Trial By Declaration: Fight A Traffic Ticket Without Going To Court

The traffic ticket industry relies on people not having enough time to fight their tickets. Going to court, often multiple times, can be a burden on even the most motivated ticket fighters.

Because of the amount of time a traffic ticket case requires, we’re often asked if there is any way to fight a traffic ticket without the hassle of driving to the courthouse. The good news is that in certain states, through something called “trial by declaration” or “trial by affidavit,” it’s possible. The bad news is that those states are in the minority.

Trial by declaration allows a defendant to state their case in writing, send it to the judge, and have the judge make a decision based on the facts presented in the letter.

Although this may sound appealing, there are few things to consider before fighting a traffic ticket in this way:

  1. When you fight your traffic ticket using trial by declaration, you give up the right to directly ask the officer questions.
  2. Any chance of dismissal due to the absence of the ticketing officer disappears.
  3. Because you’re not there in person it becomes much easier for the judge to find you guilty — all it takes is a rubber stamp.
  4. In some states you give up your right to a regular trial when opting for trial by declaration.
  5. As mentioned previously, it’s not available in the vast majority of states.

States where trial by declaration is not allowed include:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

However, these nine states do allow trial by declaration to some degree:

1) California
Here is the California Law (Vehicle Code Section 40902) that allows trial by declaration:

40902. (a) (1) The court , pursuant to this section, shall, by rule, provide that the defendant may elect to have a trial by written declaration upon any alleged infraction, as charged by the citing officer, involving a violation of this code or any local ordinance adopted pursuant to this code, other than an infraction cited pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 23152) of Chapter 12 of Division 11.

(2) The Judicial Council may adopt rules and forms governing trials by declaration in accordance with this section. Any rule or form adopted by the Judicial Council pursuant to this paragraph shall supersede any local rule of a court adopted pursuant to paragraph (1).

(b) If the defendant elects to have a trial by written declaration, the defendant shall, at the time of submitting that declaration, submit bail in the amount established in the uniform traffic penalty schedule pursuant to Section 40310. If the defendant is found not guilty or if the charges are otherwise dismissed, the amount of the bail shall be promptly refunded to the defendant.

(c) Notwithstanding Division 10 (commencing with Section 1200) of the Evidence Code, the rules governing trials by written declaration may provide for testimony and other relevant evidence to be introduced in the form of a notice to appear issued pursuant to Section 40500, a business record or receipt, a sworn declaration of the arresting officer, or a written statement or letter signed by the defendant.

(d) If the defendant is dissatisfied with a decision of the court in a proceeding pursuant to this section, the defendant shall be granted a trial de novo.

As the law states, defendants are required to prepay their ticket (which acts as bail) and are refunded their money if found not guilty. Also, it’s important to note that if a defendant is found guilty they can request a “trial de novo” or new trial. This wipes the slate clean and allows the defendant a second chance to prove his or her case, this time in court.

2) Florida
In Florida, in order to bypass a court appearance you must file an “Affidavit of Defense”. Here is an excerpt from the Florida Rules of Traffic Court:


(a) Appearance in Court. Any defendant charged with an infraction may, in lieu of a personal appearance at trial, file an affidavit of defense or an admission that the infraction was committed as provided in this rule.

(b) Posting of Bond. The trial court may require a bond to be posted before the court will accept an affidavit in lieu of appearance at trial. The defendant shall be given reasonable notice if required to post a bond.

(c) Attorney Representation. If a defendant is represented by an attorney in an infraction case, said attorney may represent the defendant in the absence of the defendant at a hearing or trial without the defendant being required to file an affidavit of defense. The attorney shall file a written notice of appearance. The attorney may enter any plea, proceed to trial, present evidence other than the defendant’s statements, and examine and cross examine witnesses without the defendant being required to file an affidavit of defense. Nonetheless, a defendant represented by an attorney may file an affidavit of defense. If a represented defendant files such an affidavit, the affidavit must be signed and properly notarized, subjecting the affiant to perjury prosecution for false statements.

