Going to traffic court is kind of like going to the DMV – you usually have to deal with:
- long lines,
- misinformation, and
- the subtle feeling your life is meaningless.
WTF is Traffic Court?Traffic court in California is a type of court that only hears disputes punishable as infractions. Most traffic tickets are infractions, although some are misdemeanors. If you’re found guilty in traffic court of an infraction, you are facing punishment in the form of fines only. You cannot be sentenced to jail for a traffic ticket infraction. An infraction differs from a misdemeanor conviction which imposes potential time in jail, and a felony conviction which imposes potential time in prison.
Los Angeles County Traffic CourtLos Angeles County traffic court consists of 18 specific traffic court branches, located in:
- Beverly Hills
- El Monte
- Long Beach
- Santa Clarita
- Santa Monica
- Van Nuys
- West Covina
Failure to Appear in LA Traffic Court? How to Deal with ItGC Services used to collect on all unpaid traffic tickets for the Los Angeles County court system, but currently the court is handling its own collections. There are two types of situations related to an unpaid traffic ticket:
- failure to appear, and
- failure to pay.
Orange County Traffic CourtIf you received a traffic ticket in Orange County, your case will be referred to one of the four traffic court branches, located in:
- Harbor Justice Center (Newport Beach),
- North Justice Center (Fullerton),
- West Justice Center (Westminster), or
- Central Justice Center (Santa Ana).
Reasons to Fight Your Ticket in Traffic CourtThere are many reasons to fight your ticket in court instead of pay it outright to the court:
- You have a valid reason for your failure to appear. If you’ve failed to appear on your traffic ticket, you are legally excused from guilt and paying fines associated with the FTA if: 1) you were in the hospital; 2) you were in the military, or 3) you were incarcerated (in jail or prison) on the date you were scheduled to appear in court.
- You have a valid defense to your traffic ticket. Often, a police officer will cite you incorrectly, or when there was no guilt on your part. This isn’t necessarily done maliciously by the officer, but sometimes due to laziness or inadvertence. It’s important to know what you’re charged with, and what the applicable defenses are. You may be entitled to a dismissal of your entire case.
- You are not traffic school eligible. If you’re not traffic school eligible and you pay your ticket that involved a charge that was a moving violation, then you’ll receive a point on your DMV record. It’s important to understand this before paying your ticket. The better option when you’re not traffic school eligible is to fight your ticket in court to achieve a dismissal or amendment of your offense in order to prevent the point from going on your DMV record.
- There’s a mandatory appearance, but you can’t make it to court. Some tickets, such as VC 23111 (cigarette litter) or VC 22348(b) (speeding over 100mph) require a mandatory appearance, and you must attend traffic court or have your lawyer go for you. These types of tickets cannot simply be paid online.