When Can and Can’t I Dismiss a Ticket in California?

Got a ticket? Usually, your next step is deciding if you want to plead guilty or not. If you plead guilty, you’ll need to pay the ticket before the appearance date of your citation. However, if you want to contest the ticket and get it dismissed, you’ll need to go to court.

But wait, there could be another option depending on the traffic violation and your driving record. 

What is a Correctable Violation When You Get a Ticket in California?

You may see the term “correctable violation” on your ticket, indicating that you received a ticket that’s capable of correction. This type of ticket is also referred to as a “fix-it” ticket. 

On this type of ticket, beside the line reading “Notice to Appear” there should be a box checked “yes.” The court will also send you a courtesy notice letting you know if you have to pay for the violation or just show proof of correction. With proof of correction and a dismissal fee, you should be dismissed of the charge.

Some examples of correctable tickets are:

  • Equipment violations: a broken tail light for example (aka fix-it tickets).

  • Driver’s license violations: missing your license at the time you were pulled over or having an expired license.

  • Car registration violations: missing your registration at the time of your ticket or having expired registration.

  • Insurance violations: failing to provide proof of insurance even though you had insurance coverage at the time of the ticket.

If you received a ticket for one of the reasons above, then you’ll need to be prepared to provide proof of the correction and pay a dismissal fee. 

Average Dismissal Fee Costs for Correctable Violations in California

How much will a correctable violation cost you? Here’s what is in the California Vehicle Code

“If you qualify to show proof of correction, a $25.00 fee will be assessed for each violation that has a proof of correction.” 

That means you’ll pay a minimum $25 fee on top of any additional costs for the correction and additional fees. It’s a small price to pay when you consider not paying the dismissal fee and having a violation on your driving record may end up costing you a lot more down the road. 

Getting Your Certificate of Correction Signed

Once you fix the problem by updating your equipment or information, you’ll need to get an authorized person to sign the “Certificate of Correction” part of the ticket. Authorized persons include: 

  • Police officers for fix-it tickets. 

  • DMV staff for driver’s license and car registration tickets.

  • Court clerks for proof of auto insurance at the time of citations. 

With a signed certificate of correction in hand, you can contact the court to see if they accept proof of correction by mail. If not, just take the certificate of correction and dismissal fee to the court before the deadline. The court will then dismiss your case and it won’t go on your record.

Can You Take Traffic School for a California Moving Violation? 

If you have a more serious offense, and want to prevent points from going on your record, you may also have the option to go to a California traffic school. Tickets that are typically acceptable for traffic school are moving violations, whereas violations like equipment offenses, non-moving offenses, misdemeanors, alcohol or drug-related offenses and offenses in a commercial vehicle are not. 

If you complete traffic school by the due date, you will have a confidential conviction on your record at the DMV, but you won’t receive a point on your driving record. While you’ll still have to pay a fine in addition to attending traffic school, removing the points from your record will pay off in the long run because your monthly insurance premiums won’t increase.

 Need a little extra practice driving to avoid tickets in the future? Check out Aceable’s online California drivers ed. In addition to gaining enhanced driving skills, you may also be eligible for free roadside assistance and auto insurance discounts. Let’s get started!

*This article was updated on 10/19/2020.

Krista Doyle