Some people only consider disputing a traffic ticket if they believe they received it unfairly. Regardless of guilt or fault, you should always consult a traffic lawyer before deciding to pay the fine.
Some traffic tickets, such as speeding, stop sign, unsafe lane change, illegal U-turns, red-light tickets, and others are considered minor infractions. These carry a fine and one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point if convicted. A paid fine is a conviction because when you pay the fine, you are pleading guilty.
Others, such as reckless driving, driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, exhibitions of speed, hit and run, and others, are misdemeanors or felony crimes.
Regardless, Never Ignore a Traffic Ticket
Whether a traffic ticket seems fair or unfair, it will only get worse if you ignore it. CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear paragraph (a) states, “(a) A person willfully violating his or her written promise to appear or a lawfully granted continuance of his or her promise to appear in court or before a person authorized to receive a deposit of bail is guilty of a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the charge upon which he or she was originally arrested.”
In other words, an illegal U-turn ticket with a possible fine of $238 depending on the county, if ignored, could cost you a criminal record and jail time.
That’s correct. Although it rarely happens, ignoring a traffic ticket could result in jail time. Despite the rarity of jail time, there are several other consequences to your record, such as an added civil fine of up to $300, damage to your credit, the inability to legally register your vehicle and obtain insurance, and collection agency actions.
Regardless of guilt, you should always consult a traffic attorney to discuss possible scenarios before deciding to dispute your ticket or pay the fine.
The Most Significant Difference Between an Infraction & a Misdemeanor/Felony Traffic Ticket
The most significant difference is jail time. No infraction, even a major infraction such as speeding 100+ mph, can result in jail time after a conviction. Misdemeanor and felony tickets typically involve serious violations that endanger lives or substantial property damage.
Take, for instance, the difference between the two incidents of hit and run. One is a misdemeanor, and the other is a felony. A misdemeanor hit and run according to CVC Section 20002, Accidents and Accident Reports, involves leaving the scene of an accident where there is property damage only.
This section of code states, “The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.”
And in paragraph (c), “Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.” The conviction can result in imprisonment in the county jail, but not for more than six months.
Let’s look at a felony hit and run.
CVC 20001, Accidents and Accident Reports, warns drivers that “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident…”
And in paragraph (b) (1), “…a person who violates subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both…”
Whatever your traffic ticket is for, it is usually better to discuss it with an attorney than to ignore it.
CA Traffic Ticket Attorneys, Bigger & Harman Can Help You Resolve Traffic Issues
When you have a minor traffic ticket or infraction, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, before it becomes a misdemeanor. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We are traffic ticket attorneys who can help you resolve your ticket before it becomes a serious situation. We can handle citations for minor moving violations in Hanford Traffic Court in Kings County.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdfCVC 20001 & 20002, Accidents and Accident Reports and CVC Section 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear