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Traffic tickets in California may bring motorists serious consequences on their driver’s licenses and driving records. When facing citations, drivers may choose to either fight them if they believe they are innocent or pay driving tickets if they are guilty. Learn more about your options, as well as how to fight a traffic violation, by reading the sections below.

Fighting a California Ticket

The procedure for California traffic ticket defense may vary based on the steps established by the specific court. When appearing in court, drivers are expected to plead “not guilty” for the traffic offense they are charged with. They may either appear at a court trial on the date written on their “Notice to Appear” or contest the citation by submitting a written declaration. Before going in person to court, drivers need to schedule an appointment. Motorists can choose to write a declaration only if their case involves a violation of the vehicle code. When drivers choose to mask or dismiss by written declaration, they have to pay a full bail that will be returned when they are proved to be innocent. It is advisable to hire a CA traffic lawyer to avoid the potential consequences of a failed appeal, which could be more severe than the original fines.

Paying a California Ticket

Drivers can pay traffic citations in California using various methods such as online, by mail, by fax, by Express Drop Box, by phone (by using an automated telephone system) and by visiting a local office of the CA Superior Court in person. California traffic tickets payments must be submitted prior to the due date of the citation.

Lost Tickets in California

Before contesting a traffic ticket in California or paying the fine, drivers are required to have the traffic citation in their possession. Losing your citation will prevent you from fighting or paying a citation. Therefore, you will have to find the citation or the important information provided on the ticket in order to continue with either procedure. Information can be found online on certain court websites. To use the online service for retrieving citation information, drivers need to enter their case number, citation number, driver’s license number or ID number. Motorists can then handle their traffic fines after obtaining the necessary citation details.

California Fines and Penalties

Failure to mask or dismiss traffic tickets in California will require you to pay applicable fees, fines and bail. Fees may vary depending on the severity of the committed offenses. The fine, penalties and fees for minor infractions can be $490 or more. Serious offenses such as driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs can amount to $5,000 or more in fines, penalties and administrative fees. Drivers who are struggling to pay traffic citations in California must prove their inability to pay before they submit the whole amount.

Points in California

Depending on the type of CA traffic violation you have committed, points on your license may be added to your California driving record. A drivers license suspension can occur in the event you accumulate a certain number of driver points. Different offenses have different point amounts, which are based on the severity of the crime. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has established a point system that assigns demerit points for select offenses, such as:

  • No light on license plates: 0 points
  • Bad brake condition: 1 point
  • Hit and run: 2 points
  • Driving under the influence (DUI): 2 points

Getting too many traffic tickets may lead to the accumulation of a high number of demerit points on your driving record. Accumulating four points within 12 months, six points within 24 months or eight points within 36 months will suspend your driving privileges. In case you have been cited for a one-point violation, you may attend a California traffic school and have the traffic citation masked on your driving record.

How Tickets Affect a California Drivers License

California traffic tickets may have various effects on driver’s licenses issued by the state DMV. For instance, committing too many violations while operating a motor vehicle will result in a drivers license suspension or revocation. Until you appeal your citations or pay traffic fines in CA, your driving privileges will remain suspended.

California Car Insurance Fines and Violations

Committing California traffic violations and receiving applicable fines may raise your car insurance rate. Drivers who receive tickets are considered unsafe motorists, which increases their auto insurance premiums. To avoid high insurance rates, drivers are encouraged to enroll in a California traffic school. Drivers can easily mask or dismiss traffic tickets by providing proof of traffic school completion.

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