If you’ve been given a California traffic ticket, you’ll have to choose to plead either guilty, no contest or not guilty. If you plead either guilty or no contest, you must pay the fine before the court date stated on the ticket.

In any case, you must tell the court of your intentions before the court date on your ticket. If you do not tell the court before that date, you risk having your license suspended and having to pay additional fines, or even worse, a warrant for your arrest.

What to Do If I Get a Fix-It Ticket in California?

If you’re given a fix-it ticket or any violation you can correct, the ticket you receive will state whether you need to pay a fine or just show proof of correction. If you must show proof of correction, you need to have a police officer, DMV service person or a court clerk sign off on the Certificate of Correction. After that, you have to go to court on the specified date with your Certificate of Correction along with payment of a dismissal fee before your violation is thrown out.

Am I Able to Take a Traffic School Course to Have Points Taken off My California Driving Record?

Yes, you are allowed to take a state-recognized traffic school if you have a valid driver’s license and your violation is a moving violation. Usually, your courtesy notice from the court will tell you if you are able to take a traffic school course. Once you’ve completed the course, your ticket will be dismissed. First time violations will likely not show up on your record. Before you sign up for a class, you should make sure that your traffic school is approved by the courts. If you are not sure, call the court to see which traffic schools are approved.

Why Should I Order a Driving Record?

It’s a good idea to be checking up on your driving record so you can be sure that there’s nothing on there that shouldn’t be. This should be done after you’ve gotten a traffic ticket so you can be sure they got it right. If they get it wrong and you end up with more points than you should, you risk facing a license suspension and higher insurance rates.

Must I Appear in Court?

Most of the time you are able to put most violations to rest through the mail, but if you’re not 100% sure, you can call a lawyer or the court clerk to find out.

In any case, you always have the right to ask for a traffic trial.

How Many Points Will I Get in a Conviction?

Each violation will bring with it a different amount of points. Moving violations or accidents where you are at fault are usually given one point each. More severe violations like a DUI and driving without auto insurance will get you 2 points. The points will stay on your record for 3 to 10 years depending on severity.

What’s My Course of Action When Given a Red Light Photo Enhancement Violation?

If you’ve received a photograph ticket in the mail, it will contain the information needed on how you can pay the fine or how you can contest it. If you want to see the photo, you can check it on most county websites, or you can call and arrange to go in and see them. If you’re not the person in the photo, you will be given instructions on how to move forward.

Do Traffic Tickets Cost the Same Everywhere in California?

The answer is yes and no. Usually, traffic tickets will vary in price by county.

A traffic ticket bail and penalties schedule is made by the state for the counties to follow, but some counties are able to go over the fines set by the state. You may also face other penalties and fees given by each county. You can find out more by checking our California Vehicle Code page.

Will I Have My License Suspended for Too Many Points on My Record?

In California, they have what is called a Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS). In this system, you will lose your driving privileges for these point totals below:

  • Four points in a period of 12 months.
  • Six points in a period of 24 months.
  • Eight points in a period of 36 months.

Your points can add up fast at a rate of 1 point per moving violation and 2 points for more serious violation. For more details on the points system, please visit our California’s Point System page.

Should I Get a Lawyer?

In California traffic court, you are allowed to represent yourself, or you can get a traffic ticket attorney. If you are at risk of losing your driver’s license, it is advised that you hire a traffic ticket attorney. You will not be assigned a lawyer for traffic tickets.

If you’ve gotten a misdemeanor traffic ticket, it’s recommended that you hire a lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will assign one to you.