California traffic tickets operate under regulations and processes designed to enforce traffic laws and ensure road safety. Law enforcement officers issue you a citation when you commit a traffic violation. A citation could result in fines, points on a driving record, or other penalties. After giving you a citation, the law enforcement officers provide your details to the local Courthouse and California Department of Motor Vehicles, abbreviated as DMV. You must book an arraignment at the court or file a Trial by Written Declaration if you receive a traffic ticket and want to contest it. If you have received a misdemeanor traffic ticket in Pasadena, CA, such as a DUI, hit and run, or driving on suspended license ticket, call Ann at The Law Office of Ann Gottesman. She is happy to provide a free consultation!

How Traffic Tickets Work

A law enforcement officer can issue a citation or ticket if a driver commits a traffic offense. Typical offenses include speeding, running a red light, following too closely, or illegal parking. The officer notes the violation details, including the date, time, location, and specific violation code. The citation contains essential information, including the driver's name, address, vehicle details, and the violations committed. It also includes the fine amount and the deadline to respond.

When you receive a traffic ticket, you have several options for responding:

Paying The Fine

If the violation is an infraction and you accept guilt, you can pay the fine indicated on the ticket. You will get Payment methods include online, by mail, or in person at a courthouse or authorized payment location.

Contesting The Ticket

You can contest the ticket if you believe you are not guilty of the violation. This involves requesting a court trial to present your case before a judge. A court date will be assigned, and you must appear to argue your defense. If the officer fails to appear your case should be dismissed!

Traffic School Option

In some cases, if eligible, you can attend traffic school instead of contesting the ticket. Completing an approved traffic school course prevents you from receiving points on your driving record. This can help with your insurance premiums.

If you do not respond to a traffic ticket, you can face additional penalties. These can include increased fines, a driver's license suspension, or a warrant for your arrest.

Different Types of Traffic Tickets

In California, several traffic tickets can be issued for various violations. Here are some common types of traffic tickets in California:

Speeding Tickets VC 22350

These are issued when you exceed the posted speed limit. The fine amount typically varies depending on how much over the speed limit you were driving.  The basic law states:

“No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”  VC 22350.

Red Light or Stop Sign Violations:  VC 21453

You can receive a ticket if you fail to stop at a red light or stop sign. This violation is often captured by red light cameras or observed by law enforcement officers.

Reckless Driving

You can be guilty of reckless driving if you operate a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Reckless driving can lead to a traffic ticket, fines, and a possible license suspension.

Driving Under the Influence-VC 23152(a),(b)

The law forbids a person to drive with a blood alcohol concentration above the allowable limit of .08 percent if 21 years of age or older. It is a serious offense, resulting in penalties, fines, and a possible license suspension. Other penalties include mandatory DUI education programs and possible imprisonment. If you are facing DUI charges, go to the DUI Defense section of my website at

Call DUI Defense lawyer Ann Gottesman for a free consultation. There are only 10 calendar days from the date of arrest during which you are allowed to request a hearing with the DMV and an extended temporary license.

Failure To Yield

Failing to yield the right-of-way to other cars, pedestrians, or riders can lead to a traffic ticket.

Improper Lane Change

Changing lanes without signaling or in an unsafe manner can result in a traffic ticket.

Driving Without a Valid License

You can face charges if you operate a vehicle without a valid driver's license. You can also violate the law if you drive with a suspended or revoked license. This violation can lead to a misdemeanor citation or infraction traffic ticket.

Cell Phone or Texting Violations

California has strict laws regarding cell phone use while driving. Using a handheld device, including a phone, for texting, talking, or browsing the internet without a hands-free setup can result in a traffic ticket.

Equipment Violations

Driving a vehicle with non-functioning lights, improper tinting, or other equipment violations can lead to a traffic ticket.

Carpool Lane Violations

Driving in the carpool lane without the required number of occupants or during restricted hours can result in a traffic ticket.

