How to Find a Crap Load of Old Traffic Tickets w/ a Failure to Appear Suspension



Suspended drivers license with lots of old tickets in different places? Unsure of where to look?

In order to renew a drivers license suspended due to one or more missed court dates (failure to appears), it is necessary to locate all of the pending court cases causing drivers license holds. This is because the holds come from the court, and are merely processed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The most reliable source of information about a court case with a drivers license hold (in California it is called a VC 40509.5 Hold) is the court itself.

Do not trust details about a case given to you by DMV, including case #, bail, date, etc. The DMV frequently gives drivers the wrong information, wrong case #s that they have changed, etc.


Usually the best way to find details on an old traffic ticket case is to call or personally visit the courthouse where the issue is located. Normally, the right court for traffic tickets in CA would be the traffic division of the Superior Court for the County where the incident happened. So that is where you start – the traffic court clerk of the court superior court.

However, if there are many cases in different places, and it’s been a long time, this could be an impossible task for some (bad drivers). But you are out there. And we all know calling the courthouses can often be a waste of time and cell phone minutes – which makes calling every court in the state a bad idea.

Some courts have excellent on line access for traffic citation information. Some courts have none at all. Check to see if you have find yours by looking at the court’s web site. Keep in mind that there are usually different divisions of the court for criminal (misdemeanors) and traffic cases (infractions).

There is a quick solution – call the Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Safety Office. The Driver Safety Office is the DMV dept. that is responsible for drivers license suspensions. They have real, live people there to answer the phones sometimes.

We’ve found that they do also have computer access to a list of all holds on a particular license.

You can find the phone number for the Driver Safety Office located closest to you by checking the DMV web site.

Call them, get a list of the VC 40509.5 holds on your drivers license AND the address or name of the COURTHOUSE where the case is located. Do not let them give you the “Court Code” for an old ticket – demand to know the name of the courthouse where it is located. The “Court Code” is useless to the everyday person.

If they give you a case or docket #, ask them if it is the real # from the court, or a number they made up because the real court case # was to complicated. (it happens all the time).

If the DMV Driver Safety Office does not help you, the next best option is to get a copy of your driver history report. But you want to get it in person at the DMV, because it will only show the court “Codes”, which is be absolutely meaning less to you. You will have to ask the DMV minion to look up the “Court Codes” and tell you where the Courthouse is.

In many cases where drivers have a suspended drivers license and several FTA cases with high bail amounts, it makes sense to hire an attorney to do the work for you. And attorney can go to court for you on failure to appear cases, get drivers license holds released, limit the number of “negligent driver points” you suffer, and avoid misdemeanor convictions for failure to appear when possible.

Paying in full what the court says you owe is probably not the only or best option. What they tell you to pay at first is “worst Case Scenario”. In many cases, drivers license holds can be removed within days if you have not had a trial or been convicted. Your right to a trial does not just magically disappear by the passage of time (unless the court holds a trial without you and issues proper notice of a decision).

In many cases, fines can be lowered, dismissed, or paid over months or a year.

It is super important if there are many FTA cases to limit the number of negligent driver points. It is possible to clear a bunch of old cases and holds in one day, only to end up with a brand new suspension the next day due to the crap of new points created by the court action.

If you just pay what they say you owe, you are pleading guilty to everything on their list.

If you have a list of your case locations, it is easy for us to give you a Free Attorney Case Review. Let us show you why it may make sense to send a licensed professional to do the job right, and fast.

Questions? Leave a Comment.

This free legal self help articles was written by a licensed Defense Attorney with 14 years experience appearing in at leave 50 CA courts as well as DMV hearings all over the state.

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 Going to Court, Suspended Drivers License, Tickets in Collections, Traffic Court Fines, Traffic School and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to Find a Crap Load of Old Traffic Tickets w/ a Failure to Appear Suspension

  1. kenneth eugene spencer jr says:

    thank you

  2. David Brainard says:

    Found an interesting notation within the courts that I was paying a ticket on. There is a warrant for 15,000.00 on me, for apparently non-return of rental merchandise ( a wheelbarrell ) that I rented from home depot. At the time of the rental, I had purchased the insurance for the item. There were many items that I rented, and the wheelbarrel was stolen from the property during the work site. I notified home depot when I returned the other peices of rental items, and seemed ok. Now I have found out about the warrant, and have never been contacted by either home depot, or any other agency. What do I do in this situation. Thanks Dave Brainard

    Answer: If there is a warrant, it means that there is a pending criminal case filed by the district attorney (or city attorney in some areas). Once that happens, Home Depo is the victim, and the People of the State of CA, represented by the DA is the prosecutor. You must appear in court. The fact that you may have a defense does not matter until trial or plea negotiations have begun in the pre trial phase. Attorney C. Dort: Email : cdort@dortlaw.com.

  3. ATTORNEYS ANSWER: The “statute of limitations” does not apply in this case at all. The statute of limitations sets a deadline for the government to FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES against a person – not a deadline to get a conviction.

    In DUI cases, the charges are usually filed the day after the arrest. In this case, there is no doubt they have already filed.

    Here is how to find out the status of your case:

    You must call or go to the criminal division clerks office at the courthouse where your case is located. Although Los Angeles County posts traffic court cases on their web site, they do not provide criminal case information (many other counties do, but LA County is not at all on the cutting edge of providing quality service to the public). Riverside county, for example, is 1000x better at this than LA County.

    But without calling, I can tell you that there is certainly a warrant for your arrest on the case if you failed to appear at any court date. Probably also additional failure to appear charges that can lead to jail time on their own.

    Arrest warrants never go away without being taken care of, and everyday that goes by adds to your penalties. Moving out of state will not make the problem go away. It just delays (and increases) your penalties. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can ignore it!

    If you take care of a warrant and the underlying case voluntarily, your penalties will be less severe then they would be if the government catches you first.

    My advice: Yes, you should hire a new attorney immediately to represent you. An attorney can appear in court for you and try to get the case back on track without you being present at first. However, it is likely that you would have to appear in court to resolve the case completely at some point.
    Send us your info for a free case review and quote for services!

    Chris Dort, Esq. (CA Bar #196832)

  4. Robert R. says:

    Hi … I was wondering how to find out about a dui charge that was in Jan 2001 in Los Angeles that I had. I went to my first court appearance, obtained an attorney, but then moved to Las Vegas. I never completed my court appearances and now live in Los Angeles again. Is the statutes of limitations up on this or should I obtain counsel again and go into court? I can’t find any record of my dui on the court web site or anywhere.

    Thanks in advance,m
    Robert Razee

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