Traffic Citation: Rights & Responsibilities

Traffic Citation: Rights & Responsibilities

Do I need to appear in court on the date of my citation?

The date on your citation is the date of your initial appearance. An initial appearance is your opportunity to enter a plea to the citation. You may plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty.

If you do not want to appear in court and do not want to contest the ticket, you may pay your ticket prior to your initial appearance court date.  The amount due is listed on your citation, under “DEPOSIT.”  If you pay the amount due and you do not appear in court, you will be defaulted and found guilty.  The deposited money will be applied to your forfeiture.  For more information on how to pay your fine, refer to “Pay Fees/Fines.”

I wish to contest the citation and plead not guilty. How do I do that?

If you wish to contest the citation, you may enter a “not guilty” plea in writing, by mail, by FAX, or in person.  The pleas must be entered prior to the court date.

Mail the written not guilty plea to: Columbia County Clerk of Courts

                                                            PO Box 587

                                                            Portage WI 53901


                                                            Or Fax to: 608-742-9601

Your written plea of not guilty must include: 

•       Name & Address

•       Phone Number

•       Email Address

•       Citation number & Violation 

•       Court Date & Issuing Agency

This plea must in writing and be received before the court date on your citation. If you enter a not guilty plea, you do not need to come to the initial appearance court date.  The written not guilty plea will be accepted on the initial appearance date.  The case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference with the prosecuting attorney.

You have the right to a jury trial. If you want to preserve this right to a jury trial, you must make a written demand for a jury trial and post a jury fee of $36 within ten (10) days of your initial appearance. Jury fees are not refundable.

What will happen if I appear in court on the date on my citation?

If you wish to appear on your court date, you should check in with the Clerk of Courts office.  The hearing will be held before the Court Commissioner.  The initial appearance is not the trial date. At the hearing, if you plead guilty or no contest, the court will find you guilty and the matter will be resolved at the initial appearance.  If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference at a later date.

What will happen if I do not appear in court?

If you do not pay the deposit amount and you fail to enter a plea in person or in writing, a judgment will be entered against you for the amount of the ticket. From the date of judgment, you will be allowed no more than 60 days to pay.  Failure to pay may result in further court action for collection.

Can I change the court date?

No. This is not a mandatory appearance and you do not need to appear personally to contest the citation.  If you are unable to attend the scheduled court date, you would enter your plea in writing by mail or fax. This must be received BEFORE your court date.