Demystifying the Santa Clara County Traffic Court

Demystifying the Santa Clara County Traffic Court
Updated April 12, 2015

The purpose of this guide is to give you a general understanding of how traffic cases usually work in Santa Clara County.  This information is not legal advice.  If you want advice on how your case will work or what you should do, contact me (or another qualified criminal defense attorney) and we can discuss the particulars of your case.

This guide does not cover every possibility, nor can I possibly hope to warn you against all the things that can come up or go wrong in a traffic case, so please take this as a roadmap only – use it as a starting point to understand the process, but do not make any assumptions that your case is going to work a certain way.  No two cases are exactly alike, and the people involved may not behave the way you expect.

Additionally, the normal rules may not work the same way for certain people.  If you are a minor (under 18) or a commercial driver (with a commercial driver’s license, or employed as a driver), some things will work differently.  A simple low-level violation might be taken more seriously by the DMV for a commercial driver, or might result in a suspension for a minor.

Finally, traffic court outcomes can have consequences in other areas.  For example, if you were in an accident, regardless of who was at fault, a traffic court conviction might have implications in a lawsuit related to the accident.  Before you make any decisions in the traffic case, you should speak to an attorney about the effect those decisions might have on your law suit.

The average Santa Clara County traffic case can be broken down into six stages.  Click the links below to read about each one:

Important:  All Santa Clara County traffic cases, from every part of the county, are now being heard in the Santa Clara Courthouse at 1095 Homestead Road, in the City of Santa Clara.  The Palo Alto and Morgan Hill Courthouses will no longer hear traffic cases.  If you receive a traffic ticket and the instructions tell you to go to a different courthouse, contact the court right away for instructions.

This change does not apply to criminal cases.  If you have been charged with a DUI or anything else that is being treated as a criminal matter, your case will probably be heard somewhere else.  To find out where you should be, call the court.

Traffic Clerk = 408-556-3000 (option 1, option 5, option 8)

Criminal Clerk = 408-808-6600 (option 4, option 6)


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