IMPORTANT UPDATE ABOUT GC SERVICES: The Los Angeles Superior Court is currently no longer using GC Services to collect on unpaid traffic tickets. To learn the new rules for traffic tickets with a failure to appear, you can read our article on how to handle your Los Angeles traffic ticket here.
GC Services collections agency (“GCS”) was in contract with the Los Angles County Superior Court to collect on all unpaid traffic tickets under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County.
It used to be that you had no other option but to pay GCS. Now, you still have the option to resolve your traffic ticket in traffic court with far better results.
As a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, I have been resolving traffic tickets with GCS for my clients for nearly a decade. I am well-acquainted with the tricks this collections agency used to get you to pay them, when it is not always in your best interest to do so.
Also, it is better for your DMV record and you criminal record if you did not pay GCS.
When Tickets Got Referred to GC Services
Tickets used to be sent to collections with GCS if you fell under one of the following two scenarios.
Scenario #1: Failure to Appear
Your traffic ticket was sent to GCS if you never appeared in court to handle your traffic ticket and you never made a payment arrangement with the court. This is also known as a failure to appear, or FTA charge.
If you failed to appear in court, this will also cause a 40509.5 hold to be placed on your driver’s license which will turn into a driver’s license suspension if you do not act quickly.
As discussed more fully below, you do not want to pay GCS under this scenario.
Scenario #2: Failure to Pay
Your traffic ticket was also sent to GCS if you have already been to court and saw the judge, but didn’t pay your fines by the time the court ordered you to do so. This scenario is called a “failure to pay” or “FTP”.
If you look up your case on the Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Website, the status of your traffic ticket will say “matters set for compliance” if you have a failure to pay.
If you are not sure with you have a failure to appear or failure to pay, please contact me using the “free consultation” button at the bottom of this post for assistance.
If you have a failure to pay, you are not entitled to another court date and in this case you had to pay GC Services, which could be done on their website here, but now you have to pay the court directly for a ticket that is an FTP.
Don’t Pay GC Services When You Have a Failure to Appear (Scenario #1)
If you fall under Scenario #1 and have a failure to appear, you should not pay GCS under these circumstances.
In this situation, you still have the opportunity to see the judge to resolve your ticket, and it is far better to handle your traffic ticket in court than to pay the collections agency.
GC Services is not your attorney or your advocate in any way. They had one job to do: to collect your money. This is precisely why they aren’t going to tell you about the negative consequences associated with paying them on your traffic tickets.
When you paid GC Services, you were pleading guilty to your traffic ticket and also to the failure to appear charge. This can harm you in the following ways, discussed below.
If You Paid GCS, You May Have Received Harmful Points on Your DMV Record
A moving violation refers to any traffic ticket for which a conviction would result in one or more “points” on your DMV record.
When your traffic ticket is a moving violation (such as speeding, running a stop sign or red light, etc.), a point will go on your DMV record which can increase your insurance rates drastically, and in some cases doubling it.
Due to the DMV point system that monitors how many points you get in a given period of time, paying GC Services can actually backfire on you and cause your license to remain suspended.
Let’s say you already have two points on your DMV record, and you also have a traffic ticket for driving with a suspended license under VC 14601.1. in collections with GC Services.
In an attempt to clear the hold from this ticket, you did as GCS told you to do and you paid them on your ticket. Remember that when you pay GC Services on a ticket, you are pleading guilty to it, so the conviction will appear on your DMV report.
Since VC 14601.1 is a moving violation that carries two points, this would put you at a total point count of four points with the DMV, and the DMV will suspend your license with a negligent operator suspension because you received too many points within a given period of time.
A negligent operator suspension can last as long as 6 months, and now you are worse off than you were before.
If You Paid GCS, You May Have Received a Misdemeanor on Your Criminal Record
Paying GCS also means you could be convicted of a failure to appear in court, under VC 40508.
The reason this is significant is because in some cases this failure to appear conviction can appear on a criminal background check!
The reason this can happen is because Vehicle Code 40508 can be filed as a misdemeanor or an infraction (this is called a “wobbler” offense, meaning the conviction can wobble up to a misdemeanor or down to an infraction).
In court, some judges go so far as to advise traffic ticket defendants with failure to appear charges of their right for the case to be treated as a misdemeanor (as you may guess, not many people raise their hand and volunteer for that opportunity).