Fines, penalties, and consequences can vary depending on the violation, the circumstances, and any prior traffic offenses. If you receive a traffic ticket in California, you can contest it. You can mitigate the penalties by attending a traffic school or requesting a court hearing.  If the police officer fails to show at a traffic ticket trial date your case will likely be dismissed.

Contesting A Traffic Ticket

Traffic violations in California can result in the accumulation of points on your driver's record. Each violation carries a particular point value, which varies depending on the severity of the offense. Points remain on the record for a specified period, typically three years. Accumulating too many points within a specific time frame can lead to a license suspension or higher insurance premiums.

If you contest a ticket, you must appear in traffic court. You and the law enforcement officer who issued the citation will present evidence and arguments during the trial. The judge then determines whether you are guilty or not. You could face fines, penalties, or other consequences as determined by the judge.

You can appeal the court's verdict. This involves filing a notice of appeal and providing supporting documentation within the specified time frame. The appeal process varies depending on the court's jurisdiction and should be followed carefully.

It is important to note that the specific procedures and penalties for traffic tickets can vary based on the jurisdiction within California. It is advisable to consult the relevant traffic laws and regulations or seek legal advice when dealing with traffic tickets. When you do this, you ensure accurate information and appropriate action.

Understanding The California DMV

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is a state government agency. It oversees various aspects of motor vehicle-related services and regulations within the state. The DMV's primary functions include:

  • Issuing driver's licenses and identification cards
  • Registering and titling vehicles
  • Maintaining driver records
  • Conducting written and driving tests
  • Enforcing motor vehicle laws and regulations

 It plays a vital role in ensuring road safety and promoting driver education. The DMV also enforces compliance with state laws regarding motor vehicles. It operates numerous field offices throughout the state. In these offices, you can access its services like obtaining or renewing driver's licenses, registering vehicles, and conducting other related transactions.

The DMV is committed to providing efficient and accessible services to California residents. It seeks to facilitate the proper licensing and registration of drivers and vehicles while promoting safe and responsible driving practices.

Understanding the DMV helps you navigate various transactions smoothly. Typical transactions include obtaining or renewing a driver's license, registering a vehicle, addressing traffic violations, or accessing multiple DMV services.

Understanding the DMV is essential to fulfilling your legal obligations and responsibilities effectively. Staying informed about the DMV's policies and procedures can help you navigate the system efficiently. You can maintain compliance with state laws, contributing to safer roads and a smoother overall driving experience.

Whether A Traffic Ticket Is a Crime In California

A traffic ticket is an infraction rather than a crime. Infractions are minor offenses. They do not carry the same level of seriousness as criminal offenses. Common traffic infractions are speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield. Traffic tickets can result in fines, points on your driving record, and potential increases in insurance premiums. However, they typically do not lead to criminal charges or convictions.

Certain traffic-related offenses can be misdemeanors or even felonies in certain circumstances. Examples include:

  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Driving under the influence
  • Reckless driving causing injury or death
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license.

These offenses can carry criminal penalties and result in more severe consequences. The possible outcomes include probation, license suspension or revocation, fines, or even imprisonment.

If you receive a traffic ticket, you should address it promptly by paying the fine or contesting it in court. You should consult a legal professional and review the laws relevant to your situation for accurate and up-to-date information.

The Steps You Should Take After Receiving a Traffic Ticket

When you receive a traffic ticket, it is essential to take specific steps to ensure you handle the situation appropriately:

