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Civil and Traffic

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Upon Receiving Your Civil or Traffic Ticket (Complaint):

The civil complaint you received includes a Court date and time. You must decide how you want to plea to the violation(s) you have been cited for by the time of your Court date. If you received a civil traffic ticket, options 1 through 3 are available to you for addressing the complaint. For traffic violations involving vehicle registration, insurance, child passenger restraints, and red light violations click here for additional information.   If you were cited with a civil ticket such as: neighbor enhancement, smoking ordinance violation, noise or other city code violation, options 2 and 3 below are available to you for addressing the complaint.

Option #1:

Defensive Driving Program

  • By attending a Defensive Driving class you will receive a dismissal for one "moving" violation. However, not all violations are eligible for this program. See the Fine Payment and Sanction Schedule Webpage for eligibility and registration information.  You are not eligible if you have attended a Defensive Driving Program in Arizona within the last 12 months. If you have been cited for more than one violation on your complaint, only one can be dismissed by attending the Defensive Driving Program.
  • If you attend a Defensive Driving Program, you waive your right to a hearing on that violation.
  • Upon successful completion of the Defensive Driving Program, that violation will be dismissed.
  • To enroll in the Defensive Driving Program, log on to or call 1-888-334-5565.

Option #2:

Plea of Responsible (Guilty)

  • This plea means that you agree you committed the violation stated on the complaint. (The word "Responsible" is used with civil violations while the word "Guilty" is used with criminal violations.)
  • Pay the amount of the sanction/fine by phone (480) 350-8800, online, mail or in person on or before your Court date. See the Fine Payment and Sanction Schedule Webpage for eligibility and registration information.

Option #3:

Plea of Not Responsible (Not Guilty)

This plea means that you are denying that you committed the violation. If you received a complaint with more than one violation, you will need to enter a plea for each violation. You are not required to enter the same plea for all violations.  See Request a Trial/Hearing by Mail PDF to request a hearing.

Appear in Court on or before your assigned date to have your complaint set for a hearing.

  • If you request a hearing, it will be scheduled approximately four weeks from the date your request was received.  See the Civil Hearing Information PDF.
  • You may be represented by an attorney or you may present your own case at your hearing. If you decide to have an attorney represent you, he/she must notify the Court in writing at least 10 days prior to your hearing. You cannot be represented by someone who is not an attorney.
  • A hearing is similar to a trial, but there will be no prosecutor present to represent the State. The State's witnesses will testify first. After each witness has testified, you will have an opportunity to ask the witness questions. After the State's witnesses have testified, you may present your case. You may call other witnesses who know something about the incident to testify for you. You may testify on your own behalf. In addition, you may present other evidence such as documents, photographs, etc. The Judicial Officer may also question you, the police officer, and other witnesses, to find out what happened. The burden of proof required for a Judicial Officer to make a finding of responsible is preponderance of the evidence. The Judicial Officer will listen to the facts presented at your hearing and decide whether it is more probable or not that you committed the civil violation alleged on your complaint.
  • If you are found "responsible", the Judicial Officer will indicate what your penalty will be. This penalty may be different from the amount listed on the fine schedule given to you by the Police Officer. If the Judicial Officer's sentence includes a fine, payment in full is expected on the day of sentencing. Payment may be made by cash, check, money order, or credit/debit card.

If you fail to appear on your assigned Court date, or fail to comply with the Judicial Officer's sentencing requirements, a default judgment of responsible will be imposed. For civil traffic violations, the Court will notify the Motor Vehicle Department that you are in default. They will suspend your driver's license and/or your privilege to drive. If your driver's license or privilege to drive is suspended as the result of a default judgment, you will be required to pay the fine, a default fee, a time payment fee and additional fees to the Motor Vehicle Department in order to have your driver's license or privilege to drive reinstated. If you drive while your license or privilege to drive is suspended, you will be subject to criminal penalties and additional sanctions.

In addition, for all civil violations for which a default judgment has been imposed, the Court will notify a collection agency of any outstanding and delinquent balances, notify the Arizona Department of Revenue to attach your tax refunds, and take any other legally appropriate collection action against you, your income, or your property. If the Court refers your account to a collection agency or the Arizona Department of Revenue, additional collection fees will be added to your account balance.

Your Right To Appeal

You have the right to appeal a final decision of this Court by filing a Notice of Appeal within fourteen (14) calendar days of the judgment of responsible. You are not required to pay the fine or post the bond to exercise your right to appeal. However, if you choose not to pay the fine or post the bond on the day the final judgment is entered or make arrangements to pay with the Court, the Court will enter a default judgment against you and additional fees will be assessed.

An appeal is a legal process in which a higher court (Maricopa County Superior Court) reviews the decision of a lower court (Tempe Municipal Court) based on the audio record of your hearing. An appeal is not a retrial of your case and you cannot present new evidence or testimony. You are responsible for all appeal charges/fees.

For more information, see Civil and Traffic Appeals PDF.


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