Ways to Clear Up Tickets for an Infraction
People have 2 major decisions to make when faced with an infraction:
(1) Fight the ticket; or
(2) Don’t Fight the ticket.
OPTION ONE: Don’t Fight the Ticket
If you decide to not fight the ticket, you have 3 options to clear up your traffic ticket: (1) Pay the Pay the full amount written on the ticket; (2) Pay the fine amount in installment payments; or (3) Appear in court and plead “guilty” to the citation.
It should be noted that if you have received a ticket that requires proof of vehicle registration or insurance, or proof that an equipment violation has been fixed, you can either provide proof in-person or by mail. If you decide to mail in your proof to the court, it is a really good idea to send your correspondence via ‘certified mail’ so that you have actual proof that you’ve mailed what you said you’ve mailed.
If you are going to pay your fine in installments, you should call the court and ask if installment plans can be set up by court employees in the Clerk’s Office or if you have to have a hearing in a courtroom and have a judicial officer decide.
If you decide to appear in court and plead guilty in-person, your fine and the payment due will be given to you in court. Make sure that, if you decide to do this, you go to court by the deadline written on your citation.
OPTION TWO: Fight the Ticket
If you decide to fight the ticket, you have two options to clear up your traffic ticket: (1) Appear in court and plead “not guilty”; or (2) Request a ‘Trial By Written Declaration’ and plead not guilty.
To plead not guilty in-person, you must go to the Clerk’s Office in the court by the deadline written on your citation and schedule a court trial date. You should be aware that you will likely have to post bond in order to receive a court trial and the bond amount always corresponds to the amount of the citation. If you lose at trial, the court converts your bond and uses it to pay your fine. If you win, however, you will receive a refund of your bond in the mail within 6-8 weeks.
NOTE: You can be found guilty for most traffic offenses even if you did not intend to break the law. For example, if you were driving over the speed limit but do not believe you were driving as fast as the officer said you were driving, you still have violated the law. If, in this example, you were cited for driving 75mph in a 65mph zone but you believe you were only driving 70mph, you were still speeding and will likely be found guilty.
To request a trial by written declaration, you should write to the court listed on your citation to make this request. You must submit a bond (the amount of your fine) to the court in order to receive a trial by written declaration. Then, you essentially present your case to the court in writing and the officer will do the same and the judge will make a ruling. You will be notified by mail of the court’s decision.
*****FAILURE TO APPEAR*****
Whatever you do, do NOT fail to appear before the date listed on your citation. A failure to appear (“FTA”) is a serious charge and, most importantly, exponentially more expensive than whatever the underlying citation was. Moreover, you will almost never be found “not guilty” on a FTA because the only way you could possibly be not guilty is if you were actually in court by the deadline on your citation. Since the judge, clerk, and bailiff are all present – it’s highly unlikely you would wrongly be issued a FTA.