What used to be no problem, has become more of a dilemma because of technology. What should you do about old tickets? One thing's for sure, ignoring them will not help. If you do not resolve those old tickets, your license will likely get suspended, and you could get another charge for failure to appear (FTA). Eventually, you will get caught and have to pay the price.
Each year in California, law enforcement officers (LEO) issue 5 million tickets to its roughly 24 million drivers. Amazingly, only around five percent of those tickets get challenged. They pay the ticket and attend Traffic Violators School (TVS) if eligible; or accept the increased insurance premiums for three years, which could cost the average driver more than $1500. Even more amazing, are those who do nothing.
The Driver’s License Compact
Old tickets will not just disappear; they will come back to haunt you. Usually, at the most inopportune time. It used to be; if your license got suspended in CA, you could just move to another state, apply for and take the tests to get a new license. That does not work anymore. In fact, with the Driver’s License Compact (DLC), a cooperation between states to notify each other of unresolved traffic tickets, suspensions, warrants, and old tickets are almost impossible to escape.
Resolving traffic tickets received in other states is crucial. Let’s say you get a ticket for careless driving in Nevada. California does not have a careless driving law. So, where your license got suspended in Nevada, it might not be in CA, since we only recognize reckless driving. As long as you resolve the ticket, it might never make it to your motor vehicle driving record (MVR).
Failure to Appear (FTA) for Old Tickets
If you fail to resolve your traffic ticket or go to court, that is a failure to appear (FTA). CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear occurs when a driver willfully violates the written promise to appear. You may believe you never promised to appear in writing, but that is what you did when you signed your citation. Here’s the kicker, the code states that person is, “…guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.”
In other words, the charge for speeding or whatever your first ticket was for, could be dismissed, and you would still have to resolve the FTA. Although, it usually works in the opposite order. The driver must fix the issue of the FTA and then challenge the ticket.
CVC 40508 does have an escape clause when it states, “…person willfully violating his or her written promise to appear…” You did not willfully violate your promise if you were hospitalized, in jail, on military orders, or deported. You should contact a traffic ticket attorney for assistance in resolving your FTA and the old tickets.
Consult a Traffic Law Attorney Who Regularly Assists Tulare County Drivers
When you have old tickets, you must get those resolved, especially when there is an FTA attached. Prospective employers will likely look at unresolved tickets as a sign of irresponsibility. Worse yet is the possibility of having to pay thousands of dollars in fines, civil fees, and late charges. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
Time and again, we sit through traffic court where a driver has thousands of dollars of unpaid tickets, and they ask the judge to reduce their fines and drop the civil penalties. The driver leaves after having their penalty reduced to $2000, knowing they still can’t afford those fines. We’re thinking, “If only they had contacted us, we could likely have gotten those tickets dismissed.” Think about this, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 95 percent of the 5 percent of people who hire a traffic attorney to represent them in traffic court get their charges dismissed.
We regularly appear in Visalia and Porterville traffic courts to represent clients who need assistance resolving traffic tickets. We represent clients with 100+ mph speeding tickets on 65, 198 or 99 in Tulare County Traffic Court. Give us a call and let’s discuss your situation. The call is free, and you are under no obligation to continue.
The 2018 CA Drivers Handbook .pdf
CVC 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear
The Traffic Resource Center’s Brief, The Driver License CompactThe Bureau of Justice Statistics website