Traffic: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Question: What does my citation tell me?
It is important to read the information on the front and back of your citation. The front side of the citation issued to you provides you with the following information:

  • Citation number
  • Issuing agency
  • Date and time of the citation
  • Violations for which you were cited
  • Location of violation
  • Issuing officer
  • Place and time you promised to appear

Question: What is a Courtesy Notice?
A courtesy notice is usually mailed to you at the address listed on the citation within 21 days of the date the ticket was issued. The notice contains general information about requirements and options available for resolving the ticket, which may include:

  • Amount of bail, based on the violations and your prior driving history
  • Proof of correction requirements for mechanical violations
  • Mandatory court appearance requirements
  • Traffic school eligibility requirements
Important:
Failure to receive a courtesy notice is not a legal excuse for failing to take care of a citation. It is your responsibility to contact the court on or before the appearance date. When submitting payments and/or documents by mail, allow 10 days for delivery and processing.

Reminder:
Failure to appear or failure to resolve a citation on or before the appearance date may result in one or all of the following:
  • A Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hold being placed on your driver's license or a warrant being issued for your arrest.
  • An additional Failure to Appear charge.
  • A civil assessment charge of $300.
A DMV hold will restrict your driving privileges and/or restrict your ability to register a vehicle. The citation may also be referred to a collection agency for the collection of payment due.

Question : How do I get help with my citation?
The Court's mission is to provide accurate information to its customers. Clerks are authorized to provide information regarding the procedures used by the Court to process a case. However, all clerks are prohibited by law (Government Code Section 24004) from giving legal advice to litigants or to assist them in filling out any forms, including forms provided by the Court.

For additional assistance, please visit the California Courts web site.

Question: How do I pay my citation?
The bail due for a citation is the amount of money required to guarantee your appearance in Court. If you choose to pay the bail on the citation without going to trial, it is called a Bail Forfeiture. The citation is deemed paid, and the resulting conviction will be reported on your driving record. Some violations, however, require a mandatory court appearance and cannot simply be paid.

If there are any mechanical or insurance violations included in the citation, proof of correction will be required before you can pay the citation. Proof may be submitted either by mail or in person. Refer to Obtain Proof of Correction.

There are alternative ways to pay a citation:

  • By mail
  • In person
  • Work Program
  • Payment Plan
Failure to appear or resolve a citation on or before the due date may result in a Department of Motor Vehicles hold being placed on your driver's license or a warrant being issued for your arrest. If a citation is delinquent and has been referred to a collection agency, you cannot submit payment to the court. You must contact the agency that sent you the collection notice to make arrangements for payment.

More Info

Question: What is an extension?
An extension is a postponement of the original due date on a citation. Some violations are not eligible for an extension.

Extensions To Pay Bail

The Clerk's Office may give one 30-day extension to pay bail on eligible citations that do not require a mandatory court appearance. No further extensions at the end of the 30-day period will be given.

There are three alternatives to request an extension to pay bail:

  • By telephone
  • Written request
  • In person at the court location marked on your citation
More Info

Question: How do I obtain proof of correction?

Mechanical Violations

Corrections for most mechanical violations can be inspected by the Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, or other approved law enforcement agencies. You must pay a $25.00 transaction fee per violation (VC section 40611(a)).

Proof of correction by an authorized law enforcement agency is to include:

  • Inspecting officer's signature and printed name
  • Badge number
  • Registration And License Violations
  • Submit the proof of correction by having a police officer inspect your vehicle and validate your ticket.
If you were cited with a registration violation and have proof of valid registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles, you may submit a copy of your registration with the appropriate bail to the Court. If you cannot provide proof for the vehicle cited, you will be required to pay the bail associated with that violation or appear in court.

Some violations including, but not limited to, sections 12500, 14601 and 23109 of the Vehicle Code may require a mandatory court appearance. Contact the Court for further information.

Insurance Violations

If you did not have financial responsibility (e.g., insurance) at the time the ticket was issued, you may pay the full bail amount for this violation, schedule a court date for arraignment and/or purchase insurance for a reduction in bail.

If you were insured at the time the citation was issued, but were unable to provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance) to the officer who cited you, you may either; 1) submit proof by mail, as described below, with $25.00 transaction fee per violation (VC Section 40611(a)) or 2) bring your proof of financial responsibility to the court and present it to the clerk, at which point the Court will dismiss the violation.

Certain insurance violations are not correctable or dismissible by the clerk of the court and require payment of full bail or court appearance.

Acceptable proof of financial responsibility must be in the form of a document issued by the insurer and must include the following information:
  • Name of the insurance carrier
  • Policy number
  • Effective dates of coverage (an effective date prior to the date the citation was issued is required for dismissal of the charge).
  • Name of person who received the citation and/or the vehicle listed on the citation
If the proof does not show all of the information, the total bail amount must be paid; if not, a court appearance is required.

More Info

Question : Am I eligible to attend Traffic School?
Traffic School attendance is a program that allows certain moving violators to receive instruction in driving and traffic safety. Only persons meeting the following criteria established by the Judicial Council of the State of California are permitted to attend Traffic School:

  • You must currently possess a valid driver's license.
  • You may not have attended Traffic School in the last 18-month period.
  • Your ticket must not have defaulted to a failure to appear.
  • The violation(s) on your ticket must be eligible.
The following violations are not eligible:
  • Any violation that carries a negligent operator point count of more than one point
  • Seat belt violations
  • Mechanical or equipment violations
  • Failure to have insurance
  • Registration violations
  • License Violations
  • Alcohol related violations
  • VC Section 22406.5
  • Other certain specified violations
To attend Traffic School, a non-refundable traffic school fee equivalent to the citation bail amount, plus $49.00 must be paid to the Court (VC 42007.1). The Traffic School of your choice will charge you an additional fee to attend their program.

