3 Types of Citations – Traffic Court   Leave a comment

There are 3 kinds of citations where the police can give you a ticket:
1. Parking tickets

Parking tickets are not filed with the court. A parking ticket shows the amount you must pay to the parking agency where the violation occurred. The parking agency may also fine you for broken equipment (like your car’s headlight). If it does, you pay that agency the amount shown on the ticket.

  • If you think you shouldn’t have gotten the ticket, contact the parking agency (not the court) listed on the ticket and ask them what to do.
  • The longer you wait to pay your ticket, the more you may have to pay. Read your ticket carefully to see when your fine will increase. If you don’t pay your parking ticket at all, you won’t be able to renew your car’s registration.
  • Don’t go to (or call) the court unless the parking agency has already decided your case and you want to appeal the agency’s decision.

2. Infraction traffic tickets

An infraction is a relatively minor violation of a law and cannot be punished by time in prison. And often, you do not need to go to court — if you take care of your ticket right away.

Your ticket should say what law you have been accused of breaking. Generally, it will be one of four (4) types:

(1) – Moving Violations; driving too fast or running a red light for example.

If you are stopped by a police officer for driving too fast or running a red light, you may be given a ticket.  If you have proper identification and promise to go to court by signing a “Notice to Appear” ticket, you probably won’t have to go to jail.

  • The police officer will ask you to sign the ticket. (Note: signing the ticket doesn’t mean you are guilty, it just means you promise to go to court or pay the fine.)
  • You could pay $435 or more for each infraction.

If you get a photo-red-light or photo/railroad-grade crossing ticket, you will get a notice in the mail about how to handle the ticket.

If you don’t want to go to court, you can ask the court if you can:

  • Plead guilty and pay the fine by mail;
  • Plead guilty and pay to go to traffic violation school; or
  • Have a trial by mail (also called a “Trial By Written Declaration”)

NOTE: If you plead guilty and pay the fine, you will get points on your driving record and your car insurance may cost more.

If you don’t go to court or pay the fine, your license can be suspended and the court can charge you with a misdemeanor and issue a warrant for your arrest.

(2) – Driving without proof of insurance for your vehicle.

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.

If you have insurance but don’t have proof to show the officer, you will be charged with an infraction for driving without proof of insurance.  In court, you will have to provide proof that you had insurance on the day that you got the ticket and then pay a fine.

(3) – Car Registration or driver’s license violations.

You can handle this problem by going to your local DMV office and asking a clerk to help you. After you correct the problem, the DMV will sign the “Certificate of Correction” portion of your ticket.

Take or mail the signed ticket with proof of correction to the court, along with your dismissal fee (typically $25), before the deadline shown on your ticket. The court will then dismiss your case and it won’t go on your record.

(4) – Having broken equipment that you need to fix.

If a police officer gives you a “fix-it” ticket on a “Notice to Appear,” the “YES” box will be checked below the heading “Correctable Violation” on the front of the ticket.

First, you have to have the mechanical problem corrected. Once you have fixed the problem, take your ticket to a police station and ask a police officer to sign the “Certificate of Correction” on your ticket.

Then return the signed-off copy to the court with the fees shown on your courtesy notice 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 won’t go on your record.

NOTE: If you no longer own the vehicle, it is still your responsibility to clear the citation by either paying the bail or appearing in court. If you have junked the car, and appear in court, a receipt from the wrecking yard may be acceptable to clear this citation. 

3. Misdemeanor traffic tickets

A misdemeanor is a crime that can be punished by up to one year in jail.  If you received a misdemeanor ticket, you must go to court.

If the charges don’t involve alcohol or drugs, the police officer can ask you to sign the ticket, also called the “Notice to Appear” (in court).  Signing doesn’t mean that you admit you’re guilty.  It just means that you promise to appear in court.

NOTE: If the police officer thinks that you’re driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you’ll be taken into custody. Then you’ll have to go to court.

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Posted 08/13/2012 by Salimi Law in Traffic Court

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