There are basically three types of tickets one can receive:
1) Notice to Appear
Notice to Appear – Officer Observes the Violation
If you are stopped for speeding or for some kind of moving violation, you should receive a “Notice to Appear.” This kind of ticket was created to speed up and simplify the judicial process from arrest through trial. When the officer turns on the red light to pull you over, he technically places you under arrest, but rather than being placed in jail the officer fills out the ticket that says you agree to appear in court.
By signing the Notice to Appear, you are released from arrest but if you refuse to sign the ticket, the officer is required to take you to jail (VC§40302 (b)). If you signed a notice to appear you have promised to appear at the court specified on the ticket, and failure to do so is a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
Notice to Appear forms vary among police departments. Some forms include space for the number of passengers in the vehicle (in order to preclude your bringing a “witness’ who wasn’t really with you), the color of the vehicle, and the weather, road and traffic conditions when a speed violation is involved. Sometimes the ticket will have a little intersection map for the officer to diagram the way various vehicles were positioned during the violation. Lastly there will be a place where the officer signs “under penalty of perjury” that everything stated in the ticket is true. The officer will only be able to sign this if he or she observed the violation.
Notice to Appear – At Accidents
When an officer is called to the scene of an accident and believes that you committed a violation he or she can issue you a Notice to Appear. Most notices to appear issued in an accident are mailed to the driver following an investigation in which an officer determines the driver committed the violation.
When the notice is mailed to you, you do not promise to appear because you did not sign it, but you cannot be charged with failure to appear if you don’t show up. A warrant for your offense will be then be issued tell ion you to appear on violation (VC §40604).
The Mailed Notice to Appear – Other situations
An officer is able to issue a notice to appear by mail for a violation that an officer did not observe, but thinks you committed based on investigation of a traffic accident. For example let’s say a photograph is taken of a car and driver whenever a car runs a stoplight. The photograph captures the car’s license plate for identification. After a computer check of DMV records, the Notice to Appear is mailed to the owner.
2) Notice to Correct Violation
A person can be cited for an equipment violation, or a minor license or registration violation other than an expired driver’s license or vehicle registration. If so, you may receive a notice to correct violation or a notice to appear with a notation on the back stating that the charge will be dismissed if you submit certified proof that the violation has been corrected. Both tickets have a place for you to sign, promising that you will take care of the problem within a specified time period. If you ignore these tickets, the penalties can be severe.
3) Notice of Parking Violation
A parking ticket is called a Notice of Parking Violation. It is placed on your vehicle when you are not present. There’s no place for you to sign so you can’t be charged with a misdemeanor for ignoring the ticket. However, the DMV may refuse to renew your vehicle registration.