Traffic Tickets - Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  I was pulled over and given a traffic ticket.  There is a date on the ticket.  Do I need to go to court on this date?

A:  No.  Assuming the ticket was for an infraction, this is the "compliance date."  You can respond online on the Los Angeles County Superior Court's website or in person at the traffic clerk's office.  For most tickets, you have three options: 1) pay the fine for the violation and request traffic school (if applicable); 2) schedule a court date (which would be the arraignment); or 3) request an extension of time to decide later which of the first two options that you would like to select.  You are automatically allowed one extension.

If you received a ticket for a misdemeanor, e.g. DUI, driving on a suspended license, etc., then the date is a mandatory court date.  You or an attorney must appear in court on the date listed on the citation.  

Q: What happens if I miss my compliance date and do not respond?

A:  If you signed the traffic infraction ticket, promising to respond by the date on the ticket, and then do not do so, you will be charged with a Failure to Appear.  The FTA is a separate charge against you, in addition to the violation(s) the officer originally cited you.  The Court will also notify the DMV and your driver's license will be suspended.

Q:  How many court dates are there in traffic court?

A:  At least two, if the case is set for trial, possibly more if the case is continued or there is a separate hearing date for sentencing.  The first court date is the arraignment.  You, or an attorney appearing on your behalf, will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest.  If the plea is not guilty, then the case is scheduled for traffic trial.  The officer who cited you will be subpoenaed to appear on this date.  

Q:  What happens if I go to traffic school?

A:  If you complete traffic school the conviction will be dismissed.  You will not be assessed a point on your driving record.

Q:  Do I still have to pay the fine if I go to traffic school?

A:  Yes.  You will also need to pay a traffic school fee to the Court, usually around $64, plus the cost of whatever the traffic school itself charges.

Q:  How often can I go to traffic school?

A:  You may attend traffic school for a violation once every 18 months.  The date is determined by the date the ticket was issued, not the conviction date.  

Q:  What types of tickets can I go to traffic school for?

A:  Any one point moving violation qualifies (speeding, running a stop sign, car pool violations, not using a turn signal, illegal U-turns, etc.). 

Q:  What types of tickets are not eligible for traffic school?

Two point violations, such as Vehicle Code Section 22348 (speeding over 100 mph), and misdemeanor offenses (DUI, reckless driving, etc.) do not qualify for traffic school.  Commercial drivers who are cited while driving their commercial vehicles may not attend traffic school.  Equipment violations, also known as "fix it tickets," and anything considered a "non-moving" violation do not carry a point and traffic school is not needed.

Q:  What happens if I set my case for trial and the officer does not show up?

A:  The officer must appear for the trial in order for the violations in which you were cited to be proven in court.  If he does not do so, all violations that he cited you for will be dismissed.  

Q:  Do I have any constitutional rights in traffic court?

A:  Yes.  Traffic court follows the same rules that criminal court follows, with a few exceptions.  Unlike a person charged with a criminal offense, you do not have the right to a jury trial for an infraction.  A judge listens to the evidence and decides whether the accused driver is guilty or not guilty.  You also do not have the right to an attorney.  In criminal court, an attorney will be appointed if you cannot afford to hire one.  In traffic court, if you want an attorney you must hire your own.  

Q:  If I hire a traffic attorney do I need to go to Court?

A:  No, not if it is an infraction citation.  An attorney may appear on your behalf at all court hearings, including the trial.  Contact our Los Angeles Traffic Ticket attorney today to discuss your ticket.

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