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undefinedFrequently, a driver gets a red-light traffic ticket without knowing it, and therefore, has a failure to appear (FTA/FTP), and a bench warrant is issued.

Regardless of the severity of the original ticket, if you fail to appear or pay (FTA/FTP), another ticket will likely be issued by the judge on the day you should have been in traffic court to resolve your traffic ticket. The sitting judge is the only one who can issue a “bench” warrant.  

Never Ignore a Traffic Ticket, or You Could Wind Up with a Bench Warrant for Your Arrest

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 40508Release Upon Promise to Appear, paragraph (a) warns, “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 the case of the red-light traffic ticket that gets mailed to the driver, it could be effortless to prove they weren’t “…willfully violating his or her written promise to appear…” They never made one in the first place. If the driver moved and never received the traffic ticket, they might be guilty of not updating their address with the DMV, but they didn’t “promise to appear,” as a driver would when issued a traffic ticket by a law enforcement officer (LEO). 

However, when an LEO issues you a traffic ticket, never ignore the ticket or FTA/FTP. Regardless of your financial situation, you can go to court, challenge the ticket, and even if you are found guilty, request the judge consider your income and give you a payment plan. If you do not, you could be guilty of a misdemeanor crime for FTA/FTP.

Plausible Reasons for Not Appearing in Traffic Court 

If you did not know the ticket, that would mean you didn’t willfully FTA, but what if you did know. Some other reasons a judge would accept for FTA/FTP are:

  • You were deported and not in the country.
  • You were performing military duty.
  • You were hospitalized.

A traffic court judge will likely not accept the accuse that you knew you're innocent; that’s why you didn’t go to court, or you were attending a friend or relative’s wedding, you were working, or in school. 

Civil Penalties for FTA/FTP

When you FTA/FTP, the traffic court judge could find you guilty in absentia and order a fine amount. If you do not pay that within the required time, the county could add a civil penalty of $300, and then, if you still do not pay after a certain period, add another for a total of $600. 

You might not know of any of this until a collection agency notifies you. Do not pay the collection agency without consulting a traffic attorney. If you pay, that could be considered an admission of guilt. Always consult an attorney when you learn you have a bench warrant due to an FTA/FTP for a traffic ticket. 

In Kern County, Call the Traffic Defense Team of Bigger & Harman to Resolve Your Bench Warrant & Traffic Ticket 

Regardless of how you learn of the bench warrant for an FTA/FTP from a traffic ticket, call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

We handle traffic law cases for CA drivers using an affordable flat fee. Give us a call.



The 2021 CA Driver Handbook English y Español

CVC Section 40508Release Upon Promise to Appear

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