Fight Traffic Ticket in Wisconsin
Were you unfairly issued a traffic citation in Wisconsin? Do you have the means to prove your innocence? If so, keep reading to find out how you can fight your WI traffic ticket in court.
Plead Not Guilty to Your WI Citation
To begin the process of fighting your traffic ticket, you'll need to plead “not guilty" to the Wisconsin municipal OR circuit court in charge of your case.
The methods for entering your plea differ from court to court. You may have the option of pleading “not guilty":
- In person.
- By mail.
- Through e-mail.
- By fax.
Regardless of how you enter your plea, notify the court of your decision ON OR BEFORE the arraignment date listed on your ticket. Specific instructions on how AND where to submit a plea will be printed on your traffic citation as well.
If you misplaced your WI traffic ticket, take a look at our guide to lost WI traffic tickets for info on what to do next.
Once the court has accepted your “not guilty" plea, it will assign a date for you to return for your pre-trial conference OR trial. Keep in mind, if you miss any court dates, the consequences could include:
- Warrant issued for your arrest.
- Automatic guilty plea entered in your absence.
- Driver license suspension.
What a Not Guilty Plea Means
When you plead “not guilty" to traffic charges, you're exercising your legal right to stand before a WI judge and make a case for your innocence.
By pleading not guilty, you're affirming that you:
- Can make the time to appear in court, possibly multiple times.
- Understand you may face jail time if convicted of a serious charge, like OWI.
- Know additional points could be added to your record, possibly resulting in a loss of driving privileges.
If you're still unsure if you'd like to plead not guilty, take a look at our page When to Fight a Traffic Ticket for advice.
Fight Your WI Traffic Ticket in Court
The procedure for fighting your Wisconsin traffic ticket in court will usually include:
- Pre-trial conference.
- Trial before a judge OR jury.
- By default, you'll go to trial before a WI judge UNLESS you submit a written request for a jury trial no more than 10 days after your arraignment.
BEFORE going to court, consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney. Remember, if you choose to represent yourself, you'll need to follow all the procedures of Wisconsin traffic court correctly.
Some WI courts may appoint you counsel as long as you meet the following criteria:
- If convicted, you could face imprisonment.
- You can prove indigence and a lack of resources to hire representation of your own.
If you aren't sure whether you should hire an attorney or not, take a look at our guide, When to Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer, to get a better idea of what circumstances could require legal representation.
At the pre-trial conference, you (or your lawyer) and a Wisconsin state prosecutor will try to work out a plea bargain. A plea bargain will require that you plead guilty IN EXCHANGE for a lighter sentence.
If a plea bargain is agreed upon, you can avoid a trial. However, if a plea bargain can't be reached, the court will assign you a date to return for trial before a jury or judge.
If you plead guilty to your charges, your car insurance rates could rise significantly. Make sure you're fully educated on how Wisconsin traffic ticket convictions can affect your insurance rates BEFORE accepting a plea bargain.
Trial Before a Judge or Jury
If you end up going to trial, the process will typically follow this format:
- You (or your attorney) and the WI state prosecution will give opening arguments.
- Each side has the opportunity to present:
- Cross-examination of witnesses and rebuttals.
- Both sides give closing statements.
- Judge or jury decide on a verdict.
- If you're found guilty, the judge will then decide on and administer your sentence.
In the event you're found guilty and would like to appeal the conviction, you'll need to write a notice of appeal to the judge AND the WI state prosecution no more than 20 days after receiving your verdict. For more information, take a look at the state court system's guide to filing an appeal.
Consequences of Fighting Your WI Ticket
Depending on the judge or jury's verdict, the consequences of fighting your Wisconsin traffic citation could have long-lasting negative OR positive effects on your life.
If you're found guilty of your traffic violations, the sentence you receive could include any of the following:
- You'll be expected to pay all fines on the day you're convicted, unless you can prove indigence to the court, in which case you may be allowed to pay in installments.
- Points added to your WI driving record.
- Suspended driver's license.
- Community service.
- Traffic safety course.
- Jail time.
NOTE: If you have a valid Wisconsin commercial driver's license (CDL) you' MUST notify your employer of any traffic charges within 30 days of conviction.
DID YOU KNOW: Completing a Wisconsin traffic school course—also referred to as a traffic safety course—can REMOVE demerit points from your driving record.
By signing up for a WI traffic safety course today, you'll protect your driving privileges AND become a better driver overall.
Not Guilty Verdict
If the judge or jury find you not guilty of the traffic charges, you can expect the following:
- Dismissal of your traffic ticket.
- No fines or penalties to deal with.
- No points added to your record.
- Insurance rates remain the same.
Following the conclusion of your trial, it's extremely important to check on the accuracy of your WI driving record. Any erroneous information could lead to unwarranted fines, penalties, and stress down the road for you.