Traffic Court deals with violations of traffic laws and other minor offenses of state and county ordinances. These violations are considered “infractions” and include, for example, speeding, cell phone violations, expired registrations and automobile equipment needing repair. Infractions are enforced by the issuance of citations (“tickets”) by law enforcement. Punishment for infractions requires payment of fines and does not carry any potential jail or prison time. Failure to pay traffic fines when due or respond to a citation can lead to additional penalties including imposition of a civil assessment and a DMV hold placed on your driver’s license.
- Tulare County Superior Court, Traffic Division
- 221 South Mooney Blvd, Room 124
- Phone: 559-730-5000
The Judicial Council has approved amnesty program guidelines to be used by statewide court and county collection programs. The Amnesty Program will be effective January 1 through June 30, 2012. For more information click this link.
To contest your citation, you must enter a plea of not guilty and submit the full bail amount. You may request a hearing by court trial or written trial by filing a declaration at the clerk's office.
For any infraction that does not require a mandatory appearance, you may request a hearing through the mail.
Mail your request to the court listed at the bottom of the citation. Include the following:
- Written request for a court trial or written trial by declaration
- Full bail amount as indicated on your courtesy notice
When you plead not guilty to an infraction, the matter will be set for a court trial. The officer who issued the citation will be subpoenaed to appear, and the prosecutor may subpoena other witnesses to appear and testify. You have the right to subpoena witnesses and to have a lawyer present.
The examination of facts and law will be presided over by a judge or other magistrate, such as a commissioner or a judge pro tem. At the trial, the officer(s) will present any factual evidence. At this time, you must also be prepared to produce all evidence, documents, or witnesses to support your case.
If you are found guilty, your bail will be applied to your fine. If you are found not guilty, your bail will be returned to you.
Requests for continuance of a court trial should be filed at least 10 days prior to the court trial hearing date. The request will be submitted to the judicial officer for approval. You will be notified by mail, or you may contact the court for the status of your request. If you wait too long to submit your request for continuance, it will not be submitted to the judicial officer for consideration until the day of your currently scheduled court trial hearing.
Questions about court trials:
How long will the trial take?:
You should plan to be at court for three hours or more on the day of trial. Remember to check your trial date, department, and time.
Should I bring my evidence?:
If you have photos, diagrams, reports, or any other exhibits which you plan to present at the time of the trial, bring them with you on your trial date.
Should my witnesses appear?:
If you have witnesses that are necessary to your defense, you should have them subpoenaed to appear in court. You can obtain the subpoena form from the Clerk's Office. Do this well in advance of your trial date. Complete the subpoena form, have the subpoena served, and file the subpoena and the proof of service with the court on or before your trial date.
What happens when I go to court?:
Report directly to the Department in which your trial has been scheduled. The bailiff or clerk will give some preliminary instructions and then check in those people appearing in court. A judicial officer will then hear the case. The court will listen to the statements of the sworn witnesses against you and may question each witness. You may then present your case to the court. The court will then rule on the matter or take the matter under submission. If the court takes the matter under submission, you will be notified by mail of the court's ruling and, if found guilty, you will also be informed of the sentence imposed.
What if I am found not guilty?:
If you are found not guilty, your bail deposit will be returned by mail within 60 days.
What if I do not appear at the time of trial?:
Your trial can be heard in absentia. Your bail will be forfeited. If your bail is forfeited, your driving record will show a conviction. If no bail has been posted, a warrant for your arrest may be issued.
Will the officer who issued the citation be in court?:
The officer will be subpoenaed to appear in court and the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution requires the officer to be present.
A trial by written declaration does not require a court appearance by either party. A person may proceed with a trial through written declarations submitted by the recipient of the citation and the law enforcement officer who issued the citation. The judge will enter a judgment based on written testimony and documentary evidence presented.
If you request a trial by written declaration, you must waive your rights to appear, to testify in person, and to subpoena witnesses. The California Judicial Council provides instructions and a form (Form TR-205, which is mandatory) for defendants to contest a citation in writing.