  • Read the Ticket Carefully — Thoroughly read the ticket to understand the details of the violation. Details include the specific violation code, fine amount, and deadline for response. Make a note of any additional instructions or options provided.
  • Evaluate the Options— Consider your options for responding to the ticket. Typically, you have three choices: paying the fine, contesting the ticket, or attending traffic school if eligible.
  • Research the Violation— If unsure about the violation or its consequences, research the specific traffic law associated with the citation.
  • Gather Information— Collect all relevant information related to the ticket, including any evidence or documentation that supports your case if you plan to contest the ticket. This can include photographs, witness statements, or other pertinent information.
  • Decide Whether To Contest— If you believe you are not guilty of the violation, have valid grounds for contesting the ticket, or want to see if it can be dismissed due to the officer’s failure to appear, you can challenge it and set a trial date. Consider the potential outcomes, the time and effort involved in contesting the ticket, and the strength of your case before making a decision.
  • Contact The Court— If you contest the ticket, contact the court indicated on the citation. Inquire about the specific procedure for challenging tickets. Seek out any additional requirements or forms that need to be completed.
  • Request A Trial Date— If you choose to contest the ticket, request a trial date from the court. Sometimes a trial date can be set up online. Ensure that you meet all the necessary deadlines for submitting your request. Also, provide any required documentation or fees.
  • Prepare For The Trial— When the court grants your request for a trial, prepare your case by gathering evidence. Also, organize your documentation and plan your defense strategy. It can be helpful to consult a lawyer for guidance, especially if the violation carries significant penalties.
  • Attend the Trial— On the assigned trial date, appear in court and present your case. Be respectful, and follow the judge's instructions. Ensure that you present your evidence and arguments clearly and confidently.
  • Follow Court Instructions— Carefully follow the court's instructions regardless of the trial outcome. This can include paying fines, attending traffic school, or completing other requirements within the specified period.

Every traffic ticket situation is unique. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations. Consulting with a legal professional can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your circumstances.

How The DMV Responds to A Traffic Ticket

When the California DMV receives information about a traffic violation from the police, it typically takes the following actions:

Record The Violation

The DMV enters the details of the traffic violation into your driving record. The details include information about the offense, including the type of violation, date, and location.

Assign Points

Depending on the severity of the violation, the Department of Motor Vehicles can assign points to your driving record. Points are a way of tracking unsafe driving behavior. More severe violations result in higher point values. For example, a minor speeding ticket can add one or two points. However, a DUI offense can a maximum of 3 points if there is an accident.

Notify the Driver

The DMV will send you a notice by mail informing you about the violation and the associated points, if applicable. The notice can also provide information on any penalties or actions that result from the offense.

Accumulation Of Points

The DMV could take further action if you accumulate certain points within a specific period. For example, if you earn four or more points within 12 months, the DMV will send you a warning letter. If you accumulate six or more points within 24 months, you could be required to attend a mandatory driver improvement course. Higher point accumulations can lead to license suspension or revocation.

License Suspension or Revocation

The Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend or revoke your driver's license in severe situations. This can happen if you accumulate too many points within a specific period. Your license can be suspended or revoked if you commit certain serious offenses, like reckless driving or DUI.

The specific actions the Department of Motor Vehicles takes can vary depending on the nature and severity of the violation. The measures will also depend on your driving history. You should consult the official DMV website or contact the DMV directly for accurate and up-to-date information regarding your specific situation.  

In California, if a driver accumulates 4 points in one year, 6 points in 2 years or 8 points in 3 years, you will be accused of being a negligent operator. You will receive a notice of suspension but will be given the opportunity to request a hearing. You should always request a hearing within 14 days of the notice date. An attorney can represent you at the hearing and possibly convince the hearing officer to issue a set aside.  This means that your license will not be suspended even if you have too many points. You will be on probation, however and any new point within the year would result in a suspension.

If You Do Not Pay A Traffic Ticket In California

If you do not pay a traffic ticket in California, several consequences can occur. Here are some potential outcomes:

  • Additional Fines and Penalties — Failure to pay a traffic ticket on time can result in additional fines and penalties. The original fine could increase, and you could be charged additional fees for late payment.
  • Collection Efforts — The court or the agency responsible for handling the ticket can employ collection efforts to recover the unpaid fine. This can include sending collection notices, using debt collection agencies, or taking legal action against you.
  • Driver's License Suspension— Non-payment of a traffic ticket can lead to suspending your driver's license. The court or the DMV can impose a hold on your license. The Department of Motor Vehicles can prevent you from renewing your license or applying for a new one until the ticket is resolved.
  • Vehicle Registration Hold— In some cases, non-payment of a traffic ticket can result in a hold being placed on your vehicle's registration. You cannot renew your vehicle registration until the ticket is resolved.
  • Warrant for Arrest— If you ignore a traffic ticket for an extended period or fail to appear in court as required, a bench warrant can be issued for your arrest. If you encounter law enforcement for any reason, you can be arrested.

