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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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


Reviews of Traffic Tickets and Violations in California

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.

How do I go about getting a work driving permit. I received a wet and wreckless and the DMV suspended my liscense for 1 yr. I have enrolled in driving classes also, However I need to keep my job. Where should I start to get a driving permit for my work hours of 6am to 5 pm.

hello i think ig to a ticket i stopat a red light but the arrow was on grren so i acciedently went aboutt three feets pass the line but camera didnt flash u think i got a ticket

i need help with my tickets cal at 530 533 3272

Good information, thx a lot dmv. Epic Win

last nov.19 around cedros ave...roscoe...i came from a friend aniv...then i drove 1 min..from the corner just to drop off my friend..then pull over on the side..i didnt notice there is a police at my back..then when i was about to go..they pulled me over..then came over me ask my lcense and etc...then asked o turned off my im not worried coz i know ididnt do anything wrong...then he came back to be then told me that he needs to issue me ticket coz my headlights was not on...but i wasnt really sure thats it was not really on coz my engine was off for me not to argue i jus said ok...then after that i went to court and ask the attendant where do i need to present my ticket..then he pointed me out to a long in which the ticket need to be paid...but i wasn really sure that i need to pay it right away..then when i reach the window...the lady told me to pay 212 for the violatios..and i was really shocked...coz i drove only 1min...and not sure if i did something wrong or violations and then i paid 212 for this...this so frustratng...hope mr..jordan the one who pulled me over will read this inconsiderate....hope someone could help me refund what i paid for something i wasnt sure

I am a good driver. Thank you.

Got a violation #5200 ticket at LAX. The note on the ticket read " Front and rear installation required". Look up the definition, went to my vehicle looked in the front and back, had both plates!

Sent in pictures of plates installed and a copy of an expired registration ticket in Feb '09 (Resolved) that did not sight missing plates. My proof was not accepted and I am contesting the ticket 8/19 but need to know what I can further bring to show proof that the plates are and were on my car since 2004 and on the day I was ticketed LAX 6/10/09..Need help in understanding the full meaning of code #5200! Going to LA court 8/19/09 NEED HELP!

how can i clear a ticket that i have plase contact me at 510-712-2711

i need help how can i get money for my car it wont pass smog.

I have two tics one for driving without a lic. the other for putting false tag on my truck they fined me $500.00 & i ran out of time so it now turned into a warent so can i go back to court and ask if i can work off the fines because i cant aford to pay in cash

Am truck driver and ticketed on new mexico dot skale for my trailer stop lamp not working

every trucker check truck trailer once a day i did check my truck in the morning, and it was broken on the way i was driving , how? can i now my stop lamp not working that time i was

driving. Officer ticket me for that 1.5 point this is ????? two more like this and i will saspended



HOw would i be able to track down the location of my car? When i went to prison my friend got my car out of impound. When i was released my friend had moved with my car, and i don't know his where abouts. How would i be able to find my car? Thank you have a great day.

I have a family member that used my name how can I find out what the tickets are for online?

I have a Driver license Class C I have 2 Points in my driver License what can i do to get points deducted from my record

I have a question... One of my friends received a ticket for driving without a license. He was supposed to go to court but never went because he moved out of state. Is there any way he can pay for it at the state he is living at or will there be any consequences for him not going to court?

i recently recieved a traffic citation courtesy notice by mail. I was confused due to the fact that i was never stopped by any type of law inforcement officer for the past 2 years. I know what your thinking. Your thinking that it was one of those intersections where a camera probably was and that would be the reason i was not physically stopped. WRONG!

When a person gets cited as a result of a traffic camera they have to provide by mail along with your citation a picture of your vehicle which id's you as the driver. I didnot recieve no picture with the courtesy notice. In fact, on the courtesy notice it says DOUBLE LINES. i called the number on the notice and i asked when and where was i suppose to have commited this traffic offense After all the tickett is close to 300.00 i think i have a right to know where this crimb had taken place. The clerk proceeded to say that on the report the officer made an identity match. I want someone to tell me if the officer was in close enough range that he read my liscense plate which is personalized with my name collina then why would he no pull me over?If he did run my plates the truck would come up registured in my husbands name only. and my last question would be if he was able to id me from my liscense well since my driver liscense picture was took i have lost 120 pounds because of weight loss surgury. I look nothing like my picture that i have on my liscense. i went to court to dispute it and the window clerk told me to come back on 3/10/2009. Is the way this tickett was handle is this legal? Can a cop actually mail you a tickett without one even knowing where it took place?

Wow! The same thing just happened to me I think because I just got a courtesy notice in the mail for a red light violation but I didnt recieve my picture or get pulled over be anyone! I am calling on monday to see what is going on but this is rediculous!

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I have a question not a comment but if you get a speeding ticket going 90 mph on the freeway when you have a provisionary licence what do you think will happen?

Do you think they will take the persons licence or no?