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CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 40509.5Release Upon Promise to Appear, allows a DMV hold on a person’s driving license when there is a failure to appear (FTA) or otherwise resolve a traffic ticket before the court date. 

Courts are required by law to send the driver a courtesy reminder at least ten days before the court date. However, non-receipt is not grounds to excuse an FTA, but might be considered to remove a DMV Hold. 

What Is a DMV Hold?

When a driver receives a traffic ticket, the law enforcement officer gets them to sign the ticket. Their signature on the ticket is like a personal recognizance release in which the individual’s signature is a written promise to appear or resolve the ticket.

CVC 40508Release Upon Promise to Appear stipulates that an individual who is an FTA or fails to resolve the ticket is guilty of a misdemeanor FTA.  The court can enact CVC 40509.5 and order the DMV to place a hold on the driver’s license. 

Before AB 185, in 2017, the DMV could suspend the driver’s license. When the Governor signed AB 185, the DMV cannot suspend the driver’s license simply for failure to pay (FTP). When the original ticket was a misdemeanor or felony, the DMV might be able to suspend the driver’s license after the DMV hold has been in place for a period of time or when the individual does not have a valid CA driver’s license.

What Are the Legal Defenses to Dispute a DMV Hold?

The first thing a driver should do is consult an attorney when they get notified of a DMV Hold, especially when they find out through an LEO who tickets them for driving while suspended. If you did not get notified, you should challenge the ticket for driving under suspension; but first, it is best to get the FTA cleared by a traffic attorney.

No Notice of the DMV Hold 

This might be an allowable defense, but you should discuss the particular circumstances with a traffic attorney. When notice of the DMV hold was not provided, you cannot be held accountable for driving under a hold.

FTA by Necessity

There are several legal reasons for an FTA, such as:

  • You were not able to attend because you were too far (out of the state or the country because of military orders)
  • You were hospitalized
  • You were deported

A traffic attorney can clear your FTA and DMV hold without your presence.

The DMV Hold Was a Mistake

When the individual can show they paid the fine, requested a delay, or the ticket got dismissed, this can support the argument that court mistakenly ordered the DMV hold.

Delano in Kern County Traffic Ticket Attorneys & DMV Hold Advocates

Bigger & Harman, APC, regularly appears in Delano Traffic Court to assist CA drivers. Call us at (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

When you need assistance with a DMV Hold or DMV NOTS Hearing, we are here to help. Give us a call to discuss your situation or send us an email,  


CVC 40508 & 40509.5Release Upon Promise to Appear

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