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Are there different types of traffic citations in California?

A person who is issued a traffic citation in California will have received one of three types. There are three main categories of traffic citations in the state which vary in level of severity as well as in possible consequences.

The most common type of traffic citation is a parking ticket. When people receive a parking ticket, they pay the local parking agency that issued the ticket. The amount of the fine will increase the longer the ticket goes unpaid. A person who wants to challenge the ticket’s issuance will do so through the parking agency.

Traffic infractions are tickets that are given for minor violations, such as failing to stop at a stop sign. Officers may issue a citation. When people sign the citation, they are agreeing to either respond to the ticket or to pay the fine. The fines vary depending on the infraction type. The most serious kind of traffic citation is chargeable as a misdemeanor offense. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs falls into this category. If an officer suspects someone is drunk or on drugs, the person will be taken into custody. When a person signs the citation for a misdemeanor traffic offense, the signature means he or she is agreeing to appear in court to answer the charges. It is not an admission of guilt. If a person fails to attend court, a warrant may be issued and he or she may face an additional misdemeanor charge.

People who receive traffic citations are able to fight against them, making the state prove the violation was committed. Many times, a person may also negotiate a plea to a lesser traffic offense in order to keep their insurance rates in check. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help in this regard.

Source: California Courts, “Traffic & Ticket Basics”, Accessed on Jan. 10, 2015

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.