A sample Affidavit of Defense can be found here:
Florida Rules of Traffic Court 2008 Edition (PDF, pgs 15,16)

3) Hawaii
Here is the law allowing trial by declaration in Hawaii:

§291D-6 Answer required.

(a) A person who receives a notice of traffic infraction shall answer the notice within twenty-one days of the date of issuance of the notice. There shall be included with the notice of traffic infraction a preaddressed envelope directed to the traffic violations bureau of the applicable district court.

(b) Provided that the notice of traffic infraction does not require an appearance in person at [a] hearing as set forth in section [291D-5(d)(10)], in answering a notice of traffic infraction, a person shall have the following options:

(1) Admit the commission of the infraction in one of the following ways:

(A) By mail or in person, by completing the appropriate portion of the notice of traffic infraction or preaddressed envelope and submitting it to the authority specified on the notice together with payment of the total amount stated on the notice of traffic infraction. Payment by mail shall be in the form of a check, money order, or by an approved credit or debit card. Payment in person shall be in the form of United States currency, check, money order, or by an approved credit or debit card; or

(B) Via the Internet or by telephone, by submitting payment of the total amount stated on the notice of traffic infraction. Payment via the Internet or by telephone shall be by an approved credit or debit card;

(2) Deny the commission of the infraction and request a hearing to contest the infraction by completing the appropriate portion of the notice of traffic infraction or preaddressed envelope and submitting it, either by mail or in person, to the authority specified on the notice. In lieu of appearing in person at a hearing, the person may submit a written statement of grounds on which the person contests the notice of traffic infraction, which shall be considered by the court as a statement given in court pursuant to section 291D-8(a); or

(3) Admit the commission of the infraction and request a hearing to explain circumstances mitigating the infraction by completing the appropriate portion of the notice of traffic infraction or preaddressed envelope and submitting it, either by mail or in person, to the authority specified on the notice. In lieu of appearing in person at a hearing, the person may submit a written explanation of the mitigating circumstances, which shall be considered by the court as a statement given in court pursuant to section 291D-8(b).

Section (2) has the specific phrasing which allows the defendant to avoid going to court for his or her ticket.

4) Indiana
In Indiana, in order to bypass a court appearance you must opt for a “Trial by Affidavit.” Contact the court for the rules and regulations involved.

5) Louisiana
Contact the court for the rules and regulations involved.

6) Nebraska
Contact the court for the rules and regulations involved.

7) Ohio
Trial by declaration is available only at the discretion of each court. Contact the court to find out if it’s available where you received your ticket.

8) Oregon
Here is the law (ORS 153.08) that allows trial by affidavit in Oregon:

153.080 Testimony by affidavit. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court may admit as evidence in any trial in a violation proceeding the affidavit of a witness in lieu of taking the testimony of the witness orally and in court. The authority granted under this section is subject to all of the following:

(1) Testimony may not be presented by affidavit under the provisions of this section unless the court has adopted rules authorizing the use of affidavits and providing procedures for the introduction and use of the testimony.

(2) The court shall allow testimony by affidavit under this section only upon receiving a signed statement from the defendant waiving the right to have the testimony presented orally in court.

(3) Testimony by affidavit under this section is not subject to objection as hearsay.

(4) A statement signed by the defendant under subsection (2) of this section does not constitute a waiver of trial unless the affidavit specifically so provides.

(5) Nothing in this section requires that the defendant or any other witness waive the right to appear if other testimony is introduced by affidavit as provided in this section.

As stated in the law, if requesting a trial by affidavit, the court must receive a signed statement from the defendant waiving the right to have the testimony presented orally in court.

9) Wyoming
Trial by declaration is available only in certain courts. To find out if trial by declaration is available, contact the court you’re scheduled to appear in.

If you’ve had any experiences with trial by declaration, good or bad, tell your story in the comments.

