February 19, 2017

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Traffic FAQs
 

1. How do I figure out what to do with my ticket?

On your "Notice to Appear" (your ticket or citation) you will find the following:

1) The name and address of the court that will decide your case
2) The deadline to pay the ticket or to appear in to court
3) What you must do to respond to the ticket

Unless your case requires a mandatory appearance, you can go online at http://trafficfines.stanct.org/, look up your case by the citation number, case number or your name, find out your fine amount and pay your ticket without going to court, if that's how you decide to proceed.  Our Court's website contains information on your options, and what you can do in order to pay, your payment options, traffic school eligibility,  deadlines, extensions, and options for contesting the citation.

If you are a minor (you were under 18 years of age at the time you received your citation), one of your parents or your legal guardian must appear in person with you.

 

2. Do I have to go to court?

If you received a ticket for an infraction (like running a stop sign), you can probably do everything you need to do by mail or in person at the Clerk's Office.  There are some tickets that will require a "mandatory appearance".  Your Courtesy Notice will specify if your appearance in Court is required, as it will show "mandatory appearance" on the notice. 

If you are a minor (you were under 18 years of age at the time you received your citation), one of your parents (or legal guardian) must appear in person with you. 

 

3. What if I am unable to make my court appearance?

If you are not able to make your Court appearance, it is very important that you contact the Traffic Division prior to your court date/appearance date that was listed on either your ticket that was given to you, or on the courtesy notice the Court sends out.

You are eligible for a one-time 30 extension, which can be taken care of quickly by the Clerk of the Court. This extension can be obtained either by mail, email or by speaking with a clerk on the phone or contacting us in person at the Clerk's Office, located at 2260 Floyd Avenue, Modesto, CA.  

Remember, the ticket/citation the officer wrote and the Courtesy Notice sent by the Court are two different documents.  While the officer gave you a ticket, you might not receive a Courtesy Notice, especially if you have moved recently and mail didn't reach you.  You must still appear in Court, or pay the bail, or take alternative action with the Court prior to your Court date.  Your Court date is the date for you appear in Court that is written on your citation/ticket that was given to you by the officer.

 

4. What happens when I appear in person?

You will be asked to decide if you wish to appear in Court, and if so, you will be signed up for your first Court appearance, which is called an arraignment.  If you're unable to decide or need more information such as traffic school information, you can wait and speak with the Clerk.  If you decide to go to Court, you can be signed up for arraignment in the next Court session. 

At your arraignment you will hear information regarding your rights and you will view a traffic arraignment video.  You will be given options for choices as to how you want to handle the matter. 

You do not have to wait until the date given on your ticket to appear. If you want to appear sooner, you can go to the Court to appear in and sign in for walk-in Court.

At the Traffic Court in Modesto, adults may sign up for walk-in Court on Monday and Tuesday at 8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. 

If your Traffic Court case is in Failure to Appear status you may ONLY sign up for walk-in Court on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. 

Juveniles may sign up for walk-in Traffic Court ONLY on Wednesday afternoons at 1:00 p.m. at the Traffic Division, 2260 Floyd Avenue, Modesto, CA. The parent or legal guardian must accompany the juvenile unless the juvenile turns 18 by the time of the court appearance.

Pursuant to California Rule of Court 4.105(b), you have the option to appear in court for arraignment and trial without posting bail.   Under rule of Court 4.105(c), bail is required to be deposited if you elect to proceed with trial by written declaration without appearing in court (VC 40902) and/or written not guilty plea (VC40519(a-b)), or elect to pay bail and not contest the citation or appear in court (VC 40510 and 40521).

 

5. How do I pay the citation?

Options for payment:

1) In person at 2260 Floyd Avenue, Modesto, CA 95355 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
2) Drop Box at 2260 Floyd Avenue, Modesto, CA 95355. Payment can be dropped 24 hrs. per day. Do not place cash in the Drop Box. Payments dropped off after 4:00 p.m. will be credited the next business day.
3) By mail, with payment sent to 2260 Floyd Avenue, Modesto, CA 95355. Checks should be made payable to Superior Court.
4) Online at http://trafficfines.stanct.org/ (by Visa, MasterCard, ATM or electronic check) - 24 hours per day.
5) By phone on the Court's automated IVR phone payment program at (209) 530-3100, Traffic Payments option - 24 hrs per day.

