Monday, August 12, 2019

Pleading guilty or no contest

If what you did that resulted in a traffic ticket might also result in you being sued in a civil lawsuit [for example, you ran a red light and hit someone], you don't want to plead guilty.
If you want to resolve the ticket, plead no contest instead.  In CA, this works like a guilty plea in traffic court, but can't be used against you in the civil action.

If you decide to plead guilty or no contest, your bail/fine for a typical CA infraction will include base bail which begins at $35.  Added to that will be penalty assessments and fines which will increase the amount to $237 or higher.  Here's the CA bail/fine schedule.  It's long but if you have nothing to do some day, take a look.  You can probably find your state's bail schedule online also.

Paying your fines in pennies!
Depending on certain factors, you may be able to attend traffic school.  Usually you pay full bail/fine plus state fee [currently $52 in CA] plus the traffic school cost which in CA is usually less than $50.  Depending on your state/county, traffic school can be completed in person or online.
Benefits to online classes =)
Successfully completing traffic school will keep points off your record, so it's only worth it if the infraction includes points.  For example, at the time of this writing, my texting ticket would not result in any points on my record, just bail/fines, so traffic school wouldn't make sense.

You can usually do lots of things online.  Here's the Los Angeles County traffic court page.

It include a really handy one-page description of your options.

If you simply want to pay the bail/fine and maybe do traffic school, you can usually take care of that either online, by mail, or at the clerk's office without seeing the judge.

If you want to request community service, fee reduction, or payment plan, you may have to see a judge.  Ask the clerk for information.

[Note:  your state might be different, so always do your research, ask questions, and even consult an attorney if necessary.]

Next week, deciding to fight your ticket.

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