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  • Fight Traffic Ticket in Hawaii

    SUMMARY: How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Hawaii

    To fight your Hawaii traffic ticket, you'll need to request a court hearing by mail within 21 days of receiving it. For specific instructions, refer to your HI traffic ticket or contact the appropriate district court directly.

    Fighting a HI Traffic Ticket

    You can respond to a traffic ticket by pleading "guilty" and paying your fine, by contesting the ticket in court, or by admitting guilt but explaining your circumstances before a judge. Read on for more information about the latter two options.

    Pay Ticket
    (Plead Guilty)

    • 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.

    Learn more about
    Paying your Traffic Ticket »

    Fight 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

    What It Means to Fight Your Hawaii Traffic Ticket

    If you don't want to plead "guilty" and pay your Hawaii traffic ticket fine outright, you have a couple of options:

    • You can contest your ticket and fight it in court.
    • You can admit guilt but request the opportunity to explain your actions in court.

    Fighting your Hawaii traffic 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 of admitting guilt but explaining yourself in court is similar to above.

    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 traffic court.
    • The third is for drivers who know they committed the offense but feel they have a valid reason for doing so.

    Pleading Guilty or No Contest

    Unless your HI traffic ticket states you must appear in court (such as for a “traffic crime"), chances are you can plead "guilty" and pay your fine online; never stepping foot in a courthouse.

    Learn more about Paying Your Traffic Ticket in Hawaii.

    Avoid Additional Charges

    Regardless of how you choose to plead, make sure you respond in the allotted amount of time. Your Hawaii traffic 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 driver's license suspension or revocation.

    NOTE: Should you miss your deadline date, you or your attorney can use the Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment Entered in Traffic Infraction Case, and Appearance Bond (Form 1D-P-1191 to 1D-P-1193).


    Notify the Hawaii District Court

    Determine Where to Plead

    Check your HI traffic ticket for information about which district court is handling your citation.

    Find out how to replace a missing traffic ticket if you've misplaced your driver's license, or contact the Hawaii district court if your ticket doesn't include this information.

    Inform the Hawaii 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 traffic tickets already include hearing dates, even if a court appearance isn't required. Typically, if you have this type of traffic ticket, you can simply appear in court on that date.

    For the most part, though, you 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 forms required to reschedule or postpone your hearing, if required. You or your attorney can use this form to request a postponement or ask if your hearing date can be moved up.

    Hire a Hawaii Traffic Ticket Attorney

    Generally, if you're charged with a Hawaii traffic infraction, you can choose to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to help fight your ticket in court or obtain a plea bargain with lesser penalties.

    If you're charged with traffic crimes in Hawaii, you will typically have much more at stake, so hiring a traffic attorney to help prove your innocence or avoid severe penalties (such as jail time, license suspension and revocation, and extreme fines) may be your best option. You may even find yourself in a situation that calls for court-appointed attorneys if you can't hire your own.

    Prepare Your Case

    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 moving violation, you might have evidence that you're innocent, or 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. In Hawaii, your traffic ticket hearing is your chance to prove to the judge that either:

    • You're not guilty.
      OR
    • You were guilty but you had justifiable cause.

    Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

    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/she will 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 found "guilty," you'll need to deal with your applicable HI 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 a Hawaii Traffic Ticket by Mail

    It is possible to contest your HI traffic ticket by mail without scheduling an actual hearing date.

    During these situations, you, the driver, and/or your attorney will 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 Hawaii 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 in Hawaii

    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.

    Check Your Hawaii Driving Record

    Traffic violations (of which you're found guilty) appear on your traffic abstract, or HI 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 in Hawaii after you receive your verdict.

    Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

    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 in Hawaii.

    If you are found guilty, start shopping online for lower rates now so you can get the best deal at renewal time.