There was an article about this on how to beat a ticket on Edmunds: http://www.edmunds.com/ownership/dri...3/article.html
It basically says there is no reason not to go to court, because you can always change your mind and choose traffic school. Here is an excerpt:
“However, I still had one ace in the hole. If the ticketing officer did show up, and my defense was falling on deaf ears, I could quote California Vehicle Code 41501 allowing me to attend traffic school. But — and this was important — I should make a photocopy of the law because some judges weren't familiar with it.
"If it looks like you're going to lose, say, 'Your honor, I see that you're very busy here. I will cite CVC 41501 and take traffic school,'" Meyer told me.”