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Traffic Tickets and Violations in California

Citations or traffic tickets are issued in the State of California for various violations of traffic law. Citations generally indicate the statute or code number of the violation, and explain how and when to pay the fine or respond to the ticket. You must respond to a citation, usually by paying a fine or appearing in court, or else a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your driving license may be suspended.

TYPES OF VIOLATIONS

Most traffic tickets in California are issued for what are sometimes called "infractions". In these cases, the only thing required to convict a person of the infraction is proof that they committed the act, regardless of any criminal intent. Examples of infractions include:

  • Speeding.
  • Overdue parking meters.
  • Not using turn signals.
  • Parking in a handicapped zone without authorization.
More serious offences are called "misdemeanors". These include:

MOVING VS. NON-MOVING VIOLATIONS

Violations are also classified by whether or not the vehicle was in motion at the type of the incident, and traffic tickets may therefore be for either moving or non-moving violations. Examples of moving violations include:
  • Speeding or driving below the minimum speed.
  • Running a stop sign or red light.
  • Driving without a seat belt.
  • Drunk driving (DUI and DWI).
Non-Moving violations include:
  • Parking in a handicapped zone or other illegal parking.
  • Driving with an invalid vehicle registration.
  • Having expired or missing license plates.
  • Leaving a vehicle unattended and running.
The majority of traffic violations in California are classified as infractions, which require paying a fine up to $370 or more. More serious offenses carry higher fines and/or imprisonment. You may be fined up to $3520 or more for a misdemeanor.

YOUR OPTIONS WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CITATION

Many citations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by paying the ticket directly. The citation will indicate how and by what date to pay the fine. You can pay the fine by mail, online or in person. If you wish to dispute the citation, you must appear in court personally on the scheduled date, and enter a "not guilty" plea. While you may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, a trial will be scheduled if no agreement is reached. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury, and most people prefer to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to defend them in court. For most infractions, you can ask for a trial by mail (also known as a "trial by written declaration"). You will have to write to the court informing them that you wish to do this, at least five days before you have to appear in court. Forms will be sent to you for this. Each court handles traffic violations differently. Check with your local court for more information on this.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING FOUND GUILTY

When you pay a ticket directly, you are essentially pleading guilty to a traffic offense, which carries the same consequences as being found guilty of the violation in court. Motorists who either plead guilty directly or are found guilty of an offense should be aware of the following possible consequences:
  • Certain traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are automatically reported to California Driver Safety Offices. California routinely provides information concerning traffic ticket convictions to other states and Canadian provinces.
  • The California Department of Motor Vehicles follows a point system to track violations and their corresponding penalties. Points are added to your driving record which could result in your license being suspended. For more information, see our Point System section.
  • California drivers that accumulate points on their driving record are often subject to higher car insurance premiums.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKET CONVICTIONS

One of the best ways to reduce the negative implications of traffic violations is to drive safely and not commit any additional offenses. Points on your California license will be reduced, and your driving record may eventually be cleared if you remain free of any additional violations. Smart drivers often choose to take a defensive driving course or traffic school course in order to reduce the points on their license more quickly. Taking a defensive driving course can also help lower the car insurance premiums of drivers whose rates increased following one or more traffic ticket convictions. Some drivers prefer to obtain a new quote for car insurance following a traffic ticket conviction, since often more competitive rates and coverage may be available. More information on Driving Schools in California can be found here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Reviews of Traffic Tickets and Violations in California

I moved out of Calif 7 years ago and took my vehicle with me. I registered it in my new (present) state and was issued new license plates and title. Since then on THREE separate occassions Calif DMV and the Franchise Tax Board have attempted to extort money from me for parking tickets, overdue registration fees and even for a toll violation....all on my OLD CALIF LICENSE PLATE!!! The second time this happened they, without any warning, froze my bank account. Not only have I proved to them that this is their clerical error, they keep repeating it AND STILL force me to prove my innocence even after acknowledging that they show my record of having had vacated this previously. They offer no solution and admitted that this could happen again. This amounts to harassment and I feel that I should be recompensed for my time and expenses for their error (at the very least). Does anyone have a LEGAL opinion? Thanks

i just got a no u-turn ticket in my city and i dont know how much it cost please help me

Last year round this time,was drivin in SF and was issued two fixer tickets.Apparently i forgot to take care of it and never paid the tickets because i had to leave for another country.After a year later returned,with a new address,what do i do to resolve this matter.Just want to know where to start,since i wasn't able to see any updates while being out of the country.

