How Does California DMV Treat a Failure to Appear on a Traffic Ticket?

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When a person misses a court date for a traffic ticket, it is called a failure to appear. When this happens, the court takes action, and the Department of Motor Vehicles takes action separately.

The traffic court will usually add a new misdemeanor failure to appear charge to the case (California Vehicle Code 40508a) and possibly issue a bench warrant.

The trouble does not stop there. The court will also notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the failure to appear and then the DMV takes independent action against the person’s drivers license. Specifically, DMV then places a hold on the drivers license (40509.5VC hold) which results in a Drivers License Suspension.

A failure to appear conviction from a traffic ticket infraction is not assigned a “Negligent Operator” point count by DMV, unlike a moving violation. However, a failure to appear conviction may be used as evidence of a negligent driver in future DMV Driver Safety hearings against the driver.

The DMV also enters the record of the Drivers License Suspension on the driver history report, and that record of a suspension remains for 10 years.

Legal Effect of a Failure to Appear On A Drivers License Record:

California Vehicle Code section 12808 states:

(a) The department (DMV ) shall, before issuing or renewing any license, check the record of the applicant for conviction of traffic violations, traffic accidents, reports filed pursuant to Section 103900 of the Health and Safety Code, reports filed pursuant to Section 13803, or notices issued pursuant to Section 21061.

(b) The department shall, before issuing or renewing any license, check the record of the applicant for notices of failure to appear in court filed with it and shall withhold or shall not issue a license to any applicant who has violated his or her written promise to appear in court unless the department has received a certificate issued by the magistrate or clerk of the court hearing the case in which the promise was given showing that the case has been adjudicated or unless the applicant’s record is cleared as provided in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 41500) of Division 17. In lieu of the certificate of adjudication, a notice from the court stating that the original records have been lost or destroyed shall permit the department to issue a license.

(c) (1) Any notice received by the department pursuant to Section 40509, 40509.1, or 40509.5, except subdivision (c) of Section 40509.5, that has been on file five years may be removed from the department records and destroyed at the discretion of the department.

(2) Any notice received by the department under subdivision (c) of Section 40509.5 that has been on file 10 years may be removed from the department records and destroyed at the discretion of the department.

Suspension for Failure to Appear. California Vehicle Code 13365:

Vehicle Code section 13365. (a) Upon receipt of notification of a violation of subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 40508 the department shall take the following action:
(1) If the notice is given pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 40509, if the driving record of the person who is the subject of the notice contains one or more prior notifications of a violation issued pursuant to Section 40509 or 40509.5, and if the person’s driving privilege is not currently suspended under this section, the department shall suspend the driving privilege of the person.

(2) If the notice is given pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 40509.5, and if the driving privilege of the person who is the subject of the notice is not currently suspended under this section, the department shall suspend the driving privilege of the person.

(b) A suspension under this section shall not be effective before a date 60 days after the date of receipt, by the department, of the notice given specified in subdivision (a), and the notice of suspension shall not be mailed by the department before a date 30 days after receipt of the notice given specified in subdivision (a).

The suspension shall continue until the suspended person’s driving record does not contain any notification of a violation of subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 40508.

Need more help with a serious traffic ticket problem, Suspended Drivers License, Failure to Appear, or Arrest Warrant?

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About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
This entry was posted in California Legal Help, DMV News, Going to Court, Los Angeles County, Missed Court Dates, Orange County, Riverside County, Vehicle Code and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

96 Responses to How Does California DMV Treat a Failure to Appear on a Traffic Ticket?

  1. Zee says:

    In 2011 I leased a car form the dealership in LA – car had a mechanical problem so they took it back to fix it and gave me a replacement car to drive meanwhile.

    I got pulled over by a cop as the replacement car was not registered! He issued me a ticket which I gave to the dealership to pay as it wasn’t my fault I also signed a POA in favor of the dealership’s attorney to act on my behalf.

    I’m leaving the country for a year and I just found out (online) that I have a failure to appear in court and the fee is more than $1000 so obviously the dealership never paid or took care of anything!

    What are my options?

  2. Jack says:

    I was issued a ticket for talking on a cell phone while driving.

    The police officer that issued the ticket set a court date on the ticket for 5/28/12, or Memorial Day.

    Courts are closed on holidays, such as Memorial Day.

    Before the holiday, I go to the court to tell them there’s an error and I need another court date. They give me a notice of appearance and tell me the date will be re-scheduled, but they are unable to find my citation number to tell me the date, and that I will receive correspondence.

    Months later, I receive a letter that says I have been charged with a Failure to Appear and the court has placed a hold on my DMV driver’s license.

    I go to the court with my Notice of Appearance, and tell them I need the hold lifted from my account, and I need an arraignment date. The clerk tells me that there IS no hold on my account, not with the court or the DMV, and that it never registered with the DMV because someone input the citation number incorrectly.

    He then set an arraignment date for late April.

    The failure to appear includes a charge of $850, which I cannot afford and do not wish to pay, nor do I want a failure to appear on my record with heightened insurance rates for the next 7 years due to someone’s incompetence with data entry. This is not my fault.

    What should I do?

    Thank you!

  3. Andy says:

    My boyfriend just received a letter in the mail regarding a traffic violation that (for some reason we cannot fathom) that’s totaling over $1.1k. He unfortunately had a speeding ticket a month ago that isn’t due until September, and a previous red light violation that’s he’s been paying off on a monthly payment to the court.

    According to the letter, it’s saying he hasn’t paid anything and is now being charged additional fees – and we’re concerned about a potential FTA. We just moved, but updated our address.. however we lived in a bad neighborhood prior in which our mail was constantly being stolen. We did report it, but nothing was done.

    What can he do in this situation? He works three jobs, makes little to no money at them, and cannot afford this fine. What options does he have here, or what could he say at court to either lessen the fine or possibly get community service instead? If you need more information, please let me know!

    • Andy,

      After doing thousands of these comments and answer, I have noticed certain patterns.

      For example, I have noticed people have a super strong desire to tell me how many kids they have – even though it has absolutely no relevance to any topic this publication covers. It happens every day. ….blah blah blah…..and I have 5 kids! “What? Great. Are you still sore?” is what I might think if I were sick of it.

      People also love to tell me about their jobs. How many jobs they have, how much money they make, etc. I dont understand why. I already know that everyone is broke. You dont have to tell me. That’s why this blog is free.

      Another common pattern relates to your comment. Specifically, I have noticed that comments starting out with “my boyfriend” or “my husband” almost always include a claim that the “We” of the person does not understand where the problem came from.

      I suspect “boyfriend” probably knows more about the problem than you suspect.

      But if this happened to me, I would be at the courthouse Monday at 8 am in person to figure out what the puck was going on.

      I would also contact the DMV immediately to verify that they have my current address, and to check the status of my drivers license as of right now.

  4. Annie L says:

    I’ve read through this whole page and did not come across the answer to my question.

    My case: I have 3 cases pending because I was negligent and they’ve all come back as FTA, yes license is now suspended. I called GC services since they are all in collections and setup two different court dates for the three citations/FTA’s. They advised me that I go to the court and obtain DMV abstracts in the meantime since I am now working on clearing up these matters, so that I may still drive legally while waiting for my court dates. They also mentioned there are certain undisclosed qualifications to get these abstracts, I’ve checked on-line for these qualifications but the only thing I could find stated that the court will only issue one abstract, no more. I need 3, and hopefully by this Thursday morning. What can I do? My first court date isn’t until Sept this yr, other two in 3 of 2013. I also wanted to know if I might still have an softening options regarding my record (i.e. community service or traffic school)

    I did read this but did not see anything regarding abstracts (or multiple cases) or that period of time while waiting for court:

    In California, if you fail to appear in court on a traffic ticket, the court will notify the DMV of a failure to appear charge under CA Veh Code 40509.5. Once DMV receives that notification from the court, they will suspend your drivers license UNTIL YOU TAKE CARE OF THE COURT CASE AND GET THE COURT TO NOTIFY DMV THAT THE FTA PROBLEM WAS SOLVED.

    A VC 40509.5 drivers license suspension will never go away on its own.

    • Annie,

      My opinion? They dont know what they are talking about. This is obviously Los Angeles County, right? I will assume it is.

      There is no such thing as an abstract any more. In the old days, it was a piece of paper you took to DMV. No Longer exists. Notification from the court to DMV of a defendant’s personal appearance in court is sent digitally.

      If you have a court problem, talk to the court. To get a Vehicle Code 40509.5 hold released by the court, and DMV Notified, the court clerk has to release the hold. If you have court dates set, you need to ask the court clerk in person to release the VC40509.5 hold based upon your personal appearance and scheduling of arraignment.

      Call DMV driver safety to see if this was done automatically when you set the court dates. It’s possible that it was done and the holds are cleared. But if not – you should go to the court clerks office in person and ask for release of the hold “because I am here and because I set arraignments on the cases.”

      Hopefully you dont have to go to LA Metro Courthouse.

  5. Dwain says:

    Can u still get a abstract if the citation is in collection?

    • DortLaw says:


      Abstracts are no longer used in the traffic court DMV world. They used to be a piece of paper you had to actually take to the DMV to prove your court case is over – or that the failure to appear had been corrected in accordance with Vehicle Code 40509.5. But then somewhere around 2005, the courts and DMV discovered there was a thing called the internet, which had the magic ability to send the same information back and forth using invisible 0s and 1s instead of tree flesh.

      So your questions is a bit strange. An abstract is not what you are looking for if you have a Veh Code 40509.5 hold causing a suspension of your drivers license. What you need is the court clerk to send electronic notice to DMV that you have satisfied the FTA. And yes, that can be done even if there is a private, for profit, collection agency calling you about the case. But every county court deals with the process differently.

      My advice? Go to court in person.