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32 Responses to “Trial By Declaration: Fight A Traffic Ticket Without Going To Court”

  1. paula martin says:

    A form and a sheet of instructions can be found for CA.
    by typing in
    Trial by Declaration on Google.
    and clicking on
    the website with the same title.
    1. Form TR-200, INSTRUCTIONS TO DEFENDANT: (Trial by Written Declaration).
    3.These forms are available with suggetions from the website
    Help! I Got A Ticket!
    4. These forms can also be obtained from a court clerk.
    5. Request for a new trial must be submitted within (twenty) 20 days of the judges ruling.(Form-TR-220)
    6. These forms can be copied from the back of the book Fight Your Ticket and Win in CA. by David W. Brown.Suggestions on what to say in a Trial by Declaration are detailed in an example.(Chapter10,pages 9-16)in the edition I have.
    7. These forms are in compliance with the Judicial Council of CA. and can be obtained from their website as well.

  2. Thomas says:

    I recieved a ticket in michigan for running a red light but the officer that says he saw it did not right the ticket, is that legal to right a ticket on hearsay

  3. Jim says:

    We have used the Trial by Written Declaration several times in California, and most of the tickets were dismissed. Similar to the ease of writing the facts and sending in, the officer must respond to that statement of facts in writing, not on a a day off while receiving overtime. My perception is that many officers don't have time (perhaps on their own time) to respond, and the statement goes unrefuted, and is thus dismissed by the judge. They do respond sometimes though, since my son had one case where they must have responded because a multiple citation was reduced to 1, although not entirely dismissed. The procedure is a no loss option in California. If you go to trial in person, the officer's statements must be given full weight over yours, and the officer is strongly motivated to attend since it is usually done on overtime basis. If you lose the trial by declaration, you can still request traffic school or a trial de novo (ie in person). Overall the process does help move the wheels of justice forward, unclogs the courts, and puts defendants on more of an even standing with the police.

    • deannahart24 says:

      what did you write in statements of facts? a car was coming up very fast behind me, i couldnt get over to the other lane so i sped up so he could get by me, he gave us both speeding tickets. how do i defend myself without saying "i sped up"

  4. Beth says:

    Have citation with 2 offense, one failure to stop and other no proof of insurance available at the time but insured. I want to do trial by declaration but have to pay the full $879 at front. Can I submit the proof of insurance in the mail so they can reimburse me for the $760.

    Please advise what's best, go to court or do TBD.

    Thank you


  5. It seems I attracts traffic tickets and speeding tickets. I even got a traffic ticket with the points and fines doubled, due to construction zone. It was 3 am and no workers were present. I was wondering how often "Trial By Declaration" was effective??

  6. John says:

    I'm in CA and lost my trial by written declaration. How can I request traffic school now?

    • deannahart24 says:

      i think you might lose your right to traffic school because you tried to fight it. not sure tho. i know you can go to trial again in person. try that, but switch your court dates a couple of times then maybe you will have a better chance of the officer not showin up

  7. paula martin says:

    To Beth

    Your insurance agent needs to fill out a form that certifies that you had insurance on the day in question with a copy to submit to the court.

    There is a $10.00 fee to the court. Because a mandatory court appearance on your ticket isn't checked if you plan to file a trial by declaration ( I assume) proof of insurance and a $10.00 fee should take care of this.

    Help! I Got A Ticket! has easy to read instructions and the book Fight Your Ticket and Win in CA. by AAL David W. Brown (available at a local library?)gives pointers.

    Let us know how this goes,

  8. Achara says:


    Please help. This happened in Broward County (South Florida). On Monday 25, 2008 at 7:30 am I received a traffic ticket for making a left turn during school hours.It was early in the morning and I my mind was not in the right place. I approach the stop sigh and came to a complete stop. Then I made a left turn and that's when the officer pulled me over. I did not realize what I did wrong until after he pulled me over.

    I drove off and read the ticket traffic citation paper and where it said "In the court designated below the undersigned certifies that he/she has just and reasonable grounds to believe and does that on: Sunday,8/24/2008 7:51 pm

    It did not happened on a Sunday. This incidence happened on a Monday morning.