Do I go to school in Hawaii and drive a moped, I just got a ticket for not completely stopping at a stop sign, my question is, since I have a California license but got the ticket in Hawaii, do I follow californias point system or Hawaiian point system?

In my experience following an arrest in California, with a Kentucky license, I was instructed to follow California's laws. There were no restrictions in Kentucky following.

Does anyone know for sure when a traffic ticket hits your driving record? Is it right after you get the ticket or is it after you pay/go to court and are found guilty?

I received a ticket in front of my house for street cleaning. that's fine, however, i was issued a SECOND ticket and hour later!? for the same infraction, in the same spot. how is this legal? I was told there was some kind of law that says its only legal to ticket like this after 8 hours, some kind of dmv code....i've looked everywhere and can't find it. please help. I have a court date the 24th to fight it and i'd like some kind of support. also i was laid off and have a ton of student loans to pay. $70 for street cleaning will hurt. thanks!

I was parked in Saddleback College parking lot and was charged for not having current registration tags and no parking permit. My registration IS up to date though. I told the citation agency I would pay the 33 dollar fee for not having the permit but the 108 dollar fee for not having current registration was not justified. I sent them a copy of my purchase of registration and still nothing. What can I do? They want me to pay and schedule an administrative hearing..I cannot afford this.

I got a speeding ticket this morning at 7am. The officer was just finishing up giving someone else a ticket. He then asked me if i have been drinking. After explaining to him that he can test me he explained to me i was 10 miles over the speed limit. My speedometor said i was going the speed limit. He then showed me the gun that said i was going over. But i dont know if that reading came from the person before me. Is there a way i can fight this ticket?

If a retired person, already in bankruptcy, gets a ticket for being caught by a red light camera, does the whole $650 have to be paid at once, or can it be in installments? What are any other options

If I co-sign for a friend and he/she receives outstanding parking tickets, can I be responsible for them?

Article 1 section 10 of the US constitution says that ALL states MUST use gold or silver as payment for debts. How can I pay the $1800 fine for reckless driving conviction as there is no silver or gold available to the public?

i got a ticket for going through a red light. on a bicycle!! $480. i was coming from a plaza headed south and needed to go west. i got onto the intersection from the sidewalk when the east/west direction had the red light so to me it was a regular right turn but the cop said that i was too far to the left side and that it counted as me running the red light! im going to school, i have loans and payments, and just moved to LA by myself. i cant afford to pay $480! i dont know what to do!

Obey the traffic laws. In Cali and most other states, a bike = a car. The same laws apply.

Pay your ticket, if your a poor student you should obey the traffic laws. At least you hadn't been drinking. That would be a dui....yes a DUI on a bike!!

A lot of people on bikes seem not to understand what you point out: "bike = car". I am tired of people on bikes thinking they can do whatever they want and now they are trying to encourage MORE bike riding access in San Diego. It's going to be a big mess, just like in Portland, where they do not obey the traffice laws either.

I got a citation for an illegal turn but the insurance on the car wasnt in my name. What will happen in court?

On a recent trip to LA (we live in NV) we parked our vehicle and ended up getting two parking tickets for the same violation. They were issued 10 minutes apart. Is this what LA does? Wouldn't one ticket cover the violation? So now do I pay both tickets or just ignore them and see what happens. I've looked online and it seems that the parking violation bureau is a private company, so I don't think I have to worry about getting pulled over on a future visit. Any advice?

My traffic ticket has no case number.. Does it still count?

my car was impounded iwas ticketed for driving without a cdl,got my cdl went to police dept to get vehicle release certs,did all that thinking the ticket would be dropped when i showed the police proof of my cdl. Well come to find out the judge put a hold on my cdl,I found this out when involved in traffic accident , so now i get ticketed for driving on susp/hold then me not knowing any better I drive out of town for work get pulled over . ticketed for no proof ins, driving on susp. however the car was insured but I brought the wrong insurance docs to court. the added offense of no insurance puts me into the negligant driver class. 45 days in jail,550.00 fine no drive for one year , 1year 6 months later driveing from work another ticket driv on susp. 1200.oo fine I asked the judge if it was possible that i could recieve a restricted cdl. her answer was that because my fines were over 90 days behind nothing she could do. I live 10 miles from city limits, and I have to get to work some how. I know that I have to obey the law and now know what must be done to get my cdl reinstatedsr22 for 3 years, payy all fines. But if I cannot even get to work to make an income, how will I ever be able to even begin to start paying the fines,buying insurance. I just feel so depressed I might as well settle to my early grave. Sureley This is not what America is about . a country where as long as you have the money everey thing can be fixed if not than you are sol I admitr it sounds like I did the crime now i don't want the consequences. but thats not it I am poor and was born poor. I want more for myself in life than to be just poor and without

