Traffic court is a general term for the specialized court system in which traffic tickets or citations—and tickets or citations for nonmoving violations such as parking and fix-it tickets—are prosecuted by local governments (city, town, village) and may be determined by a judge or jury.
Traffic court may also be known as municipal court. Many traffic courts provide helpful information on their websites but a person who has received a traffic ticket may often be well served to consult with a lawyer who specializes in traffic tickets to determine the best course of action.
Trial by Written Declaration
In some states a person who has received a traffic ticket or citation may request a trial by written declaration. In a trial by written declaration the person who received the ticket or citation and is charged with an infraction or offense (known as the defendant or the accused) may submit a written statement or declaration to the court and is not required to appear in court.
The police officer who issued the ticket or citation will also submit a written declaration to the court testifying to the circumstances under which the officer issued the ticket or citation to the defendant. The court (the judge) will consider these competing written declarations and any evidence properly submitted to the court to determine whether the defendant is guilty of the infraction or offense.
Laws and court procedures vary from state to state and in some states that allow trial by written declaration the defendant may be allowed to request an in-person hearing if they are not satisfied with the judge’s decision in the trial by written declaration. This request for a new trial may be referred to as a trial de novo (pronounced duh-No-Vo).
Laws and court procedures are continually evolving and may change at any time so be sure to confirm the status of the law and available procedures in your state. States in which trial by written declaration may be permitted include: