Fight Traffic Ticket in HawaiiPage Overview
Hawaii drivers can respond to tickets by pleading guilty and paying their fines, by contesting the tickets and fighting them in court, or by admitting guilt but explaining their circumstances before a judge. Read on for more information about the latter two options.
- Pay the fine.
- Go to court (if your citation indicates).
- Have the violation show up on your traffic abstract.
- Potential for higher auto insurance rates.
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Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty or Admit Litigated)
- Contest the ticket during a hearing or in writing.
- Admit guilt but explain your actions (if you choose this option).
- Defend yourself or hire an attorney to represent you.
- Potentially lose plea bargain options.
- Pay only any applicable court cost and attorney fees if found not guilty.
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
Learn more below
If you don’t want to plead guilty and pay your traffic ticket fine outright, you have two options: You can contest your ticket and fight it in court, or you can admit guilt but request the opportunity to explain your actions in court.
Fighting your ticket in court means appearing before a judge and providing testimony, witnesses, and evidence proving your innocence. (Some people hire traffic ticket lawyers to represent them. The judge will then make a judgment, which means he’ll either find you guilty and tell you about the fines and penalties you must deal with or find you not guilty.
Some drivers are offered plea bargains with lesser penalties.
Generally, the process to admit guilt but explain yourself in court is similar.
Your officer should provide you with an envelope (sometimes called an answer form) that gives you three options for pleading. Generally, the first option is related to pleading guilty and paying your fine; the second is related to fighting the ticket in court and the third is for drivers who know they committed the offense but feel they have a valid reason.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
Unless your ticket states you must appear in court (such as for a “traffic crime”), chances are you can plead guilty and pay your HI traffic ticket online―never stepping foot in a courthouse.
Learn more about Paying Your Traffic Ticket.
Avoid Additional Charges
Regardless of how you choose to plead, make sure you respond in the allotted amount of time. Your ticket should have a response date printed on it (for some, this might be a hearing date). Failing to respond on time or show up to court typically results in a default guilty judgment, and puts you at risk for an arrest warrant and license suspension or revocation.
NOTE: Should you miss your date, you or your attorney can use Forms 1D-P-1191-1D-P-1193, or the Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment.
Determine Where to Plead
Check your ticket for information about which district court is handling your citation.
Inform the Court
How you inform the court depends on your situation.
For example, some drivers are required to appear in court regardless of how they plan to plead. Usually, these are drivers who’ve been cited for traffic crimes rather than traffic infractions. So, check your ticket to see whether you’re required to appear in court.
Some tickets already include hearing dates, even if a court appearance isn’t required. Typically, drivers with these tickets can just appear in court on that date.
For the most part, though, drivers must use the answer forms, or envelopes, to request a hearing date (for contesting the ticket or admitting guilt but requesting litigation).
If you don’t have an answer form or envelope, you can send a written request to your district court. Be sure to include specific details, such as:
- Your name.
- Your contact information, including your mailing or physical address; your telephone number; and your e-mail address.
- Your citation number.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
The Hawaii State Judiciary website provides a Court Forms by Circuit section. From this section, you can access the Form 1D-P-1300, or Motion to Continue or Advance Court Date form, for your district. You or your attorney can use this form to request a postponement or ask if your hearing date can be moved up.
Generally, drivers charged with traffic infractions choose to hire traffic ticket lawyers to help them fight their tickets in court or obtain plea bargains with lesser penalties.
Drivers charged with traffic crimes, however, typically have much more at stake and hire attorneys to help them prove their innocence or avoid severe penalties (such as jail time, license suspension and revocation, and extreme fines). Some drivers charged with traffic crimes might even find themselves in situations that call for court-appointed attorneys if they can’t hire their own.
As you and possibly your attorney begin preparing your case, consider:
- Your testimony. Even if your lawyer speaks on your behalf, you still want to gather up all the details and present your story in a clear, concise manner.
- Evidence. Depending on the nature of the violation, you might have evidence that you’re innocent, or that you were justified in committing the offense.
- Witnesses. If anyone was present to witness that the alleged infraction or crime did not take place, talk with that person about providing testimony at your hearing.
It’s important to spend as much time as it takes to adequately prepare for your hearing. Your traffic ticket hearing is your chance to prove to the judge that either a) you’re not guilty, or b) you were guilty but you had justifiable cause.
Generally, hearings for typical traffic infractions are fairly straightforward: You’ll make your case for your innocence or justification (presenting any testimony, witnesses, and evidence you have) and the ticketing officer will do the same for your guilt. Once the judge hears both sides, he’ll make a judgment on your case.
If you’re found not guilty, you can put the situation behind you (after paying any applicable court costs and attorneys fees); if you’re guilty, you’ll need to deal with your applicable traffic ticket fines and penalties.
Traffic Crime Cases
Note that traffic crime hearings might be more involved than typical traffic infraction hearings―especially if the crime resulted in a felony or death. Some hearings or trials for traffic crime violations can even last multiple days. Your traffic ticket lawyer can help you prepare for and plead your case during these hearings.
Contesting by Mail
It is possible to contest your traffic ticket by mail―without scheduling an actual hearing date.
During these situations, you―the driver― and/or your attorney provide a statement about why you’re innocent of the charge or are guilty but for a justifiable reason. The judge then makes a judgment based solely on the testimony and evidence provided in your statement.
Your traffic ticket answer form or envelope should include details about this option, but if it doesn’t you can contact your court for more information.
Filing an Appeal
As long as your judge didn’t mitigate your violation and penalties (in other words, lessen them or offer you a plea bargain), you can file an appeal. You can talk with a clerk about the process and paperwork, or your lawyer can handle it for you.
Traffic violations (of which you’re found guilty) appear on your traffic abstract, or driving record. To make sure only the items that are supposed to show up actually show up, it’s a good idea to check your driving record after you receive your verdict.
As stated above, auto insurance companies can access your traffic abstract, and your current provider might increase your rates if you’re found guilty of a traffic infraction or crime.
If you are found guilty, start shopping online for lower rates now so you can get the best deal at renewal time.Other Topics in This Section