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Helpful tips if you get a traffic citation

If you receive a traffic citation, the following information may be helpful

  1. Document What Happened.
    1. 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.
  2. Read the Back of the Citation Carefully!
    1. 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.
  3. Determine How You Want to Respond
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  4. Prepare Your Case for Trial
    1. 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.
    2. Prepare a statement that explains what happened, and articulate why you should not be required to pay the fine.
  5. Get Your Day in Court
    1. Write down your court date in an important place. If you do not show up, you will be found guilty.
    2. Arrive at the courthouse 15 minutes early. There may be a line, and you will have to pass through a security screening.
    3. 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.

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 Oregon Revised Statutes web page.

If you have any questions about how to proceed after you receive a traffic ticket, come visit Student Legal Services in M343 Smith Memorial Union during drop-in hours web page.