What Can I Expect When I Get a Traffic Ticket?

What Can I Expect When I Get a Traffic Ticket?

You see the dreaded flashing lights behind you and your heart sinks into your stomach. You’ve just been pulled over for a traffic violation and now you have a traffic ticket. While it may feel like your day has officially been ruined, there are ways that you can deal with the process as quickly and painfully as possible. You may even be able to keep points off of your license.

Getting Pulled Over

When you get pulled over in California for speeding or another traffic violation, you can expect a few things to occur. The officer will first ask for your license, insurance, and registration. You should be sure to always have these three documents with you whenever you drive, as you can also face additional tickets for not having them.

Types of Traffic Tickets

There are two different types of traffic tickets to be aware of when you are pulled over:

  1. Infraction. All basic California traffic violations are considered to be infractions. This includes everything from speeding, to not stopping at a stop sign, to running a red light.
  2. Misdemeanor. If you have committed a more serious driving offense you are likely to receive a misdemeanor. This includes offenses such as DUI, excessive speeding, or driving on a suspended license.

You will sign and date the ticket and receive a copy. You are not admitting to any guilt, just that you agree appear in court on or before the date indicated on the bottom of the ticket. Hold onto it in a safe place because you will need it later on. Your “Notice to Appear” (ticket) will have important information on it such as your court deadline date to appear and citation number.

However, for crimes such as DUI, you could possibly be arrested then and your car may be impounded.

Plea Options

You can submit one of three plea options in response to your ticket: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Should you plead guilty or no contest, you are then required to send in the required fine and copy of your citation to the court. Once received, the case will be closed and any points as well as your citation will make their way onto your driving record, where they will remain for 3 to 7 years. It is possible to take a traffic school class to hide your ticket from your public record if the Clerk of the Court or Judge has allowed that option.

If you plead not guilty, you must go in front of a judge to plead your case or you must submit a written “trial by declaration” to the court. You may obtain counsel or represent yourself. If you do a “trial by declaration” you must pay your fine up front. When the case is finished, you may receive a reduced fine or refund if the court finds in your favor.


Speeding, running a red light, at-fault accidents, and unsafe lane changes are one point, while reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, hit and run, and DUI are two.

Your license can be suspended or revoked if you accumulate:

  • 4 or more points in 12 months
  • 6 or more points in 24 months
  • 8 or more points in 36 months

Any points can enable your auto insurance premiums to increase.

What Can You Do?

Finding an attorney to help is in your best interest. At Cheap Traffic Attorneys, we understand the impact that even one traffic violation can have on your driving record and work to help secure you the best outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, visit us online or call us at 310-495-5655 today!