Nine times out of 10, a copy of an old traffic ticket is definitely not something you want to get a hold of. But if you find yourself needing to pay a fine before the due date or if you're fighting a traffic violation in court, you might just be in that slim percentile of drivers seeking a ticket copy. If you're wondering how to get a copy of a traffic ticket, the truth is, the process varies a whole lot depending on your situation and location – but the good news is, you've got plenty of options.
Check Online First
If you find yourself in need of a ticket copy, the internet is usually here for you (just like it is for cat memes and answers to questions you're too embarrassed to ask someone). Luckily for those who are prone to misplacing annoying slips of paper, many local DMVs offer free – and printable – ticket copies online. These copies usually have all of the information contained on the original ticket.
The process for how to get a copy of a traffic ticket online varies by the DMV, naturally. First, visit your local DMV website to see if this feature is available in your region – it may be known as a substitute ticket. In most cases, these ticket copies are available on your state's DMV site, but you may also find copies of citations available on the website for your county's courthouse, state court system or department of finance, so don't give up if you don't immediately find what you need.
In some cases, the website will provide an email address where you can request a copy of a parking ticket or a camera violation, for instance. But to get a copy of your long-lost ticket in your browser, you'll typically just have to enter some basic info, such as:
- First and last name.
- Driver's license number.
- The last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Valid email address.
Request Your Driving Record
For a historical record of tickets that you've racked up over time, as well as plenty of other info, contact your local DMV to request a copy of your driving record, sometimes known as a motor vehicle report, or MVR. This may be your best bet since this doc contains info like:
- Driver's license details (license number, status, classification, expiration date).
- Prior fines, suspensions, revocations, DUIs or "points" added to your record.
- Accident summaries.
- Traffic violations and convictions, including speeding tickets and traffic tickets.
While driving records don't typically include nonmoving violations, other types of traffic violations will stay on the document for about three to 10 years. You can request a copy by visiting your local DMV website, mailing in a request form (often available online) or visiting the DMV in person. In any case, be prepared to pay a fee that ranges from roughly $2 to $10, depending on your DMV.
Discovery and Other Options
When online options fail you, and you need a ticket copy quickly, try calling the administrative office or clerk of court at the courthouse in the locality where the citation was issued. Alternatively, contacting the police department that issued the ticket should do the trick. In either case, you'll just need to provide some basic identifying info.
If things have escalated a bit, and you need a copy of a speeding ticket or other traffic citation for use in court, make a discovery request for the notes of the police officer who issued the ticket. With the help of your attorney, this process consists of sending a written request for specific documents that are relevant to your case. The court clerk can provide the necessary forms for making a discovery request, which you'll need to send to the police department via certified mail.
Many localities offer online traffic ticket copies; in other cases, you'll have to file a request with the DMV or court.
- New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: Get a Copy of a TVB Ticket
- The Super Court of San Mateo: Access Traffic Ticket/Citation Online
- New York City Department of Finance: Get a Copy of a Ticket
- iTicket.law Powered by Hatley Law Office: Help! I Lost My North Carolina Traffic Ticket. Where Can I Find My Case Information?
- State of California Department of Motor Vehicles: Frequently Asked Questions – Traffic Tickets/Infractions Amnesty Program
- iDriveSafely: How DO I Get a Copy of My Driver Record?
- National Motorists Association Blog: What to Do if You Lose Your Copy of a Traffic Ticket
- FindLaw: Fighting a Traffic Ticket: Get the Officer's Notes
- Keep track of all of your attempts to get a copy of the ticket. If you can not find a copy, and are prosecuted, you can use your attempts to find a copy of the ticket in court. Have your driver's licesnse handy at every attempt to get a copy of your ticket. You will likely not be given the ticket without ID present.
As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.