    The form said I have three options:

    1. Pay the fine

    2. Driving school withing 30 days of reveiving citation

    3. Plead not guilty within 30 days

    I choose the third option.

    and it saids to do these steps:

    -Complete form on reverse side under Option3

    -You will receive notice of a court date in the mail.

    -Appear for Pre_Trial Conference, no wiitnesses or office will be present.

    -Maintain Plea

    _You will receive a notice of court date in the mail

    -Case scheduled for trial at a later date, witnesses & officer present


    1. What are my chances of getting this thing dismiss? I took a couple photos of the sighs.

    2. Where can I get an affidavit of defense?

  9. […] 4) Indiana In Indiana, in order to bypass a court appearance you must opt for a “Trial by Affidavit.” Contact the court for the rules and regulations involved. Trial By Declaration: Fight A Traffic Ticket Without Going To Court […]

  10. Kathy says:


    I got a ticket that said failure to yield on red. I was driving only 10 miles on the 35 miles zone. Have not gotten any ticket for the last 10 years. Always careful with my driving. I saw, the red light ahead of me while driving very slow, no traffic at all. At the traffic light intersection, with slow speed, I stopped and looked on the left before making the right turn. I saw the police on motocycle flashing his light for me to pull over and he issued me a ticket. How do I defend myself on trial of declaration? Please help. Thanks.

    • dianna says:

      the same thing haven't to me. iwas going 15 mph in a 30 mile at 10 pm no traffic . i just passed the line and it was yellow , but turned red in middle . it was aback street a few blocks from myhouse. i'm 55 yr old and never had a wreck and had 1 ticket on a car i was buying and test driving and I didn't know the headlights came on as soon as you drop emer. brake. I got a 50.00 fine. this one is my court date is on aug 5, 2009. I alway went to traffic school before the hearing hoping this will haelp. I passed it. what do you think? dianna

  11. Chelsea says:

    I was in San Jose very late and am not familiar with the area(was there visiting a freind)and took a right on a red stop light, but failed to see the no right on red sign. I have the trail by written declaration papers, but am not sure what i should say on them. all i know is i can't afford this ticket!! PLEASE HELP?

  12. Justin says:

    I recently received a photo traffic violation and I want to know if court will dismiss my case since I was under the condition distracted by the fire trucks on the other side. At the beginning all the cars stop on the road then started to move again after the fire trucks passed us on the other side. When I started to move the car around 19mph and i realized i was in the intersection with the red light. I didn't even noticed there was a traffic light because I was distract by the fire truck plus the cars in front of us were started to moving forward. Please help thank you.

  13. margie says:

    I’m in CA and lost my trial by written declaration. How can I request traffic school now?

    • Ryan says:

      to request traffic school in CA after losing your trial by declaration, you have to write a short letter addressed to "your honor". Mail it to the court, then they will take two weeks to make a decision. In the letter just state that you would like to request trafffic school, why, maybe you dont feel your guilty but cost vs. traffic school ect…

  14. Oscar says:

    Yup, I beat 6 CA tickets with the use Trial By Written Declaration.
    Refer to:

  15. Oscar says:

    If you lose at Trial By Written Declaration, you should request for Trial de Novo, and fight at an in-person court trial. You must request that within 20 days of the receival of the Notice Of Decision.
    Please refer to

  16. manjeet says:

