What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket: Part One

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It happens to most of us in our adult lives, the dreaded traffic ticket. You’re driving along one day, taking care of business, and you get pulled over, having had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let’s face it, we know when we’re at fault, and when we’re not, and most of the time it’s our mistake. Our mine, at least.

Once you’ve calmed down and stopped blaming yourself, take a few deep breaths and put things into the proper perspective. It’s only a traffic ticket. And yes, it is an inconvenience and will cost you money and perhaps time, but it isn’t the end of the world. As long as you take the initiative and follow through, that nasty ole ticket will be history.


Instructions are from left to right, and top to bottom:
Top left corner: Agency Name
Top right corner: Citation # (there are usually letters with the number)
Date of citation
Defendants Information:
Drivers License #, full name, date of birth, address, description
Vehicle Information:
License plate number, year, make, type, and color of vehicle

Registered Owner:
This section should list the name and address of registered owner, if the R.O. isn’t the driver. NOTE: This is important if you’ve been pulled over for driving a car that is NOT registered by you with proof of correction violations such as registration, cracked windshield, broken taillights, etc. This relieves the driver of responsibility for fixing the violations. If you sign a citation marked “Responsible Owner” with the registered owners information, you are taking responsibility for fixing those violations and paying the dismissal fine(s) associated with each at $25.00 each.

Violation Section:
Correctable & Non Correctable boxes:
Located on the left or right margin of the section, the officer will mark whether a proof of correction violation (fix-it) is correctable or non-correctable. If it’s marked correctable, you can pay the $25 dismissal fee with proof that you’ve fixed the violation(s). Proof of insurance REQUIRES a copy of the valid insurance card showing you were covered on the date of the citation. A sign off will not do, so don’t even try it.

Violation Code and Description:
Essentially, this section lists what you were pulled over for, and should be relatively easy to figure out. If you don’t understand what was written, call Traffic Court and the clerks will explain it to you.

Signature Line:
Enough said

Officer Name and Badge Number:
Important if you decide to contest or fight the citation.

Court Information:
ALSO VERY IMPORTANT – This section lets you know where to go/call to take care of your ticket. If it says Traffic Court on Homestead Road in Santa Clara, that’s the main traffic court where you would take of the ticket, attend court, pay fines, call for information, etc. Traffic Court does not handle Driving Without a License, D.U.I., or marijuana-related citations. If you were cited for any of those violations, you must contact the Hall of Justice, also known as Criminal Court.

That’s all for now. Watch for the next installment of What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket: Part II that will cover scheduling a court hearing, types of hearings, and what to expect at your hearing.

In the meantime, drive safely!

Superior Court of Santa Clara County: http://www.scscourt.org
Traffic Division: http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/traffic/traffic_home.shtml
Amnesty Program: http://www.scscourt.org/court_divisions/traffic/amnesty.shtml
CA DMV Traffic School List: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/portal/olinq2/welcome. Follow several prompts to get to the list


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