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Traffic Tickets and Violations in California

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.



Submitted by Scofflaw on 4th Mar 2015

My daughter had five toll

My daughter had five toll charges from "Toll Roads" totaling $18 while visiting California from another state. Since she was on vacation and did not have access to the toll roads website, so she did not pay the tolls within the required 24 hours. A week later she received a "Notice of Toll Evasion" which demanded the $18 plus $287 in penalties. She thought this unfair as in our home state there are photo tolls which simply take a picture of your license plate and simply bill you for the tolls, which you have 30 days to pay or there is a small penalty. After another month, California sent another "Notice of Toll Evasion" with more penalties piled up to a total of $500.

She still refused to pay this highway robbery and since we are out of state, California can not stop vehicle registration. However, she now wants to visit california again and she's concerned that she may get pulled over. I think that getting pulled over is very small risk, but does California have surveillance on vehicles such that they can pull her over without a traffic violation? Also, if she does get pulled over, will she get arrested and taken to jail as the "toll evasion" becomes a criminal violation (since it's over $250).

BTW, she's leaned her lesson and will always pay tolls in the future.

Submitted by kara_lamb on 8th Dec 2015

I really sympathize with you,

I really sympathize with you, but out of state laws don't apply in California, and as a responsible driver, your daughter needs to understand this. The CHP are ruthless, as are California's various city police. If she does get pulled over they could arrest her, impound her car and worse. I'd recommend you pay the tickets before she returns to California. It's too great a risk to her well-being and freedom not to. Being angry at getting any kind of ticket doesn't make that ticket void.

Submitted by CalifDMVneeds2l... on 27th Oct 2014

I moved out of Calif 7 years

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

Submitted by keisukedrifter on 30th Aug 2014

i just got a no u-turn ticket

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

Submitted by sflegendz on 27th Sep 2012

Last year round this time,was

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.

Submitted by Doddsw on 5th Sep 2012

Do I go to school in Hawaii

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?

Submitted by aharrod on 31st Oct 2014

In my experience following an

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.

Submitted by sdlizard71 on 23rd Apr 2012

Does anyone know for sure

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?

Submitted by nicolechimay on 19th Apr 2012

I received a ticket in front

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!

Submitted by jpurtee on 14th Apr 2012

I was parked in Saddleback

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.

Submitted by dcavallo on 13th Apr 2012

I got a speeding ticket 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?

Submitted by ssitnerp on 7th Apr 2012

If a retired person, already

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

Submitted by charlotte01 on 20th Mar 2012

If I co-sign for a friend and

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

Submitted by motnosniv on 17th Mar 2012

Article 1 section 10 of the

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?

Submitted by dqs on 13th Mar 2012

i got a ticket for going

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!

Submitted by jimmysmithJR on 23rd Mar 2012

Obey the traffic laws. In

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!!

Submitted by sdlizard71 on 23rd Apr 2012

A lot of people on bikes seem

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.

Submitted by beatriz126 on 22nd Feb 2012

I got a citation for an

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

Submitted by nevadadriver on 22nd Feb 2012

On a recent trip to LA (we

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?

Submitted by Cheaks17 on 22nd Feb 2012

My traffic ticket has no case

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

Submitted by jamesfturman on 17th Feb 2012

my car was impounded iwas

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

Submitted by Nospringchicken on 8th Feb 2012

Anyone else feel like the

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.

Submitted by msles59130 on 14th Feb 2012

Call the main DMV number is

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

Submitted by MissBee on 23rd Jan 2012

How to you get a parking

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

Submitted by YVONNE HANNA on 3rd Jan 2012

I had a speeding ticket on

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?

Submitted by msles59130 on 14th Feb 2012

You can have your agent fight

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.

Submitted by boston on 16th Nov 2011

Not a single one of you can

Not a single one of you can spell.

Submitted by mauied on 8th Feb 2012

What's your problem?

What's your problem?

Submitted by ROXY323 on 14th Nov 2011



Submitted by jennifercalif on 28th Oct 2011

Having taken traffic school

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?

Submitted by eldredjames on 27th Sep 2012

An officer is not a lawyer or

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.

Submitted by averagejoe on 24th Oct 2011

Is there a way of getting

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?

Submitted by cblaze2007 on 10th Dec 2011

In my experience, if you show

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.

Submitted by avonnie02 on 24th Oct 2011

I got a ticket for not having

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..

Submitted by msles59130 on 14th Feb 2012

Hmm. yes and no. You can't

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!

Submitted by melly1380 on 29th Aug 2011

How do you go about paying

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?

Submitted by menac93 on 25th Aug 2011

I am 17 and i got pulled over

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?

Submitted by on 25th Jul 2011



Submitted by Anonymous on 7th Apr 2011

Was driving at 75-80 hwy 8W

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...

Submitted by Anonymous on 25th Mar 2011

whats the average cost for a

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

Submitted by Anonymous on 1st Apr 2011

You're an idiot. You think

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.

Submitted by littlegypsi12 on 28th Sep 2011

Who are you to judge people I

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.

Submitted by Yaho on 15th Dec 2011

The person having their music

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.

Submitted by Ron Bennett on 17th Dec 2011

You need to have your head

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

Submitted by Anonymous on 23rd Mar 2011

I wa heading S/B on Dougherty

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

Submitted by wasacaliforniagirl on 19th Sep 2012

The driver in front is the

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

Submitted by Nospringchicken on 8th Feb 2012

Your just dumb. And San Ramon

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.

Submitted by providecommerce... on 6th Jan 2012

Well they just oughtta

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.

Submitted by Ceelabot on 22nd Jun 2011

Have you ever gone fishing

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.

Submitted by Anonymous on 1st Apr 2011

You playing the race huh?

You playing the race huh?