  6. Leah says:

    I have a 40509A hold on my license for an HOV lane violation I got in Los Angeles County 2008. The fine is now almost 1300$. I plan on paying it this week online. Will that lift the hold and will I be able to renew my license (it expires in October 2012)?

    • DortLaw says:


      I got some bad news for you. You dont have a drivers license. Your drivers license is suspended.

      Forget about the “expiration date”. It’s gone. Dead. Suspended animation like those zombie in that morgue sythe show.

      I get this question a lot. Sometimes people get stuck on the idea that their drivers license might expire, and they completely ignore the suspension part of the problem.

      My advice right now? Do Not Drive At all until you contact DMV and talk to a real human to verify the status of your drivers license right now. Just because you have a drivers license card does not mean that card is valid. It’s like an ATM card. The government can turn it off – even while you are waiting in line at the store.

      The best way to check the status of your drivers license is to visit a DMV office in your area in person and get a copy of your driver history report.

      The second best way is to call a DMV driver safety office and talk to a real human and ask them what the status of your drivers license is. Today. Right now. Then when they say they dont do that for people, you have to talk them into answering your question. My favorite DMV red tape avoiding trick? Call one of the DMV Driver Safety Offices or regular offices out in the middle of no where at 3:30 pm.

      The 3rd best way to check the status of your driver license is to get your driver history report form DMV on line at their web site. I’ve never gotten it to work. Maybe you can. It keeps telling me I have to create a new user login. Then when I give it my info, it tells me there is already a user with my cdl and dob, so they cannot create a new user. So I try to get my login info – no such dude, sorry. So I try again – same thing. So I wrote to dmv to tell them about the balckhole they created and I dont think anything ever happened. Or I gave up. I am not sure.

      I would suggest that you contact our local LA Sponsor Attorney Mark Gallagher. He is very good with these cases and may be able to get your drivers license back in a few days, before you have to pay the fine. And maybe he can get your a traffic school referal for the moving violation. How? If you have the right kind of case, Mark knows how to get an arraignment scheduled, trial dates set, and Veh Code 40509.5 holds released based upon a personal appearance in court (by him). He can be contacted at AttorneyGalagher(at) I will ask him to give you a free review and quote. If you decide to hire hire, it is EZ to do so. No office visit required. I think. Maybe. Email him.

      • Leah says:

        Oh I know it’s suspended. My question is simply if I pay the fine online, will that lift the suspension.

        • DortLaw says:


          No. Drivers license suspensions dont turn into a valid drivers license automatically after paying off a failure to appear case with a drivers license hold. To get a drivers license reinstated after the failure to appear hold is released by the court (electronically), a driver needs to go to the DMV in person, pay the reinstatement fee to DMV, and possibly get a new drivers license card issued. The drivers license will remain suspended until that is done. Do not drive at all without a valid drivers license in your pocket (or purse or whatever).

  7. Jeff says:

    I wonder if the collection agency in San Diego, Alliance One, is involved in sending out the reminder notice once you have received a ticket. I got 4 tickets in the past year (yes I know – stupid), 2 for expired reg, 2 for speeding, and only got one notice. The rest never came to me, and I have lived at the same address for 12 years. Of course the collection agency benefits – when they finally send you a collection notice and you get hammered on extra fees. (happened on the 2 expired reg tickets) Of course I should have remembered the date from the slip the officer gave me, but it seems awful suspicious that I didn’t get notices on 3/4 tickets. Others not getting notices in San Diego?

    • DortLaw says:


      When you sign a traffic ticket in CA, you are signing a “promise to appear” and Notice of Court Date. You got your notice(s). You just dont know it. Or you know and you dont believe it. You want another notice. The one with your signature is not good enough for you?

      Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

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  8. Julian says:

    Last year I got a speed ticket, I was visiting US for business in a rented car. I went home a week after and I’d never received any notification at home (Buenos Aires – Argentina). Some told me to look into LASC with my license number to check the ticket. I got the 40509.5 Holds.
    Since I have to travel New York in July I wanted to pay it to avoid problems upon arrival in customs. So I went online in LASC website and choose pay.
    I got this :” Based on the status of this citation, you are eligible for the following online transaction(s). Select one of the option(s) below: Court Date Reservation for Arraignment Only – No Trials – Select a time preference below.”

    If I choose for court reservation then the system would allow me to pay online or I will miss a second appointment and make even worse?

    As I mentioned I live outside US and don’t know what to do to solve it. Please give me your opinion.

    Thanking you in advance.


    • DortLaw says:


      Hully chit! This is a great question that no person has asked b4.

      The following free information comes from my years of working in the LA Courts and hundreds of cases. But I hav not been there lately, I may be wrong. But here is what I think.

      Since you are outside the US – this sounds like it is a citation with a MISDEMEANOR CHARGE and not a purely INFRACTION CITATION.

      This makes sense if you did not have a CA License but instead had an international license or foreign license. I believe that the CA department of motor vehicles will honor most foreign drivers licenses – but not an INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE.

      And INFRACTIONS like speeding alone do not have a mandatory court appearance problem.

      The officer probably charged you with a violation of California Vehicle Code 12500(a) which is “Driving without a Valid CA Drivers License.”

      THE MISDEMEANOR CHARGE OF driving without a valid California drivers license (California Vehicle Code section 12500(a)) does require a personal appearance because technically there is a possibility of jail time. An arraignment is the time you tell the court if you are guilty – or “not guilty” and therefore want a trial.

      And I believe (based on my experience that is not current) that MISDEMEANOR Veh Code 12500(a) violation case is what you found out on the LA County Superior Court Web Site Traffic Division search by drivers license page. The site was telling you that you are charged with a misdemeanor, and must have an arraignment.

      They may have also – or in the alternative – charged you with a misdemeanor FAILURE TO APPEAR under California Vehicle Code 40508(a), which if charged as a misdemeanor, requires an in person (or by attorney under penal code 977) appearance.

      The reason for the required appearance is that the court needs to tell you that jail is possible and that you have the right to a jury trial.

      I recommend that you contact and hire our Local LA area Sponsor Attorney Mark Gallagher ( He can almost certainly resolve the case for you without you having to go to court in person.

      Then again, I could be a fake lawyer and/or be totally wrong. So dont quote me b…….

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  9. Steve says:

    Hello, My wife just got one of those Red light camera tickets in corona and the notice they sent/along with the court courtesy notice says she needs to appear on or before june 4 12, If we ignore this and dont show as we never agreed to do so,Did not sign a ticket,does the dmv hold or suspend her license for this non conviction?

    • Steve,

      If an imaginary person came into my man cave and asked me this question I might say that if the imaginary person did not sign a promise to appear in court, it is my opinion that the court cannot charge her with a violation of VC 40508a and ask DMV to impose a VC40509.5 suspension based on that 40508a charge.

      But – if the court has a trial in absentia without her on the citation, which some courts might try – should could end up with a moving violation conviction and point(s) from that which could cause an independent suspension of drivers license if she has other points.

      Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

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  10. ellen says:

    Summary: I received a traffic violation in LA county, went to court, pleaded guilty w/traffic school with 2 months to pay fines. I had an emergency and had to leave the country and totally forgot about this. I came back after the deadline and went online to check the status and obviously the fee went up and was considered a “failure to appear”. I rescheduled my court date for the next available date which is in May to explain my situation and to hopefully get some kind of break from the judge. I just received a notice from dmv that they will suspend my license effective 2 days after my rescheduled court appearance…

    Is it worth it going to court and explaining my case to the judge or should I just pay the fee now?

    If I do go to court, will I be able to request or will they approve community service in lieu of payment?

    If I take care of this (pay balance in full) before my license gets suspended will the “failure to appear” be removed from my dmv driving record or do i have to wait the “x” amount of years to be removed?

    Is this still considered a “failure to appear” since I did show up to the first traffic date?

    Any advice will be appreciated, but if you’re too busy to respond, thanks for the blog post anyway.

    • Ellen,

      If you went to you court and plead guilty, your case ended. You were sentenced to a fine.

      If you did not pay that fine, what you have is not a “Failure to appear” case, but rather “failure to pay”. Failure to appear is Vehicle Code 40508(a). 40508(b) is failure to pay.

      Sounds like you are guilty of a failure to pay. If it appears on your driver history report with DMV, no it will not disappear from that history after you pay.

      Will they give you community service? Almost certainly no. Why? Because it costs the court money to track community service, and it leads to more court dates. The court does not have resources for that. They want you to pay. But you can ask. The worst that can happen is they tell you no.

  11. Tim says:

    Hey Chris…me again.

    I wanted to give you an update. I filed a declaration with the Solano county court pointing out that 40508(a) required “original arrest”:

    40508(a)(a) A person willfully violating his or her written promise
    to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to
    appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of
    bail is guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the
    charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.

    My original trial by declaration argued that I was “arrested” when I was stopped, and that the officer had no warrant.

    This declaration pointed out that the State cannot have its cake and eat it too. Either, I was originally arrested and the 40508(a) does apply but the officer required a warrant (or public offense); OR, i was not originally arrested, so 40508(a) does not apply.

    THEY AGREED and dismissed the 40508(a) and issued me a check for $300

    • Tim,

      Great! Wow. The use of the word “arrest” there is a bit strange. And I guess everyone just assumes it means “detention”. But detention and arrest are not the same thing, as a matter of law. Good work.

      • Tim says:

        But is the use of “arrest” really that strange?

