As the calendar moves into May, more people are thinking about relocating. Under VC 12505, once you establish residency in The Golden State, you must obtain a California license within 10 days. If you are operating a vehicle for work, the 10-day grace period doesn't apply. You have to have a California license before you get behind the wheel.
"Residency" is defined as an address where you are registered to vote, payment of resident tuition at a public college or university, filing a homeowner's tax exemption or any other "acts, occurrences, or events that indicate presence in the state is more than temporary or transient."
Procedurally, if you receive a 12505 citation, most judges will dismiss the charges if you provide proof of compliance prior to the court date.
However, if you receive a traffic ticket on federal property or at a federal facility, the procedure is much more rigid.
Bakersfield is a nice town, but even locals will probably admit that it's not exactly a trendy tourist destination. Moreover, if you are coming from outside Central California or from out of state, you'll probably end driving through as well. In most cases, an attorney can appear for you in federal traffic court, which saves you a headache and some money.
The court personnel are nice people, but the clerks in the federal court are much more difficult to get a reschedule and traffic is only heard one day every three months. If you have a personal or professional conflict and don't have a lawyer, you'll almost certainly have to miss that important client meeting or your child's school play.
Federal judges are a bit intimidating, even for lawyers. Federal court is much more formal, and since traffic matters are considered petty misdemeanors that technically could have jail time attached having an attorney appear for you to be your advocate is a good approach to save you money and time.