Note:
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If you did not receive a courtesy notice and have online access, you can easily look up your payment amount by searching for your name and your your case number at the following web address: http://trafficfines.stanct.org/

You can make your payment online at this same web address.  Please note that if you would like to make your payment online, your payment must be submitted at least two business days prior to your Court date or due date. If your payment is due in less than two business days you may also contact the traffic division in person or by phone

When making your payment, whether it is online, by mail or drop box, or in person, please note:

  • Please do not send cash through the mail or leave it in the Drop Box. 
  • Juveniles must include a parent or legal guardian's signed permission to pay and a copy of the parent/legal guardian driver's license.  The lower left corner of the Courtesy Notice has a parental signature section.
  • Please write your ticket number or case number on the left-hand corner of your check (this number will be located on the upper right-hand corner of your ticket).
  • If you are paying for multiple cases on payment plans with the same check or money order, be sure to specify how much you would like to have appied to each case.  This will ensure payments are applied in the proper amounts by the corresponding due dates.

If you wish to attend traffic school you may pay your citation online, and you must register directly with the Traffice School provider.  Traffic School provider links and other required information, such as due dates, are listed under the Traffic School section of this website. To determine if you are eligible for traffic school you can read the Traffic School section of this website, and if you have any additional questions, you can contact the Court's Traffic Division Clerk's office for assistance. 

If you send payment for Traffic School by Mail, or by the Court's Drop Box, please be sure to include a written request for Traffic School, and including the appropriate payment amount. 

 

6. Will I get my bail back if I am not guilty?

Yes, if you have a trial by declaration (or Court trial where you posted bail) and you are found not guilty, the Court will return the bail to the person that paid. This process may take six to eight weeks.

 

7. Do I need a lawyer?

You can go to Traffic Court without a lawyer, if you choose to do so. If you want a lawyer for a traffic infraction (like speeding or running a red light), you can hire one. The Court will not provide you with one and the Court cannot advise you either way.  You can find additional information to help you with your decision(s) on the Traffic Self Help link to the Judicial Council's website: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-traffic.htm

 

8. How do I request traffic school?

You may be eligible to enroll if you have not attended in the past 18 months (18 months is calculated from violation date to violation date). Please read your courtesy notice. There is a $59.00 non-refundable Traffic Violator School fee in addition to your bail amount that is paid to the Court when you request traffic school. When you pay your citation it is counted as a conviction which may result in points being applied to your DMV record. Attending traffic school will keep the point off your record if you are eligible for traffic school. Juveniles requesting traffic school must appear in Court with a parent/legal guardian to make their request.

Traffic Violator School is not an option if you were not charged with a moving violation i.e., speeding, which can result in a point on your driving license if you are convicted.  Seatbelt and cell phone violations are not eligible for traffic school. 

Please note: You may pay your fine and sign up for Traffic Violator School either on-line, by the automated phone service at (209) 530-3100, in person, or by mail.  If you send payment for Traffic School by Mail, or by the Court's Drop Box, please be sure to include a written request for Traffic School, and include the appropriate payment amount with your request. 

If you choose to attend Traffic Violator School, you will be given 90 days to sign up for class with a Traffic Violator School provider, and to also complete your class.  You will not receive additional notice from the Court once you elect to attend Traffic Violator School, as long as you complete your class and payment. 

You will be responsible for signing up for the class directly with one of the provider schools listed on the Department of Motor Vehicles List of Traffic School Providers at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/olinq2/welcome.do. The school will send an electronic notice of your class completion to DMV.  Please be aware that it takes anywhere from 5-7 days for the Court to receive your Traffic School completion certification, due to the way it is reported directly to DMV.  It is your responsibility to have the course completed early enough for the Court to receive the certificate by the due date.  If you have not completed it, it is important that you contact the court before your due date, as you might be eligible for a one-time extension. 

