Traffic offenses in California are often grouped into one of three categories: Parking tickets, infraction traffic tickets, and misdemeanor traffic tickets. Each type of ticket can result in different penalties and has its own process for resolving.
- Parking tickets are distributed by independent parking agencies. They are not filed in court, and any issues with a parking ticket must be handled with the agency.
- Infraction traffic tickets are given to people who have committed minor violations, such as speeding. These tickets can generally be resolved by paying a fine or correcting an issue. These offenses are commonly referred to as “fix-it” tickets.
- Misdemeanor traffic tickets are reserved for more serious driving violations. Drivers who receive a misdemeanor traffic ticket must appear in court and could face significant fines or jail time.
Will I Need to Go to Court for My Traffic Ticket?
Court appearances are only required to resolve certain offenses and types of tickets. The officer who pulled you over should have provided information on whether you need to appear in court, or it should be stated on the ticket. Fix-it tickets and similar tickets for less serious violations may be resolved without needing to go to court at all.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Traffic Offense
Many people make the mistake of not contacting an attorney after being pulled over for a traffic offense. Although receiving a ticket can seem like a standard legal procedure that should be straightforward, resolving your case could be more complex than you would think.
Even in the case of a minor infraction, the terms of the ticket, and how to resolve it, can be confusing. It may be unclear whether you need to appear in court and what your potential penalties could be. Additionally, the resolution of some tickets is often dependent on certain actions — for example, you may not need to appear in court if you pay a fine, but the fine could be less costly if you do appear in court. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your options.
It is in your best interest to reach out to an attorney if you have received a misdemeanor traffic ticket. These tickets are serious, and without the help of a lawyer, the consequences can be great. Working with a lawyer can be the difference between paying a small fine and more severe penalties, like having your license suspended.