        “Nevertheless the violator is, during the period immediately preceding his execution of the promise to appear, under arrest. (People v. Weitzer (1969) 269 Cal.App.2d 274, 294 [75 Cal.Rptr. 318]; People v. Valdez (1966) 239 Cal.App.2d 459, 462 [48 Cal.Rptr. 840].) fn. 2 Some courts have been reluctant to use the term “arrest” to describe the status of the traffic violator on the public street waiting for the officer to write out the citation (see People v. Nunn (1968) 264 Cal.App.2d 919, 923, fn. 4 [70 Cal.Rptr. 869]; People v. Wohlleben (1968) 261 Cal.App.2d 461, 463 [67 Cal.Rptr. 826]; People v. Nieto (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 364, 369 [55 Cal.Rptr. 546]. The Vehicle Code however, refers to the person awaiting citation as “the arrested person.” fn. 3 Viewing the situation functionally, the violator is being detained against him will by a police officer, for the purpose of obtaining his appearance in connection with a forthcoming prosecution. The violator is not free to depart until he has satisfactorily identified himself and has signed the written promise to appear.”

        Not to mention CVC 40500 et. seq. and 40300 et. seq. clearly refer to a traffic stop as an “arrest”:

        The provisions of this chapter shall govern all peace
        officers in making arrests for violations of this code without a warrant for offenses committed in their presence, but the procedure prescribed herein shall not otherwise be exclusive of any other method prescribed by law for the arrest and prosecution of a person for an offense of like grade.

        The real problem is this: since a traffic stop is an “arrest” “without a warrant” pursuant to CVC 40300.5 and Cal Penal Code 836; and since most traffic infractions are not “public offense” (CPC 689) the “arrest” is usually unlawful.

        Thanks again!

  12. Johnny K says:

    Here is my situation:

    Between the period of 2/2007 and 7/2007, I received 4 nonmoving violations (fix it tickets):
    2/2007: No evidence of registration (fixed and paid fine 3/2007)
    2/2007: Failure to maintain lighting equipment (fixed and paid fine 3/2007)
    3/2007: Taillamp requirements (fixed and paid fine 5/2007)
    7/2007: Seatbelt and no evidence of insurance (never received courtesy notice from court; attempted to show correction and pay fine, but court informed me that the ticket was not in system; I MOVED not long after that, but ultimately corrected the problem by selling the vehicle)

    Having never received the courtesy notice from the court; I was never notified of the fine and my suspended license until I went to renew my driver’s license in 2010. I took the written test for both endorsements I carry (Class C and M1), and only missed 2 questions; both having to do with Alcohol.

    I am confused; I was told by someone that the FTA will continue to appear on my record in CA for 5 years from the date the issue (in this case, fines paid and suspension of license revoked) was resolved. I read today that it is 5 years from the date of the violation, which would put the issue behind me this December (license was suspended in 12/2007 as a result of the FTA). Which is it?

    • Johnny,

      I am going to try to wade through all of the useless info you provided to see if there is a real question in here somewhere.

      Hum . . .2/2007 fix and paid. . . nope, not here, useless info;
      2/2007 fix and paid. . . nope, not here, useless info again;
      3/2007 fix and paid. . . nope, not here, useless info;

      only missed 2 questions about alcohol? . . . nope, not here, useless info;
      Cass C and M1? … nope, not here, useless info;
      Moved? . . . . nope, not here, useless info;

      OK – I give up. I am just going to guess what your question is. Here is my best guess:

      QUESTION: “If I completely ignore a CA traffic court case that was started by a correctable citation, how long will it take before it magically goes away and the drivers license suspension ends?”

      Is that your question? If so, that is a crappy question. I have to break it down more.


      “If my drivers license was suspended because of a failure to appear on a traffic citation, how long does the suspension last if I ignore it?”


      (Pause, I have to barf here becuase I have answered this question so many times . . . for free . . . )


      In California, if you fail to appear in court on a traffic ticket, the court will notify the DMV of a failure to appear charge under CA Veh Code 40509.5. Once DMV receives that notification from the court, they will suspend your drivers license UNTIL YOU TAKE CARE OF THE COURT CASE AND GET THE COURT TO NOTIFY DMV THAT THE FTA PROBLEM WAS SOLVED.

      A VC 40509.5 drivers license suspension will never go away on its own.


      How long does the record of a VC 40509.5 suspension and FTA in court SHOW UP ON MY DRIVERS HISTORY REPORT?

      Probably 10 years. Check with DMV for sure.


      Dont confuse your driver history report with a pending court case. They are different things. If you have a suspension for a failure to appear in court, you have to solve the problem at the court, not at DMV

      After you get the court to release a Veh Code 40509.5 hold, you should go to the DMV in person to get your license reinstated.


      What if the court never sent anything to me? Answer: After you sign a citation, they really are not required to send you much of anything. If you moved and did not provide the court with a Notice of New Address, it’s your own fault.

      What if I never received anything from the DMV? Answer: It does not matter. And usually, when people dont get notice of a drivers license suspension, it is because they failed to notify the DMV of a new address. And that, my friends, is your own fault. But even if it is not your fault, it does not matter. You still have to go to court and deal with the case.

      Advice? Go to court in person right now. Wait!!! It’s Saturday. Dont go now. Go monday at 8am and ask for a walk in court appearance in person. Once in court, try to get something done.

      Bring prof of correction with you if you have it. Try to get the judge to accept it late. If you do not have proof of correction, you simply do not have it, forget about that part of the story. Go to court in person Monday morning anyway.

      Or . . Or . . . Or. . . pay a licensed professional to do the work correctly for you.

      Or . . . Or . . .Or . . call the court and see if you can just pay without going to court and then decide if it is worth your time to do anything but pay ASAP. Get proof you paid. Dont pay by personal check. Do not pay over the phone. Paying in person in cash and getting a real receipt is best.


      Practice writing your question over and over in different ways until you can get it down to 20 words or less. Leave out the stuff about sick relatives, where you went to school and why you moved.

      Did I make it to a 1000 words?

      • Johnny K says:

        I could have done without the smartass comments…. the question is, if you bothered to read it was:

        I am confused; I was told by someone that the FTA will continue to appear on my record in CA for 5 years from the date the issue (in this case, fines paid and suspension of license revoked) was resolved. I read today that it is 5 years from the date of the violation, which would put the issue behind me this December (license was suspended in 12/2007 as a result of the FTA). Which is it?

        • Johnny,

          Are you talking about:

          1) the court record; or
          2) the DMV Driver history record?

          They are completely different things. “Record”? WHat are you talking about?

          When you say “i was told by someone that the ‘FTA’ will appear on my record in CA for 5 years from the date . . . ” it really has no meaning.

          What record are you worried about?

          Are you worried that you got convicted of a misdemeanor failure to appear and therefore have a criminal record as far as the superior court is concerned? Are you worried that you got convicted of an infraction and want to know how long DMV will publish it to the public? Do you want to know how long DMV publishes histories of FTA suspensions on Driver History Reports?

          • Johnny K says:

            It is the driver record I am concerned about… This is affecting my insurance rates for original violations that had to do with the vehicle I had at the time; all of these vioations were fix it tickets due to the repairs the vehicle needed, and none of these had anything to do with whether or not I was a safe driver:

            It had malfunctioning rear lights.
            It had a seatbelt problem; all of a sudden the seatbelt started tightening on me and it was painful, so I had to remove it and an officer was right there and saw it.
            It had a missing front license plate holder (which I had the plate on the dash).
            I was not carrying the proof of insurance (my wife had it with her while she was changing it and I needed to be elsewhere)

            All of these violations were fixed, with fines paid. Unfortunately; I did not find out about the license suspension until I went to renew my license in 2010; but this was well after I relocated, however, I tried to pay that last ticket before I actually did relocate; but was told that they did not know the fine because the ticket ‘was not in the system’. The solution ultimately included selling the vehicle before I relocated.

          • Johnny,

            In CA, most moving violation CONVICTIONS, and CONVICTIONS of a Failure to Appear on a traffic citation, and HISTORIES of suspensions will remain on the DMV DRIVER HISTORY REPORT for 10 years. (I believe – check with DMV as the primary source).

            However, “points” and convictions that appear on the driver history report, are not used against you after 5 years for DMV purposes of a “points suspension” (I believe. Check with DMV as the primary source).

            So an old speeding conviction may appear on your driver history report, even though it may not cause you any trouble with the DMV if you get more points.

            CONVICTIONS for “correctable”, non moving violations, do not cause any “negligent driver points” on your driver history report at all. They should not cause any trouble with insurance.

            Now, for something completely different:

            An entry on a DMV Driver History Report of a current, pending failure to appear in court with a related, active drivers license suspension – will never go away until you resolve the court case.

            and that is my best effort at a useful, free answer.

            *None of this answer relates in anyway to how long an INSURANCE COMPANY can use info on your driver history report against you. Insurance companies are for-profit capitalists that will use everything against you to get more of your money unless government regulation stops them.

            Want More Detail? Get a 1Hr. Attorney Conference.
            Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

  13. Tim says:

    Hey Chris,
    I have 2 FTAs for non-criminal infractions. The court sent notice to the DMV (as you explain they will) pursuant to CVC 40508(a)

    (a) A person willfully violating his or her written promise
    to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to
    appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of
    bail is guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the
    charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.

    The court claims I was never “arrested” for my infractions, although the Vehicle code 40500 – 40504 etc. refers to the “arrested person”, and People v. Hubbard, 9 Cal.App.3d 827 states (in relevant part):

    “Nevertheless the violator is, during the period immediately preceding his execution of the promise to appear, under arrest. (People v. Weitzer (1969) 269 Cal.App.2d 274, 294 [75 Cal.Rptr. 318]; People v. Valdez (1966) 239 Cal.App.2d 459, 462 [48 Cal.Rptr. 840].) fn. 2 Some courts have been reluctant to use the term “arrest” to describe the status of the traffic violator on the public street waiting for the officer to write out the citation (see People v. Nunn (1968) 264 Cal.App.2d 919, 923, fn. 4 [70 Cal.Rptr. 869]; People v. Wohlleben (1968) 261 Cal.App.2d 461, 463 [67 Cal.Rptr. 826]; People v. Nieto (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 364, 369 [55 Cal.Rptr. 546]. The Vehicle Code however, refers to the person awaiting citation as “the arrested person.” fn. 3 Viewing the situation functionally, the violator is being detained against him will by a police officer, for the purpose of obtaining his appearance in connection with a forthcoming prosecution. The violator is not free to depart until he has satisfactorily identified himself and has signed the written promise to appear.”

