What Should I Do When Receiving a Traffic Ticket in California?

Aug 16, 18 by Jorian Goes

What Should I Do When Receiving a Traffic Ticket in California?

After you have been issued a traffic ticket, you will have to decide on how you will plead. There are 3 options- not guilty, guilty or no contest. In case you plead no contest or guilty, you will have to pay the traffic ticket before the appearance date that is posted on the citation. If you plead not guilty, you will have to fight your traffic ticket in court.

Irrespective of your plea, make sure that you inform the court of your plans before the appearance date expires. If you fail to contact the court, it may result in additional fines (known as civil assessment), suspension of your driver’s license, and even an arrest warrant.

What if I Receive a Fix-it ticket?

If you get a correctable violation or a fix-it ticket, your traffic ticket will show whether you need to provide proof of correction or pay for the violation. In case the ticket indicates that you need to provide proof of correction, you will have to get an authorized person (court clerk, DMV agent, or a police officer) to sign the Certificate of Correction section of your traffic ticket. You will then need to appear in court before the deadline indicated in the citation with proof of the correction and pay the dismissal fee. After doing so, the court will dismiss the case for a $25 fee.

How Will I Know What Type of Traffic Ticket?

In the state of California, there are a number of traffic violations for which you can get traffic tickets. Below are the 3 most common types of citations:

Parking Ticket

In case you get a parking ticket, this will not be filed with the traffic court. Any fines that are related to the damaged vehicle will be listed on the ticket. You have to pay for this ticket, if you fail to do so, the fines will increase, and you may find it difficult to renew your vehicle registration. You should contact the parking ticket agency listed on the ticket for information on what you can do.

Misdemeanor Traffic Ticket

In case you are charged with a misdemeanor traffic ticket, you should take it seriously since it is a criminal offense. You can get charged with this type of ticket for driving on a suspended license or without a license. If these charges do not involve drugs or alcohol, you may be asked to sign the “Notice to Appear” or the traffic ticket.

Infraction Traffic Ticket (Most Popular)

This ticket can be issued to you in case you break traffic laws, speed laws, or run a red light just to mention a few. When a police officer pulls you over for breaking a traffic law, you will be charged with an infraction. You will be requested to sign a traffic ticket, which is commonly referred to as the “Notice to Appear.” Additionally, if you fail to provide proof of car insurance, you will be charged with an infraction of operating a car without proof of insurance.

Traffic tickets in the state of California are issued for several infractions, some of these infractions include the following:

  • Moving violations like speeding.
  • Non-moving violations, for instance, parking violations.
  • Improper paperwork, not having proof of insurance, expired registration and expired or missing driver’s license.
  • Failed equipment

All issued traffic tickets come with financial penalties. The fines in the state of California are some of the highest in the entire country and they can range into several hundreds of dollars. Most traffic tickets also include point(s) on your driving record. Unlike failed equipment and non-moving violations which earn you no points, moving violations attract a penalty of 1 or 2 points depending on the type of infraction.

Generally, the penalties are accrued as follows:

  • Stop sign violations, running a red light, or speeding among other infractions will earn you 1 point on your driving record.
  • Driving while your license has been revoked or suspended, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving recklessly, engaging in a hit and run, or speeding in excess of 25 mph over the limit among other infractions will earn you 2 points on your driving record.

Getting points on your driving record will make your insurance rates go higher. Each time you try to renew your insurance coverage or apply for new auto insurance; the insurance firm will first check your driving record. Having points on your license will result in high insurance rates, or they may even decide to deny you coverage. In the state of California, it is illegal to drive without auto insurance coverage. The points may stay on your record between 3 and 7 years.

How You Can Respond to A Traffic Ticket

When you are issued a traffic ticket, it will have all the details on how you can pay for it and the deadline to make the payment. For a majority of tickets in California, everything that you need can be completed online or via mail. In case you get a traffic ticket for a misdemeanor, you must appear in court. The name of the court that you are to attend will be included in the traffic ticket.

A majority of courts will follow up with a courtesy notice that will be sent to you around 2-3 weeks after you have been issued a traffic ticket. In case that time frame has passed, and you have not received a courtesy notice, you should contact the court directly. If you want to take a traffic school, you can wait to get the courtesy notice or just contact the court to check if you are eligible. You will need to pay an administrative fee to the court on top of full fine for the traffic ticket. You will then send the notice of your intent to attend the traffic school together with the required fee, which is usually included in the courtesy notice. The court will send a reply with acknowledgment and the acceptance of your intent to join a traffic school and give you a deadline for its completion. Traffic school will not reduce your traffic ticket fine but it will remove it from your driving record.