It is important to take traffic tickets seriously and address them promptly. If you cannot pay the fine, you can request a payment plan or attend a traffic school. You should contact the court or the agency handling your ticket to explore your options and avoid potential consequences.

The DMV Hearing After You Receive a Traffic Ticket

You can request a DMV hearing if you receive a DUI citation and wish to contest it. This hearing is also known as an administrative hearing. Here is what you need to know about the DMV hearing:

Requesting A Hearing

To request a DMV hearing, you must typically submit a written request to the DMV within a specific period. The exact deadline and procedure for requesting a hearing will be stated on the traffic ticket or the information provided by the court. It is crucial to adhere to the specified deadline.

Hearing Purpose

The DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding separate from the court process. Its purpose is to determine the validity of the traffic violation. It defines any resulting administrative actions like suspending or revoking your driver's license.

Hearing Officer

A DMV hearing officer presides over the hearing. The officer acts as the prosecutor, presenting the case against you, and the judge makes the final decision.

Evidence And Testimony

During the hearing, both you and the hearing officer have the opportunity to present evidence. Evidence includes any relevant documents or witness testimony to support your respective positions. You can also cross-examine the officer who issued the ticket.

Decision And Consequences

After considering the evidence presented, the hearing officer will make a decision. The officer will determine the validity of the traffic violation and any resulting administrative actions. The DMV can dismiss the ticket if the officer decides in your favor. No administrative action will be taken against your driving record upon ticket dismissal. The DMV will take appropriate administrative action if the officer upholds the violation. Possible activities include assigning points to your driving record or imposing a license suspension.

It is important to note that a DMV hearing is focused on administrative consequences related to your driving privileges. It does not directly impact any fines or penalties the court imposes for the traffic violation. To contest the offense, you would typically need to address the matter in traffic court.

Be sure to adhere to the specific instructions and procedures provided on your traffic ticket. You can also contact the DMV for accurate and up-to-date information on requesting a hearing.

The Possible Outcomes of A DMV Hearing

A DMV hearing following a traffic ticket can have various outcomes. If you request a hearing and present your case successfully, the hearing officer can dismiss the traffic violation or set aside a suspension. Therefore, no administrative action would be taken against your driving record. Your driving privileges would remain unaffected.

The DMV will proceed with administrative actions if the hearing officer upholds the DUI violation or finds you to be a negligent operator.  A suspension on your driving record could impact your insurance rates and driving privileges.

The DMV could impose other penalties, like requiring you to attend a driver improvement course or restricting your driver's license. The consequences vary based on the circumstances of the violation and your driving history. Administrative hearings, however, do not occur if you get an infraction for a typical traffic offense like running a stop sign or speeding and you do not have the requisite number of points to make you a negligent operator.

A DMV hearing focuses on the administrative aspects of the violation. It does not directly address any fines or penalties the court imposes for the offense.

How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay On Your Record?

Traffic tickets generally stay on your driving record for three years from the violation date. This applies to moving violations like speeding or running a red light and non-moving violations like parking tickets.

However, more serious offenses, like Driving Under the Influence convictions, can remain on your record for extended periods, typically ten years. The specific impact of a traffic ticket on your insurance rates will vary depending on your insurance company's policies.

Find A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If the police issue you with a traffic ticket, how you respond matters. Ignoring or failing to respond to a traffic ticket could worsen the situation. At The Law Office of Ann Gottesman, Ann can guide you regarding misdemeanor traffic tickets.  If you are facing a DUI or a Negligent Operator Suspension, Ann can book a DMV hearing to contest the suspension. Contact Attorney Ann Gottesman for reliable legal guidance and representation in Pasadena, CA. Call  Ann directly at 626-710-4021 for a free consultation.