A plea of not guilty and a request for a court trial may be made by mail. If a plea of not guilty by mail is entered, the right to have a trial within the statutory time limits is waived.
To enter a plea by mail, a written statement, dated and signed, indicating that a plea of not guilty is being entered and a court trial is requested must be submitted with the full amount due listed on the Notice of Bail/courtesy notice. This option is a convenience to you that requires deposit of bail at the time of your request (Vehicle Code sections 40519(a) and 40519(b)). The request must be submitted to the Traffic Division at 500 County Center in Redwood City, CA 94063 at least five days prior to the required appearance or due date.
If you have specific dates of unavailability within a 60-day time period from the date of the written statement, you must include that information so that the court may consider those dates. The court will send a written notice giving the date and time the court trial has been scheduled. All witnesses and documentation to support the case must be available on the day of trial. The officer who wrote the ticket will be present.
If you are found guilty, the court will apply the bail deposit to the fine. If the total fine is less than the amount you paid, the court will mail a refund for any remaining balance. This may take 8-12 weeks to process. If the total fine is more than the bail deposit, you will be responsible for paying the balance due. However, in most cases, the fine imposed will not exceed the amount of bail you have deposited. If you are unable to pay, you may ask for community service (Penal Code section 1209.5), a payment plan or a reduction based on your inability to pay (Vehicle Code section 42003).
If found not guilty, or if the case is otherwise dismissed, the court will mail a refund for the amount you paid. This may take 8-12 weeks to process. Immediately after the trial, check with the clerk or bailiff to verify your current address.
If it becomes necessary to change your court trial date, you may do so only once. You can send your request to change your trial date by mail or request in person at the traffic clerk's office Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Additionally, your request must be received at least 10 court days prior to your trial date to secure a new date. There will be no exceptions to the minimum 10-day requirement.
Failure to appear at the time of trial is a separate offense and could be added as a charge. If a mandatory appearance for the violation charged was not required, the amount you sent in could be ordered forfeited as a final disposition of the ticket. If a mandatory appearance for the violation was required, an additional violation of failure to appear could be added, a civil assessment added for that failure to appear, a hold placed against your driver's license, and the matter could be referred for civil collection.