A party who wants an extension on a traffic ticket should check the procedure to request an extension at the traffic division pages of the website of her local court. Court procedures for requesting an extension vary considerably. Options include contacting the court by phone, mail or email, visiting the court, and accessing the court’s website and clicking on a link to pay online.
Take Action Before the Due Date
A party who wants an extension must take action on or before the due date on the citation. If the party takes action late, he may face additional charges, penalties, assessments, fees and actions. In California, the penalties can include a civil assessment of $300, a hold or suspension placed on his driver’s license and a possible warrant for his arrest. In Nashville, Tennessee, the penalties can include litigation taxes to the city, the issuance of a bench warrant for the party’s arrest for contempt of court and the potential suspension of his driver’s license.
Make Sure the Ticket Is Available
In certain states, such as Maine, a traffic ticket may be issued by hand. There may be a processing delay from the time that a party receives the ticket until it is available in the state’s online system. Before a party attempts to take action on a ticket online, she needs to make sure the ticket is in the system.
When Is Payment Due?
A party who gets a traffic ticket must respond by the answer date on the ticket. The answer date is assigned by the police officer who issued the ticket. Depending on the state, if a party does not pay in full or does not plead "not guilty" by the answer date, the case will be transferred to court.
Read More: What to Do If You Missed a Traffic Ticket Payment
Do Not Contest the Ticket
A party who wants an extension should avoid contesting the ticket. Contesting the ticket means that she is requesting a trial on the traffic case. A party who wants to reschedule a court date for a trial should contact the clerk of court or file a motion to continue. A motion to continue may or may not be granted.
The court makes a decision in accordance with its own rules regarding continuances and after reviewing the reason the party requested a continuance.
Other Options Regarding Payment
Depending on the state, a party may be able to request a payment plan to pay a traffic court debt. She can search for a written plea form and request for monthly payment on the website of her local court or at the traffic clerk’s office. The party should submit this form by mail or in person to the court indicated on the citation.
A party can also ask the court, by petition, to consider his ability to pay. This means that he has the right to petition the court to reduce or vacate (drop) the civil assessment, or for a judge to determine if the party has the ability to pay the fine. A party requesting that the court reduce or vacate a civil assessment will need to file a declaration and supporting documents. Alternatively, he can request to appear before a judicial officer to be heard.
A party can get a petition form at the clerk’s office or online at the website of the court hearing his case. A judge may order the party to make installment payments or to complete community service to satisfy the fine. The judge can also suspend the fine in part or in whole, set the matter for a hearing or deny the petition.
- The Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo: Traffic
- Circuit Court Judge, Richard R. Rooker, Davidson County, Tennessee: Traffic Violation Bureau
- Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County: Traffic
- Pawtucket, Rhode Island: Traffic Court Frequently Asked Questions/(FAQs)
- State of Maine Judicial Branch: Traffic Violations FAQ
- The Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma: Traffic Division (Adult)
- State of Connecticut Judicial Branch: Traffic Violation/Complaint Ticket
- The Superior Court of California, County of Glenn: Traffic Court
- Dress properly for court. Do not show up in beachwear for a traffic matter, it is disrespectful to the court.
- If your matter has been set for trial, you cannot just ask for a continuance on the date of trial. In that case you must file a motion to continue with the clerk of court and have your motion heard before the trial date.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.