If you’ve received one or more Los Angeles tickets, your situation can quickly turn in to a huge hassle if you do not properly handle the traffic tickets.
Do I Have to Appear in Court for Los Angeles Tickets?
For most Los Angeles tickets, you do not have to appear in court. Many traffic tickets can be paid online using the Los Angeles County traffic court website.
However, some traffic tickets require a mandatory appearance, such as:
- VC 23111 – throwing cigarette litter (or ashing your cigarette) upon a freeway
- VC 22348(b) – speeding over 100 mph
- “Traffic tickets” that are actually filed as misdemeanors, such as driving with a suspended license
On correctable violations, also known as “fix-it tickets,” you’ll have to appear in court in front of the judge to show you got the issue corrected. A common fix-it ticket is driving with expired tags in California.
Proof of correction can be shown by taking your citation (you can get a copy of your citation from the traffic clerk if you’ve lost it) to a nearby police station and having an officer sign off or stamp your citation, indicating the issue has been corrected.
Next, you take that proof of correction before the judge on your court date. Some Los Angeles traffic courts will allow you to show proof of correction at the traffic clerk’s window, in which case you won’t have to go before the judge.
Los Angeles Tickets with Failure to Appear
Whether your Los Angeles tickets require a mandatory court appearance, or simply need to be paid online, be sure to handle the matter BEFORE the due date on the bottom of your citation. If you don’t handle the ticket by the due date, you’ll be additionally charged with failure to appear.
When you fail to appear on a traffic ticket in Los Angeles County, a few negative things will happen:
- A hold will be placed on your driver’s license, which an officer will see if you get pulled over.
- The driver’s license hold will turn into a suspension of your driver’s license by the DMV.
- You’ll be referred to the collections agency called GC Services, which collects on all unpaid traffic tickets in Los Angeles County.
- Your original traffic ticket fine will increase to 4-6 times the original amount (usually a minimum of approximately $800, to as high as $1,000 to $2,000 dollars, depending on the charges).
GC Services will often lie to you and tell you that you have to pay them to clear your license. But don’t pay GC Services if you don’t have to, because when you pay them you’re pleading guilty to the ticket and will receive consequences beyond just the high fines:
- You may get a failure to appear on your criminal record, as a misdemeanor – it doesn’t look good when a potential employer does a background check and sees you have a criminal charge for failure to appear in court. It looks irresponsible, and some employers will deny you employment if you have a criminal record and haven’t gotten an expungement.
- You may get points on your DMV record, if the underlying citation charged you with a moving violation (such as speeding, running a stop sign, etc.). Points on your DMV record can cause your insurance premium to rise substantially.
You do NOT have to pay GC Services as long as:
- you haven’t seen the judge yet – this is the failure to appear situation; and
- you haven’t made a payment to GC Services yet under the traffic ticket amnesty program (the traffic ticket amnesty program is no longer available, unless you’ve already made one payment toward the program, in which case you can complete payment of the amnesty balance).
Your ticket may be with GC Services because you’ve already seen the judge and were ordered to pay fines, but you did not pay those fines on time. This is called the “failure to pay” situation, or “matters set for compliance.” In this situation, you cannot get another court date and you must pay GC Services to clear the driver’s license hold (however, see the next point to see if it applies to you).
Los Angeles tickets that are older than five years old, whether they are a failure to appear or failure to pay, will no longer hold your license.
As a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, I often get calls from people seeking my assistance on tickets older than five years old. They are usually in shock when I tell them they don’t have to pay the ticket or hire a lawyer to get their license reinstated.
Get Help with Los Angeles Tickets
Not all Los Angeles tickets require a traffic ticket attorney. In fact, most do not. My clients tend to be those who:
- are charged with failure to appear;
- have a mandatory court date but are unable to make it;
- are charged with a misdemeanor traffic ticket; or
- are charged with a moving violation but are not traffic school eligible (at risk of getting a point on their DMV record).
For a free consultation on whether I can add value to your case, you can call me (Attorney Paul Denni) at 888-250-8450. If you’d prefer me to contact you, please fill out the contact form below.