    —–>Now my question. How can a California officer “arrest” someone for a civil traffic offense without a warrant without violating 40300.5 and Cal Penal 836 since traffic infractions arent “Public Offenses” (except for dui, reckless, speeds over 25 mph beyond limit, etc.)?

    cvc 40300 states: The provisions of this chapter shall govern all peace officers in making arrests for violations of this code without a warrant…

    cvc 15 “shall is mandatory”

    If a traffic offense does not afford the defendant a jury trial, then it isnt a “public offense” which an officer may make a warrantless arrest for pursuant to cal penal code 836:

    A violation of cvc 23302.5(b), for example, is CLEARLY a warrantless arrest for a non-public offense.

    23302.5(b) (b) A violation of subdivision (a) is subject to civil penalties
    and is neither an infraction nor a public offense, as defined in
    Section 15 of the Penal Code.

    see Cal Penal 19.6
    19.6 An infraction is not punishable by imprisonment. A person charged with an infraction shall not be entitled to a trial by jury

    compared to Cal Penal 689:
    No person can be convicted of a public offense unless by verdict of a jury

    Conclusion, I understand that a California resident consents to the ticket under 17459 and 17460 of the CVC, but for a nonresident such as myself, how did I consent to warrantless arrest?

    Thanks and good work., oh the court ignored my letters and instead issued failure to appears.

    • Tim,

      The bad news is that it would take me an hour to fully understand what you are talking about, and you only get about 2 free minutes here.

      But it sounds like you are stuck on the idea of “arrest” being required for a failure to appear charge – Is that what is going on here?

      If so, you are misunderstanding the use of arrest there. An actual “arrest” with booking, fingerprinting and a trip to jail is not a required element of a failure to appear charge under VC 40508a.

      And I am not sure if this was part of your question or not, but an officer can make a warrantless arrest any time they witness a crime in progress. There are other exceptions also.

      Finally, regardless of where you live, any time you “Purposefully Avail yourself of the benefits and protections of” the laws of the state of CA, you are subject to its jurisdiction. And that would include any driving, walking, or breathing in CA.

      • Tim says:

        Agreed, for the most part, but please let me clarify…

        you said “an officer can make a warrantless arrest any time they witness a crime in progress. ”

        Here I agree! I would even add “any public offense” to the term crime.
        But my question is this: Is a non criminal infraction a “public offense”?

        Cal Penal Code 689 states:
        “No person can be convicted of a public offense unless by
        verdict of a jury

        Cal Penal Code 19.6 states:
        “A person charged with an infraction shall not be entitled to a trial by jury.”

        Here we see that a “public offense” is different than an “infraction” in that a “public offense” is entitled to a jury, an “infraction” is not.

        The case of People v. Sava (1987) 190 Cal. App. 3d 935 [235 Cal. Rptr. 694] found:
        we must conclude that it was not the intent of the Legislature to enact inconsistent statutes and, further, that when it added the term “public offense” to section 16 it was not so categorizing infractions because if it did so, it would have caused inconsistency between sections 19c and 689 of the Penal Code…Had the Legislature intended that an infraction be treated as a public offense, it would have worded the statute differently, for example, “an infraction and with some other public offense.” [50 Cal.App.3d Supp. 7]

        (see also People v. Battle 50 Cal. App. 3d Supp. 1)

        When the Penal Code Sec. 16 states:
        Crimes and public offenses include:
        1. Felonies;
        2. Misdemeanors; and
        3. Infractions.

        We must understand WHICH infractions may be included. The same way a definition may state:
        Trucks and vans include:
        1. Moving Vans;
        2. Tow Trucks;
        3. Fords.

        Are all Fords “trucks” or “vans”? No, of course not, some are cars, some are tractors. the term “include” can be misleading.

        Do you think all “infractions” are “crimes” or “public offenses”? No of course not. Some are civil infractions, some are traffic infractions.

        We can probably agree however, that SOME infractions are “crimes” or “public offenses” such as reckless driving and DUI.

        With this in mind, that an “infraction” is not ALWAYS a “public offense”, whenever the violation doesn’t entitle you to a jury trial, the section that allows for warrantless arrests becomes more clear.

        Secondly, I am not necessarily caught up on the term “arrest”, however the vehicle code calls it an “arrest” anytime you are stopped for a violation of the vehicle code. In fact the vehicle code only uses the word “detain” twice in the entire code:
        cvc 40307(b) and 12801.5(e), other than this it is always “arrest”. See cvc 40500, 40503, 40504 etc. you are “arrested” while stopped, waiting for your citation.

        revisit People v. Hubbard:
        “Some courts have been reluctant to use the term “arrest” to describe the status of the traffic violator on the public street waiting for the officer to write out the citation (see People v. Nunn (1968) 264 Cal.App.2d 919, 923, fn. 4 [70 Cal.Rptr. 869]; People v. Wohlleben (1968) 261 Cal.App.2d 461, 463 [67 Cal.Rptr. 826]; People v. Nieto (1966) 247 Cal.App.2d 364, 369 [55 Cal.Rptr. 546]. The Vehicle Code however, refers to the person awaiting citation as “the arrested person.”

        I will admit that the “arrest” of an infraction is not a “custodial arrest” where the person is handcuffed and taken away, but they are certainly “arrested” pursuant to, and for the purposes of cvc 40300.5 and Cal penal 836.

        If you look closely you will see that these sections that govern the officers in their ‘arrests’ of ‘motorists’ only allow for a warrantless arrest for “public offenses” in their presence and NOT mere infractions, otherwise, anyone would be able to arrest a person for turning without a blinker, talking on their cell phone while driving, or going 5 miles over the speed limit pursuant to Cal Penal 837:

        A private person may arrest another:
        1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.
        2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not
        in his presence.
        3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable
        cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

        I think for the above reasons we must conclude that a minor traffic infraction does not rise to the level of “public offense” until such time the violation endangers the public, and affords a jury trial.

        With regard to cvc 40508(a):

        (a) A person willfully violating his or her written promise
        to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail is guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.

        This section of code REQUIRES the person to be arrested originally. Either, persons are “arrested” when stopped for infractions, OR in the alternative, 40508(a) can only apply to “arrestable” offenses.

        The State can NOT call an infraction criminal for the purpose of arrest, THEN call it civil to remove the availability of jury trial, then call it criminal again to attach a failure to appear to generate revenue.

        ““. . . the state may not declare certain infractions as civil, remove the panoply of constitutional and procedural protections associated with criminal offenses, save itself the time and expense of criminal trials, and then insist the same infraction is criminal for purposes of expanding state jurisdiction and appropriating the revenue raised through enforcement of the speeding laws.” Confederated Tribes v. State of Wash. (9th Cir. 1991) 938 F.2d 146 See also California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, supra, 480 U.S. at p. 211

        The final test to establish that a minor traffic infraction is not a public offense is to again look at the code itself. Cal Penal sec. 20 states:
        “In every crime or public offense there must exist a union, or
        joint operation of act and intent, or criminal negligence.” Where is this while turning without a blinker, or forgetting to turn on your headlights at dusk?

        The biggest example is found in the CVC at 23302.5:

        (a) No person shall evade or attempt to evade the payment
        of tolls or other charges on any vehicular crossing or toll highway.
        (b) A violation of subdivision (a) is subject to civil penalties
        and is neither an infraction nor a public offense, as defined in Section 15 of the Penal Code. The enforcement of those civil penalties shall be governed by the civil administrative procedures set forth in Article 4 (commencing with Section 40250) of Chapter 1 of Division 17.

        The only way to presume that a minor infraction rises to the level of a public offense is to ignore 220 years of American jurisprudence and the language of the codes. Unless the legislators want the Citizens of California to have the legal ability to arrest ANYONE for minor civil infractions under Cal. penal 837, and unless they want to guarantee a jury trial for all public offenses just to take it away once the infraction occurs, and unless the legislators want to create chaos and inconsitency with the code, we must reason that only certain criminal infractions, those that entitle the offender to a jury trial such as DUI and reckless driving, are “public offenses” for the purpose of carrying out warrantless arrests and for suspending a license.

        am I wrong? was my argument somewhat effective? I appreciate your time:)

        • Tim,

          Thank you for the comment. I approved it so that others can read it. But there is no way in the world I am reading that for free.

          • Tim says:

            Haa, I dont blame you…thanks for approving it. If you ever get bored (I know, lawyers never get bored) see if what I write is correct.

            The Vehicle code is (mostly) a money maker for the state, and nearly everything in it is civil and regulatory, not criminal. I still believe In re Stork, 167 Cal 294 (1914) that the Motor Vehicle Act, and the subsequent code, applies mostly to Commercial Vehicles. (4000(a)) for example.

            There is NO QUESTION that a commercial vehicle is “REQUIRED TO BE REGISTERED UNDER THIS CODE” see CVC 260 and Cal Const. Art 12, Sec. 3…but, I question if a private automobile not used for hire, is “required to be registered under this code”, and if so, under what authority?

            Besides, the phrase “required to be registered” is NEVER used when not referring to a commercial activity, it is however used in these sections. CVC 260, CVC 266, CVC 315, CVC 330, CVC 340, CVC 506, CVC 640, CVC 4150, CVC 4159, CVC 5500, CVC 10501, CVC 11516, CVC 11715

            Thanks again for your most excellent blog.

