FAQs about Traffic Cases and Other Minor Offense
Other Minor Offenses include Fish & Game and Underage Minor Consuming Alcohol
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A minor offense as an offense defined in Minor Offense Rule 2 and Rule 18 . Most commonly these are:
- a state or municipal motor vehicle or traffic offense,
- a fish and game offense, or
- an underage minor consuming alcohol offense.
If you do not respond within 30 days, you will be sent a warning notice giving you 15 additional days to respond. If you do not respond after those 15 days, the court will enter default judgment against you for:
- A fine in the amount shown on the front or, for mandatory appearance offenses, the maximum fine permitted by law. To find out the maximum fine, (1) contact the clerk of court; or (2) look at the CourtView docket at: https://records.courts.alaska.gov, AND
- $70 in court and collection costs, AND
- Restitution if required by law, AND
- Forfeiture of any seized item listed on the front of this citation, AND
- If your fine is $30 or more, you will also be assessed surcharge(s) required by statute, AND
- If this offense involves a moving motor vehicle, points will be assessed against your driver’s license.
- If this is a commercial fishing offense, points may be assessed against your fishing permit.
Efforts to collect this judgment will include attachment of your Permanent Fund Dividend.
You can ask for more time by filing a Request to Extend Fine Due Date, TR-218 .
You have the following options:
- If your citation is marked Optional Court Appearance, you must do one of the following within 30 days:
- lead "No Contest" and pay the listed fine and surcharge. The citation has instructions and explains what rights you are giving up by doing so. Read about your legal rights and plea options . You may pay the fine as explained on your citation or at Important Information About Tickets.
- File a plea of "Not Guilty" with the court to ask for a trial. Keep the court updated of your address and phone number. Read about your legal rights and plea options
- Ask the court for a hearing date to appear in court to have a judge explain the charges and your rights to you before you enter a plea. (This is NOT a trial.)
- If your citation is marked Correctable, you must do one of the following within 30 days:
- Provide proof of compliance to a law enforcement agency and your citation will be dismissed.
- Respond to the citation as explained in #1 above.
- If your citation is marked Mandatory Court Appearance, you must do one of the following:
- Appear in court on the date and time listed on the citation.
- File a plea of not guilty before the court date.
Before your trial date, you can enter a "No Contest" plea and file a request to extend the fine due date to pay the ticket by filing a Request to Extend Fine Due Date, TR-218 .
No. There is no fee to fight a minor offense case in court.
- If you live far from the courthouse or have a good reason that you can't come to court in person, you can file a Request to Participate by Telephone, TR-525 . It is best to arrange your telephonic appearance well in advance of the scheduled court date. To appear telephonically you will call the number provided for the local court, at or before the scheduled time. Be aware that you may be calling into a conference line along with other people. Please be in a quiet place and do not speak unless it is during your case and you are responding to or asking a question, or testifying. If you appear by phone but want to present physical evidence (documents, photos, etc.), mail your evidence to court several days before the trial. Make sure to include your case number on any evidence that you mail in so the clerk is able to put it in your file for the trial. Find the court's address.
- You can request a new date by filing Defendant's Request to Reschedule Hearing, TR-200 . Do this at least 1 week in advance. You will probably have to waive your right to a speedy trial, that means you may not have your trial within 120 days from the date you initially requested a trial. If you have an unusual or restrictive schedule, it helps to include times when you will be available for the new trial date. In an emergency, call the court and you may still get a continuance.
For any citation that is marked "correctable", bring the proof of the correction (documents and/or the vehicle itself) to the agency listed on the citation (either the Police Department or Alaska State Troopers) within 30 days.
For "No Proof of Insurance" or "Failure to Carry or Exhibit License" violations ONLY, you can show proof of correction to the nearest court clerk within 30 days. The court clerk will only dismiss the citation if you show proof that you had insurance or a valid license in effect at the time of the stop. The clerk will not dismiss the citation if you show proof that you got insurance after the police stopped you.
No, you cannot have the citation dismissed by completing a defensive driving course. You can check with the DMV to see if taking a defensive driving course might help to reduce the number of points assigned to your driver's license.
In some locations, you can talk to the prosecutor ahead of time to try to reach a deal. You must do this before trial. In most places the police officer will not negotiate but in a few locations, the officer may negotiate a deal right before the trial. The court does not negotiate deals for you.
You have a right to make the police officer prove the case at trial. You are presumed innocent and don't have to present any evidence yourself, although you can if you want to. Sometimes, the police officer will not have enough evidence to convince the court, or the court will allow the officer to amend the citation in certain situations, even if you say nothing. If the officer does not show up at the trial, the case will be dismissed.