    I was going to home after finishing job at 11 p.m.. it was Friday night and i was driving on single lane road. there were two cars before me at the speed of 25mph. i started to overtake from right side. it was just 200 feets before stop sign. i carefully overtook two cars and gave indicator to first car and came in position to go straight. now i was just 50 feets away from stop sign. i stopped watch both side and than went straight. when my car crossed the intersection police pulled me over and gave me ticket for overtaking from right side. the maximum speed on that road is 35 mph, on ticket cop wrote the speed on my car 35mph. now help to to make over.
    some guys suggest me following to say to judge –
    the car front of me stopped suddenly, so it appeared me hard to stop. i carefully pulled my car to right side. now the both cars were behind me, and the stopped sign was not so far from me. so i did accelerate car's speed ( but it was still under maximum speed of 35, as you can see on ticket mentioned by cop). if i went straight from right turn line it might me the cause of accident, more over i pulled my car to right side to saved the accident. other wise all three cars could involved in accident. now stop sign was just 100 feets away from me, so i gave indicator to car and came in lane to go straight. it was police car. after reaching at stop sign i stopped there, watch carefully both sides, than went straight. after crossing road police gave me lights. i was still following rules and watched to my right shoulder than pulled my car to right side with indicator. i followed traffic rules everywhere and drove carefully and saved couple of accidents. but the result was bad for me.

  17. Oscar says:


    Your defense statement from that "some guy" is fine, although it is still very hard to argument.
    You have to remember that you are trying to avoid an accident so that you pulled to the right.
    And, unfortunately, it appears to the Officer that you were PASSING from the right.

    Good Luck!

    Please refer to

  18. Bill says:

    Exiting Carpool lane:
    CHP Officer did not understand the law about the inner white line in the Carpool lane. His comment was that of "The white line is old and was not removed when the carpool lane was added. A white line marked the shoulder from the past and the line was not removed when repainted for the carpool lane".
    N/B I 405 N/of Del Amo carpool lane is not clearly marked and many points are missing making the motorist believe it is okay to exit Broken Lines.

  19. […] This sh*t is like gold if you live in any of the nine states that do this (thank me later): trial by declaration: fight a traffic ticket without going to court […]

  20. Susann Buzoff says:

    I received a ticket for supposedly going 53 mph in a 35 mph zone. About two weeks later I was caught in an intersection by a red-light camera (extenuating circumstances . . . driver in front of me was not paying attention and did not move thru intersection when he should have.) Now I had two tickets which totaled close to $800. I write far better than I speak, so I decided to file a trial by declaration (I live in California). Almost unbelievably, I won both cases and had my bail money returned promptly!!

    • dorothy Evans says:

      The same thing happened to me last week .I don't know what to write . What did you say in your declaration?

    • deannahart24 says:

      What did you say in the declaration if you can't admit you were speeding? I knew I was speeding, but I dont think I was going as fast as he said. A car was going very fast behind me, I couldnt get over, so I sped up so he could get around me. Then we both got pulled over. I'm not sure how to defend myself without saying I sped up. And how do I request to have trail by declaration, do I have to wait for citation to come in the mail? I printed the TR-205 off the internet but I think i have request it before I can send in my written declaration right? If you could give me advice that would be SO helpful :)

  21. Vakerie says:

    I'm in PA. I receieved a citation today for expired registraion (it expired 5/30 %nd today is 6/26). I explained to officer I've been calling Dpt. of Motor Vehicles/PADOT to find out why new resitration sticker hasn't come, with no success. Officer said he called and they said it hadn't gone thru. I said" exactly. I submitted payment weeks ago and never got my new sticker and registration card. I don't know what else I can do. I keep calling, but it's hard to even get thru." He issued a citation for $109.50, and said the plastic cover over my licnense plate is obstruccting the license plate. I told him I recently had it inspected, and they said nothing about it. He looked at my inspection stickers, and insisted the statute says an officer has to be able to see it from a certain distance. I explained that the neighborhood I live in has problems with people cutting off the corner of the plate just to get the stikcer, and I'd purchased the plastic cover in an attempt to deter that type of theft.

    My son and I were in my car, idling in reverse waiting to back out and leave as the officer was going by inside our subsidized complex. After he passed, we went out the exit as we always do. He went out the other exit; a bit down the street. When we went past, he pulled out and followe us. In only a few feet I put my turn signal on to make a left turn. At that point I would've been out of his jurisdiction, as the township line is right at that corner.

    He gave a short blip of his siren, never turned on the light. I thought he might mean it for me, so I turned into an alley and pulled over. The officer pulled in behind me and turned on his lights.

