Fight Traffic Ticket in California

SUMMARY: How to Fight a California Traffic Ticket

In California, you can fight your traffic ticket in person or in writing. You will need to pay bail (your traffic ticket fine amount), which will be returned to you if you win your case.

Continue reading this page to learn how to fight your CA traffic ticket.

NOTE: If you decide to simply pay your traffic ticket, see our Paying Traffic Tickets in California page.

Pay Ticket
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)

  • Pay the fine.
  • Pay to go to traffic school.
  • Provide proof of correction if you receive a ticket for a “correctable violation" (e.g., fixing a broken taillight or providing proof of car registration).
  • Incur points on your driving record.
  • Possible increase in auto insurance rates.

Learn more about
Paying Your Traffic Ticket »

Fight Ticket
(Plead Not Guilty)

  • A court trial by a judicial officer.
  • A trial by mail, or what is often called a “trial by written declaration."
  • Choose to represent yourself in court or hire an attorney.
  • Possibly forfeit option to plea bargain for lesser charges.
  • No penalties if found guilty but must pay court and legal fees.

Fight Your CA Traffic Ticket in Person

To fight your CA traffic ticket charge, you will need to appear in court on your scheduled date. This should be listed on your traffic ticket or on the courtesy notice sent to you by the California court.

When you plead “not guilty" and fight your traffic ticket:

  • You will be given a date for your trial where you can fight your charge.
  • You may need to pay “bail" money.
    • This will be returned to you if you're found “not guilty" after your hearing.
  • You may wish to hire a traffic ticket attorney to represent you.
    • If you can't afford one, you can either represent yourself or the court will provide one for you.

If you prefer to fight your California traffic ticket in writing—versus in person in court—you may be able to have a trial by written declaration.

Is Your Driving Record Accurate?

If you successfully fight your traffic ticket charge, be sure to check your California driving record to make sure no points were added by mistake. You don't want any violations to be wrongly recorded and cause your insurance rates to increase.

Request a Written Declaration Trial

If you prefer not to go to court, you can have your trial by written declaration; you will provide all evidence and your statement in writing.

You will be eligible for this option if:

  • Your citation was for a traffic infraction violation.
  • Your traffic ticket due date hasn't passed.
  • Your CA traffic ticket does not require a court appearance.

Submit the following to the CA court listed on your traffic ticket in person or by mail by your traffic ticket due date:

  • Completed Request for Trial by Written Declaration (Form TR-205).
  • Stamped, self-addressed envelope (if mailing your request).
  • Written statement of events regarding the traffic violation (including witness statements). You can use these forms: NOTE: If you don't use the provided declaration forms, visit the California courts website for written statement requirements.
  • Supporting evidence (and descriptions of each within your written statement), such as:
    • Photos.
    • Diagrams.
  • Bail payment (total traffic ticket amount).
    • Will be returned to you if you're found “not guilty."

NOTE: Be sure to keep copies of everything you submit.

Once a decision has been made about your case, the California traffic court will notify you.

  • If you're found “not guilty," your bail money will be returned.
  • If you're found “guilty," you must pay any required fees OR you can ask for a new trial to be held in court in person.

California Traffic Ticket Attorneys

Depending on your own expertise and your particular situation, you may want to consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney in California.

A CA lawyer specializing in traffic law may help you win your case or, at the very least, minimize your penalties and charges.

For more information about how an attorney can help you fight your CA traffic ticket, visit our Traffic Ticket Attorneys page.

CA Trafic Tickets: FAQs

If you have any more questions about your California traffic ticket, visit our FAQ page. We'll answer questions, including:

  • If I'm found "guilty," how may driver's license points will I receive?
  • Are traffic fines the same throughout California?
  • Do I need a lawyer?
  • Why should I order a driving record?

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