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Traffic Citations: Rights and Responsibilities

A Traffic Citation: Your Rights & Responsibilities

What will happen if I appear in court on the date on my citation?

The date on your citation is the date of your initial appearance. An initial appearance is your opportunity to enter a plea to the charge. You may plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. The initial appearance is not the trial date. If you plead guilty or no contest, the court will find you guilty and the matter will be resolved at the initial appearance. Be prepared to pay the ticket at this time. There is no guarantee that your ticket will be reduced. Your ticket may already be written for the minimum forfeiture and points.

If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a trial at a later date.

Must I appear in court on the date set forth on my citation?

You may avoid appearing in court by sending the bail amount prior to your court date. If bail is posted and you do not appear in court, you will be found guilty, and the bail money posted will be forfeited.

You may also avoid appearing in court if you enter your plea in writing. Mail your plea to: Dodge County Clerk of Court, 210 W Center Street, Juneau WI 53039, or FAX your plea by dialing (920) 386-3587. Include the charge and violation date, the date you were scheduled to appear, the name of the police agency that issued your ticket, the ticket number, your current mailing address and phone number. This plea must be received before the court date on the citation. The not guilty plea will be entered on the initial appearance date on your citation.

If you do not post bail money and you also fail to enter a plea in person or by writing, a judgment will be entered against you for the amount of the ticket. From the date of judgment, you will be allowed 60 days to pay. Failure to pay will result in either a warrant for your arrest or suspension of your license or judgment against your credit record.

Can I change the initial appearance?

Yes, however you will only be given one adjournment to the next scheduled intake date. If you are unable to attend the scheduled court date, you can enter your plea in writing by mail or fax. This must be received BEFORE your court date.

What happens once I plead not guilty?

After you plead not guilty, the case will be scheduled for a trial. You also have the right to a jury trial. If you want to preserve this right to a jury trial, you must make a written demand for a jury trial and post jury fees of $36 within ten (10) days following the date of your initial appearance. Jury fees are not refundable.
I'm worried about the points to be assessed against my driving record. How do I know if I'm in point trouble?

If you are found guilty of a traffic violation, your driving record may be charged with demerit points. The court will not determine the number of points assessed against your record. The court will merely report the conviction to the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Division will assess the number of points against your record, depending upon the charge. The following point schedule lists common traffic violations. Other violations, not listed, may also carry points. If you accumulate 12 points against your driving record within a one-year period by date of violations, your license will be suspended or revoked.

If you have questions about the status of your license you should call the Department of Motor Vehicles - License Division directly at (608) 266-2353.

Speeding Violations

Miles per hour over the legal limit

  10 or less 11 - 19 20 or more
Points 3 4 6

10 or less 11 - 19 20 or more
Points 3 4 6
* Exceeding a 55 or 65 mph speed limit by 25 or more mph will result in a 15-day to one year driver's license suspension.  Once you get your trial notice, the prosecuting attorney will be in contact with you to try and resolve the matter.  If you cannot settle your case, you must appear on the trial date.

Other Violations

Reckless driving or racing 6
Deviating from a traffic lane 4
Driving wrong side of highway or street 4
Failing to yield right of way 4
Failing to yield to emergency vehicle 4
Imprudent driving, too fast for conditions, Failing to have vehicle under control 4
Inattentive driving 4
Passing school bus when red lights flashing 4
Arterial or traffic control violation 3
Driving wrong way on one way street 3

If you have a probationary license, the points double after our first conviction.

How is the dollar amount on my ticket determined?

The dollar amount written on your ticket is actually a combination of a forfeiture and numerous surcharges and fees. The forfeiture for an offense is a relatively small part of the total penalty that you must pay. For example, if you received a speeding citation, the minimum forfeiture for this offense is $30. The base forfeiture ($30) and the fees and surcharges($130.80) total $160.80. This is the amount that the officer is required to write on your ticket, if traveling 1-15 mph above a 55 mph or less legal limit (65 mph limit has a higher minimum). It is the minimum amount that you must pay for a speeding conviction in the above range.

Why do I have to pay all these fees and surcharges?

These fees and surcharges are added to your ticket according to state statute.

State statutes require that the officer and the court include these fees and surcharges on your ticket.

Where do these fees go?

On a typical speeding ticket the minimum ticket amount is broken down as follows:

Forfeiture $30.00
26% Penalty assessment $ 7.80
Court costs   $25.00
Justice information fee $12.00
Jail assessment fee $10.00
Court support fee $68.00
Crime lab drug assessment $8.00
Total $160.80

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