Do You Have To Sign a Traffic Ticket in California?
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Each year, over 4 million traffic tickets are issued across the state of California. Therefore, most California drivers find themselves at some point being pulled over by the police and handed a ticket to sign. Generally, when drivers are asked to sign by a police officer, they will not try to challenge the charges and just sign the ticket. But do you have to sign a traffic ticket in California? What happens if you don’t? And if you do sign, are you still able to contest the ticket?
The short answer is, no. Legally, you are allowed to refuse to sign the traffic ticket. Nobody can force you to sign. However, there will be consequences. If you refuse to sign the traffic ticket, the issuing officer is required by law to arrest you. You will be taken into custody and presented before a judge for arraignment of the charges.
So while you certainly have the option to not sign, it’s highly inadvisable. The good news is, you can still contest the charge even if you do sign.
No, signing a traffic ticket does not mean you are admitting guilt. The signing of the traffic ticket is simply an agreement to appear in court to face the charges laid against you. That’s why the issuing officer is obligated to arrest you if you refuse; since you aren’t agreeing to face the charges at a later date, they are compelled to put you into custody to ensure that you do.
Regardless of whether you intend to contest the charges or face them, it is always the best option to sign the ticket when it’s presented to you. You haven’t admitted guilt; you’ve simply agreed to appear in court at a certain date.
Once you’ve received — and signed — your traffic ticket, there are a few options available to you. We’ll list them here from what we consider worst-to-best.
This is easily the least desirable option, but one of the fastest to resolve the issue.
The base fine for a traffic ticket in California is $35, but the average cost is around $230. On top of that, having a fine against your name will also:
• Increase your insurance by around $150 a year or 15%
• Add 1 to 2 points to your driving record, meaning two traffic tickets in 12 months could leave you with a suspended license.
With this option you still have to pay the ticket, and the fine will still be on your record. The upside is that the point will be hidden from your insurance company, protecting you from insurance hikes.
The typical way to contest a traffic ticket in California is to appear in court. It’s entirely possible that the judge may lower your fine, or even dismiss the charges entirely.
But there are some significant downsides.
Vehicle Code Section 40902 allows you to contest tickets in writing. This is referred to as Trial By Written Declaration, and California is one of the few states that allow it.
We strongly believe this is the best option for you to contest your traffic ticket. California drivers have most success dismissing their traffic tickets using trial by written declaration than hiring expensive lawyers or going to court. Why is this? There are several reasons:
GetDismissed has helped tens of thousands of drivers get their traffic tickets dismissed through Trial by Written Declaration. We streamline the entire process to make it as simple and efficient for you as possible.
• Photograph your license and ticket
• Tell us about the circumstances of the ticket
• Print your documents and send them to court
That’s it. The hardest part is finding the stamp.
The best part of the Trial by Written Declaration system is that if the ticket is dismissed, there will be no points on your driving record and not time. Another benefit is that if your ticket isn’t dismissed, you can request a new trial to appear in court in person. It effectively gives you two chances to have your ticket thrown out, increasing your chances of avoiding a fine and points.
Got yourself a California traffic ticket? Get in touch with GetDismissed today to get that ticket dismissed ASAP.
GetDismissed produces results in fighting all kinds of tickets. Unfortunately, this list does not include exhibition of speed citations. Your best bet in fighting one of these infractions, is to contact an attorney. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf to try and reduce fines, or even to reduce the charges to a lesser infraction which could possibly qualify for traffic school.
We do however, contest infractions revolving around speeding, red lights, red light cameras, cell phones, signs (primarily stop signs), carpool violations, U-turns, out of lane violations, and commercial violations. If you receive a citation and have questions, contact us today.