Pay Traffic Ticket in CaliforniaPage Overview
(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
(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
Learn more about
Fighting your Traffic Ticket »
Paying a parking or infraction traffic ticket is an admission of guilt or no contest plea. Repercussions may include:
- Points added to your driving record, contingent on the severity of your ticket. In some instances, the court may dismiss the points if you provide proof of completing a state-approved traffic school.
- Added points to your driving record could increase car insurance rates or jeopardize employment status if your job requires maintaining a clean driving record.
- Additional points could lead to your driver’s license being suspended or revoked.
Failure to pay your traffic fine could bring severe repercussions. The court may suspend your license and block you from renewing your car’s registration. Or it may even go so far as to charge you with a “failure to appear,” which could lead to a warrant for your arrest.
All courts will allow you to pay in person or by mail. Some may also give you the option to pay by phone or online. Otherwise, check the court’s website for payment information.
All misdemeanor charges (such as DUI) require a court appearance.
Pleading Guilty as a CA CDL Driver
If you carry a California commercial drivers license (CDL), you must notify your employer after a conviction. If the conviction occurred out of state, regardless of what type of vehicle you were driving, you must submit notification using form DL 535. For more information on this topic, consult the California Commercial Driver Handbook.
Pleading Not Guilty
You always have the option to plead not guilty and challenge the ticket. If you plead “not guilty” the judicial officer will assign you a trial date and may also request that you pay the fine (referred to as bail). If you are found not guilty, the money will be returned to you. Learn more in our Fighting a California Traffic Ticket page.
Your California traffic ticket will provide information on how to pay your fine. If you’re unclear on how the CA traffic ticket process works, continue reading. If, by chance, you can’t find your citation, visit our section on Lost Traffic Tickets.
California traffic citations and speeding tickets are handled by county courts. Your presiding court’s address and phone number should be included on your citation, along with the fine amount and due date. Many courts will send a courtesy notice with the fine and/or appearance date.
Because California traffic tickets are handled on the county level, visit the website for the county from where you were ticketed for information on paying your citation.
Once you locate the county’s website, search for payment information. Most counties will provide information on:
- Paying online
- Paying in-person
- Paying by mail
- Paying by phone
Provide Proof for a correctable violation
When issued a correctable violation (sometimes called a fix-it ticket) you may be required to pay a fine or provide provide proof of correction. If you’re required to provide proof of correction, you will need to:
- Get an authorized person (police office, DMV agent, court clerk) to sign the “Certificate of Correction” portion of your ticket
- Take the proof of correction to the court and pay the dismissal fee (some courts may allow you to submit via mail) before the due date
If you possess a valid driver’s license and received a ticket for a moving violation you may, at the court’s discretion, be allowed to enroll in a traffic school. Upon completion, the court will dismiss the ticket and may erase the points from your record if this is your first violation.
Before enrolling, read up on California traffic school requirements.
Check Your Driving Record
It’s always smart to keep track of your driving record, especially after receiving a ticket when points are involved. Knowing where you stand on points may help you you decide on whether to enroll in a court-approved traffic school course.
After settling your citation with the court and checking your driver record for points, inquire with your auto insurance company regarding any ticket consequences. Depending on the nature of your infraction, you may see a jump in your insurance rates during renewal. If so, you may want to compare auto insurance rates online.Other Topics in This Section