A traffic ticket is usually charged as an ordinance violation or misdemeanor in most states and is handled through a dedicated traffic court. If you need additional time to retain an attorney, or if you have a scheduling conflict with a court date, you can request an extension at your arraignment or pretrial if the matter has not been set for trial.
File a motion to continue with the clerk's office in the courthouse where your traffic case is pending if you have a conflict with the arraignment date. You will usually have about a one-month time gap between when you received your ticket and the arraignment (the first court date scheduled for your charge). It is important that you file your motion to continue as soon as you realize you cannot make your arraignment. The clerk's office will have a simple traffic motion form where you inform the court why you are requesting an extension, which is also called a continuance. The motion will be set for a hearing date prior to your original arraignment. Appear at the date on your motion to request a continuance, making sure to bring any supporting evidence you may have to support your request.
Apply for a extension via phone or email if your jurisdiction allows. Filing a motion is the traditional method utilized by all jurisdictions to obtain an extension, but some jurisdictions allow you to file an extension via email or phone. For instance, Los Angeles County courts accept online extensions for initial appearances, fine payments or traffic school completion. You will need to visit the official website of the county where you received the ticket to see if you can request an extension online. Likewise, you will need to call the courthouse of the county where the ticket was issued to see if you can request an extension over the phone.
Approach the bench at your arraignment and request a continuance if you were able to make the arraignment but require additional time on your case. Valid reasons for requesting an extension include additional time to retain an attorney or to pay off older tickets to clear up your traffic history.
If you require additional time to pay the current charge you are facing, the judge will either give you a payment date (anywhere from one to three months is common) or have you set up a payment plan with the Clerk's office. In the latter case, you will make regular weekly or monthly payments on your charge until it is paid in full.
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.