Don’t Let This Be Your Traffic Ticket Story
You get a traffic ticket for driving without a license, but you had one, you just didn’t have it on you when you were stopped. You figure to take care of it later when you get the court reminder.
The court reminder comes, and you put it on the counter thinking you’ll go the next day. The notice gets covered with other mail, and you forget all about it. Now you have a serious problem because you missed the chance to show the law enforcement officer (LEO) that you had a driver’s license, and now you’ve missed the chance to show the judge in traffic court because you missed that date too. You just committed a criminal offense.
According to CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 12500, Persons Required to Be Licensed, Exemptions, and Age Limits states that “A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code…”
Failure to Appear (FTA) or Otherwise Resolve a Traffic Ticket Is a Criminal Offense
Driving without a driver’s license in CA can be a misdemeanor crime by itself, but since you had one when you were stopped, it is a “correctable ticket.” Just as with a ticket for no proof of insurance or registration, all you have to do is take the evidence to the police department in the municipality where you received the ticket to get an officer to sign off on your ticket, take it to the court clerk, pay the handling fee, and you’re done.
However, CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear, makes it a misdemeanor for a person to fail to appear in court or otherwise resolve a traffic ticket. That person “…is guilty of a misdemeanor…”
The judge could find you guilty in absentia since they did not know you had a driver’s license when you were stopped. Yes, it’s true that if you have a California driver’s license it should show on the CHP AND DMV database. But CVC 12951, Signature and Display of Licenses, paragraph (a) states “The licensee shall have the valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway.”
However, “Any charge under this subdivision shall be dismissed when the person charged produces in court a driver’s license duly issued to that person and valid at the time of his or her arrest…”
Since you missed both of these opportunities to clear your name and driving record, you now have another charge of FTA. You must consult with a traffic attorney to clear your FTA, the original ticket, and any administrative or civil penalties. Penal Code 1214.1 authorizes the court to add up to a $300 civil penalty for FTA/FTP or failure to pay.
Failure to pay any of these penalties could be forwarded to a collection agency for action that could hurt your credit rating.
Typically, an experienced traffic attorney can get the court to drop the civil penalty. Plus, they know the language necessary on the request for the removal of the misdemeanor FTA charge. Granted, it is still at the discretion of the traffic court judge to dismiss any charges. But you stand a much better chance with a local traffic attorney.
The Bakersfield Traffic Firm of Bigger & Harman Can Resolve Your FTA/FTP & Traffic Ticket
When you let a minor traffic ticket escalate into a FTA/FTP, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We are the local traffic attorneys who can help you resolve any traffic ticket issues in Kern County Traffic Courts.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdf
CVC Section 40508, Release Upon Promise to Appear