The benefit to fighting your traffic ticket in court is that the failure to appear charge will be reduced to an infraction, which will keep your criminal record clear.
The reason the failure to appear is knocked down to an infraction in traffic court is because traffic courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, meaning they do not have jurisdiction over misdemeanor or felony matters.
Consequently, the VC 40508 charge is automatically bumped down to an infraction when you exercise your right to go before a judge in traffic court.
(Note: if you’ve already paid GCS and the failure to appear is now appearing on your criminal background, as expungement lawyers we can get this misdemeanor dismissed from your criminal record – just contact me below).
If You Paid GCS, Your Fines Will be Enormous
GCS may have tried to tempt you with a “payment plan”, but I hope you didn’t fall for it – over the course of time these fines will be astronomical and there’s not even a short term benefit to it.
GCS usually wanted 4-5 times the amount of the original traffic ticket balance. When I handle traffic tickets in court for my clients, the tickets are either dismissed entirely or the fines are greatly reduced from the amount GC Services was requesting.
What Happens if You Do Nothing?
When you have a failure to appear in court, the traffic court will notify the DMV who in turn will place a “hold” on your driver’s license.
If the hold on your driver’s license is not cleared, the hold will turn into a driver’s license suspension.
If you ever get pulled over by law enforcement when your license is suspended, you are at risk of being cited for driving with a suspended license, and the officer can also impound your car.
To avoid this negative snowball effect, you must do something with your failure to appear traffic ticket. The best option is to fight your ticket in traffic court rather than paying it outright.
How GC Services May Have Tried to Deceive You
When you had a traffic ticket with GCS, they probably did all they could to convince you to pay them.
They may have made it seem like paying them was the only option for clearing the hold from your driver’s license. What they weren’t telling you is that when your ticket is in failure to appear status, you can still get a court date, and the driver’s license hold will still be removed on your first traffic court date hearing.
When You Are Stuck and Must Pay
As discussed above, if you’ve been sentenced by the Court already this is called a failure to pay/ FTP.
In this case only, it used to be that you would have to pay GCS in full to get your license back. Since you cannot get another court date when you have an FTP, you used to be stuck paying them under the FTP scenario. Under a new law, FTP tickets will no longer hold your license in California.
Important Note: even when you had an FTP and could not get another court date, the 5 Year DMV Purge rule says that tickets older than 5 years old (whether FTA or FTP) will no longer hold your license.
This means that if your tickets are older than 5 years old, you can go get your suspended license reinstated today without paying GC Services one penny – even on FTAs! (Make sure to point out to the DMV employee the age of your ticket because sometimes even the DMV overlooks this rule.)
What About the “Amnesty” Program?
There is a lot of confusion about the GCS traffic ticket amnesty program, which actually is no longer available anyway.
In the past, if you talked to GCS they may have asked you whether you wanted to “sign up for their amnesty program.”
Under the traffic ticket amnesty program (the government program), if you received a traffic ticket on or before January 1st, 2013, then you qualified for a reduction of between 50-80% of the collections amount.
What’s important is if you did sign up for the amnesty program and made even one payment toward the program, you were no longer able to handle your case in court and were unfortunately stuck paying GC Services the remainder of the balance.
How I Can Help as a Traffic Ticket Attorney
When your license is suspended because you have failed to appear on a traffic ticket, you do not have to pay collections to clear the hold from your driver’s license anymore.
In this case you can still see a judge, and it is much better to handle your ticket in court if this option is available to you in order to preserve your DMV record, criminal record, and reducing your fines, as discussed above.
As a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, I’ve been dealing with GCS for my clients for almost a decade and have helped thousands of clients get better results in court. I can do the same for you, including:
- put your case back in court and handle everything for you without the need for you to be present in court with me
- clear the hold from your traffic ticket and help you get your driver’s license reinstated
- resolve your ticket with better results in court (lower fines, no points on your DMV record, and no misdemeanor on your criminal record for the FTA charge).
Don’t be fooled by GCS – they are nothing more than a collections agency who wants your money, and they are no longer in charge of collecting for the LA County Superior Court anyway.
As your attorney, I owe you a fiduciary duty to work in your best interest, which includes helping preserve your DMV record, keeping your criminal record clean, and helping you make the best financial decisions when you’re considering how to deal with an unpaid ticket in collections.
To speak with me personally for a free consultation concerning your traffic tickets, you can contact me by clicking the button below.