  14. Darren says:

    Here’s my issue. A few years ago 2008 and 2009 I received a couple of fix it tickets. As far as I can remember the 2008 ticket was paid at the local court house but in our subsequent move I can’t find the receipt. In 2009 I received another fix it ticket that was also paid. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and my passport and IDs turned up missing after a business meeting at a restaurant near the beverly center. When I tried to get a new passport I was informed that I needed my licenses and the licenses could not be issued because of two failure to appear citations. I work out of the country and now I have to get this unstuck. One more thing- the DMV only shows these two citation on my record and said I only needed to get this cleared for them to re-issue my license. Any thoughts?

    • Darren,

      Here are my thoughts:

      Rule #1: If you do not have proof you paid, you did not pay;
      Rule #492: You do not need a drivers license to get a passport (as far as I know). Think about it. If you needed a drivers license to get a passport, people who are disabled and unable to drive or work would be stuck in the US. And US Citizens who have their drivers license revoked for 3+ DUI convictions would be trapped in the US. Who wants that? Not our government. You might need a state issued ID from the DMV to get a passport, but not a drivers license. You can get a DMV ID (in CA) even if your drivers license is suspended. But you cant drive in CA without committing a crime.

  15. Richard says:

    Hi Chris,
    I have a confusing situation. My girlfriend recently tried to renew her license and found out that she had a camera ticket from 2009 for failing to stop before a crosswalk. The problem is that we moved from our apartment sometime around then, and she updated her mailing address with the dmv to her PO box. For some reason, the DMV has not been mailing her mail to the updated mailing address (which is also the address that appears on her actual license), but to the old residential address that we moved from and she never got the ticket or knew it even existed until she went to renew her license last week. Now there is a failure to appear and the fines have been growing, and when she called the DMV, they said there is nothing she can do now because it got sent to collections. She had paid her registration in the middle of last year and had gotten a fix-it ticket at the end of last year, but nothing about this mysterious ticket ever came up when she renewed her registration or paid her fix-it ticket. Is there anything we can do now?

  16. Nick Cunningham says:

    I am in a very confusing and difficult situation. I was arrested for a DUI and issued a court date. At my court appearance there was no case filed and they told me to call the DA and see when they will file. Has been over a month since original date and still no filing.

    The problem is that I have moved to AZ recently for my girlfriend who got a job here. I can’t get insurance, an AZ driver’s license, or register my car because my CA license is not valid. Do I just have to wait until they eventually file the case? Is there any way I can drive legally until then?

    • Nick,

      In CA, the Drivers license suspension is handled by CA DMV completely independently of the court case. Even if you were ultimately found innocent of the DUI in court, the DMV can still suspend your driver license of you dont do things right.

      Well, all I can say is you have to contact the CA DMV and ask them what you need to do to get your CA license reinstated. They may tell you that you have to take the CA DUI/Substance abuse classes. Your CA drivers license will never get reinstated automatically on its own. You need to contact the DMV driver safety office nearest the county where your arrest took place.

  17. Jesse Inghelram says:

    Hi Chris,

    6 months ago I was pulled over and issued a ticket for no proof of insurance and no registration. When I presented the necessary evidence to the court house the week after, I was told that I needed to schedule a court date to present my evidence; the court date was scheduled 6 months ahead because no earlier dates were available. In the meantime, while preparing for an important exam, I forgot about my court date and missed it. Over the phone I was told that I can not reschedule my court date which means I will need to pay a ~$1400 fine for a fix it violation that otherwise would’ve cost me $100 had I attended my court date… Is it possible to reschedule my court date? Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.



    • Jesse,

      Rule #1: You should not expect to be able to do anything with the court over the phone.

      Rule #2: A correctable violation is only correctable until the deadline on the citation next to your signature (unless you schedule a different court date with court clerk);

      Rule #3: In CA, the insurance violation (Vehicle Code 16028) is not really correctable. If you did not have proof of insurance when the officer asked, you are guilty. However, if you show proof of insurance for that date and time and car to the court prior to their deadline, you qualify for the minimum fine.

      But could you go to court and try to get a court date and try to get the court to give you some relief and / or accept your documents late? Yes, possibly. Maybe.

      Your real set of priorities should be the following (in order of importance);

      1) Avoid a misdemeanor failure to appear conviction if possible;
      2) get your drivers license reinstated as soon as possible (assuming it is suspended, call DMV right not to verify the status of your license, do not drive at all until you do so);
      3) Avoid points on your drivers license history report if possible;
      4) Avoid unnecessary court appearances;
      5) get the fines reduced if possible.

      Notice how “Get the fines Reduced” is the last priority here.

  18. Brad Lacke says:

    First of all, Chris thanks so much for all the info and insight you’ve been providing everyone for free, along with the wit.

    I’ll make my question brief–I don’t think it’s been asked. I was issued a ticket for not provided proof of insurance, or registration, while trying to re-park a “friend’s” car. The no registration is listed as correctable, the insurance has checked “not”. I’ve spent the past 3 months, including an extension that’s about to run out, trying to convince the owner of the vehicle to provide me with copies of the information. The owner is being extremely less than cooperative, so I’m not holding out much hope for getting this documents in time.

    What’s the best option for a person in my situation? I’m guessing making my case in front of a judge is a non-option.

    • Brad,

      This is a good question.

      First – Rule #1: It is the Driver’s Responsibility to ensure the car is registered and insured at the time they drive it.

      Second – Rule #2: The insurance violation is technically not correctable because it is a violation for not having Proof of Insurance with you when asked for it. It is not a ticket for Not Having Insurance.

      If you do not have prof of registration (current) and proof of current insurance, there is not much to do in court but beg for mercy. How persuasive are you? Do you have a good chicken costume?

      If you have proof of current insurance, it would be a common request to ask the judge to accept it and dismiss the violation. Judge can say yes, or cluck no.

      If you can convince the judge you have no access to the car or the car’s records, you may be able to talk the judge into dismissing that violation.

      This would probably be a good case to use the Motion to Dismiss in the Interests of Justice (PC 1385). That motion basically asks the judge to dismiss to prevent unfairness.

      Take the motion, write your story down, take it to court in person for your arraignment, and ask the judge to consider it. If the judge says yes, great. If not, ask for dismissal of one violation maybe?

      Those are both expensive violations if you do not get any relief. You do not need proof of correction to end the cases, that would just help with the fines. If you can get rid of 1, you may save $1000. Might be worth it to send an attorney to try to give it a great effort. Might save 2000$ in fines.

      Or . . . Or . . . just demand a trial and see if they can prove it up. Subpeona the owner of the car to trial. Subpeona the DMV records for the car. Subpeona Dueces Tecum the car. You can do that. You are presumed innocent after all.

      • Brad Lacke says:

        Thanks so much for your informative response. I’ll look into that Motion. If the due date is 1/31, and my arraignment options are much, much later than that, do I get penalized for not “clearing” the citation by the due date? Or is this waived because I’ve taken action to begin the process?

  19. Nancy says:

    A couple months ago, I received a fix it ticket that was taken care of before the deadline and today I received a letter stating a bail amount of $879 and a hold on my license! I cannot find proof that it was signed off by CHP and taken care of in a timely manner.. How can I fight that there has been an error???

    • Nancy,

      I love answering questions like this because I get to be rude and to help you at the same time!

      First off, because you are one of those denial people, I have to tell you that it sounds like your drivers license is suspended. You cannot drive at all (not even to work or to the hospital) without risking a criminal case and jail time.

      How do you like those apples? You thought it was just a “hold” on your license, didnt you? Did nt realize it could lead to getting gang _____ in jai —-

      No I wont actually say that. Totally unnecessary, I know. It’s your fault. You asked for free help on a Saturday Night.

      Guess what? You ar one of those people who di dnot read their citation before the signed it, and you are one of those people who thinks they are a victim when they really did the damage to themselves.

      If you do not have proof that you: 1) got proof of correction signed by a law enforcement officer; 2) got proof you delivered the proof to the court on time; and 3) paid the court the required “dismissal” fee – you did not take care of it correctly.

      You’re guilty. Suck it up. Pay ASAP. Go to the DMV afterwards in person to pay them. Drivers license reinstatement does not happen automatically.

      RULE #1 of the traffic court world: If you do not have proof you paid, you did not pay.

      RULE #2: If you did not read your citation, it is your own fault.


      • Eddie says:

        Ouch. Harsh.

        I found myself in the same situation and had to suck it up and admit to myself that I didn’t read the citation clearly. I glanced over it, did the required fix-it, got proof of correction signed off at the DMV, and mailed the documents off to the court with my fee…

        Yep. That didn’t do it. Mailing it was not the same as appearing.

  20. Isaac says:

    Hello Chris,

    I’m so glad i found this site and i hope you can inform me sooner than later. I have an Ohio drivers license and was pulled over in Los Angeles, CA for a fix it ticket. I was then cited to court for not only the fix it ticket but driving without a valid CA license. I corrected the fix it ticket, but was being charged $545 for not having a valid CA License. Little did i know, due to a $545 red light camera ticket i couldn’t get a CA License until that was paid. so i have 2 $545 issues on my hands. my case was continued until the 23rd of Jan 2012, and i am currently out of the country working to make some money to pay.

    the problem is, my flight has been canceled and i wont be getting back until the 23rd EXACTLY and will not make the court date. and In making the court date- i need to ask the judge for more time because its gonna take $545 dollars to pay the fine, and another $545 to get the License valid. I don’t have either and am afraid of what will happen if at the least- I DO NOT SHOW/ FAIL TO APPEAR. I imagine some kind of suspension but i dont even have a CA license in the first place to suspend. would they issue a warrant? increase the penalty/fine? jail time? im not the kind of person to miss court dates so i’m looking for some kind of guidance. in my experience the court system seems to be pretty cutthroat.

    Thank You Chris!


    • Issac,

      If you cannot pay a fine on time, you need to go to the court in person prior to the deadline to ask the judge in person for more time. Tell the court clerk you need more time to pay, ask for a walk in court appearance.

