How to Read Traffic Citations

When you receive a traffic citation, your first response might be shock. Then you start trying to read the traffic citation, and shock turns to confusion. The local governments that design the citations never take into consideration that not everyone can read that small print or understand what each box on the citation means. Many people have missed court dates or not realized exactly what the charge is for because they don't know how to read the ticket.

Look at the top of your citation in the left hand corner. This will tell you the time and date that you were stopped and given the ticket. It will also tell you the day of the week.

Read the number in the upper right-hand corner that is stamped on the ticket. This is the citation number that is referred to in court and on police reports.

Read More: How to Find a Lost Traffic Ticket

Read just below the citation number, and it will have a box checked for either traffic, non-traffic or a misdemeanor. Ticket books are used for disorderly conduct and other citations besides for traffic tickets.

Look in the first section of the ticket, and that will have your name, address and personal identification, such as sex, height and weigh,t as noted on your drivers license. You will also see the make, model and year of your vehicle, and your license plate number.

Read the section under the personal information. It will tell you what you were stopped for with a number and the description. It will also tell the location of the traffic stop.

Look at the signature of the officer that wrote the ticket. It will have his name and badge number. Just under that will be boxes to be checked by the officer as to whether you must appear in court with a time and date, or if you can just pay the ticket and not attend a court hearing.

Read the back of the ticket for any important information regarding where you must pay the fine or what court you must appear in for the ticket.


  • If you can't read the officers writing, which happens many times, call the police station and give the citation number to get clarification.

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