Friday, August 01, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions and answers are provided for general reference and information only. They do not excuse you from your obligation to contact the Court or a DMV representative to discuss or review your specific problem or documents. It is strongly suggested that you either call or make an appointment with the appropriate office to discuss your particular situation.

Court Dates

When is my court date (Date to appear / comply)?

When a citation is issued, the officer should write your court date at the bottom of the citation. It can take 30 days or more for the court to receive the citation from the law enforcement agency and enter it into our system. You will NOT receive a courtesy notice from the court. You must close your case or appear ON OR BEFORE the court date/due date listed at the bottom of your citation. Use the Traffic Citation Index to search for your citation.

NO CONTINUANCE OF YOUR INITIAL COURT DATE/DUE DATE WILL BE GRANTED.

Can I get an abstract for DMV if I come to court?

After your case has been heard and you have complied with court orders and the necessary paperwork is completed, an abstract will be sent to DMV electronically. If you have failed to pay your court ordered fine, no abstract will be sent to DMV until the fine is paid in full.

Who will be the judge in the department hearing my case?

The judicial officer who will be hearing your case may not be known until the actual day of hearing.

Will the law enforcement officer who cited me be in court at my first appearance?

The officer is not required to appear unless you have entered a plea of not guilty and a trial has been set. If a trial is set, the citing officer will be notified to appear.

Will my fine increase if I go to trial?

After the trial, the Court will render a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty of committing a traffic infraction after trial, the court can impose a fine of $480.00 for the first offense, $870.00 for the second offense or up to $1,065.00 for the third offense within one year of the offense you are now charged with.

In speeding cases, the Court may impose a suspension of your driving privilege for 30 days on the first offense, 60 days on the second offense and up to six month for a third offense that is still on your driving record. The Court will impose the sentence that is appropriate under the facts and circumstances that come to light during the trial.

Failure to Appear

What is a Failure to Appear?

A failure to appear is an additional penalty for not appearing in court or not paying the bail(fine) for your citation by the due date.

What is a valid excuse for a failure to appear?

A valid excuse should demonstrate that your failure to appear was not deliberate or intentional, including but not limited to the following:

  • Military orders / Military duty
  • Jail incarceration paperwork
  • Medical excuse from a doctor or hospital

If I failed to appear, can I still go to court?

Yes, you can still go to court if your case has not been forwarded to an outside collection agency. Appear at the Carol Miller Justice Center with picture identification. You can be heard the same day you appear.

If your case is already with an outside collection agency, there is no option for you to return to court and discuss your case.

What happens if I need an abstract (release of my license) for DMV?

Once you have been sentenced and complete any applicable court paperwork, DMV will be notified of the final disposition of your case in order to release your license. If you appear, and the court continues your case to a date in the future, your license will not be released until there is a final disposition.

Can I request monthly payments on the failure to appear along with the original fine?

You can make payments on a failure to appear and the original fine. Some violations may require you appear in court first. As long as you make your payments as agreed, you can avoid any suspension of your driving privilege.

What happens if I still do not appear or pay for my citation?

  • The fine may be increased.
  • A $300 Civil Assessment may be imposed.
  • A warrant may be issued for your arrest.
  • A suspension or hold may be placed on your driving privilege.
  • A hold may be placed on your vehicle registration.
  • The entire fine plus any additional penalty may be sent to an outside collection agency and you may not be allowed back to court to discuss your case.

Failure to Pay Fine

What if I owe a court fine and do not pay?

The balance due and any additional penalty will be forwarded to an outside collection agency. In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles will be notified of your failure and the court will request the suspension of your driving privilege and you may not be allowed back to court to discuss your case.

Can I make monthly payments on a failure to pay?

Monthly payments can be made to the outside collection agency, but it will not stop any suspension of your driving privilege. You must pay the fine in full in order to have your license released.

Fines

Are there any alternatives to paying the fine?

There are alternatives to paying a fine, if you qualify. Community Service is available for infraction violations. However, you will not be considered for this option unless you have a significant financial hardship. You can expect the Judge will ask you questions about that hardship. In addition, the Court will review your driving and court appearance record before any such request is granted. Even if community service is granted, you will still be required to pay court fees. In addition, there will be fees due to the Community Service Office.

You cannot perform community service and request Traffic School at the same time.

For misdemeanor violations you can serve jail time in lieu of paying the fine. You will also be required to pay court fees and fees to the Sheriff's Work Project office - external link.

You must personally appear in court to request either of these options.

Can I request a reduction of the fine?

The Court will not negotiate or lower your fine at arraignment. If you enter a plea of Guilty or No Contest, the Court will use the standard fine from the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule (California Rules of Court 4.102) - external link. This amount can also be increased due to points or priors on your driving record.