      In some courts, you may be able to get an extension by calling the court clerk, but it is rare, and I do not recommend do it that way, because you will not have any proof you got an extension when they screw you.

      If you cannot go in person, the only other option is hiring an attorney to go for you.

      If you fail to pay a court fine, the court can suspend your drivers license, add a new misdemeanor charge to the case, and/or issue a warrant. Warrants on traffic tickets are rare, but do occur. Courts now prefer to suspend a drivers license because when they eventually get you they get your car and your money. But if they really want to hammer you, they would suspend your drivers license and issue a warrant on a Vehicle Code section 40508(b) violation. Then they would come to your house and arrest you in the middle of the night .. .

      No – wait – they actually accidentally go to your neighbor’s house! and . .

      No, that will not happen. BUt they probably would suspend your drivers license and charge you a crap load of money.

      Make sure that your address with the court and with the DMV are current and correct right now – so that you will be aware of the last day you can drive legally if that is what happens. Dont ignore the mail. It will help you avoid trouble.

      My real advice? Make sure DMV has your current address not. Call the court clerk right now and see if you can do an extension right now over the phone and get proof you did it on paper. If you cannot do that today, go to court in person tomorrow morning at 8 am. If you cannot do that, hire an attorney today to go for you. If you cannot do that, pay the fine in full by borrowing all you can and pawning your TV or other things. If you cannot do that, you are out of options.

      • Isaac says:


        thanks for the timely response! i ended up going online with my citation # and getting an extension on my court date/fines. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!? the freaking LA court system lets you extend something ONLINE!? thats unheard of! i kept the confirmations as proof and so i have 3 more months to get things together! thanks for the words of wisdom! i went from just saying the hell with it-to getting the extension that i needed from your response!

        Chris Dort you are the man man!

  21. bella c. says:

    if you get a ticket for not putting the tags on your car, can you go anywhere to have the ticket signed or do you have to go the the police station in the city where you got the ticket? the tags are on, we forgot to put them on. thank you, that is all i want to know. this is in california. i went to the DMV and they said i had to go to the police. i went to the police station and they said i had to go to the traffic court. i have the tags, just want to take care of it, no negative commentary please. thank you.

  22. mike says:

    i went to the dmv to get my license and they said i have a fta and a ftp do i go to the court house i was assigned to go because the court date where i have a fta i did go to this is there anyway they could have made a mistake?

    • Mike,

      Objection. The question is compound, vague, ambiguous, and straight up confusing. Without waving this objection, and subject to it, respondent answers as follows:

      Sure, I guess it could be a mistake. Court clerks screw up traffic court cases all the time. And yes, if you have to go to court you have to go to the court where the case is assigned. You have to go to the courthouse where the file is sitting.

  23. Aaron W says:

    Chris: I really need some help advice I jus got a letter in the Mail Stating That My Lic Has Been Suspended Do To ( FTA ) there are No Court Fines only Contact Courts ………But What Is Interseting Is 2 Of Them Have Extentions To Pay The Bail From A Judge that Are Until Dec 2011…….and 1 That I made an extention on that doesnt lead until 2012………..Should I Go To The Courts and Get Abstracts Until Further Notice? Go To The DMV And Talk To Them……….Im Just STUCK On Can You Please Help Me

  24. Maria says:

    Hello Chris, My husband went to renew his license and found out that it was suspended for failure to appear in court and now the fee is $800. It is now in collection and on his credit. This all come from not taken care of a fix it ticket. We do not have he money to pay is there anything we can do. The letters was going to the wrong address and it shows at the court house the letters was returned. HELP!!!

  25. Elliott Collins says:

    I recieved a letter in the mail Stating that as of Nov.2 your license will be suspended & see a Violation 40508avc I want to know If I go to the court house before november 2nd can i ask for a hearing and not be arrested?

  26. Steve Bisel says:

    Hi. Great site….
    I recently got a ticket for driving with expired registration, it is still correctable, but after paying for the new registration, i was told i had to SMOG the car…
    of course, it failed smog, (including but not limited to the check engine light) I don’t have a lot of money to fix the car, and it may have a lot of problems, my question:
    how much will the ticket cost if I don’t or can’t get it corrected?

  27. scott devries says:

    My license has been suspended in california for over 5 years due to unpaid tickets that got sent to collections. Can DMV still withhold my license after 5 years?

    • Scott, Yes, your drivers license will suspended in CA and other states until you resolve the cases. Even if it is 50 years. THose holds are from pending court cases. They never go away by magic. Driving is a privilege, not a right. You do not have the right to drive at all. You have permission from the government to drive, and any time you fail to comply with the law- they can take it away forever.

    • angie says:

      Hi Scott. Actuall,y you can get the fines purged after 5 years. Call the DMV and ask for the phone number that you need to call to see if the fines that are causing your holds can be purged. After 5 years from the date of the fine you can have it purged. I am going through that right now. After 5 years I am getting my license back next week!

      • Angie,

        I dont believe you. Why next week? Why not today?

        Maybe I am wrong and you are going to some how do it. But it actually works like this: if you never appear on a traffic citation in CA, generally the COURT WILL NOTIFY DMV of a failure to appear and request a Drivers License hold under CA Veh. Code 40509.5. That hold causes a suspension UNTIL THE COURT NOTIFIES DMV to remove it.

        So in other words, from my experience, DMV doesnt have the power to, and generally do not remove VC 40509.5 holds. The court does. And pending court cases do not just go away after five years.

        DMV cannot close or “purge” court cases. They can “purge an entry on your driver history report. DMV cannot “purge fines”. Fines are penalties ordered by a court. DMV cannot make them go away.

        So I dont believe you. Just call the dmv after 5 years and you get a new drivers license after having a failure to appear suspension? Never have to pay the fines! Sweet. But too good to be true.

        Prove me wrong – that would be cool. Maybe it can happen. I just did a class on DMV hearings where the speaker flat out stated that sometimes she tells her DUI clients to just go to the DMV and try to get a license even though it appears on paper that they are not eligible. She says “you’re dealing with min wage people there at the counter. Sometimes they do things they shouldnt do.”

  28. reggie wade says:

    Im a BLET graduate from NC trying to get employment with a police department that im interveiwing with. They want to hire me but i have 6 failer to appears (suspended license) on my driving record, 3/17/04, 3/26/04, 7/06/04, 7/11/04, 2/27/05, 2/27/05 i know horrible right! The police department told me that if i can come up with an explanation for the failer to appears that they can get me in. in 2007 i had to get a lawyer to help get my license reinstated but how can i explain these failer to appears that i never realized were so plentiful on my driving record?

  29. Samantha Harvey says:


    I have a question: On December 6th, 2010, I received a Section 13365 “Notice of Suspension” of my California Driver License, effective January 5, 2011. I had gotten two minor tickets- one on June 1, 2010 and the other on July 5, 2010– both of which I planned to fight. After applying for extensions, I was gathering evidence and for both, have a failure to appear. However, what I did was go online and set court dates–1) is for March of 2011 and 2) is for June of 2011. I have court dates SET with the court. Will my license still be suspended? How do I clear this before January 5th? I am confused because even though I have a Failure to Appear it was only days after that I set up court dates online, as I intend to fight these tickets. What do I need to do? Thanks so much for your time in answering this.

    Samantha Harvey

  30. Sam Ali says:

    Hey Chris , I accidently missed a traffic court date at San Francisco Superior court house by misreading the dates. I was supposed to arrive Nov 1, but I misread the dates as Nov 10, and was still anticipating showing up a the courthouse this Wednesday until I got a letter saying that 300.00 assessment fee had been added to my original ticket and that I now have no option of traffic school and they are giving me until Nov 18 to solve this dilemma.

  31. lashay says:

    Hi Chris

    I recieved a fta back in september of 2007. I recently went to court and obtained a 10.00 dmv abstract fee to get my fta cleared and i recoeved a new court on april 2011. i went to the dmv to obtain my driving record and the fta still shows, but under the fta it says action ended on 9/30 what does this mean? than it says fta n one? im trying to visit a loved one in prison and they denied me for the fta. what can i show the prison for proof of my fta

  32. Saami Siddiqui says:

    Hello Chris,
    I want to echo the previous posters thoughts and thank you for all the help you provide. Now onto my problem.
    I received 2 FTA penalties (on the same case), one was in February, 2010 and the other was in July, 2010. My original ticket was for a cell-phone violation. The court is in Yolo County. I received the 1st FTA (I know this is probably irrelevant) because I misread the time on my papers and arrived to court at 1pm instead of my court time of 10am. I received the 2nd violation because I had a legitimate medical emergency and I have the papers from my doctors office to prove it. Now the fine just from the FTA’s is upwards of $600 (the total is $786), and being a poor college kid I really can’t afford that. Is there anyway I could get the penalty reduced or altogether taken away? What are my options? My court date is on September, 23rd 2010. Your help is much appreciated. Thanks.

    Saami Siddiqui

    • Saami, Well, if you were only a few hours late for the first court date, you should have stayed there and talked to the court clerk immediately. They would have told you what to do – which probably would have been “come back tomorrow” or “come back at 1:30 for the late afternoon session”. They certainly would not have told you to go home.

      So leaving the first time is a problem, even if you ahve a defense to the second missed date. $786 is really not much money considering the lack of a defense, and the difficulty getting anything done in this situation. I’d say pay in person at the courthouse, get the DMV 40509.5 hold released, then go straight to DMV in person.

