Recently got a moving citation in California? I’m here to advise you what your best options are. These options may also be available in other states as well.
Whenever you get a moving citation with an infraction or point, it will affect your DMV record, which will result in insurance premium increases if not remedied. With Traffic School, you can pay a small fee and take a quick ~1-hour online course to prevent the citation from going into your DMV record. However, you can only take traffic school once every 18-months. There are several options on whether or not you wish to pay your ticket or contest your ticket.
Option 1: If you wish to simply pay your ticket and/or take traffic school, we recommend that you show up to court for the arraignment and plea guilty to the violation. By doing so, you will most likely have your fine reduced by 20% and granted the ability to take traffic school, since you save the courts time from an actual trial. Consider this option the plea bargain.
Option 2: Fight the ticket, and hope to not pay a dime. By fighting the ticket and taking the ‘not guilty’ plea, you eliminate the likelihood of getting your fines reduced, and the courts have the ability to deny you access to traffic school. However, if your case seems reasonable to the judge, or IF THE COP DOESN’T RESPOND to your plea, then the case will be dismissed and you wouldn’t have to pay any fines. By taking this option and following our guide, you will have not only one, but two chances to have the cop not show. You also would not have to show up to the court for arraignment by following these steps.
To start, File a trial by written declaration: When you get the courtesy notice in the mail, it will give you an option to file a trial by written declaration. You may have to pay the deposit or fine up front when doing the trial by declaration. After you submit your trial by declaration, the police officer is subpoena’d and requested to send their declaration of facts. If within the 6 weeks that the officer’s declaration has not been received, you will receive a letter in the mail with an enclosed check, telling you that the case is dismissed. If the officer does respond, you still have the possibility of winning the non-guilty plea. However, if the officer has replied and won the written trial, you are not out of luck. Your written trial has failed, but you now have the option to file a ‘Trial de Novo’, where you can get a re-trial in person with the officer. If the officer does not show up, you will have your case automatically dismissed and will any of your deposits back. If the officer shows, you may have the option to ‘plea guilty’ depending on the judge and take traffic school for the offences. You can also use the trial de novo to prove your case against the officer, and be innocent for the violation.
Basically if you know you’re willing to just take traffic school and reduce your fine, you can take Option 1, to show up at arraignment and plea guilty. If you wish to fight your ticket and hope the officer doesn’t show up, you can take option 2, to fight it through both written trial and trial de novo.
I cannot give any recommendations on the options to take, as I’ve used both to my benefit. It really depends on whether or not you have the time to show up in courts or want to write. However, if you’ve already used up your traffic school I’d highly recommend trying to fight the ticket to keep a clean DMV record and prevent insurance increases.