LA Traffic Ticket: 5 Common Errors Los Angeles Drivers Should Avoid

If you received an LA traffic ticket, you may feel angry, frustrated, embarrassed, or confused.

la traffic ticket

It is easy to procrastinate dealing with a Los Angeles traffic ticket because it can often feel like a waste of time and money, and you may still be in denial about the fact you got popped with a traffic ticket in the first place.

As a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, I handle “traffic tickets gone bad” for my clients, which means I see the same pitfalls Los Angeles drivers tend to face time and again.

In this post I share 5 of the most common errors Los Angeles drivers make after receiving an LA traffic ticket.

#1: Failure to Appear on Your LA Traffic Ticket

When you do not pay your LA traffic ticket on time or when you do not schedule a court date on time, this is called a “failure to appear” (FTA).

But don’t feel like a weirdo if you have an LA traffic ticket with a failure to appear, because you are definitely not alone: a major portion of my law practice is devoted to helping people with FTA traffic tickets – it happens a lot!

But although FTAs are common, it does not mean they are by any means fun. Usually an FTA means:

  1. DMV will place a hold on your driver’s license;
  2. DMV will suspend your driver’s license;
  3. the Court will refer your case to the collections agency, GC Services; and
  4. your traffic ticket fine will significantly increase.

Rather than pay the collections agency and cause more problems for yourself, it is best to resolve your ticket in court where it belongs.

If you need help getting the best results on your case in court, you can contact me below for a free consultation.

#2: Waiting for a Courtesy Notice that Will Never Come

Even if the officer giving you a citation tells you to wait for a notice in the mail reminding you of your court date, do not believe him.

It would be a mistake to rely on a “courtesy notice” coming in the mail to remind you of your ticket due date. Only in some cases does a court in LA County send this notice and it is not consistent between the individual court branches within LA County.

In the past, you may have received a notice in the mail reminding you of the need to pay your ticket or to schedule a court appearance to contest your ticket, but the courts are doing away with this practice.

Your written signature at the bottom of the ticket is your promise to appear. Somewhere near your signature at the bottom of the citation is the time, date, and address of your court appearance. Make sure to pay attention to this section or you may fail to appear.

#3: Failure to Provide Proof of Correction on LA Traffic Ticket

In some cases an LA traffic ticket involves a “correctable violation.” A correctable violation includes charges such as:

  1. Driving without registration (VC 4000)
  2. Driving without license plates attached (VC 5200)
  3. Driving without registration tab attached (VC 5204)
  4. Improper window tint (VC 26708)

What often happens with these types of tickets is the driver will correct the issue after receiving the citation, but will forget to inform the court the issue has been corrected, and consequently you will be charged with a failure to appear.

In some cases, drivers will mail in proof of correction with a check for payment, but the correspondence is never received and the check is never cashed by the court clerk.

The best way to handle these cases is in person. You can schedule an appointment with a Los Angeles court clerk here. If you have a failure to appear, you can contact me for assistance below.

#4: Paying GC Services on LA Traffic Ticket with FTA

Whether you mistakenly waited for a courtesy notice and consequently failed to appear, mishandled a correctable violation, or simply lost track of your court date (this happens a lot!), your case will eventually be sent to GC Services for collections.

Paying GC Services is not the best course of action, because it can result in:

  1. points on your DMV record;
  2. a failure to appear as a misdemeanor on your criminal background, under VC 40508;
  3. drastically increased fines; and
  4. being taken advantage of by an agency that doesn’t have your best interest in mind (they may lie to you about your true rights and options).

On the other hand, in court you have the opportunity to:

  1. keep harmful points from going on your DMV record;
  2. reduce the failure to appear from a misdemeanor to an infraction; and
  3. get your fines dismissed or significantly reduced.

#5: Paying GC Services on LA Traffic Ticket with FTP

A “failure to pay” (FTP) occurs when an LA traffic ticket has been resolved in court (because you either pleaded guilty or were found guilty by the judge) and you failed to pay the fines owed to the court by a specific due date.

In many cases, an FTP does not hold your license, so make sure to check with DMV before rushing off to pay an FTP ticket in the amount of thousands of dollars.

You can download a copy of your DMV report for $2 on the DMV’s website here in order to view all FTAs or FTPs that may be holding your license.

Additionally, under a new law you can petition the court to seek reduction in the balance you owe on an FTP, based on the court’s decision of your ability to pay. You can find more information on the petition to reduce your civil assessment and FTP fines here.

Legal Help in Traffic Court on Your LA Traffic Ticket

Many traffic tickets are easily resolved without an attorney. But sometimes when you get yourself into a mess, an attorney’s expertise and efforts in court on your behalf can significantly improve your situation.

To get help with your LA traffic ticket, get started by clicking the button below to request a free consultation with me.

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