  33. Lesley Young says:

    This is absolutely amazing! Thank you for all your responses!
    I live in Van Nuys, CA
    I was pulled over for expired tags and got a ticket. I went to the courthouse before the deadline with proof of my renewed registration and was told I had to pay $25 fee. I didnt have any money on me, so the clerk gave me an extension to come back with the $25. Like an idiot, I completely let it slip my mind and got a letter from the court saying i have to pay $949.00 within 10 days. It gave me no alternative (jail, community service, etc.) I know it’s my fault for forgetting, but there’s no possible way I can pay any of that. I was laid off 3 weeks ago and am trying desperately to find a job while I wait for unemployment, and I have no money in my bank whatsoever, I’m already behind on rent this month. I would happily pay and get it over with if I could, but I literally have nothing in my bank I can offer them.
    Again, I have no good excuse as to why i was unable to meet the deadline, and I am kicking myself in the rear for it, but there has to be another form of penalty since I can’t fork out $949 just like that.
    What are my options?? I am terrified of going to jail, but if that is the only alternative, then I have no choice since i literally cannot pay. I’m praying there is another way…. 10 day deadline is 8/20/10 so just a few days. Im worried about going into the courthouse unprepared though.
    Any advice you can give me is greatly appreciated! Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    • Lesley,

      Go to the courthouse at 8 am and ask for a walk in court appearance. Once in court, ask the judge to allow you to pay the original “dismissal” fee and end the case.

      Your drivers license is probably suspended because of this matter. Do not drive at all until you contact DMV and can verify that your drivers license is valid. Make sure DMV has your current address.

      Once the case is cleared, you will have to go to DMV in person to get your drivers license reinstated. After a drivers license is suspended because of a failure to pay (VC 40508 or 40509), the driver must to go DMV after clearing the VC40509.5 drivers license hold.

      • Green Machine says:

        Yes, this happened to me too. Negligible in my actions which lead me to a $900+ ticket that I can’t afford—for a fix it ticket–which was not my car. Relying on others is not the answer and now I’m suspended. Thanks for the advise, Mr. Dort. I will be in court tomorrow asking for original dismissal fees.

  34. kate says:

    Hi Mr. Dort,

    Thank you for posting such wonderfully detailed and thoughtful answers.
    I recently went to renew my registration and learned of my license suspension.
    This was due to a failure to appear.

    The FTA resulted from my ignorance of how fix-it tickets work as well as moving residences, and dealing with the fact that I received the ticket while driving a friends car to pick her up at LAX.

    I was told by the officer that he pulled me over due to the tint on her windows. He then saw the headlight on the left was out once he pulled me over.
    He told me he would let the tint slide, since it wasn’t my car, but to get the headlight fixed. So I did. A friend of mine replaced the headlight with a new lamp that I purchased shortly after receiving the ticket. The cars owner told me she would handle the citation correction sign-off.

    I thought all was taken care of.

    Until I went to the DMV to renew my own vehicles Reg.

    I haven’t received anything stating my case was sent to collections, due to moving and changing addresses. Though I am certain that’s the case, due to the suspension.and length of time – a few months.

    I know the suspension was recent though.

    What can i do to fix this? My driving record is clean and I don’t have prior issues w prior issues like this. I have asked my friend to take her car in for inspection immediately, but I’m not sure of the next step. I’m also recently unemployed and need my vehicle for interviews.

    Please help, I’m scared. I know I need to go to court, but I am not sure of what I need to request while with the clerk. And I certainly don’t have the funds to pay the bail and civil assessment fees.


  35. Sheila Steverson says:


    I am reading your very articulate and fluid thoughts on this and need your help. I live in San Diego and went through the same experience as Pat I believe. I received a notice from collection agency (for seatbelt violation) and threat of suspension. I paid the agency (it will stay on my record now for 7 years!!) and jumped through hoops to notify the DMV of the payment, etc. My insurance company has notified me of a huge increase in my rates due to the suspension. I wasn’t even aware my license had been suspended! Is there a way to remove this from my record (?)


    • Sheila,

      Now that is a common question: Can I get the DMV record of a Vehicle Code 40509.5 hold suspension removed from my driver’s history report?

      As far as I know, there is no effective way to get that suspension removed complete after is happens. You can petition the DMV to “Expunge” their records if you can show god cause. But the DMV is not going to buy the old “I did not know my license was suspended” jib jab. That defense can help in court sometimes, because DMV fails to provide the right proof they notified you at your listed DMV address. But it does not work with DMV, because the law requires you to notify DMV of any change of address, and they are going to have proof in their own records that they tried to send you a notice of suspension. And your Due Process rights on a drivers license suspension are not the same as in a criminal trial – where proof beyond a reasonable doubt is required. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

      I’ve never found an effective way to remove a Veh Code 40509.5 failure to appear suspension record from a DMV report after it has happened. You can write to the DMV and ask them to expunge it, but dont hold your breath.

      Now – it would be a different story if you did not pay the collection agency and instead pleaded not guilty, posted bail, and demanded a trial and won. If you won the trial, then you could demand DMV erase the record on the ground that you were proven innocent.

      Maybe someone out there has a better idea??

  36. Pat says:


    The effort and detail you provide in this blog is much appreciated.

    If one had been ignorant to their legal options and had paid a collections agency for a delinquent fix-it ticket and additional civil assessment, what would be the lasting effects on their criminal record?

    Payment to the collections agency resulted in the hold on the license being removed, and based on your posts on this subject it would also mean that the person would be found guilty of a FTA misdemeanor, and all warrants would be cancelled, correct?

    You had said in another post that the court may elect to reduce the misdemeanor to an infraction before sending it to collections to prevent the accused from requesting a trial. Is this common or likely in Los Angeles county? Is it far more likely that paying the collections agency resulted in a misdemeanor conviction?

    In that case, would a petition to have this misdemeanor expunged be likely to succeed?

    Thanks again for the valuable information.

    • Pat, That is a really good question. You hit one of the mean reasons why I think that courts sending failure to appear cases to collection agencies are acting illegally.

      First, when you pay a collection agency, it is the same as admitting guilty to everything in the file.

      And the law states that a Vehicle Code section 40508(a) failure to appear charge is a misdemeanor. But when you are charged with a misdemeanor, you have the right to a jury trial, and they cannot accept a guilty plea to a misdemeanor without getting you first to waive your right to a jury trial in open court (or in writing).

      Courts that send the failure to appear cases to collection agencies prevent you from having the right to a jury trial (and the related right to a formal arraignment) by treating the Failure to Appear charge as an infraction – which in my opinion is a complete and total violation of the law. Read the text of 40508a and you’ll see what I mean. There are other laws that it violates as well in my opinion.

      So they charge you with a misdemeanor, but pretend it is an infraction without your permission so that they do not have to give you your misdemeanor rights.

      After you pay the collection agency, the record in the courts files and at DMV will show a VC40508a conviction, which is a misdemeanor according to the language of the statute.

      And from my experience, the court clerks and the collection agency people sitting in cubicles do not understand what any of this means, so they dont care. They didnt go to law school and learn when the right to a jury trial attaches and when it does not.

      Maybe I am wrong and there is something going on that I did not learn in my 12 years as a Criminal Defense Attorney, former Public Defender, Graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law, Editing Member of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly and in my time as a Superior Court Judicial Research Clerk. Maybe I missed the day they taught us how all this works????? Maybe there is some secret I was too stoned to pay attention to during class? Maybe there is some District Attorney out there or other sworn officer of the court with a law degree that can explain it to me? Maybe I never read the part of the US Constitution that allows the government to add a civil assessment onto a case and then deny people the right to challenge it? Maybe the publishers of my little pocket edition US Constitution forgot to add that page? I dont know. I dont get it.

      I would not mind admitting I am wrong if I am, but I believe the courts are illegally screwing people out of the right to challenge cases after the court accuses them of missing a date. In my opinion, it’s a scam.

      As far as expungement goes, no you cannot get a VC40508a misdemeanor conviction expunged unless you were placed on probation. The successful completion of probation is a prerequisite for expunging a misdemeanor. And if they never put you on probation, you cannot get to that point.

      • Tim says:

        California Penal Code 689 is the culprit!
        CPC 689
        No person can be convicted of a public offense unless by
        verdict of a jury, accepted and recorded by the court, by a finding of the court in a case where a jury has been waived, or by a plea of guilty.

        See that at the end, “or by a plea of guilty”…I believe the court considers paying, a plea of guilty, and considers a guilty plea as a waiver to a jury trial…the same way they consider a guilty or no contest plea, or simply appearing, as consent to a citation being a valid verified complaint. (cvc 40513(a))

        Or the same way they consider the failure to object specifically by demur to an accusatory pleading (traffic ticket) as waiving your right to object. PC 1012

        Acquiescence by silence.

        AND DONT FORGET, you can get the FTA dismissed if you were not “originally arrested” as required in CVC 40508(a)

  37. Corey says:


    I received a notice from the CA DMV on May 13th that my license would be suspended on June 12th for a failure to appear. With three days, I had paid the ticket off in full through the collection agency. Does that mean the suspension hold was lifted before it went into effect and I am done…or do I still need to go in and interact with the DMV?

    • Corey, If you are not sure if your drivers license was suspended or not, do not drive at all until you contact DMV and verify the status of your license. Dont expect the problem to take care of itself. Be proactive, not reactive.

  38. Jacquelyn says:

    I received a ticket for expired registration. It was just a simple fix-it ticket for $25. I got my registration renewed and had a court appointment. However, on the paperwork, it said that you did not have to appear in court as long as you mailed the check and proof of correction. I mailed the check and the proof of renewed registration. However, it either got lost in the mail or was never processed because I received a “failure to appear in court” and the bail amount was $900. I went to the court the next day but they said since it was past the date my only options was to pay the entire amount or set up a court dat to appear in front of a judge. I set a court date for seven months away. The court removed the suspension of my drivers licese with the DMV.

    Now, my question is: I am applying for a new job and they are conducting a background check on me. Will this be used against me to gain employment?

