by written declaration, requiring you to post the full bail amount. In some instances, you might need to post bail if you wish to set a court date without first appearing at an arraignment hearing (see Veh. Code, § 40519). You will also be expected to post bail if you want a court trial by declaration (see Veh. Code, § 40902).
What should I expect if I go to trial?
Court appearances for your traffic ticket infringement will include an indictment or arraignment and, if requested, a court hearing. If you are against going to court, you can choose a written declaration trial. At court, the judicial officer will explain what the charges are, inform you of your rights, and ask you whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty.
If you request a trial at your court, you will not be required to deposit bail, unless you sign a promise to appear as required by the court, if not, the court assumes that you are unlikely to perform without a bail deposit and sets out the reasons for the finding.
If you are in a position to deposit bail, you may choose the convenience of avoiding multiple appearances for your arraignment and trial. To have the accessibility of deciding how you wish to appear in court and trial, you must pay bail as required by Vehicle Code Section 40519. Most citizens choose this procedure because they want to take care of their traffic tickets with one court appearance. However, you also have the option under section 40519 to schedule an indictment and court trial on separate days.
Go To Traffic Violator School & Pay the Fine
Going to traffic school means you still have to pay your traffic fine, as well as the traffic school and administrative court fee. Attending traffic school does not eliminate the penalties or fees; it is a separate issue meant only to remove the points from your DMV record. Keep in mind that while some offenses are ineligible, a California court can’t arbitrarily deny traffic school if you contest a traffic ticket.
How do I request a traffic school if I am eligible?
You are eligible for traffic school if:
- You have a valid driver’s license,
- You were driving a non-commercial vehicle during the offense, and
- Your ticket is for a moving violation traffic infraction.
A confidential conviction would be reported on your driving record at the DMV upon completion of the course if you have a non-commercial driver’s license, and if the court orders you to attend a traffic school for a qualified violation. After this, you won’t get the point on your driving record.
Note: If you qualify for traffic school and decide not to go, your car insurance may be adversely affected.
You are not eligible for traffic school if the next things happen:
- Equipment offenses
- Non-moving offenses (like parking citations)
- Offenses with an obligatory court appearance
- Alcohol- or drug-related offenses
- Offenses in a commercial vehicle
Note: You’re also NOT eligible if you went to traffic school for a previous violation you’ve in the last 18 months.
Failure To Appear: What happens If I Miss the Ticket Due Date?
If you disregard your ticket (or do not respond to it), then your situation will only get worse. Your fine will get additional penalties. If the court decides that you can prove to the court that paying for the ticket will cause a financial hardship to you or your family, you may ask the court to consider your situation.
The court may decide, after reviewing your case, if they accept to reduce the amount of the fine or the fee, if they approve a payment plan, or if they order community service. All courts may not offer all of these options; however, not all fines or fees may be eligible for ability-to-pay cases, and the court may decide you still owe the total amount. If you do not appear in court or pay the fine, your driver’s license may be revoked, and other penalties will apply.
What are the possible scenarios If I fail to appear or pay the fine?
Not paying for the ticket before the due date
If you do not pay your fine within the time you are granted by the court, your driver’s license may be suspended. Also, you will not be eligible to renew the registration of your vehicle. Therefore, if you do not pay your fine on time 1) a “civil assessment” of up to $300 may be added to your fine amount 2) your case may be referred for collection 3) or a warrant may be issued by the court.
The court may also charge you for “failure to pay” with a misdemeanor or an offense. If you appear in court to respond to your ticket correctly, you will avoid the already mentioned penalties. If you get a “civil assessment” but have a valid reason for failing to appear in court or pay your fine, you may be able to ask the court to cancel it, if you ask correctly.
Not getting the problem fixed and approved
If you don’t get a signed-off citation, and you failed to get a fix-it ticket, you will have to appear before the judge in court to explain the situation. Failure to appear for court can lead to a bench warrant for your arrest.
You can consider community services in case other processes didn’t work for you, as it is available for traffic infraction cases. Even so, there will also be fees owed to the Community Department, and you may not qualify if you have a severe financial burden. It is also essential to know that you can’t simultaneously conduct community service and traffic school. Hence, it’s always best to keep updated with your case and in constant communication with a traffic lawyer or the court.
Not finishing traffic school by the due date
If you are eligible to go to traffic school but are unable to pay the entire bail amount due to financial hardship, you can ask at court during arraignment or after a trial if they can consider you as unable to pay and lower the fee for traffic school, or even approve a payment plan. (Veh. Code, § 42007(a)(1).
Missing court date
A failure to appear is an additional penalty for failing to appear in court and not paying the fine by the due date for your citation. Your driver’s license may be suspended, and there could be extra fines if you do not appear in court and pay your ticket. It is called a “failure to appear” (FTA). You will be found guilty of a new crime if you violate the written statement you signed when you got your ticket.
Note: You do not have to appear at court if you contacted the court before your “Notice of Appearance” date to fix your ticket and took action on it (guilty plea and got charged, requested an arraignment date, posted bail and required court trial without arraignment, or requested trial by declaration). When you speak to the court, make sure that they agree that your presence is not necessary
Valid Reasons to Miss Court
To have a valid reason to miss court, you should demonstrate that your failure to appear was not deliberate or intentional. Some of the legitimate reasons to miss court are:
- Military orders / Military duty
- Paperwork on prison detention
- Medical excuse from a doctor or hospital
- Jury Duty
Don’t Miss Your Traffic Citation Due Dates in California
Keeping track of a case number for a traffic violation is no easy task, less so if you happen to be “not guilty,” that’s why we are always ready to help you in dealing with a California Traffic Ticket more. It is essential to know all the information possible but also knowing that you can rely on experts.
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