What happens when you get a traffic ticket in California?

Posted on September 21, 2021 by John

The answer is, “nothing good.” As the state with the worst traffic, California takes traffic violations very seriously. Fines in the state far exceed those levied in other places and can run into the thousands.

What It Costs

To give you an idea, parking in a handicap space without the proper tag can cost upwards of $350; speeding tickets can run as much as $490. Depending upon the infraction, jail time and loss of license are also punishments. Knowing what will happen if you do get a traffic ticket goes a long way toward taking the right legal steps if you plan to fight the citation.

The Basic Legal Process — Traffic Tickets

  •  You get stopped on the road.
  • The officer asks for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
  • You may be asked to step out of the vehicle.
  • The officer may let you go with a warning. If not…
  • They will give you a ticket (notice to appear) that lists charges.
  • You are asked to sign the ticket (not an admission of guilt).
  •  By signing, you promise to appear on the court date listed.
  • You will receive a reminder from the court about the court due date.
  •  Refusal to sign the ticket will result in the officer taking you into custody, at which time you are presented for arraignment.

Certificates of Correction

Correction violations (stoplights or other equipment violations) are ticketed. The website  Correctable Violations (“Fix-It” Tickets) provides instructions on how to get your certificate of correction once the problem is fixed.    

Parking Tickets

Parking tickets are not filed with the court. You can opt to pay the ticket by mail or online, or you can challenge it. If you decide on the latter, you should call the parking agency and get instructions on what to do. Remember, the longer you put off paying the ticket, the more it will cost. Unpaid tickets can prevent you from renewing your vehicle registration in California.


Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a major offense in California. Fines can reach up to $5000 and punishments may include jail time of up to one year. Your driver’s license can be suspended, and the court can file other related charges.

Got a traffic ticket and want to fight it?

Former law enforcement officer, David Leicht wants to fight for you. If you live in and around Barstow, San Bernardino County or Mojave, call us now @ 760-256-3104 for a free case evaluation.

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