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Failure to Appear or Failure to Pay (FTA/FTP)

In California, it is considered a misdemeanor crime to promise that you will appear in court (you do this when you sign your traffic ticket) or pay your fine before the court-appointed date and fail to do as promised. Although it is collectively known as FTA/FTP, you are usually not sent to jail for not paying your fine or agreeing to a payment plan with the court, and then not paying or not completing the plan. However, the state can make it very painful financially, by adding further fines and penalties for not paying. If you do not pay, the court can issue another citation for not paying, or put your license on hold. And, if you still do not pay within the specified timeframe, the court can suspend your driver’s license (DL), add a civil penalty, and/or impound your vehicle, which could be sold at auction unless you pay all fines and penalties.

Although towing and fees are set for official police towing by CVC 1748.1, those can still reach $1000 or more in just a few days because not only are you charged for towing, but also a daily storage fee as well. In the case where you pick up your vehicle the same day, there is an hourly and a fraction of an hour charge.

There are two separate sections of the CVC used in different situations for FTA/FTP. In this article, we will explain the different penalties laid out in the CVC for each case. We will further attempt to clarify the state’s actions and what you can do to counter those actions.

Situation #1: The FTA of FTA/FTP

The failure to appear portion of CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 40508 (a), Procedure on Arrests stipulates that no one shall violate their “written promise to appear” or reappear after a granted continuance by the court. That person who did not appear committed a misdemeanor crime which must be cleared by the court.

The penalties for FTA depend primarily on the reason for the original arrest or traffic ticket, though your guilt or innocence on the first violation will not affect the outcome for the FTA. When you signed your citation or paid bail, you made a promise to the people of CA to resolve the issue before the court date.

An FTA could result in a bench warrant for your arrest if your original ticket is a misdemeanor or felony. The charge will not go away simply by ignoring it. It is advisable to consult an experienced traffic ticket attorney before taking any action on an FTA, including making payments to a collection agency such as GC Services, sometimes referred to as GCS.


GCS is a private contractor hired by LA County to attempt to collect traffic ticket debts ordered by the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Whether or not a “hold” has been placed on your DL by the DMV for an FTA, which could lead to a suspension, you should not pay GCS without consulting a traffic ticket attorney.

Traffic ticket attorney regularly get thousands of dollars’ worth of fines and penalties dismissed due to technicalities and changes in the traffic code. However, you should not wait. While you hesitate, your family vehicle could get impounded, and you will be responsible for paying the towing and storage fees. In addition, when you pay GCS, you could be admitting guilt of both the original charge and the FTA.

CA Penal Code 1214.1 and FTA/FTP

Chapter 2 of the CA Penal Code 1214.1, The Execution allows the court to impose an added $300 to the other fines, assessments, and penalties for traffic infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. This civil penalty will not get added until 20 days (date of mailing) after the defendant has been issued a warning notice. This assessment can be for either an FTA or FTP. However, the court has the discretion to remove or reduce the assessment when asked in writing or at the time of hearing without the defendant paying the other fines and penalties.

Situation #2: The FTP of FTA/FTP

In this situation, you either FTP your original fine ordered by the court or you received a payment plan from the court and did not complete the program of payments. When you fail to pay a fine or make payments as directed by the court, you are in violation of CVC 40508 (b) and a hold could be placed on your DL in accordance with CVC 40509.5, Release Upon Promise to Appear and 40510.5, Installment Payment of Bail Forfeitures. This hold could lead to a DMV DL suspension if the fine and penalties go unpaid after the prescribed time limits. When you find yourself in an FTA/FTP situation, consult with a traffic ticket attorney.

Consult with a Traffic Attorney in Los Angeles County

Bigger & Harman proudly serve the residents of California by providing first-class representation for those accused of violating the CA Vehicle Code. When you FTA/FTP, the state often adds further penalties and fines. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, before you make any payments to GCS or a court clerk. Making a payment could forfeit your right to a hearing to determine your innocence.

Bigger & Harman regularly appear in Los Angeles County traffic courts, including Santa Clarita. When you require legal advice regarding fighting a ticket or clearing a hold or suspension on your DL, send an email: We will reply with your options as soon as we return to our office.

You can also find legal guidance and rule changes from Bigger & Harman’s Facebook page. In addition, you can read reviews and feedback left by their clients on Avvo, Nolo, or Yelp.

Se habla Español 661.349.9755.


CA Rules of Court Rule 4.106 & 4.335, Reduce or Vacate Civil Assessment & 4.102, Uniform Bail & Penalty Schedule

CA Vehicle Code 1748.1, 40508, 40509.5, and 40510.5

CA Penal Code 1214.1

Official Police Garages website
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