Note: You may download forms from the California Courts web site.
An appeal can be filed within 30 days only after being found guilty in a court trial. New evidence is not accepted on appeal. The appellate court's decision deals with the evidence offered and decisions made at the time of trial.
For more information, visit the Appeals page.
The clerk's office may give one 30-day extension to post bail. There are currently two methods for requesting an extension:
- In person at any of the court locations
For extensions beyond 30 days, you must appear in person and request a continuance from the judicial officer in open court.
If your case requires a mandatory appearance, you cannot pay your fine without first appearing in court for arraignment. You can appear on or before your appearance date at any of the listed court locations. (Click here for court locations.) Your courtesy notice will indicate MANDATORY court appearance.
The following infractions are examples of charges requiring a mandatory appearance.
- 22348(b) VC: Speed greater than 100 mph
- 23140(a) VC: Person under 21 years old driving with a blood alcohol content of .05 or more
Obtaining Proof of Correction:
If there are mechanical, registration, license, or insurance violations (VC 16028a only), your bail will be reduced if you provide proof of correction on or before the due date. If you do not provide proof of correction, you will be required to pay the full bail. Proof received after the fine is paid will not be eligible for further reductions.
The inspecting officer will sign off the violation you were cited for on the back of the citation or on the courtesy notice. The sign off must be for a correction-eligible violation, and it must include the violation you were cited for and the officer's name, agency, and badge number.
Proof of correction may be obtained in the following ways:
- Smog control device violations must be inspected and certified by an authorized Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Device Installation and Inspection Station.
- Light and brake violations may be certified by an authorized inspection and installation station or a law enforcement agency.
- Dog and cat license or vaccination must be submitted in court if requesting a dismissal or reduction in the fine. Proof of correction will not be accepted at the clerk's office.
- Other defects or proof of corrections may be obtained at any law enforcement office during regular business hours. DO NOT STOP AN OFFICER ON ANY ROADWAY FOR THIS CERTIFICATION.
- Self-certification of corrections is not acceptable.
- Sale of the vehicle does not relieve you of the responsibility for correction of the violations.
Fraudulent documentation submitted to establish proof of correction could result in criminal prosecution.
If you were cited for a registration violation (Vehicle Code section 4000(a)1), you may obtain proof of valid registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Department of Motor Vehicles may sign off the back of your ticket or courtesy notice, or you may show proof of a Validated Registration. The clerk will not accept proof of registration that indicates "Report of Deposit of Fees." You may submit proof with a $25.00 correction fee. Payment must be made in full if proof is not shown.
The following information applies only to the 16028a VC (no proof of financial responsibility or no proof of insurance). This information does not apply to 16028c (no proof of insurance involving a collision) or to any other related insurance-related violations.
If you were cited for failure to provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance), and you did not have insurance on the date of violation, you will be required to pay the full bail. However, if you obtain proof of insurance after the date of violation and before the hearing, the court will reduce your bail.
If you had proof of insurance at the time the citation was issued, but were unable to provide proof to the officer who cited you, the violation is dismissible with a $25.00 correction fee and proof of insurance policy.
You may submit proof, as outlined below, with your payment, or submit a copy of your insurance policy to the clerk of the court.
- Name of insurance carrier
- Policy number
- Effective dates of coverage showing insurance coverage at the time you were cited
- Name of person who received the citation and/or the vehicle listed on the citation
- If the proof does not show all of the information, the total bail amount must be paid. Fraudulent documentation submitted to establish proof of correction could result in criminal prosecution.
Paying the Bail Amount
The bail on a citation is the amount of money required to guarantee your appearance in court. If you choose to pay the bail on the citation without going to trial, it is a bail forfeiture. The citation is deemed paid, and the resulting violation will be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the violation is reportable.
Payment Due Date
Your citation or courtesy notice will provide you with a date and time to appear and/or pay your fine. If you are unsure of the due date, you may search the court records or you may appear in person at any court location within 30-60 days of the date of your citation.