For more information on signing up for traffic school, please see the "Sign Up For Traffic School" link at:
http://www.stanct.org/sign-traffic-school

You can also email the traffic school Court Clerk directly for more information at traffic.school@stanct.org.

 

9. Why do I have to pay the bail amount if I am going to attend traffic school?

In order to attend traffic school, your full bail must be paid in addition to a $59.00 non-refundable fee for traffic school administration. You will also be required to pay the school directly for their course. The benefit of traffic school attendance is that the point will not add to your DMV record, as long as you are eligible to attend traffic school. DMV will consider it as a "confidential" conviction and the conviction will not count against you as a point on your record, as long as DMV has deemed you eligible and received certification of your completed Traffic School course. DMV calculates this information to access negligent driver information.

If you were to receive a point on your driving record, you may also see an increase in your insurance rates. If you get points on your record, your insurance company may ask you to pay more for insurance because of this. They may also cancel your policy.

Successful completion of traffic school prevents this information from being viewed by insurance companies, as long as you are eligible for traffic school, and complete Traffic School timely within your 90 day period.

 

10. Why do I have to pay the $59.00 fee to the Court and a separate fee to the school?

None of the $59.00 fee goes directly to the schools. It supports the process that allows you to attend traffic school. The $59.00 fee is a State fee required when requesting traffic school that covers the administration of the traffic school program. The fee goes toward monitoring the curriculum, developing school lists, maintaining the DMV traffic school database, and staffing for the traffic school clerk position.

The schools you have to choose from are independent privately owned companies that have been approved by the State for you to attend. You must pay them directly for the services they provide to you.

 

11. Why can't I go to court for my son/daughter/husband/wife, etc.?

Each defendant has a right to act on his/her own behalf. However, if they wish someone else to represent them, they must hire an attorney who is licensed to practice law.

For juvenile matters, a parent or legal guardian must accompany the minor, unless the minor has turned 18 years of age by date set for the Court appearance.

 

12. If I go to court, will the judge reduce my fine?

We cannot speak for the judge/commissioner, or predetermine the outcome of a hearing.  You will hear information at the arraignment that will enable you to decide if you want to enter a plea or request a court trial or trial by declaration. In addition, you can watch the arraignment video on our Court's website that will give you additional information on your options that are available to you, including payment plans.

The Court does not allow fee reductions for traffic school referrals. The fee must be paid in full to attend traffic school.

 

13. What do I do if I get a "fix-it" ticket?

If a police officer gives you a "fix-it" ticket on a "Notice to Appear", the "yes" box will be checked below "Correctable Violation" on the front of the ticket. The police can give you another ticket if you do not fix the problem immediately.

When you fix the problem, a police officer must sign off the "Certificate of Correction" that is on the back of your ticket. Officers may not sign off on insurance violations; proof of insurance must be brought to the Court.

***You must take or mail the proof of correction to the Court and pay the proof of correction (dismissal) fee before the deadline or your date to appear in Court.*** You might be eligible for a one-time 30 day extension to give you additional time to get the issue corrected.  Contact the Clerk of the Court for more information either on or before your Court date. 

If this is a juvenile matter and you are still under the age of 18 at the time of your date to appear, you must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

If you provide the proof of correction, and pay the correction fee, the Court will then dismiss your case and it will not go on your record.

Please note: Proof of Correction fees may not be paid on-line unless you have already appeared in Court and the fines and fees have already been ordered.

 

14. What if I do not go to court or pay my ticket?

If you do not go to Court or pay your fine, the judge can also charge you with a failure to appear. If that happens, the Court can add an additional fee (called a civil assessment) of up to $300.00 and possibly an additional fee of $10.00 for a total of $310 in addition to your original bail amount. 

In addition, you can be tried "in absentia", and convicted without your appearance.  If you fail to pay after conviction by  trial in absentia, the Court can add another civil assessment of up to $300.00, and you can be sent to a collection agency for payment.  If you are convicted "in absentia" you can still request a new trial for a very limited amount of time.  You only have 20 days after the date of mailing of the notice of decision on the trial in absentia to file a TR220-Trial De Novo.  You can request a new trial or "Trial De Novo" by downloading and filing this form with the Clerk's Office not later than 20 days after the mailing date of the notice of decision: http://stanct.org/sites/default/files/tr220_trial_de_novo.pdf .

