contesting a citation
To contest your citation, you must enter a plea of not guilty, and submit the full fine amount. You may request a hearing by court trial or a trial by written declaration at the clerk's office, by phone or through the mail on any infraction with the exception of violations 22348B VC (driving over 100 MPH) or 23140B (driving under the influence of alcohol with .05 or greater).
Mail your request to the court listed at the bottom of the citation. Include:
- Written request for a court trial or written trial by declaration.
- Full bail amount as indicated on your courtesy notice.
A court trial is a method of contesting your citation with an appearance in court. Upon request for a court trial and submission of your payment, you will be given a court date in the future and the officer will be notified to appear at the hearing. At the trial, you and the officer will be given the opportunity to state your case and present evidence, witnesses or documents that support the case. The judicial officer will examine the facts of law and will make a decision concerning your case.
Trial by Declaration
If you request a written trial by declaration, you must waive your rights to appear, to testify in person, and to subpoena witnesses. The California Judicial Council provides instructions and a form (which is mandatory) for defendants to contest a citation in writing.
Request for Postponement of a Traffic Court Trial
Requests for postponement of a traffic court trial should be filed at least 10 court (business) days prior to the Court Trial hearing date. The request will be submitted to the judicial officer for approval. You will be notified by mail, or if you provided an email address you will be notified via email. You may also contact the court for status of the request. If you submit your request untimely, it may be denied.
To request a postponement, complete the court form Defendant's Request for Postponement of Traffic Court Trial.
The law enforcement officer who issued you the citation may also request a postponement of the traffic court trial. If this occurs, you will receive a copy of their request by mail. If you object to law enforcement’s request for postponement, you may file an objection using form RI-TR03 – Defendant's Objection to Postponement of Traffic Court Trial.
Questions About Court Trials
- How long will the trial take?
- Should I bring my evidence?
- Should my witnesses appear?
- What happens when I go to court?
- What if I am found not guilty?
- What if I do not appear at the time of trial?
- Will the officer who issued the citation be in court?
You should plan to be at court for three hours or more on the day of trial. Remember to check your trial date, department and time.
If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits, which you plan to present at the time of the trial, bring them with you on your trial date
If you have witnesses that are necessary to your defense, you should have them subpoenaed to appear in court. You can obtain the subpoena form from the Clerk's Office. Do this well in advance of your trial date. Complete the subpoena form, have the subpoena served, and file the subpoena with the proof of service with the Court on or before your trial date.
Report directly to the Department that your trial has been scheduled in. The deputy or clerk will give some preliminary instructions and then check in those people appearing in court.
A Judicial Officer will then hear the cases. The Court will listen to the statements of the sworn witnesses against you and may question each witness. You may then present your case to the Court, and the Court will rule on the matter or take the matter under submission. If the Court takes the matter under submission you will be notified by mail of the court's ruling and if found guilty the sentence will be imposed.
If you are found not guilty, your payment will be returned to the depositor by mail within sixty days.
Your trial can be heard in your absence. You may be found guilty and your payment will be applied to your fine and your driving record will show a conviction.
The officer will be subpoenaed to appear in court.