Out-of-County

Can I take care of a ticket in Sacramento that I received in another county?

You must clear the ticket in the county where it was issued. Contact the court in the county where the ticket was issued for more information.

Proof of Correction

Any law enforcement officer can write a citation for a correctable violation. Some violations can be certified using the back side of your citation. See How to Show Proof of Correction for more information. Do not stop an officer on any roadway for certification. You may go to any law enforcement office during regular business hours.

Why is there a $25.00 proof of correction fee when the officer said there would be no fee?

The $25.00 proof of correction fee is statutory per Vehicle Code section 40611 - external link and per Senate Bill 1407, for all vehicle code correctable violations.

Can I show proof of correction for my violation and have the fine reduced?

Pursuant to §40610 of the California Vehicle Code, certain violations may be correctable and eligible for a reduced bail. If you quality to show proof of correction, a $25.00 fee will be assessed for each violation that has a proof of correction. If you do not provide proper proof of correction, your bail will not be reduced and you will be required to pay the full amount. Under certain circumstances, the law enforcement officer who issued your citation may deem your violation(s) not correctable. If the officer check marks the "No" box under the correctable violation section, that violation is not eligible for correction. You must pay the full bail amount or appear in court or before the due date.

What is a valid proof of correction for an insurance violation (Vehicle Code 16028a)?

Valid proof of correction for insurance may be a photocopy of the official card or policy issued by an insurance company or a statement on insurance company letterhead providing the following:

  • Name of the insurance company
  • Policy number
  • Effective (beginning and ending) dates of the policy (policy must be in effect at the time of violation)
  • Name of the person (defendant) or vehicle listed on the citation

What is the fine for a proof of insurance violation?

If you provide valid proof of insurance at the time the citation was issued (violation date) the amount due is $25.00 plus valid proof.

If you obtained insurance after the date the citation was issued, the amount due is $480.00 plus valid proof.

If you do not have insurance at all, the minimum fine is $870.00. This amount can be increased if you have prior convictions for not proof of insurance.

Can I get insurance if I do not own a car?

Contact an insurance agent to determine what type of insurance coverage is available.

How do I take care of a registration violation if I cannot smog my vehicle?

If you receive a citation because your vehicle is not registered properly and you know it is because the vehicle cannot pass the smog check, immediately contact the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) - external link for information.

If you receive a citation because your vehicle is not registered properly and you have an economic hardship, contact the BAR for an application to determine if you qualify for financial assistance.

Am I responsible for a correctable violation if I sold the car, if the car is not running, or if the car I was driving is not mine?

You are responsible for any citation the officer issues in your name. The only exception is if the citation is issued in the name of the registered owner of the vehicle. If you cannot show proof of correction and do not want to pay the full fine, you must appear in court. You should support your case with any relevant paperwork. Selling or junking the vehicle does not relieve you of the responsibility to pay or appear by the due date.

Suspension and/or Restriction

How do I get my license back once my suspension is over?

Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - external link for information on how to get your license back.

Can I get a restricted license?

A restricted license is only granted when permitted by the California Vehicle Code. A restricted license is not granted if you are suspended for failing to pay your court ordered fine. The fine must be paid in full in order to get your license back. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles - external link for more information.

If I move out of state, can I get a license in that state if my license is suspended in California?

California and all other states participate in the problem driver pointer system (PDPS). When you apply for a driver' license in another state, the system alerts them to any action against your driver's license in the other state. It is up to the state where you apply to issue you one of its licenses. They may not issue you a license until the suspension is cleared. You must contact other states for specific rules pertaining to that state or the California Department of Motor Vehicles - external link.

Traffic Violator School

How do I qualify for traffic violator school?

See Traffic Violator School Program to read the requirements for Traffic School.

How much does Traffic School cost?

You must pay the court the full fine, plus a court administrative fee. You must also pay a fee (tuition) to the Traffic School you select. The amount of tuition varies from school to school. After you have been approved by the court for Traffic School, you will be provided a list of schools to contact. Home Study and Internet courses are also available.

Will traffic school keep a ticket off of my record?

When you complete a licensed Traffic School course, pay all the fine/fees and submit a completion certificate, the point will be masked as confidential as long as you have not attended a traffic school more than once in an 18 month period.

Failure to pay the full fine will result in your case being transferred to an outside agency for collection and your Traffic School certificate will not be accepted.

Warrants

How do I clear a warrant?

Most traffic warrants can be cleared by paying the amount due or by appearing in court. If you know that you have an outstanding warrant, do not wait to be arrested. Contact the court or the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department - external link for information on how to clear it.