When you get cited for a traffic violation, somewhere on the ticket there's usually an "arraignment" date. The arraignment date is basically the first court date. Instead of a specific arraignment date, some jurisdictions just give you a date by which you either need to show up in traffic court or pay the ticket—in other words, it's more like a due date.
The date by which you must pay the fine or appear in court should be printed on your ticket. But if you have any questions about your options for dealing with the ticket or something else isn't clear, contacting the traffic court directly is a good idea. Most courts have a website that provides all the necessary information or you can call the traffic court. Court phone systems can be frustrating, so going to the court in person can be another good option.
Before going any further, it's worth noting that you can usually resolve your ticket without having to go to court by paying the fine online or by mail. When you pay a ticket this way, you're basically admitting the violation and will end up paying the standard fine (also sometimes called the "schedule fine"). A traffic conviction—which results from admitting the violation—might also result in the DMV assessing points to your driving record.
But, assuming you decide to come to court, here are some of the most common options are the arraignment:
Every driver's situation is different. So, which option is best just depends on individual circumstances. For instance, for anyone who's extremely busy, pleading not guilty typically isn't appealing because it means having to come back to court at least one more time. (For drivers in this category who want to fight the ticket, hiring a traffic attorney might be a good idea.) And, although traffic school is normally a good option, drivers who have recently done traffic school normally won't be eligible.
In a few states, you have the option of presenting your defense in writing rather than personally appearing at a trial. Typically, you make your testimony in a "declaration," which is a written statement you type up and sign, swearing you are telling the truth. You might also be able to include witness declaration and other evidence like photographs and diagrams.