Fight Traffic Ticket in OregonPage Overview
Unless your ticket states you must appear in court, you probably can plead guilty or no contest and pay your ticket without stepping foot in the courthouse.
Or, you can plead not guilty and fight your charges.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine; online if applicable.
- Suffer violation-related penalties (sometimes license suspension or revocation.
- Experience auto insurance rates increase.
- Possibly enroll in the Driver Improvement Program for ticket dismissal.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Enter a not guilty plea.
- Prepare for your hearing, possibly with help from a traffic ticket attorney.
- Suffer no penalties if found not guilty (except applicable court/attorney fees).
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
To fight your OR traffic ticket, you must:
- Appear in court on your arraignment date.
- Enter a not guilty plea.
- Receive your traffic ticket hearing date.
- Prepare and plead your case (some drivers hire traffic ticket attorneys for help).
- Receive your verdict.
If your judge finds you guilty, you can either:
- Deal with the applicable fines and penalties, or
- Appeal the verdict (see below).
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
You might find it more convenient to plead guilty or no contest and pay your traffic ticket. Some courts allow online payments, and many allow driver to pay by mail or over the phone.
Visit Paying Your Traffic Ticket for more information about this option.
Avoid Additional Charges
Failure to appear in court or pay your fine on time results in license suspension; sometimes, courts send the information to collection agencies and issue arrest warrants.
Depending on the nature of the offense, you could also face a default guilty judgment and even heftier fines.
NOTE: Most courts will work with you if you can’t pay the entire fine all at once. Talk with your court’s clerk about scheduling a payment schedule.
Determine Where to Plead
Numerous courts handle traffic tickets in Oregon. You might go before a Municipal Court, Justice Court, or even Circuit Court.
Check your citation for the section that lists all the possible courts. You’ll plead not guilty at the court the officer has checked.
Inform the Court
There’s a hearing date on your citation. This is called the arraignment date. You must appear in court on this date to enter your not guilty plea. You’ll then receive a traffic ticket hearing date.
NOTE: Some courts allow drivers to plead not guilty via mail or with the clerk’s office. Check your ticket for this information.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
Contact your court as soon as you realize you can’t make your arraignment date or your traffic ticket hearing date.
Your citation should include contact information, but you can use the Oregon Judicial Department’s Court Registry to get your court’s contact and website information.
Oregon will not provide you with a court-appointed lawyer, but you can hire your own.
It’s a good idea to hire a traffic ticket attorney if:
- You want help preparing and presenting your case, including gathering evidence and subpoenaing witnesses.
- You’re open to negotiating a plea agreement.
- You’re facing serious charges, such as DUI or anything involving a felony.
An attorney also can help you reschedule your hearing and appeal a guilty verdict.
As you prepare for your case, keep these tips in mind:
- Unless your lawyer is speaking for you, practice your testimony.
- Consider evidence and witnesses that can help prove your innocence or that the violation was unavoidable.
- Consider plea agreements to lesser charges with lesser penalties.
Overall, traffic ticket hearings are simple.
Expect time for:
- Opening statements.
- Testimony, evidence, and witnesses from both sides.
- Questioning and cross examining.
- Closing statements.
- A judgment.
You’re responsible for no traffic ticket fine or other penalties if your judge fines you not guilty; if he finds you guilty, however, you must either handle your ticket fines and penalties or file an appeal (see below).
There are two types of ticket offense: violations and crimes.
Typically, violations follow the simple hearing process outline above; crimes, on the other hand, often require a third court appearance (a pre-trial hearing in between the arraignment and the actual hearing) and sometimes allow for juries.
Check your citation for information about your offense, and contact your court with any questions.
Filing an Appeal
You can file an appeal if you want to fight a guilty verdict. Oregon recommends consulting with a traffic ticket lawyer as the appeals process can be complicated and often costs more than the fine itself.
Although Oregon doesn’t use a point system, the state still tracks and records your traffic convictions.
When you order your driving record, you can make sure only the applicable convictions appear, as well as get a look at what potential employers and auto insurance providers will see if they take a look.
Usually, a guilty verdict means higher auto insurance rates the next time you renew your policy.
You can combat these higher rates by shopping for lower rates now.Other Topics in This Section