    The tickets says we were stopped IN his township, which is untrue. I feel we were targeted because our subsidized complex has such a bad reuptation. We've lived here 17 years and never had a traffic ticket anywhewere in my life, nor any type of cause for the police to come to our residence. We are good, law abiding citizens; a rare breed in our neighborhood. He didn't even fill in the whole address: just Park Springs Blvd. which is the street in our complex. No city/town, state or zip.

    He DID completely fill in the address of the magisterial court and police station.

    I REALLY need to know if I have a valid 'leg".to stabd on to fight this? Would appreciate a knowledgeable reply. Thanks!

  22. Lisa says:

    I filed a trial by declaration as instructed by David Brown's book but I was still found guilty. I live in CA. I have several questions and I wonder if anyone can help me with it. I've submitted my trial by declaration just few days before the due date. Before that, I went to the clerk at the court to request a copy of the trial by declaration from my officer. The clerk told me that I couldn't have that copy until after the due date. So I suppose I can't see what the officer's written until after the judge has made his decision. In the same way, the officer won't be able to see mine until the judge has made his decision too. I thought it'd be like a double blind thing where I won't know what the officer wrote and the officer won't know what I wrote. Then the judge will decide on both of our statements. But then, in my case, the officer actually read my trial by declaration and responded to it. Is there any law/rule that says the officer can't read mine in advance and just responded to my statement before the judge makes his decision? I just think that it's not fair. Does anyone know anything about it?

  23. Dj says:

    I was riding my little 125cc dirt bike in the ditchs in the country in wyoming, couple of weeks ago. The ticket says i was driving on a road at 6 pm, for a dus. I never seen a cop till 10:36pm that same night for a warrent i had. i went to court on 3 days later and was confused about this ticket. Cuz I called the local p.d. 2 days before this and they say that i can drive a atv or a dirt bike in the ditchs in the country. They are saying they have 3 off duty cops that seen me drive. The week later I was ridin my bike in the ditch out past my house and the cop that picked me up that night stopped me. He just told me that I can't be driving anything anywhere from fence to fence on any county road. He never gave me a ticket or anything. He just took me home. I'm just so lost about how to fight this dus cuz all the cops hate me, and my wanna be public defender thinks i did it. I'm thinkin about doing the trial by declaration. but I'm just afraid that I'll lose this.. Any advice will be greatful

  24. Ken says:

    On Dec. 20, my wife and I were traveling to Colorado and driving through Wyoming. I was behind my wife. A State Trooper pulled in behind my wife and pulled her over. I pulled in BEHIND the trooper to make sure everything was okay. After this trooper gave my wife a warning for impeding traffic, he asked for my license, insurance and proof of insurance. I provided all this for him. I then received a citation for following too close. I WAS NEVER PULLED OVER by the police. My wife was pulled over, not me. Yet I received a citation. IS THIS LEGAL???

  25. mark "the red&a says:

    i live in CA and have been doing a LOT of reading about our trial by declaration TBD here …

    out of the, maybe, 300 people i've read that have won the TBD, *none* have won by argument (meaning their testimony beat that of the officer), *all* were won by default (the cop didn't file).


    because of this, i HIGHLY recommend you submit your TBD (form 205) simply stating "I am not guilty" *and nothing more* in the section asking for what happened. if the cop doesn't respond, you win by default. if the cop does respond, you have 20 days after the court mails the verdict (which will happen almost immediately) to file for a trial de novo — this is a brand new trial that is automatically granted and you cannot be denied.

    making this super-brief TBD declaration will guarantee you do not incriminate yourself, will force law enforcement to cause a dismissal if they do not respond, and takes the absolute minimum of time on your part.

    (note: i am not a lawyer … i'm not submitting this as legal advice, only a possible consideration for you.)

  26. […] Originally Posted by danlnyc sorry to hi-jack but has anybody used "trial by written declaration" and actually won? tips/advice would be greatly appreciated.…oing-to-court/ […]