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Traffic - Frequently Asked Questions

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:

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

Important:
Failure to receive a courtesy notice is not a legal basis 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 DMV hold may result in suspension of your Driver's License, inability to renew your License when it expires, and/or may restrict your ability to register a vehicle. The citation may also be referred to a collection agency.

Question : How do I get help with my citation?
Information regarding your citation will be available on your Courtesy Notice. You may also contact the Court at (530) 532-7005 for additional information or assistance. 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.

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

Question: How do I pay my citation?
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, you may either pay the full bail amount, a reduced bail amount upon proof of correction (if applicable), or appear in Court. Proof of Correction may be submitted either by mail or in person. Refer to How do I obtain proof of correction?.

There are several ways to pay a citation:

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.

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Question: What is an extension?
An extension is a postponement of the appearance date on a citation. Some citations require a Court appearance and are not eligible for an extension.

The Clerk's Office may give one 60-day extension to pay bail on eligible citations that do not require a court appearance. Additional extensions at the end of the 60-day period cannot be given by the Clerk's Office.

There are three alternatives to request an extension:

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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. Obtain the proof of correction by having a law enforcement officer inspect your vehicle and "sign off" on the back of your Citation or Courtesy Notice.

Proof of correction by an authorized law enforcement agency must include:

If you were cited with a registration violation, you may submit a copy of your valid registration or proof of deposit of fees with the appropriate bail to the Court. If you cannot provide proof for the vehicle cited, you may either 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, Minor in Possession of Alcohol (BP25662), and Littering (PC374.3 or 374.4) may require a court appearance. Refer to your Courtesy Notice and/or Contact the Court for further information.

Insurance Violations

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

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 submit proof by mail, as described below, or bring your proof of financial responsibility to the court and present it to the clerk. Upon receipt of proof of correction and payment of the required $25.00 fee (VC Section 40611(a), the Court will dismiss the violation.

Acceptable proof of financial responsibility may be either in the form of a document issued by the insurer (if submitting by mail or in person) or may be provided on a mobile device at the Courthouse. Proof must include the following information:

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Question : Am I eligible to attend Traffic School?
Traffic School 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:

The following violations are not eligible:

To attend Traffic School, a non-refundable traffic school fee equivalent to the citation bail amount, plus $52.00 must be paid to the Court (VC 42007.1 and VC11208(c) / 13CCR345.00(g)). The Traffic School of your choice will charge you an additional fee to attend their program.

There are two alternatives for paying traffic school fees:

You will be given 90 days to complete a program. If you satisfactorily complete the class by your traffic school due date, the violation will be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as a "Confidential Conviction". If you sign up for traffic school and fail to complete it by the due date, the traffic school fee you paid will be deemed as bail and forfeited and DMV will be notified of the conviction.

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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:

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 online, by telephone or by mail by paying or posting the bail amount and/or providing proof of correction.

If you choose to appear for an in-person arraignment, you must appear on the date and time indicated on your citation.

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Question: What is a Court Trial?
If you wish to plead not guilty, you may contact the court in person or by mail to schedule a court trial (see the back of your Courtesy Notice or contact the Court for more information). 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 notified to appear. You have the right to subpoena witnesses and to have a lawyer present. If you are charged with an infraction, you are not entitled to a court-appointed attorney, but you may hire a private attorney to represent you.

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Question: How long will a Court Trial take?
You should plan to be at the Courthouse for at least 2 hours on that day.

Question: What if I have witnesses that I want to appear at the Court Trial?
If you have witnesses that are necessary to your defense, you may 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. You may also request that your witness(es) appear without obtaining a subpoena; however, you will then have no legal recourse should they fail to appear.

Note: You cannot serve a subpoena if you are a party to the case. The person served (witnesses) must be given reasonable advance notice of the date and time to appear for trial.

Question: Can I bring evidence to the Court Trial?
Yes. If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits (evidence) that you want 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 notified to appear by the court. In most cases, he or she will appear. In some cases, unavoidable circumstances may prevent or delay their appearance, in which case the Court may elect to proceed in the officer's absence or continue the trial to a different date.

Question: What happens at the Court Trial?
ou, the Officer, and any witnesses will be sworn to testify. The Court will listen to the statement of the sworn officer, who has the burden of proof and therefore testifies first. You may then present your case to the Court, or you may choose to remain silent, and the Court will rule on the matter.

Question: What if I am found guilty?
If you are found guilty, a sentence will be imposed. If you are convicted of an infraction, the maximum penalty is a fine.

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 you must contact the court at which you are scheduled to appear and your request must be made at least 10 court (business) days prior to your trial date. In most cases, a trial date will only be rescheduled once.

Question: What is a Trial by Written Declaration?
A Trial by Written Declaration is a procedure whereby, instead of going to court in person for a trial on your citation, you mail or bring in a written statement 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, and you will not have an opportunity to cross-examine the Officer.

You will be required to deposit the bail amount in advance at the time you submit the Trial by Written Declaration (VC40902(b)). A Trial by Written Declaration is only available on Vehicle Code violations and/or local ordinances adopted pursuant to the provisions of the Vehicle Code. (VC40902(a)(1)).

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.

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Question: Why did I get a Civil Assessment?
Failure to address your Citation on or before the appearance date on your citation, or to pay your fines, may result in the court referring your case to collections and the imposition of an additional $300 (Civil Assessment) fee being added pursuant to Penal Code section 1214.1.

Question: Can I do Community Service (Work Program) instead of paying my citation?
If you are financially unable to pay your bail/fine, you may be eligible to convert it to community service. In order to determine your eligibility you must contact the Court Compliance Division at (530) 532-7014. You must complete a financial declaration and, in most instances, provide proof of your income and expenses. If you qualify, the law requires that the Court collect a 10% down payment on the total bail for all vehicle code violations and a $35.00 administrative fee.

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