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Fight Traffic Ticket in Hawaii

When you've been wrongly cited with a traffic ticket, don't vent about it to friends—tell it to the judge.

You have the right to fight your Hawaii traffic ticket by pleading not guilty and taking the issue to court.

Read below for more about the process and what you can expect to encounter while challenging your HI citation.

Challenging Your HI Traffic Ticket

There are a handful of steps to follow after you decide to fight your ticket in court. Read on to familiarize yourself with the timeline and process.

Pleading Not Guilty

You have 21 days after receiving your ticket to notify the proper Hawaii district court that you will be fighting the charge, by either:

  • Requesting an in-court hearing.
    • Fill out all appropriate areas of your traffic ticket.
    • Mail the ticket to the proper court.
  • Submitting a written statement for review.
    • Write a brief, factual statement about the incident.
    • Include any photographs or other evidence.
      • You will not get these back. Make copies of all your documents.
    • Mail or deliver the document to the appropriate HI court.

NOTE: When you plead “not guilty," you're making an official legal claim that you were wrongly cited. It's highly recommended to consider any and all evidence you have to support this argument before going to court.

Going to Your Court Hearing

After you send in your ticket, the court will inform you of the time and location of your court date.

At your hearing you will be given the chance to explain the circumstances surrounding your traffic ticket to the judge and argue your case. No state prosecutor will be present.

The judge will then take your explanation and the police officer's notes into consideration before making a decision on your case.

Written Statement Review

Once your package is received by the court, a judge will review your case directly. The judge will consider your written statement along with the police officer's notes to make a decision on your case.

The judge's decision will be mailed to you.

(Traffic) School in Session

Want to spend more time in class and less in court? Many courts will drop your case or offer other benefits if you complete a course.

Find out more on our guide to Hawaii traffic school.

Challenging Your Judge's Decision

Whether you went to court for a hearing or submitted a written statement for review, you will have 30 days after receiving your judgment to challenge the decision and request a trial de novo. The court should provide you with written instructions on how to do this.

Trial de Novo

After you request your new trial, the court will inform you of your trial date. This trial will proceed as if the original hearing/review never took place. A prosecutor will be present to argue against your case.

Unless you hire a HI traffic ticket lawyer, you will have to represent yourself in your case. Hawaii does not offer court-appointed attorneys for traffic cases.

At your trial, you or your lawyer will get the chance to:

  • Argue the law.
  • Call witnesses.
  • Present other evidence.
  • Question a police department representative.

Once your case is wrapped up, the judge will make a ruling, declaring you either guilty or not guilty.

Potential Costs

When weighing whether to fight your ticket in court, don't forget to count all the potential costs that could come with the process.

Aside from paying the original fine on your HI citation, keep in mind the costs associated with:

  • Ticket lawyer fees.
  • Higher car insurance.
  • Time off work to attend court.
  • Additional court fines if you lose.
Car Insurance Rate Up? What's Up?

Not sure how fighting your ticket relates to your auto insurance rate? Find out more about the process, and how to avoid higher rates if you lose your case.

Consequences of Fighting Your Ticket

The judge will make a ruling on your case once the evidence on both sides has been reviewed.

If you win and are found not guilty, the issue is done. Your Hawaii ticket will be dismissed and you will NOT:

  • Have the violation on your driving record.
  • Need to pay the traffic citation fine.

If you lose and are found guilty, however, the incident will stay on your driving record, and you may also have to:

  • Pay additional court fees.
  • Pay the original fine.
  • Face additional penalties.

Depending on how severe the violation is, you may also potentially:

  • Have your license suspended.
    • Can happen even if you live out of state.
  • Be ordered to perform community service.
  • Get points added to your license.
  • Serve jail time.

Legal repercussions are on a case-by-base basis. Make sure to ask the judiciary official or your traffic ticket attorney about any other potential consequences of losing your case.

Going on the Record

Whether you win or lose, the fate of your driving record hangs in the balance!

Make sure the document accurately reflects the outcome of your trial by ordering a copy of your driving record for review.

Missing Your Court Date

You don't get to miss out on the penalties if you miss your court date. In fact, skipping out on court could come with even harsher legal repercussions than fighting your ticket and losing.

You could face any number of consequences for missing your court date, including:

  • Points added to your license.
  • A warrant issued for your arrest.
  • The original violation staying on your driving record.
  • License suspension.
  • Additional fines and fees.

It's highly recommended to call the appropriate court as soon as you realize you may not make your hearing date, and ask to reschedule if possible.

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