If you cannot pay your ticket at this time, you still have the option to go to Court on or before your hearing date, as you do not have to post bail to appear in Court. There may be other options available to you, as long as you contact the Court on or before your hearing date.  If you wish to contest your ticket, you must appear timely (on or before your hearing date) to request a trial, without cost to you.  There is no fee to request a trial. 

If you need more time, you can receive a one-time 30 day extension if you haven't already received one, and it is requested on or before your Court date.  If you would like to set up payments, you can do so, with as little as $35.00.  Contact the Court for additional information.  You can email at your convenience, and take care of extensions, or for additional information at: traffic.requests@stanct.org .  You can also call the Court at (209) 530-3100, option 1, and wait for a clerk.  Phone hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

 

15. What if I got a ticket for car registration or driver's license violation?

There are many ways you can handle this type of ticket.

One way is to go to the local DMV office. Ask a clerk at the DMV to help. After you correct the problem, the DMV will sign the "Certificate of Correction" part of your ticket. You must take or mail in the signed-off ticket or proof of correction to the Court, and include your proof of correction fee/admin fee*** and provide it to the Court prior to your hearing date. 

***To identify the amount of the proof of correction/admin fee that is due please contact the Traffic Court Clerk's Office.*** You can do this in person, by phone or by email at traffic.requests@stanct.org.

Reminder: You must do this BEFORE the DUE DATE/HEARING DATE of your ticket (date to appear). You may also show the Court your registration or driver's license and pay the dismissal fee. The Court will then dismiss your case and it will not go on your record.

 

16. How do I appeal if I am found guilty?

Judicial Council form CR-141 has instructions on how to appeal infractions and form CR-142 and CR-143 are used to file a Notice of Appeal. **There is a new Proof of Service form APP-109 that must be filed at the time of filing your appeal**. Appeals must be filed no later than 30 days after the date of trial. Copy and paste this link:
http://stanct.org/sites/default/files/Traffic_Appeal_Packet.pdf for the Traffic Appeal Packet.

If you were found guilty after a trial by written declaration you can file a request for a new trial. To do so you must use a Request for New Trial (Trial de Novo) form TR-220. Your Request for New Trial or Trial de Novo is required to be filed no later than 20 days from the mailing date located on the "Decision on Trial by Declaration". Copy and paste this link:
http://stanct.org/sites/default/files/tr220_trial_de_novo.pdf for the Trial de Novo form.

You may obtain the above forms at the Traffic Clerk's Office. These forms are filed at the Traffic Clerk's Office where the decision on your case was made.

 

17. If I have an attorney for my Traffic case and have to post bail what do I do?

You may not pay your bail on-line, as it will register it as a bail forfeiture. You may pay with a check or a money order directly to the Court by mail or in person. Once you have requested a trial, you are not required to pay bail prior to your trial, unless you are requesting a Trial By Written Declaration.  Your bail will be deposited in Trust pending the outcome of the decision of the Court.  Once decided, if you win your case, your bail will be refunded to you within 6-8 weeks after the decision.

 

18. How do I request a Trial by Written Declaration?

You may request a Trial by Written Declaration using one of two options. Please note exclusion: If the citation was from an accident or a camera citation, you will not be provided with the option to request a trial by written declaration.

1) Forms are available in the Traffic Division Clerks' Office upon request. You may also download and print out the "Trial By Written Declaration Packet" from our Court's website - (see traffic forms.)

You will be given three forms:
a) Instructions To Defendant form TR-200
b) Request for Trial by Written Declaration form TR-205
c) Written Plea of Not Guilty form
Read the instructions form (TR-200) and fill out the request (TR-205).

At the time of filing form TR-205 you also MUST SIGN a "Written Plea of Not Guilty" form and you MUST PAY YOUR BAIL IN FULL. Your request will not be accepted without full payment of bail.

