Frequently Asked Questions
Will my traffic ticket 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 court may choose to reduce the fine if you have a clean driving record, depending on the circumstances.
Do I have to pay the entire fine now?No. You can sign up for a payment contract. There may be a finance charge for a payment plan. If you do not make your payments according to your plan, the court can ask the DMV to suspend your driving privileges and may 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, online credit or debit card, or a payment plan. Your payment plan must be arranged with the court.
What happens at trial?The deputy sheriff 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 deputy testifies first and tells the judge the circumstances involved in the alleged violation. You may then ask the deputy questions about that testimony. If the deputy 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. You have a constitutional right not to testify. If you testify, the deputy and the judge may ask you questions. At the end of the trial, the judge decides what the facts are and applies the law to the facts. 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.
Is there another option besides a trial in the courtroom?You may have a “trial by affidavit” where you submit written sworn testimony under oath to the judge. The testimony must be in the form of an affidavit and your signature must be notarized. ORS 153.080. The deputy sheriff also submits an affidavit. A witness can also submit an affidavit. The judge reads all affidavits and makes a decision. To request a trial by affidavit, enter a not guilty plea and ask for a trial by affidavit. In this process, you give up your right to ask the deputy questions.
Can I change my court date?You may change your court date only one time, within 7 days after you receive your trial notice.
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 that 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. You will not get your license released until the fine amounts are paid in full and you pay a reinstatement fee to the DMV.
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.
Can I get a court appointed lawyer?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 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.
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.