Cases that list a specific fine amount
- Depending on the offense, there may be a statute or city ordinance that prohibits a judicial officer from reducing the fine amount so you will have to pay the set fine. You can ask either the prosecutor or the judicial officer if your municipality prohibits the judge from reducing the fine. If the fine cannot be reduced, the court will not order probation or community work service either.
- The court DOES have authority to set the date that you must pay the fine if you need more time to pay.
Cases that do NOT list a specific fine amount
- In cases that do NOT list a fine amount on the citation, the court has the authority to impose a fine for any amount less or equal to the maximum penalty.
No. The law requires DMV automatically to apply the points, and the court has no authority to adjust them. Read more about driver's license points and how to reduce the number of points on your license.
No. For the most part, slippery roads are not a defense to traffic citations. The law expects drivers to keep their vehicles under control at all times. Most traffic infractions are held to a "strict liability" standard, which means you are responsible regardless of whether you meant to do it.
Yes, but their testimony must be relevant and satisfy the rules of evidence. The court is only interested in what happened on that day, not your character or how you normally drive (the court does not look at your record, good or bad). Also, a witness can only testify about what the witness saw first-hand, not what somebody else said happened. The police officer must follow these rules too.
If your witness will not voluntarily appear for trial, you can ask the court clerk to issue a subpoena requiring the witness to appear. However, you must arrange to have the subpoena served on your witness by another person over the age of 18 years, a civil process server, or a police officer. You are not allowed to serve the subpoena yourself.
Showing up with an affidavit or a written statement from the witness is not a substitute for the witness testifying in court. In other words, the witness must testify in person or by phone.
Yes. But this means asking questions, not arguing with the officer. If you don't want to ask questions, that's fine as it is not required. You would cross-examine if you think your questions will cause the officer to provide answers that will help you. You get your turn to tell your side of the story AFTER the officer gives his or her own statement.
Yes. This is called discovery and you have a right to review anything the officer will show or use at trial, including the police report. You must request this information from the law enforcement agency that wrote the citation before the trial. You may have to pay a small fee for paper copies or a DVD.
No. You have the right to hire a lawyer to represent you, but no right to a free lawyer.
You may ask the court to lower the fine amount and do:
- community work service, or
- a defensive driving course.
You can file:
- Request for Credit to Reduce Fine Payment Amount, TR-405
If the court grants your request, it will state:
- the amount it will take off of your fine , and
- the date you need to finish the community work service or the defensive driving course.
You will have to give the court written proof that you finished the community work service or defensive driving course.
If you do not provide written proof by the deadline, the fine and a surcharge (more money) will be due. If you do not pay, the costs may go to a collection agency and it may take your PFD, plus $35.
In addition to the fine and surcharges you owe, you will be assessed $35/case in collection costs if you fail to pay the fine by the date the court ordered. Efforts to collect this judgment will include attachment of your Permanent Fund Dividend. You can ask for more time by filing a Request to Extend Fine Due Date, TR-218 .
No, the court sets multiple cases on the calendar for the same time blocks. You may have to wait until your case is called.
No, the court will provide a language interpreter for you. It is helpful if you tell the court clerk before the trial that you will need an interpreter and what language you speak.
You must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian at any court appearance until your reach the age of 18.
- The police officer does NOT have a legal duty to show you the radar/laser reading at the time he or she writes the ticket.
- The court may dismiss your case if the police officer does not show up for the trial, however, in Alaska, most officers do show up.
- Not all traffic violations are captured on video. The police are not required to present video evidence.
Yes. You have the right to appeal to the Superior Court, but there may be additional fees. You will also have to file a brief, which is a document that explains what errors you believe the trial court made in your case. To be successful, you must show that the court made a mistake about the law or misunderstood the evidence. The fact that the court didn't believe you is not usually enough to overturn the decision. You have 30 days to start your appeal from the date the court found you guilty. Read more about filing an appeal to Superior Court .
If the default judgment was within the last 2 years, you can ask the court to "set it aside", which means to undo the judgment by filing a Motion to Vacate (Cancel) Default Judgment, TR-420 .
There are two types of requests:
- You did not get "proper notice" (for example, the officer did not give you a copy of the citation or the court didn't mail you a notice about your court date). This does NOT apply if you didn't read the citation or you didn't give the court a good address
- If you did get proper notice, you can still make the request, but you must include information on BOTH
- a good reason why you didn't respond or show up to court AND
- a "meritorious defense": information that, if the court finds it to be true, would win your case at trial.
Make sure to fill out the "Certificate of Mailing" section below the signature area showing the date that you provided a copy of the Motion to the agency that wrote the citation (or to the city/borough prosecutor’s office if one is involved) by checking the correct box, and signing it.