Anyone else feel like the price of tickets are extortion? Really! You know in Germany when you get a ticket, it is a percentage of your income. Not a flat, fat fine for people. The rich don't care about a $300+ ticket because it's a drop in the bucket. But for people who struggle to pay bills, $300 dollars is the literal difference of paying rent or buying groceries, which is unfair and more than punitive.

I understand that everyone must follow the law or there are consequences, but where does the line get drawn on fairness?

I live in Oakland... the better part. I have 3 parking tickets that got attached to my registration, for a total of $388 on top of my registration. The parking tickets were in front of my apartment on street sweeping days over a years period (which are different because there are 3 roads that connect on my block) I can pay my registration, but I can't drive my car without the stickers... which DMV wont give to me before I come up with an extra $388. Where is the fairness? I don't make enough money literally to have that kind of spare cash. And I'm not suppose to drive until I can... or they'll ticket and tow me.

The police need to be made better for the community, the reality is they work for us. And we arn't ATM machines.

Call the main DMV number is Sacramento and see if they will give you a payment arrangment. Good luck!

Leslee~ Anderson Freeman Insurance (888) 600-4366

How to you get a parking violation for $76.00 for NO FRONT PLATE??? AND You can CLEARLY see the car has been WRECKED in the front bumper and tip of the hood...Where am I suppose to attach it to???? I see a car parked a couple spots down with old plates and I get a ticket for not having a FRONT PLATE! This is rediculous...How to I fight this ticket, do I take pics??? idk smh

I had a speeding ticket on 5/20/2011 Citation #850436 and took traffic school course but to my surprise my ticket still shows on my record and of course increased my insurance rate. I have all the documents to prove that. Please let me know what to do?

You can have your agent fight it! If your agent will not, then give me a call, I would be happy to help you out. My name is Leslee, #888-600-4366.

You are totally right. What you are describing is more than unfair.

Not a single one of you can spell.

What's your problem?

MY FRIEND GOT STOPED AND THEY ASKED ME FOR MY I.D TO CHECK MY RECORD THEY CAME BACK AND SAID I HAD 2 WARENTS FOR MY ARREST BUT I DIDNT KNOW I HAD THEM. I WANT TO FIX MY TICKETS WITHOUT GOING TO COURT. MY QUESTION IS WERE DO I GO TO FIX THEM CAUSE I TOTALY DONT WANT TO GO TO JAIL.... PLS

Having taken traffic school on 8/30/11, I am not eligible to do so again @ this time. Today I received a "non-moving violation" of talking on my cell phone having misunderstood that holding the phone while on speaker phone is still a violation of this "hands free" law. While the officer told me that it will not impact my insurance I want to know what impact it will have on my DMV record. Secondly, despite the fact that he told me that it wouldn't impact my insurance, will the auto insurance company be informed of the violation @ all?

An officer is not a lawyer or a judge so never rely on them for legal advice. This will appear on your driving record so your insurance will eventually see it. To find out the effect, call your insurance agent with an anonymous question. (i.e. "I am one of your insured... etc."). "non-moving violations" carry no points.

Is there a way of getting discounts on citations if you are low income? Is appearing in a court to ask for discounts affect you and your records adversely?

In my experience, if you show up in court the judge will typically reduce the fine. I've had a speeding ticket and a red light camera ticket. The RLC ticket was brought down to $66 from $347 and my speeding ticket was cut in half. You can also request a payment plan from the court. The key is, though, SHOW UP ON YOUR COURT DATE!! They don't like it much if you don't and typically won't work with you on it.

I got a ticket for not having insurance and i didn't appear in court and it's pretty much with collections now. Can i go back to court and request a court date with proof of insurance? Because i can't afford to pay the fine..

Hmm. yes and no. You can't fight the failure to appear, but you MAY be able to get the fine for no insurance taken off. Don't call collections to find out, call the court direct or go there on your lunch break or day off, and see what they tell you.

Good luck!

How do you go about paying your speeding ticket online? I was out visiting this summer and got a speeding ticket my court date isn't until September 29 so if i pay it online do i also have to appear in court if i am already back in Missouri?

