A traffic ticket attorney in Los Angeles can help you navigate the often confusing process of dealing with your traffic ticket. Do you pay it? Do you fight it? What is the process?
My name is Attorney Paul Denni. I’m a traffic ticket attorney handling cases in Los Angeles, California.
A large part of my law practice is devoted to providing traffic ticket defense for our clients throughout Los Angeles County, as well as assisting our clients with traffic ticket related issues.
I’m assuming you found me because you received a traffic ticket, but aren’t quite sure what to do with it. As a traffic ticket attorney whose handled thousands of cases for my clients throughout the Los Angeles area, my mission is to first educate the public regarding traffic tickets, and secondly to provide legal assistance if it makes sense in your situation.
You’re a Traffic Ticket Attorney…..WTF?
It may seem odd at first to consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney to help you fight your ticket. And you’re right: I reject the cases of many who contact me who assume they need assistance from a lawyer when in fact they can save themselves the expense by either paying the ticket or representing themselves in court, without many negative consequences either way.
But in many cases, a “traffic ticket” – although it may sound harmless – requires the expertise of a lawyer because there are exacerbating circumstances affecting your situation.
9 Reasons You May Need to Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Los Angeles County
#1 A traffic ticket attorney can help when you have a failure to appear in court and are sent to the collections agency GC Services.
When you fail to appear in Los Angeles County on your traffic ticket and are sent to GC Services, a whole new world of problems is created.
You’ll be charged with a failure to appear. A failure to appear (“FTA”) is punishable under the law as per Vehicle Code 40508. When you fail to appear on your traffic ticket, your case will be sent to a collections agency called GC Services, and the court clerk will no longer talk to you about your case. Instead, the clerk will direct you to speak with GC Services.
GC Services will try and get you to pay them, and will tempt you by telling you they’ll clear the hold from your license. But if you pay GC Services, you’ll be automatically convicted under VC 40508 and this conviction will sometimes show up when a criminal background check is conducted (because a failure to appear can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction).
The benefit of hiring a lawyer in this situation is that a traffic ticket attorney can still get the hold cleared from your driver’s license by putting your ticket back with the court. The hold will be removed from your license at the first hearing on your case, which is called your arraignment.
Further, by handling the FTA charge in traffic court, your attorney can:
- get the FTA charge dismissed if you have a legal defense (there are three legal defenses to an FTA: (1) you were hospitalized, (2) in the military, or (3) incarcerated on the date you were supposed to appear in court); or
- get the FTA charge dismissed if your officer doesn’t show up at trial; or
- at the very least, reduce the FTA to an infraction so it won’t show up on your criminal background.
A hold will be placed on your driver’s license. Under Vehicle Code 40509.5, the DMV will place a hold on your driver’s license until the ticket is either paid to GC Services, or handled in court (see above for at least one good reason not to pay GC Services, although there are several more reasons, as discussed below).
The DMV will send you a letter informing you of the hold and will give you a future date as to when the DMV intends on suspending your license. If you don’t take care of the ticket, the hold will turn into a license suspension which is reportable to your insurance and may cause your insurance rates to rise.
Furthermore, if your license becomes suspended and you get pulled over for any reason, the officer may learn your license is suspended and cite you with driving on a suspended license under Vehicle Code 14601.1.
Your fines will significantly increase. When your Los Angeles traffic ticket is sent to GC Services, your ticket amount will drastically escalate, sometimes up to 4-5 times the original amount of the ticket. This is because GC Services will charge you a $300 civil assessment for the FTA, and will charge the maximum and full amounts for all charges on the ticket, as if you were guilty for each and every one.
As a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, I’ve been dealing with GC Services on behalf of my clients for several years, and I’ve been able to repeatedly and significantly improve my clients’ situation by handling the traffic ticket in court, even after my fee to represent them.
When you are dealing with a failure to appear, it becomes confusing when the Court, the DMV, and GC Services are all giving you different stories. As your traffic ticket attorney, I represent YOU, and YOUR best interests.
Being an experienced attorney handling traffic tickets with failures to appear, I can help you separate the fact from the fiction, let you know when you should pay and when you shouldn’t, and all with the goal of IMPROVING your situation, not making it worse.
The main concern with a failure to appear traffic ticket is getting your license back, as is the case with many of my clients who desire to meet Uber driver requirements and didn’t even know their license was suspended until trying to apply to Uber!
#2: A traffic ticket attorney can help when you are not traffic school eligible.
Traffic school eligibility becomes an issue when your traffic ticket cites you with a moving violation.
A “moving violation” means a violation which, if you’re convicted, results in a point being recorded on your DMV record.
If you receive 4 points in one year, 6 points in two years, or 8 points in 3 years, you could lose your license for being classified as a “negligent operator.”
An additional negative consequence of receiving a point on your DMV record is increased insurance premiums, due to your insurer viewing you as a higher risk.
Normally, completing traffic school has the effect of keeping a point off of your DMV record. However, you’re only entitled to attend traffic school once every 18 months.
Additionally, if you’re cited with a 2-point violation, such as VC 14601.1, you are ineligible for traffic school regardless of the last time you attended it.
If you’re a commercial driver, even receiving a single point on your DMV record may cause you to lose your job.
So in the case where you are not traffic school eligible, hiring a traffic ticket attorney to help you get the ticket dismissed and/ or keep the point off of your record becomes much more pressing.
#3: A traffic ticket attorney can help when your traffic ticket is being charged as a misdemeanor.
Many “traffic tickets” are simple infractions, meaning punishable by fines only. Consequently, a “traffic ticket” is not usually a serious matter.
