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Why must I pay bail before my trial, and does
forfeiting the bail mean that I have paid the
The “bail” on a ticket is determined by a countywide
bail schedule and is the amount of money required to
guarantee your appearance for trial. If you choose to forfeit
the bail on the ticket, the ticket is deemed paid, and the
resulting conviction will cause a record of the conviction to
be placed upon your driving record. If you fail to pay bail
on a traffic ticket, a “Hold” will be placed on your driver’s
license, additional fees may be assessed, a misdemeanor
violation Failure to Appear may be added, and your license
may be suspended.
What is the penalty assessment, and how does
it affect the bail/fine amount on the traffic
The penalty assessment is an amount added to bails and
fines as required by law. The current penalty assessment
charged by the Los Angeles County Superior Court
(effective March 12, 2007) is $24.00 for every $10.00, or
portion thereof, of the bail/fine. For example, if you are
fined $20.00 your penalty assessment charge will be $48.00
(2 x $24.00). The penalty assessment and any other
assessments in effect at the time of the issuance of the
citation will be added to the bail/fine to obtain the total
amount to be paid.
A 20% surcharge, $20 security fee, and $1.00 Night Court assessment fee
will also be added to the fine or bail.
What are the different payment alternatives
for my traffic ticket?
The Court accepts cash, personal checks, ATM, and
Discover, Visa, or MasterCard credit cards at traffic
locations. For some citations you may use the Traffic
Interactive Payment System (TIPS) by telephone at (213)
742-8809. When using TIPS, you may telephonically
request: Forfeiture of bail on a citation, enrollment in traffic
school, an extension on the citation, or obtain general
information. You may pay the fine with Visa, Discover, or
MasterCard by using a touchtone telephone. The TIPS
system can currently be used only to process citations that
do not require a court appearance.
Do I qualify to attend traffic school? If so,
how do I enroll?
You may attend an eight-hour traffic school for certain
moving violations if you have not attended traffic school on
a citation issued eighteen (18) months prior to your current
citation (the 18-month period is calculated from the
violation date of the first citation to the violation date of the
second citation.) If you are eligible to attend traffic school,
a fee of up to $39.00 plus the bail amount (if you have
more than one violation, you must pay the highest bail
amount on the eligible violation) and penalty assessment
are required to sign up. In addition, you will have to pay a
fee to the traffic school. If you are paying by check, make
your check payable to L.A. Superior Court.
You may request traffic school through the mail by
sending a check for the bail amount and penalty assessment
plus a $39.00 fee.
Do not send cash!
You will be given a list of traffic schools and their
telephone numbers:
(a) You must make your own arrangements to register for
traffic school.
(b) Registration fees will vary, depending upon the
(c) You are required to do one of the following: (1) attend
traffic school (2) participate in the Home Study
Program including a video option or (3) take a course
on the Internet.
(d) If you plan to attend traffic school in another state,
contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in that state
for a list of schools. You must file the original Traffic
School Completion Certificate with the clerk’s office
on or before the due date on your waiver slip or letter.
You may file the certificate in person or by
(e) You may request traffic school by phone using the
Traffic Interactive Payment System (TIPS) at (213)
What plea can I enter on my traffic ticket,
and what is the next step?
Guilty plea - To plead guilty, pay the bail amount
directly to the court in person, by mail, via the Internet or
over the telephone. You should receive a courtesy notice
showing the amount required. If you do not receive the
notice, you may call the court to inquire about the bail
amount. Keep in mind that when you signed the citation,
you promised to appear on or before the due date indicated
at the bottom of your citation. The resulting conviction
will cause a record of the conviction to be placed on your
driving record.
Nolo Contendere Plea – Also known as simply “nolo”
or “No Contest.” This plea is treated the same as guilty for
court proceedings.
However, the plea of “Nolo
Contendere” cannot be used as an admission of guilt in a
civil suit for the same offense in a misdemeanor or
infraction. The resulting conviction will cause a record of
the conviction to be placed on your driving record.