2) You may also appear in Court at the Traffic Division Clerk's Office, enter a "not guilty" plea and request a Trial by Written Declaration. After going to Court you need to take a copy of your minute order to the counter in the Clerk's Office where you will be given instruction form TR-200 and form TR-205 "Request for Trial by Written Declaration".  (If requested without going before the judicial officer (in Court), you must follow the instructions under section 1) above.)

The minute order that you get in Court will have the date that your declaration will be considered by the Court. You MUST FILE your declaration TR-205 and YOU MUST PAY THE TOTAL BAIL as shown AT LEAST five days PRIOR TO YOUR SCHEDULED DATE.

Please include all information on form TR-205 that you feel will help the Judicial Officer to make his/her decision on your case. You can include attachments, photos or any other documentation that will help you to tell your side of the situation. The Court will notify the citing officer that he/she will need to provide a written declaration for the Court to consider.

Once a decision has been determined, you will receive a Notice of Decision on your trial by written declaration. If you have posted bail and the decision is in your favor, bail will be refunded to you according to the Court's order.

Your bail will be placed into Trust pending the decision of the Court. You will be notified by mail once the Court has rendered their decision.  If you win your case, your bail will be refunded to you within 6-8 weeks after the decision.

 

19. Where is my Courtesy Notice and what if I didn't receive one?

Where is my Courtesy Notice from the Court?

When you receive a traffic citation, the officer will write your date to appear in Court underneath your signature on the citation.  This is the "Court date",  "appearance date" or "due date" . This is the last date your citation must be resolved by, unless you contact the Court to request an additional 30 days on or before your Court date.

Do not ignore your citation. When you receive the ticket (citation) from the law enforcement officer, you signed your name and you are making a legal and binding "promise to appear". If you fail to appear as directed, additional penalties will be imposed for your failure to appear.  Failure to resolve your citation on or before the date listed at the bottom of your citation may result in additional penalties which by law could include a $300.00 civil assessment, a warrant issued for your arrest, a suspension of your driver's license and additional monetary assessments.

If your citation involves a "mandatory appearance" you must appear in Court. If you do not have a mandatory appearance or you do not want to appear, you may pay the bail amount to the Court by the Court date or due date, and do nothing further. The bail will then be accepted as a guilty plea and the case will be closed.

If you have a violation for which proof of correction can be shown, the fine may be reduced if proof of correction is provided to the Court. In addition, there is a $25.00 proof of correction fee that must be included for each violation that requires proof of correction.

If your citation was issued within the past 60 days, you may also check for specific citation or case information on-line, including bail amounts, case numbers and how to pay in full. You may also email the Traffic Division Clerk’s Office at traffic.requests@stanct.org for additional information.  Please note that the law enforcement agency has up to one year to file the citation with the Court. 

If you do not see your case online, or the Clerk does not have a case on file yet, it is up to you to continue to check on your case to see if it has been filed, and if you have a Court date pending.  Law enforcement is required to notify you if your Court date has been amended, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on your incoming mail.  If your address changes, the agency, and the Court will send your notices to the last address on file at the time you received your citation.  If the citation is filed, please keep the Court informed of address changes so you receive important mail involving your case. 

Our Court website contains easy to follow information on how to sign up for traffic school, either in person or by mail, and we offer on-line and phone payment sign-up options. We also have an email address you can use if you have specific questions regarding signing up for traffic school: traffic.school@stanct.org. See our Court's Overview of Traffic Services page for links.

 

20. Why are the traffic fines so high and why is it higher than what the judge said in court?

Why are the fines high?

Traffic fines are mandated by the State of California, according to the particular violation for which you have been charged. Fines consist of an initial bail amount, along with additional mandatory state fees, to result in a total bail amount due. These fines are set in accordance with the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, pursuant to the California Rule of Court 4.102. For more information on the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, see the California Courts website link at http://www.courts.ca.gov/7532.htm.

Why is it higher than what the judge said in Court?

When you attend your hearing and the Judicial Officer imposes a fine, they typically quote only the bail amount, absent State mandated fees that are required for each conviction in addition to the bail ordered. The Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule includes information on these mandated fees that are required to be paid in addition to the ordered bail amount.  They are included in your minute order and will be reflected in the total bail due section.

Last updated: January 11, 2017 3:50 PM