    • Jacquelyn, a ticket for expired registration is not a $25 fix it ticket. Technically, it works like this in CA: Driving with an expired registration is an infraction with a fine of about $342 (See Vehicle Code section 4000(a)). However, it is a correctable citation, which means it can be dismissed if proper proof of correction is submitted prior to the deadline. Proper proof is the citation signed by a police officer on the back where it states that the correction was shown to the officer and approved. Once that proof is submitted, the court will dismiss the citation and charge the defendant $25 for the dismissal fee.

      However, one giant mistake that people make is they sen in a copy of their registration instead of the signed off citation. Just mailing in the registration papers from DMV WITHOUT AN OFFICER’s SIGNATURE does not count as proof of correction. You can bring the registration in to a court appearance works without a signature, but mailing it to the clerk without a signature does not work.

      As far as your background question goes, traffic citations and criminal charges (such as a failure to appear under vehicle code section 40508(a)) are public information. Anyone can look it up. But I cannot tell what your employer is looking for. They are a private company, and they make their own rules on who is eligible for employment and who is not. If you are trying to work for UPS or other transportation (driving) job, I would expect that the drivers license suspension and FTA record will cause a problem. If you are worried that this problem may cause the loss of a job, you should hire an attorney who knows how to get this case dismissed completely.

      Just as a side note: I actually had an expired registration citation myself last year. I got the registration current, and took my citation to the sheriff’s office with the car and registration papers. I ask them to sign off on the citation, and a Deputy did provide his signature after inspecting my car and papers. Then I send the signed off citation, the DMV papers proving registration, and the filled out courtesy notice I received from the court with a $25 check via priority mail with proof of delivery receipt reuested to the court clerk on time. I kept copies of everything. That is the correct way to solve a registration ticket problem.

      Second side note: The most common reason people do not receive the courtesy notice from the court on a citation like this is that they fail to keep the court updated on their current address. If you move after getting a ticket, you must notify the court of your new address.

  39. Mary says:

    Several years ago, I received a speeding ticket in Douglasville, GA. Once I received my notice to appear in court, I requested an afternoon appointment from the Clerk of Courts, based on these facts:

    1. I lived in Alabama at the time and had started a new job. I was working 3rd shift, 11:00pm-7:00am and the court appointment was for 9:00am. With Georgia being 1hr ahead of Alabama, it would already be 8:00am in GA when I got off work at 7:00am in Alabama. From Alabama, the drive to Douglasville takes between 90-120 minutes.

    The clerk stated that there were no other openings available and that I would be fined an additional $150 on top of the $150 speeding fine, if I failed to appear. I could not take the time off, received a Failure To Appear and another morning appointment was set.

    I called the Clerk of Courts a second time, reiterated my predicamenttake and again requested a later appointment. Again, the Clerk stated that nothing else was available and that I would be fined another $150 if I failed to appear. I asked what my other options were because I absolutely could not take off time from work. The clerk stated that I could spend time in jail, which I agreed to do.

    2 days before I was scheduled to begin serving my time, I called the Clerk of Courts to get directions to the jail. The Clerk stated that she did not want to see me spend time in jail since I had never been in any legal trouble before, and gave me an afternoon appointment to appear before the judge. She said that she would speak to the judge on my behalf, concerning why I’d previously failed to appear.

    Turns out, she lied. She talked over me…the judge talked over me, and the only way to resolve the issue was to pay the (by now) almost $500 fine. When I paid the fine, I asked if there was anything else that I needed to do. “No, everything is fine, there are no points against your license, everything is fine…just stay out of trouble.”

    A week or so later, I received notice that my license had been suspended. I had to pay another $100. When I called back to Douglasville to question this, I was told that the license had already been suspended before I had been told that “everything is fine.” (Someone is lying because the woman looked up my license in her computer as I sat there paying the ticket) I sat there paying the fine…or at least she went thru the motions as if she were pulling my driving record up.

    I paid the license reinstatment fee but the Failure to Appear on my record keeps me from applying for certain jobs.

    How long does this Failure to Appear stay on one’s record in Georgia, and is there any way to have it removed, set aside or dismissed?

  40. Bruce says:

    I received a failure to appear for a traffic ticket that I forgot about. I was issued the citation in Jan 09.

    In January 09, I was ticketed in San Francisco, and unfortunately I forgot about the ticket by February. The ticket was processed into the system with the wrong address, even though the correct address is on the ticket, so I never received the courtesy notice as a reminder in the mail.

    I wouldn’t have known about the ticket had I not moved this summer from my old address, and updated my DMV records with my new address. That’s when I received the notice 8 months later (Sep 09), but by then it seemed it was too late to do anything. My license had been suspended in June 09 and I had no clue.

    I immediately called the court, and they explained to me that it was too late to do anything about resolving the matter and instructed me to pay the $1600 in fines (registration, missing front plate, proof of insurance, plus new court fees and a $300 civil assessment for failure to appear).

    I am hoping that I can post bail with the clerk in order to get on the calendar for an appearance with the court.

    Am I too late, or can I show that I have since resolved all violations with proof and hope the judge reduce the civil assessment?

    Note: I am aware it was my responsibility to appear on/or before the date written on the ticket, and that a courtesy notice is exactly that, a courtesy. I was shocked to see the DMV letter in my mailbox this month, as it was literally the first (successful) communication I have received about the citation.

    • Bruce, the bad news is that every county deals with this issue differently. Some courts make it easy to get a court date and allow you to present proof of correction (LA County), other courts basically screw people and do not allow them to do anything (San Luis Obispo, Solano). My recommendation would be this – go to the court clerks office in person at 8:00 on a week day other than wednesday (courts are closing on many Wednesdays and its hard to keep track of which) and ask for a walk in appearance. If they deny your request, ask for their local for “petition to vacate civil assessment” and fill it out and turn in. If that does not work out – fill out and file a “Request for Trial De Novo” using the Judicial Council Form, and where it states in Item #1 “Date Clerk Mailed Notice” write “No Notice sent or received”. That is the best I can recommend. Good Luck.

  41. Can you give me any info on criminal expungement in texas? Thanks in advance!

    • Unfortunately, I do not know anything about Texas expungements. But we do have local sponsors there, and if you will fill out a case review form, I will get you a detailed review. Most states have a procedure for expungement after a misdemeanor probation term ends. The idea is that if you complete probation you have served your time and should be free from the problem. Serious or violent crimes generally do not qualify.

  42. Sean Cummings says:


    I received an FTA this week over a ticket issued in July over having an unregistered vehicle in CA. At the time, I had OH plates. I went to the DMV and had my registration/title switched to CA and received my new plates within the alloted 30 grace period for this “fix-it” ticket. By my own stupidity, I thought this was my only requirement- I did not know that my plates had to be verified by a law enforcement officer to clear this matter up. I received my FTA notice in the mail and immediately paid it, fearing that my license would be suspended. The fine was $500. My question now is, considering I have proof that I registered my car on time- is there a way to be refunded part or any of that $500? I understand paying it is admitting guilt, but I thought I was required to pay this fee.

    • Sean, unfortunately, once you pay, the case is over and there is nothing you can do to get your money back. A court appearance probably would have saved you $390. Even if you miss a court date on a correctable violation like “registration” or broken tail light type violations, most judges will accept proof of correction late and make the adjustment They do not have to, but most will.

  43. Brett says:

    \3 months ago I was given a traffic ticket for following too closely. Because I was irresponsible and basically unorganized, I missed my court date recently AND then failed to take care of it quickly. Today I was pulled over for a bad tail light in GA (just miles from my previous ticket) and discovered my license had been suspended. My only defense is that I’m young and haven’t had run-ins with the law previously….lame, I know. Nonetheless, a bench warrant had been issued and I got to spend the afternoon in prison before paying the bail of only $250. Tomorrow I’ll call the courthouse and find out what’s next for me.

    My question is this….after reading your blog post on misdemeanors vs. infractions….will this show up on pre-employment screens in the future??? If it helps, I WAS fingerprinted, BUT they said they didn’t THINK I had been convicted as yet (not sure how reliable a source the prison PD are). If it will show up, are my chances good of getting it reduced to an infraction? I’m assuming that would mean hiring an attorney as well? Thanks for your time and patience!

    • Generally, if you go to jail, you are being charged with a misdemeanor crime or more serious offense. The Government is taking away your liberty, and they can only do that through the rules of the criminal processes. So it sounds like you are being charged with a misdemeanor crime. Misdemeanor convictions will usually show up on a through preemployment background check. To do your own background check to see what is there, I recommend There you can get detailed and pretty cheap background checks fast.

  44. chris says:

    How can i remove a suspension from my record after i get my license back? I had no knowledge that it was suspended. I went to dmv an got it taking care of but its on my record and it was never suppose to be suspended in the first place. I show proof to the judge but they reduced
    the charge to an infraction and want me to plead guilty to having no license
    when i actually had one at the time of the citation. they want me to pay 300 dollars for something that i was not guilty of. I showed the court my new license that help reduce the charge and the cop had no reason to pull me over. he pulled me over because i have a tinted license plate cover that is not really dark. I bought it from autozone and if that was illegal to have, then it should not be sold in stores.


    RE: How can i remove a suspension from my record after i get my license back?

    There is no way to remove the entry of a prior suspension from the California DMVs records that I know of. I recommend you contact the DMV. The fact that you did not have knowledge of the suspension may be a defense to a criminal charge of driving on a suspended license. But it does not mean the license was suspended illegally.

    RE: but they reduced the charge to an infraction and want me to plead guilty to having no license when i actually had one at the time of the citation.

    If you believe your drivers icense was in fact \valid at the time they are claiming it was not valid, you should plead not guilty and demand a trial. Then, at the trial, show proof that your drivers license was valid at the time you were pulled over. But be careful – having a drivers license card in your pocket does not mean you have a valid drivers license.

    RE: i have a tinted license plate cover that is not really dark. I bought it from autozone and if that was illegal to have, then it should not be sold in stores.

    I recommend that you demand your money back from autozone.

    -Attorney Chris Dort

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