To plead nolo contendere, you will have to appear
before the judicial officer. To schedule a court appearance,
you may call (213) 742-8809.
Not Guilty Plea - To plead not guilty, you may post
bail in the clerk’s office in order to obtain a trial date or
mail your request by registered or certified mail with a
check for the appropriate amount of bail and indicate on the
check “not guilty.” The reason for posting bail in advance
is to ensure your appearance in court on the day and time of
your trial. If you do not appear, your ticket will
automatically be paid (bail forfeited) and a conviction will
be placed on your driving record. You may also schedule a
court appearance to plead not guilty.
What if I need to change my trial date?
Go to the clerk’s office of the court where your trial is
scheduled at least 10 court days before your trial date to
request a new trial date. You need to bring any paperwork
that was issued to you.
If you were ordered by a judicial officer to post bail for
your trial, and you have not posted bail yet, you will not be
able to change your trial date. You must appear on the
date, time and location indicated in court.
What should I do to prepare for my traffic
ticket trial, and what can I expect during this
Bring any photos, diagrams, reports, or any other
exhibits with you to trial.
If you need witnesses that will not come to court
voluntarily, they must be subpoenaed before the trial date.
Subpoena forms can be obtained at the location where your
trial will take place. Neither you nor any person under 18
years of age can serve the subpoena.
A temporary judge may hear your case. The temporary
judge is authorized by the Presiding Judge of the Court to
serve in this capacity. If you do not want your case heard
by a temporary judge, you must request another judicial
officer to hear the case.
Trial by Written Declaration – Instead of going to
court for a trial, you may submit a written declaration
explaining the facts of your case and why the court should
rule in your favor. You may also include any documentary
evidence you feel is helpful. You waive your rights to
appear, to testify in person, and to subpoena witnesses.
The declaration and correct bail amount/penalty assessment
must be submitted to the Court by registered or certified
mail. The officer who issued the citation may also submit a
written declaration of the facts from his/her viewpoint.
Otherwise, the citation alone will be used as the officer’s
testimony. The Court will read your declaration and the
citing officer’s sworn declaration, and you will be notified
by mail of the Court’s decision.
Summary Trial – The advantage of a summary
trial is having your case heard earlier than a conventional
trial. The trial is conducted sooner (scheduled within 5
days) because only you appear before the judicial officer to
present your case without an attorney, the issuing officer
and/or witnesses. The court’s decision is final and may not
be appealed.
If you request a summary trial at the clerk’s office, you
must sign the Notice of Arraignment and Trial Date form
and submit with the correct bail amount plus penalty
assessment. If you request a summary trial by mail, the
Court will notify you of the date by which you must submit
the bail amount plus penalty assessment and the Notice of
Arraignment and Trial Date form to the Court. Failure to
deposit bail or file the Notice of Arraignment and Trial
Date form will result in the citation reverting to its original
open status, which is subject to a “Hold” being placed on
your driver’s license or DMV registration.
If I am found guilty or plead guilty how will
the traffic ticket affect my license?
The Department of Motor Vehicles will be
notified of your conviction and the conviction(s) will
appear on your driving record.
Can I go to the courthouse to pay for a
parking ticket?
No. To obtain a trial date or pay for any parking citation,
you must contact the agency that issued the citation.
The Court Mission
“To resolve and record legal
What happens if either the issuing law
enforcement officer or I do not appear for the
scheduled trial date?
If you do not appear for your scheduled trial date, your
bail, if posted, will be forfeited. A bail forfeiture acts as a
guilty plea, and the resulting conviction will cause a record
of the conviction to be placed upon your driving record. If
you did not post bail, your “Own Recognizance” (OR) will
be revoked and a misdemeanor Failure to Appear may be
charged and additional fees and bail may be added.
The appropriate agency subpoenas the officer who
wrote the citation to appear in court. Unavoidable circumstances may prevent or delay the officer’s appearance. If
the officer does not appear, the violation(s) may be
Traffic Infraction Citations
The Los Angeles Superior Court
South District – Long Beach