If your California Drivers License is suspended and the Department of Motor Vehicles has told you it was due to a “VC40509.5 Hold”, here is what is going on.
Related Legal Self Help Form: Motion to Release Drivers License Hold (Veh. Code 40509.5 Motion)
|California Vehicle Code section 40509.5 is a law that allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend a driver’s license when a court notifies DMV of a missed court date. |
“VC” is an abbreviation for the Vehicle Code, which is the set of laws in California relating to Motor Vehicles (and bicycles).
When you miss a court date on a ticket or citation in California, or the court thinks you missed one, they can do a number of things.
Some courts, such as Riverside County Superior, always issue arrest warrants known as Vehicle Code section 40508(a) bench warrants. Some courts add failure to appear charges and issue a warrant. Some courts suspend your drivers license and some courts do all three at once.
When a court suspends a drivers license following a failure to appear in California, the court lists the case as having a “VC40509.5 Hold” as the status.
A Vehicle Code section 40509.5 hold refers to the drivers license hold that the court places on a license when they think a person missed a court date. Technically, it is a notice the court sends to the the DMV giving them notice of the FTA.
To get a little more detailed – California Vehicle Code section 40508(a) gives the court or prosecutor the power to add a failure to appear charge to a case when a defendant does not show up in court.
Then, California Vehicle Code section 40509.5 is the law the instructs the court on how to notify DMV that the court date was missed, and authorizes DMV to suspend the drivers license of the defendant.
So if the DMV tells you that you have a “40509.5 hold”, or you see that on the court’s web site or your driver history report, it means that your drivers license is suspended for a failure to appear at a court date.
There are main 3 ways to clear a Vehicle Code 40509.5 hold, and they differ greatly from courthouse to courthouse (and some times from court clerk to court clerk).
Actually, from an Attorney’s point of view, I have cleared hundreds of VC 40509.5 holds in at least 15 different courthouses, and I am shocked at how inconsistent the rules are applied form court to court. Don’t assume it is going to work the same way on two different days.
Anyway, the 3 main ways to clear a VC40509.5 hold are:
1) pay the “bail” on the citation in full;
2) set a court date for an Arraignment and ask the court clerk to release the hold at the same time the court date is set;
3) make a court appearance and ask the judge to release the hold prior to payment of the fine or before the trial (if you plead not guilty and demand a trial).
Some courts, such as the LA Superior Court, will release a VC 40509.5 hold once an Attorney appears at the court clerks office and sets a court date for the defendant. The setting of the court date is considered a substantial step towards taking care of the problem, and the court gives you credit for doing that work. But it has to be done in person.
These courts understand that people need to drive to work to feed their families. And they understand that when people get arrested for driving on a suspended drivers license because of a 40509.5 hold, it really does not help anyone, and clogs the court up with pointless cases that result in more pointless cases.
Some courts, are just totally unreasonable to people with VC40509.5 holds, even if they are victims of identify theft. These courts will not allow the defendant to set court dates once the hold is placed.
Oh yea, that reminds me – if someone in Solano County Traffic Court Clerks office tells you that they have no record of your citations, make sure you get proof you were there, and don’t trust them. Check back with them over and over again to make sure you are not another victim of the change your court date trick.
If you are unlucky enough to have a VC 40509.5 hold, do not drive at all. If you are caught, you will be arrested and your car impounded (not to mention you’ll be facing a criminal misdemeanor charge of VC 14601.1 after you get home). That’s how many people make the problem worse. Dont do it.
On VC40508a and VC 40509.5 cases, a licensed Defense Attorney can usually go into court for the defendant and do the work to solve the problem alone while the client goes to work or school, or surfing instead.
Once a court releases a VC40509.5 hold, the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified immediately electronically, and a driver can visit DMV the next day to get a drivers license reinstated by paying their “Reinstatement Fee”.
Be careful! You must visit DMV in person to verify the status of your driving license after releasing a hold from the court. DMV will NOT AUTOMATICALLY REINSTATE a suspended drivers license. They usually charge a reinstatement fee, separate from what the court charges you.
Questions? Post a comment.