Helpful tips if you get a traffic citation
Traffic Law is governed by Title 59 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, better known as the Oregon Vehicle Code. The Oregon Vehicle Code is composed of Chapters 801 – 826, and can be found online by clicking here.
If you receive a traffic citation, the following information may be helpful:
- Document What Happened.
- As soon as you get home, write down exactly what happened when you received the citation. Where were you? What time was it? Was there a lot of traffic? What were the conditions outside? Were there any traffic signs or signals nearby? If you have a camera, you can take photos of the exact place you were pulled over and document the surroundings to help remind yourself later.
- Read the Back of the Citation Carefully!
- The back of the citation will give you all of the important information you need for dealing with the citation. You will also find a phone number to call someone at the court who can help you with any questions you have about what options are available to you.
- Determine How You Want to Respond
- Enter a plea of guilty and pay the fine. In some situations, the fine can be reduced. After you pay the fine, you are done.
- Enter a plea of no contest and pay the fine. Pleading no contest is similar to pleading guilty, however, it may make a difference for insurance purposes or in the reduction of the fine. Pleading no contest is basically saying “I am not going to admit that I did this, but I will pay the fine anyway to get it taken care of.” After you pay the fine, you are done.
- Enter a plea of not guilty, and request a hearing or trial. If you request a trial, you will be provided a court date on which you must appear to tell your side of the story to a judge. The officer who issued the ticket must also appear to testify.
- Prepare Your Case for Trial
- Oregon law requires that information about traffic citations be disclosed upon request to the Portland Police Bureau. Find out how to request that information here.
- Prepare a statement that explains what happened, and articulate why you should not be required to pay the fine.
- Get Your Day in Court
- Write down your court date in an important place. If you do not show up, you will be found guilty.
- Arrive at the courthouse 15 minutes early. There may be a line, and you will have to pass through a security screening.
- Dress professionally and be prepared to give a short statement about your side of the story. Be polite to the judge and to the issuing officer when you speak to them.