How To Go To Oakland Superior Court

I got a ticket, a “citation” for having an expired car registration in Oakland. That’s handled in the “Superior Court of California, County of Alameda”. Actually my registration wasn’t expired but I didn’t have the new registration in the car at the time. But that’s not the point. The point is, I wasted 1 1/2 hours of my day this morning going to Oakland Superior Court and I’m here to tell you how to make your experience easier.

Attraffic-citation-oakland.png the bottom of my citation, it said that I was supposed to go to court on 1-22-08 at 9am. This is wrong. Here’s how it really works: It takes 4-8 forever(?) weeks from the time the citation is issued until it’s in the computer. Then I’ll be sent a “courtesy notice” by snail mail telling me what I’m supposed to do. Note that my violation was on 11-22-07. Today is 1-24-08… 8 weeks later and my citation still isn’t in the system. I should also note that the phone number the officer wrote isn’t the correct number… but when you call, it tells you what the new number is.

The nice gentleman at the information booth told me to check the status of my citation every 2 weeks at (note: the site actually forwards to this site). Or I can call the Wiley W Manuel Courthouse – Traffic Division at 510-627-4701. But I’ve called that number and sat on the line waiting for someone to answer the phone for 20 minutes in vain. Use the website instead.

Thesuperior-court-alameda.png citation said that I was supposed to show up at 9am. This is wrong. The nice gentleman at the info desk told me that registration for the morning court session opens at 8am. Shortly it will open at 7:30am. But at 7:30am, there is already a long line outside so you’ll do best to show up at the courthouse at 7am or even 6:30am. That way, you’ll be able to register for one of the 120 spots in the 10am morning court session. If you don’t get into the first session, you’ll be registering for the second session which starts at 2pm (IE your entire day wasted). And if there were too many people in front of you, you’ll be told to come back tomorrow, rinse and repeat. Also note that there is no afternoon court session on Thursdays. The nice gentleman at the info desk told me that many people were turned away today (Thursday) because of that.

The address of the Wiley W. Manual Courthouse is 661 Washington, Oakland, CA between 6th and 7th st. When I approached the building, I initially almost walked into the detention center (IE: Jail) in the same structure on 7th St because it looked all governmenty. Don’t make that mistake.


  1. Dan Navas says:

    Lee – I just want to thank you for the suggestions in your article. I used the website to check my Traffic tkt and it is still not in the system (citation on 1/28/08; today 3/11/08). I was to appear in court tomorrow (3/12/08). But if my ticket is not in yet, I suspect I would have wasted my morning as you did.

    One note, you indicate the address is 611 Washington, but the website indicates 661 Washington. I would have to think that yours is the typo.

  2. Lee says:

    Dan, you are very welcome! I’m glad my suffering (well, it wasn’t -that- bad ;-) ) wasn’t in vain. You’re correct about the address, I fixed my post.

    Oh and here I am 4 months after the incident and my day in traffic court still hasn’t come. Feh!

  3. Karen says:

    Hi, I am glad I stumbled over your comments here.
    I just spent about 1.5 hrs on the phone going around and around.
    There is no way around the phone barriers, no person to reach at “O”, it is just impossible. Also, the directions to put the docket number in don’t work. Also, the directions to put the 1st two letters of the last name in don’t work. Why is this? BINGO!! You got it! I finally went online and that was after doing so several times before but I had not yet “gotten it” that the citation and or docket numbers are just not in the computer for WEEKS AND WEEKS on end. So after trying to pay this online several times now (for the same violation expired registr as you mention) – and putting in several credit card no’s, thinking it might be a card, I see that it’s just NOT THERE YET. Thank God I have no intention of doing this now till it’s due that day. And on that day I will finally go in person – IF I AM FORCED TO. Thanks for your info, I will no longer waste time trying to use the “easy, convenient, private” method (I swear it says that on their “Courtesy Notice” and yet— ) and just wait till they meander their way to getting my info entered on the pc. I’ll say, if I was that slow at my work I would not have a job anymore. just saying. Thanks again for your comments, MUCH APPRECIATE THE HEADS UP on this mess of a court.

  4. lee says:

    Glad I could help!

  5. Noel says:

    I just got back from traffic court and this is what I learned:

    Get in line about 6:30. Park in a lot so you don’t have to go in and out. Registration began at 7:45. Remember as you enter the building it’s like going through security at the airport. Registration was fast, but we had to wait until 9:30 to go into the courtroom and then we waited until about 10:10 to begin process. Once the judge begins you cannot leave the room for ANY reason or you have to come back another day.

    Process is fast because all you can do is either ask for a trial, traffic school or community service. The judge did not reduce any fines. Community service is one hour for every $10 of the fine. If you have a fine over $100 you can pay in monthly payments for a $35 fee. Community Service also requires a fee. 1-20 hours is $20. Also, double check the yellow paper they give you reflects what you and the judge decided. I asked for community service, but the clerk failed to notice that. Fortunately, I noticed it went back in and pointed it out to the clerk so changed the form. If I had not noticed it, I probably would have had to begin this ordeal all over on another day.

    The most important thing I learned is NOT TO DO ANYTHING that will get me another ticket as they are soooo expensive.
    Also, the cell phone ticket can be put on your record and make your insurance go up. One guy went through a yellow light and it turned red just before he got to the crosswalk on the otherside–$456 ticket.

    Hope this helps someone in the future.

  6. lee says:

    Noel, thank you very much for telling everyone about your experiences!

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