I am 17 and i got pulled over and i received ticket for driving with out a licence. will this hold off my licence after i turn 18?

CAN I CHANGE MY ADDRESS ONLINE

Was driving at 75-80 hwy 8W by el Cajon in jul'07 and many cars were passing me, why he didn't stop those? I asked to the officer how much should I pay? And he said: You will get a notification first to your address (mexico), It takes lot of time (months) he said, then I should knew, or call to the number in the ticket after receiving the notification...After a year I NEVER RECEIVED IT, called many times and phone never worked they never answer or after 30mins waiting the machine said lines were busy try next time and so (expensive long distance calls from Mexico), anyways I tried to pay many times visiting dmv in Brawley and El Centro Ca. that is near where I live but they said my case didn't appear in their system and they said try to call again or go to DMV el Cajon, my visa expired and couldn't go, now trying to pay online and system gives me AllianceOne and a phone number, did a research and are many complains, that after paying there still fine tickets appear as unpaid, what can I do as I want to pay to DMV not that AllianceOne place that money can be stole...

whats the average cost for a ticket for having system loud over 50..officer got me just for that because he felt stupid because he tought he was gonna have a bigger case when he saw me heading down mooney lookin young in a nice car if it was for the music how come it took him two three blocks to flash his lights . not every one teenager is a gang member now .cops need to be sure before they react i know hes trying to do his job

You're an idiot. You think you're being all cool thumpin' down the road. You can't hear anything around you, but rest assured, we can hear you just fine. You're a nuisance. And don't call the officer stupid when you're illiterate yourself. Grow up.

Who are you to judge people I have my music up all the time and the cops don't do anything to me and I do agree with that person they are stupid.

Don't hate because you don't like the songs.

And before you start calling names have a cop pull you over because you have a car that looks like bad and 5 other cars dont and get a ticket for the same turn that every one eilse does after you and they don't get a ticket.

You are a jurck.

The person having their music loud is a fool. Anyone going around having music loud and pushing their music on other's regardless of what type of music is being played is inconsiderate and disrespectful to others around them. Stop being insecure and playing your music out loud to show people you can have music in your car. There is nothing special about that. In other words...Grow up and be considerate of others around you.

You need to have your head examined if you do not think that a thumping boom box in your car is not hazardous to drivers around you. I suspect that your hearing is already shot - so that is a lost cause.

Live life using your brain, not with the one below your belt

I wa heading S/B on Dougherty road behind me was a white Lexus truck, both of us had our headlights off (7:30am ) it was still raining. San Ramon cop parked on the right side of the road pulled out on to Dougherty road went all the way to the far left side of the road got behind me and pulled me over. Officer stated that I need my headlights on when windsheld wipers are in use. On top of that from 7:30am to 7:50 am thats how long it took him to give me a ticket. How long does it take to give someone a ticket? It's like he was doing an FBI check on me. "Racial profiling once again". This office had seen both vehiicles without lights on. Other driver white too. I'm fighting this ticket. This is BS

The driver in front is the one that gets the ticket, not the back driver. That is always the way it is. The same as the last (end) car in an accident is the responsible one

Your just dumb. And San Ramon is white FYI... doesn't take a genius to look around. No offence intended, but that's San Ramon.

Well they just oughtta segregate the roads as they do in big business...Rosa Parks style, but this tiime blacks in front whites in back then maybe you won't get a ticket.

Have you ever gone fishing and caught all the fish in the lake? To do that, you need a pretty heafty weapon, like TNT i.e. a swatt team, this is just one officer, one fishing pole. How the hell is he supposed to pull over two guys at once? Be thankful, you've learned your lesson and you now know something else that the other guy doesn't. He'll probably get his body pulled over later on.

You playing the race huh?

i got a ticket recantly and i was woundering, if i was driving down on the right side of the road but i was driving in the middel kinda on the left side because ther were no lines i the middel of the road then i moved over kinda fast because the cop was coming at me so he pulled me over and said he was pulling me over for driving on the right side of the road, like i was suposed to and thats what he put on the ticket but i was driving towerd the left side can i do anything about the fact that he put on the ticket that i practicly was driving perfectly fine witch would not be a violation

Go to the traffic court and dispute it. There will likely be a whiteboard there that you can draw out your situation for the judge. Chances are the officer that cited you won't be there and by the time he wrote out his statement for the judge concerning your ticket, he probably doesn't remember the details. It'll likely be tossed or at least deferred.