How Do California VC 40509.5 Holds with Drivers License Suspensions Work?

California Vehicle Code section 40509.5 has probably caused more Californians sudden anxiety attacks and cold sweat nightmares than any terrorist attack or environmental disaster.

Why? How you ask? California Vehicle Code Section 40509.5 is the law that allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend a persons drivers license if they miss a court date or fail to pay a fine on time. And when a person loses their drivers license, regardless of their occupation, often their livelihood and standard of living for them individually and for their family is in danger.

If you are one of the millions (yes, MiLLions) of people with a suspended drivers license due to a Vehicle code section 40509.5 hold, You need to know how it works. And here it is – section 40509.5 holds work like this:

if a person misses a court date or fails to pay a fine on time, the court notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles (as prescribed by section 40509.5). Once DMV receives the 40509.5 notice, they begin the suspension process.

The Department of Motor Vehicles usually sends a 30 day suspension notice to the driver at their address as listed in the DMVs records. The law requires DMV to send the notice to the address on file, and requires all drivers to maintain a current address with the DMV. Failure to keep DMV notified of your current address is a misdemeanor crime. (Change Your Address with DMV now)

The Department of Motor Vehicles 40509.5 suspension notice usually states that the drivers license will be suspended effective in 30 days, and the basis for the suspension. The law assumes that the DMVs address record is correct, and once the notice is sent to the address (usually by certified mail), the clock starts.

Upon the mailing of the notice, the driver has 30 days to correct the problem. in the case of a 40509.5 hold, this means 30 days to talk the court into removing the Vehicle code section 40509.5 hold on a case. Most courts (but not all) will release the hold once a court date is made.

Once the Veh. Code sec. 40509.5 hold is released by the court, the court notifies DMV and the drivers license suspension ends (usually the next day, but it varies from court to court for unknown reasons).

However, the drivers license does not become valid again automatically. In many cases, a driver must pay a re issuance fee to DMV and/or take a new drivers test to completely reinstate a drivers license suspended under Vehicle Code section 40509.5. So I always tell people that once you get a court to release a Vehicle Code 40509.5 hold, you need to go to the DMV office in person to get the drivers license reinstated.

Can an Attorney handle a case with a Vehicle Code 40509.5 hold or once it is in collections? Yes. I have personally done it for more than a hundred people in probably more than a dozen counties. An Attorney can go to court for you, can file a Petition to Vacate Civil Assessment, can appeal errors of law, can file written demand for arraignment and trial, file a motion to dismiss, etc. If you have multiple FTA cases, or problems in multiple counties, Request a Free Attorney Case Review to find out if it makes sense for you to get professional help.


1. Keep your address current with Department of Motor Vehicle (law requires it);

2. If you miss a court date and get a notice from DMV, go to the court the next morning and ask for a court appearance or hire an attorney like me to do the work for you;

2.5 Once in court, specifically ask for the 40509.5 hold to be released.

3. Once the 40509.5 hold is removed by the court, go to the DMV in person to get your license reinstated; and

4. Never, drive without a valid drivers license in your pocket, proof of insurance and valid registration.

Need help with a Complicated Problem? Free Attorney Case Review.

Related Articles:

How to Write a Petition to Vacate Civil Assessment;
How to Deal With a Traffic Ticket Case in Collections;

Related Self Help Forms:

Motion to Release Drivers License Hold;
Petition to Vacate Civil Assessment;
Self Help Forms for CA Failure to Appear Package;

Questions? Leave a Reply.

This entry was posted in Civil Assessments, Courtesy Notices, Going to Court, Suspended Drivers License, Vehicle Code and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How Do California VC 40509.5 Holds with Drivers License Suspensions Work?

  1. Shar says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I dd almost have a mild myocardial infarction when I saw that I had a hold on my license. I googled fta reprocussions and thought for sure I had a warrant. And my mind just begin to run with all of these worst case scenarios. But my big sis sent me this link and my heart begin to beat normally again. Thank u so much for this information. I have a special appreciation for blog writers!

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