However, in the case where your traffic ticket is a “wobbler” offense, you may be at risk of facing a misdemeanor conviction. A “wobbler” offense means the charge can be filed as a misdemeanor or an infraction.
Examples of these types of offenses include:
- VC 12500 – driving without a license,
- VC 14601.1 – driving with a suspended license, and
- VC 23109 – exhibition of speed.
In these cases your “traffic ticket” may carry potential jail time, higher fines, and a misdemeanor on your criminal record. An experienced traffic ticket attorney can in some cases help you keep the offense off of your record entirely, and in many cases can help ensure the offense is reduced to an infraction so it will stay off of your criminal record.
#4: A traffic ticket attorney can help when your traffic ticket requires a mandatory appearance in traffic court.
Many traffic tickets can simply be paid online and then forgotten about. In some cases, a traffic ticket requires a mandatory appearance in court. A few examples include:
- VC 23111 – cigarette litter offense
- VC 22348(b) – speeding over 100 mph
- offenses charged as misdemeanors
If you are visiting the Southern California area temporarily for vacation or work, and receive a ticket while here for an offense that requires a mandatory appearance, it is often much easier and less expensive to hire an attorney to appear in court on your behalf so you don’t have to buy a plane ticket or spend the time traveling back to Southern California to handle your case.
#5: A traffic ticket attorney can add value if you are a commercial driver.
If you are a commercial driver, sometimes your employer will terminate you from employment if you receive even one point on your DMV record.
“Commercial driver traffic school” is now available, but it only counts toward removing a point for the purposes of a negligent operator suspension. It won’t remove the point for the purposes of insurance underwriting, which is a primary concern of many employers in their consideration of DMV record requirements for their drivers.
Getting a point on your DMV record can be fatal to your career if you’re a commercial driver. Hiring a traffic ticket attorney to fight the ticket in court for you will increase your odds of keeping a DMV point from going on your record so that you won’t lose your employment.
#6 A traffic ticket attorney can help when you have a bench warrant out for your arrest.
Sometimes a traffic ticket is charged as a misdemeanor, as mentioned above. When you fail to appear in court on a traffic ticket that is charged as a misdemeanor, the judge will issue a bench warrant in order to compel you to come to court.
A pending bench warrant, even for a “minor” traffic misdemeanor, may prohibit you from leaving the country or may result in your car being impounded if you are traveling by car and are pulled over by an officer for an unrelated purpose.
A traffic ticket attorney can go to court on your behalf without you present to clear a misdemeanor bench warrant, so you don’t have to risk being incarcerated if you went yourself.
#7 A traffic ticket attorney can help when you are trying to meet Uber driver requirements.
Uber driver requirements include having a valid driver’s license. Many of our clients weren’t even aware their license was suspended until trying to apply to become an Uber driver. Often, the reason for an invalid license is due to unpaid traffic tickets that caused a suspension of your driving privileges by the DMV.
As discussed above, a traffic ticket attorney can clear the DMV holds tied to the traffic tickets, and can fight the tickets in court for you to get better results than if you paid the collections agency.
It can be frustrating when you’re trying to obtain a job to make money, but it requires money in order to get there (that is, when it requires money to pay off old tickets that are holding up your driver’s license).
But often you don’t have to spend as much money as you think in order to get where you need to be. We can provide you with a free consultation and a plan to get your license back. Many of your tickets may not need to be paid. We can take a look at your driving record and let you know the path you need to take to get your license back.
It is confusing when you have the collections agency GC Services, the Court, and the DMV all giving you different stories. We can help determine exactly what you need to do to get your license back once and for all.
#8 A traffic ticket attorney can help when you are being charged with driving with a suspended license.
Unpaid traffic tickets will cause your license to become suspended, which can snowball into a much bigger mess. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, you are facing:
- potential impound of your vehicle
- if convicted, two points on your DMV record
- if convicted, potentially a misdemeanor on your criminal record
- fines ranging from $200-$500
As experienced traffic ticket attorneys, we formulate a plan to help our clients get their licenses back. Often when our clients have many tickets, they become overwhelmed because they look at the amount the collections agency is asking for and feel it is impossible to pay off all of the tickets to get their license back.
Did you know you often don’t need to pay any of the tickets GC Services is asking you to pay? GC Services will try to collect on ALL of your unpaid tickets, but only tickets that are not yet 5 years old will continue to hold your license.
We’ve had clients who have gone without their license for years, only to realize their problems were not as big as they thought they were.
Tickets that once upon a time were holding your license (and caused your license to become suspended) often are no longer holding your license anymore.
Chances are you do have one or more tickets that are not yet 5 years old, and these are still holding your license. A traffic ticket attorney can advise you as to which tickets you need to handle, and which ones you don’t, in order to get your license reinstated.
Once we clear the hold from your driver’s license in court, you can then go to the DMV and pay the $55 reinstatement fee to get your license back.
#9 A traffic ticket attorney can help when you were insured at the time of driving, but you didn’t have proof of insurance at the time the officer pulled you over.
A driving without insurance ticket in California is a very expensive ticket, usually around $800. BUT, you don’t have to pay $800 if you were actually insured for the vehicle you were driving at the time of driving.
A traffic ticket attorney can appear in court for you and show proof of your valid insurance, which the court will dismiss for only a $25 dismissal fee. If you are unable to make it to court, we can go for your to save you the huge expense of a no insurance ticket in California.
Get Help from an Experienced Traffic Ticket Attorney
There are many circumstances that may warrant hiring a traffic ticket attorney to help you handle your matter.
We handle traffic tickets in every Los Angeles traffic court in Los Angeles County.
If you think you may need the assistance of a lawyer, or have further questions, you can reach me personally for a free consultation here: