Civil Traffic Information

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CIVIL TRAFFIC CITATIONS

This court acknowledges that every fine is more than we want to pay and that even if dismissed, the mandatory “appearance” thing is an inconvenience to everyone.

This web site was designed to allow you to do much of your court business by Internet and/or Mail instead of having to appear personally. Therefore, your time and inconvenience should be kept to a minimum. Additionally, the information contained here will explain your options and give you court forms to print and submit in furtherance of your case proceedings.

If you have a comment concerning our services, your experience with this court, or of the web site, I invite you to let me know.

Sincerely, Wyatt J. Palmer, Justice of the Peace.

I have a citation. What do I do next?

All traffic citations have a date written on them, by which you must appear to the court.  Look down by the officer’s signature for “appear on or before _______.”
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How do I appear?

Appear means, you make a specific contact with the court and place your response to the citation in the court file.  The response (appearance) is your written statement of what you want to do with your case/citation.  It is not a trial.

Options are:

  1. Plead Responsible.
  2. Plead Not Responsible.
  3. Attending Defensive School (before the appearance date).

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What if I don’t appear?

A Civil Traffic citation from a police officer must be dealt with in one manner or another, whether you agree with the officer or not. A failure to deal with it properly (by appearing) will only cause it to be dealt with differently.

If you “Fail To Appear” (FTA) by your date:

  1. You will be “deemed” responsible, as charged, by default.
  2. The fine will be levied against you.
  3. MVD will probably suspend your driver license.
  4. A new charge of Failure To Appear will be added (a criminal charge).
  5. An arrest warrant “shall” be issued for the F.T.A. (ARS 13-3904).
  6. If you don’t pay the fine, MVD will suspend your vehicle registration.

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I am too busy to go to court. Can I use the MAIL or the INTERNET?

Yes, you can use either or both.  Throughout this internet site there are forms you can print and return in person or by mail, to indicate your “appearance” option (Responsible / Not-responsible / Traffic School). Your written response will serve as your appearance and you do not then have to come into court on that date.  But you will either have to pay, appear at trial or school, as explained here.

For example;

  1. If you are pleading “Responsible”, the site contains information on how you can pay on-line or send payment to the court by mail, thus avoiding any need to actually walk into the court itself.  (see ticket options)
  2. If you are pleading “Not Responsible”, these forms can be sent to the court, which also qualifies as your appearance, can be sent in by internet or mail.  Thereafter, you will soon be sent a notice of the date/time for your traffic hearing (like a trial), normally set for about 30 days later.  For that hearing you must appear.  (see ticket options)
  3. Alternatively, information found here will show you how to register on-line or by phone to attend traffic school, which may get your ticket dismissed.  That too would alleviate any need for you to come into the court.  (see ticket options) However, you can always walk into court at any time, if you prefer, and/or hire an attorney to appear and defend for you.

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What happens at my first appearance?

If you decide to appear in person, instead of appearing by internet or mail, that personal appearance is called an Arraignment.  At this arraignment, the court informs you of the charge against you and asks you how you are going to plead (responsible or not responsible).

If responsible, the court can then inquire into the facts, could accept your plea, and could then sentence.  Otherwise a not-responsible plea is entered and your case is set for a hearing at a later date/time.
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Can I talk to the judge?

Generally, the judge is not allowed to talk about evidence in the case with only one side at a time.  Therefore, the judge tries to avoid talking about the details of the case with you, or the other side, separately.  The best way to discuss the facts is to see an attorney who can advise you of what you should do or not do.  The judge cannot advise you and cannot keep your conversations private from the other party.
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If I want to “fight” the ticket, what do I do?

First, “appear” as explained above, which is filing a response of not responsible (asking for a hearing).

Then at the hearing, appear in person (possibly with an attorney) to cross-examine the officer and/or put on your own defense.  Bring to the hearing any and all evidence/testimony that you want the judge to hear in your case.

If you need a subpoena to get your witness into court, apply to the court to have the subpoena issued and served.  Remember, your case is your responsibility; take action to present a good defense.  Either you must appear and defend or you may have an attorney represent you.  No other party can represent you.

At the hearing, the officer’s burden is to show by a “preponderance of the evidence” that you committed the offense.  Sometimes, that is described as 51% or better, that you committed the offense.  For anything less than this level, the court will enter a dismissal of the charges.  If the officer does not appear, your case will also get dismissed.  But if it is you that doesn’t appear, the finding usually goes to the state and against you.  Be sure to attend the hearing.
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What does the law say about my violation?

On this web-site, there is a link entitled, “Arizona Revised Statues.”  From that link, you can select the title and section of any law of interest to you, and read the black-letter law.

In addition, you may want to look at the Court Rules which the courts must follow in conducting your hearing.

  1. For civil driving offenses, see “Traffic” rules.
  2. For misdemeanors driving violations, see “Criminal Traffic” rules.
  3. For non-traffic misdemeanors, see “Rules of Criminal Procedures.”  Alternatively, you can come into court and use the books here or at your library.

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What does this do to my driving record?

If your case is ultimately dismissed, nothing happens to your driving record.  However, if you are found responsible (either by pleading responsible, or being found responsible after a hearing, or by failing to appear) the court will generally enter a customary fine for the offense.

Any and all “points” assessed against your license are strictly and only the result of MVD action.  The court does not ever order any points against your license.  Nor can the court order MVD to not assess points.  MVD operates under their own policies.  In addition, it is possible that MVD will assess additional penalties, including Defensive Driving School, Traffic Survival School, Suspend the license, etc.  Contact MVD for information concerning your driving record and any possible consequences.
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Possible court penalties / Fines?

For Civil traffic cases, nearly all sanctions are in the form of fines.  The typical civil fines for the more common charges are listed HERE.
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Can I get the citation dismissed?

The only way that a court can dismiss your case is at the request of the plaintiff (the state prosecutor), upon the officer not appearing at the hearing, or when after a hearing the court finds for the defendant.
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Can I attend Defensive Driving School (DDS) ?

Yes, if you qualify. You can attend once every 24 months, and get a single charge dismissed.  There is a registration fee to attend.  A full explanation, instructions, and form to apply for DDS can be found HERE  (page 3).
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Payments, and Non-Payment Sanctions

If you either admit, or are found responsible, you can assume there will be a fine associated with your case. (see “Fines” in this web site) You are expected to pay that fine at that time.

Payments may be delivered to the clerks in various forms.  Cash or Money Orders/Cashier’s Checks can be delivered to the clerks or mailed.  Do Not mail cash.  No Personal Checks accepted.

Credit/debit cards may be used to pay online.  (For internet payments see Online Payments on this web site.)

If however, you cannot make payment in full, you can arrange with the judge to pay in installments, but an additional $20 fee will be added.  If you are approved to make installment payments, and then default on one of your payments, your driver’s license can be suspended without further notice.  The court’s position is that there are no excuses for a non-excused and partial default.  Therefore, if an emergency has surfaced, which will prevent you from making your installment payment, you must contact the court and ask for a temporary waiver of your payment.