Methods for Paying a Citation
You may use the following methods to pay your traffic citation:
- Automated phone system: Visa, Discover, or MasterCard
- Internet - A Visa, Discover, or MasterCard credit card can be used at this link.
- By check, money order, or credit card. Make checks payable to the Clerk of the Court. Write your citation number on the check or money order.
- Payments can be mailed to any of the court locations.
- In person. You may appear at any court location.
If you fail to appear or fail to pay a fine as ordered, a DMV hold will be placed on your driver's license and/or vehicle registration. You may also be subject to civil penalties, which include wage garnishment and/or tax interception and an additional penalty of $300.00.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Abstract
When a traffic citation is cleared, the court notifies the DMV within 10 days to remove the hold from your license.
NOTE: Abstract release will not be issued on a failure to pay a fine until the fine is paid in full.
You may choose to attend traffic school for certain vehicle violations.
Pursuant to Vehicle Code section 42005, you may be eligible for a confidential conviction after completion of a traffic school program if:
- You had a valid noncommercial driver's license at the time you were cited;
- The violation occurred in a noncommercial vehicle; and
- Your citation is not for a violation of Vehicle Code section 20001 (accident with injury), 20002 (hit and run), 23103 (reckless driving), 23104 (reckless driving-bodily injury), 23105 (reckless driving-specific injury), 23140 (minor-BAC .05 or greater), 23152 (DUI), 23153 (DUI with injury), or 23103 as specified in 23103.5 (placed on probation for section 23103 offense after plea reduction from original charge under section 23152.
In addition to the eligibility exclusions above, under amended rule 4.101, a court clerk is not authorized to grant a request to attend a traffic school program for an infraction that is not reportable to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and an infraction that is not contained in division 11 or 12 (rules of the road and equipment violations) of the Vehicle Code, or any of the following infractions. To be eligible, you must meet the following conditions:
- You are not currently attending, and have not attended, a traffic school program for a citation issued within the last 18 months of the date of the current citation;
- Your citation must be a moving violation and does not have a misdemeanor charge that requires a mandatory appearance in court;
- Your citation does not involve alcohol use or possession or drug use or possession;
- Your citation is not for violating Vehicle Code sections 22406.5 (tank vehicles) or 21655.5;
- Your citation does not have a point count of more than one point under Vehicle Code section 12810 or more than one and one-half points or more under Vehicle Code section 12810.5(b)(2);
- If your case involves a failure to appear warrant or civil assessment, the failure to appear charge must be adjudicated or paid in full before you can attend traffic school; and
- Your citation does not involve a speeding violation in excess of 100 miles per hour or 26 miles or more over the speed limit.
If you satisfy the above requirements and wish to attend traffic school, you will be required to pay a fee in the sum of $64.75 plus the amount of bail indicated on your courtesy notice, payable to the Clerk of the Court, Tulare County. There will be a separate fee at the class you attend. Upon completion of traffic school, and upon the court receiving proof of such completion in a timely manner, a confidential conviction will reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you fail to provide proof of completion as required, a conviction will be reported to the DMV and your insurance may be adversely affected.
WARNING: If you are not eligible to attend traffic school, but do so anyway, the conviction will be reported on your driving record and there will be no refund of any fees paid.
Requesting Traffic School
Traffic School payments can be made at all court locations.
You have the option of attending a DMV approved eight-hour traffic school program, or you can attend a home study or online traffic school. Approved traffic schools can be found at the links below.
Approved Traffic School Programs
Approved Internet Traffic School Programs can be found at:
You can also request traffic school by telephone. You must have your citation number and credit card available.
If you sign up by phone or through the mail, a list of traffic schools will be mailed to you, or you may use the lists above.
Failure to Complete Traffic School
Failure to complete traffic school by the due date will result in a forfeiture of your fees, and a conviction will be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. There will be no further proceedings in the case.
Parking citations are not handled by the Superior Court. Each issuing city or agency now processes its own parking citations. For information, contact the city or agency that issued the parking citation.