There are three alternatives for paying traffic school fees:
  • In person
  • By mail
  • By telephone with a credit card
You will be given 90 days to complete a program. If you submit satisfactory proof of completion by your traffic school due date, the citation will be dismissed by the court and reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as a Traffic School Dismissal. If you sign up for traffic school and fail to file the certificate of completion by the due date, the traffic school fee you paid will be deemed as bail and forfeited. DMV will be notified of the conviction.

More Info

Question: How do I get an extension to complete Traffic School?
The Clerk's Office may give one 30-day extension to complete traffic school if requested prior to the original traffic school due date. No further extensions at the end of the 30-day period will be given.

There are three alternatives to request an extension to complete Traffic School:

  • By telephone
  • In person
  • By Mail

Question: What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is a hearing in which the Court advises you of your rights and informs you of the charges against you. You will be asked to enter a plea to the charges. Please consider the following points:

  • If you enter a plea of not guilty, the judicial officer will set a court trial date.
  • If you enter a plea of guilty or no contest, the judicial officer will sentence you.
  • An arraignment is not a trial where arguments for a case are heard.
Arraignments are heard on the walk-in arraignment calendar. Court sessions are generally scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Check with the Court for appearance dates and times. If you were cited for mechanical, registration, driver's license or insurance violations, bring all proof of correction that you have with you to the arraignment. If you plea "guilty," be prepared to pay a fine if it is imposed.

Most citations do not require a personal appearance and can be handled by telephone or by mail by paying or posting the bail amount and/or providing proof of correction.

There are three alternatives for scheduling an arraignment date:
  • By telephone
  • In person
  • By Mail
More Info

Question: How do I plead not guilty? / What is a Court Trial?
If you wish to plead not guilty, you may contact the court to schedule a court trial. A court trial is a trial where you appear in person to testify about the facts in the case. The officer who issued the citation will also be required to appear. You have the right to subpoena witnesses and to have a lawyer present, if you retain one.

More Info

Question: How long will a Court Trial take?
Most trials take a very short amount of time, but you should plan to be at court for at least 2 hours on that day.

Question: Should my witnesses appear at the Court Trial?
If you have witnesses that are necessary to your defense, you should have them subpoenaed to appear in court. You can obtain the subpoena form from the Clerk's Office. Do this well in advance of your trial date. Complete the subpoena form, have the subpoena served, and file the subpoena with the proof of service with the Court on or before your trial date.

NOTE: A defendant cannot serve the subpoena. The person served (witnesses) must be given reasonable advance notice of the date and time to appear for trial

Question: Should I bring evidence to the Court Trial?
If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits which you plan to present at the time of the trial, bring them with you on your trial date.

Question: Will the officer who wrote the citation be present at the Court Trial?
The officer will be subpoenaed to appear in court by the court. In most cases, he or she will appear. In some cases, unavoidable circumstances may prevent or delay his/her appearance, in which case the Court may proceed in the officer's absence or continue the trial to a different date.

Question: What happens at the Court Trial?
The bailiff or clerk will give some preliminary instructions and then check in those people appearing in court. The Court will listen to the statement of the sworn officer. You may then present your case to the Court, and the Court will rule on the matter.

Question: What if I am found guilty?
In most cases, if you are found guilty, a sentence is imposed.

Question: What if I do not appear at the trial time?
The trial will be held in your absence

Question: What if I need to change my trial date?
If it becomes necessary to change your court date, you may do so only once. You must contact the court at which you are scheduled to appear and your request must be made at least 5 court business days prior to your trial date. All courts (except Gridley) are open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Question: What is a Trial by Written Declaration?
A Trial by Written Declaration is a procedure whereby, instead of going to court for a trial on your citation, you mail or bring in a written statement on a Trial By Written Declaration form explaining the facts of your case and why the court should rule in your favor. You may also include any documentary evidence you feel is helpful. The officer who issued the citation will also be asked to submit a written statement. In order to proceed via Trial by Written Declaration, you must waive your rights to appear, to testify in person, and to subpoena witnesses. The court will issue a ruling based solely upon the submitted documentation.

You will be required to deposit the bail amount in advance at the time you submit the Trial by Written Declaration.

If you are found guilty, your bail deposit will be applied toward the fine, if one is imposed. If the fine is suspended or if you are found not guilty, your bail will be refunded by mail to the address listed on the case, usually within six to eight weeks. More Info

Question: 1465.8 PC - Why does this appear as a charge?
Pursuant to Penal Code Section 1465.8, an additional $40.00 fee per violation is imposed on any conviction for an infraction, misdemeanor, felony or on any traffic violation dismissed by traffic school. The section will not appear as a conviction on your driving record.

Question: Why did I get a civil assessment?
Failure to comply with the appearance date on your citation or to pay your fines as directed may result in the court referring your case to collections and an additional $300 fee being added pursuant to Penal Code section 1214.1