Traffic and Violations
FIRST APPEARANCE or ARRAIGNMENT:
An arraignment allows you the opportunity to appear in person before the judge to enter your plea in Court. At any time PRIOR to your arraignment date, you may enter a plea in writing. A copy of the plea options is available below in supporting documents.
An arraignment date is set at the time you receive your citation; this date/time is listed on the bottom of your citation. Check your citation for the time and date you are scheduled to appear. You need to take care of your citation on or before your arraignment date or you will be found Guilty by Default.
Trials and arraignments are two different things. The Judge is not allowed to hear testimony on a case scheduled for trial without both sides being present.
There is no grace period for a trial. If you miss a scheduled trial, you will be found guilty by default. If there are extenuating circumstances that arise prior to the scheduled trial date, contact the court immediately. It is possible that a one-time postponement may be granted, but it is at the Judge's discretion.
If you are not able to physically appear at your scheduled trial, you may request to submit your written testimony in lieu of submitting your testimony orally. Your testimony by affidavit must be received by the trial date and time and must be notarized in order for the Judge to consider the written statement as your appearance.
Waiver and Testimony by Affidavit available as PDF below in Supporting Documents.
Traffic and Violation Frequently Asked Questions
Will my traffic fine be reduced?
Fines are set by the Legislature which has established a minimum and a maximum fine for each category of ticket. The “presumptive fine” amount on a ticket is the fine amount. The Judge may choose to reduce the fine if you have a good driving record, depending on the circumstances.
Do I have to pay the entire fine now?
No. You can sign up for a payment contract. If you do not make your payments according to your plan, the court can ask the DMV to suspend your driving privileges and send the account to a collection agency. Additional fees are added if these actions occur.
How can I pay for the citation?
You can pay the fine by cash, check, credit card, or a payment plan. Your payment plan must be arranged with the court. There is no community service option.
What happens at trial?
The peace officer has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence means the greater weight of evidence. It is the evidence that has more convincing force when weighed against the opposing evidence. The officer testifies first and tells the judge the circumstances involved in the alleged violation. You may then ask the officer questions about that testimony. If the officer has other witnesses, you may question those witnesses. You may have your own witnesses testify. You can get a subpoena from the court to compel witnesses to appear in court. You may also testify, but you are not required to. If you testify, the officer and the judge may ask you questions. At the end of the trial, the judge will apply the law to the facts of the case. If the judge decides you are not guilty, the judge will dismiss the citation. If the judge believes the violation has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence, the judge will impose a fine. You have the right to appeal a decision adverse to you to the Circuit Court.
Can I change my court date?
You may change your court date only one time, at least 7 days prior to your court appearance.
Will the citation appear on my traffic record?
If you are convicted of a traffic violation, the court is required to inform the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will put the conviction on your driving record. If you live outside of Oregon, the Oregon DMV will send the information to your home state.
What if I don’t pay the ticket or show up in court?
The court will find you guilty by default and the presumptive fine, plus costs, will be imposed. If you do not pay the fine, the court will have the DMV suspend your driving privileges and may send the account to a collection agency. Additional fees will be imposed.
How do I get legal advice or help with a trial?
The court cannot give legal advice. You may wish to consult your own attorney if you have questions or need legal advice. If you do not have an attorney, contact the Oregon State Bar Referral Service at 1-800-452-7636. If you will be represented by a lawyer at trial, your lawyer must inform the court before the trial.
Can I get a court appointed attorney?
Not for a traffic ticket. Tickets in Justice Court are violations, not crimes. As there is no possible penalty of jail time, you will not get a court appointed lawyer and you are not entitled to a jury trial.
I received a DMV notice stating my license will be suspended. What do I do?
Your license can be suspended for many reasons. Your local DMV is the best place to get information on pending suspensions. If your suspension is due to outstanding fines in this court, you should contact us for your options.
I live in another state. Will anything happen to me if I don’t pay or appear?
Yes. The license suspension is honored by other states and by provinces in Canada. A collection agency will seek to enforce the debt in all states and in Canada.