Do you have a traffic ticket in Los Angeles? When you get cited for a traffic ticket in Los Angeles, it can often be confusing as to what to do next.
As a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, I have been helping people like you successfully resolve traffic tickets throughout Los Angeles County for nearly a decade.
In this blog post, I discuss 3 main points you should consider to ensure you’ve dealt with your Los Angeles traffic ticket effectively.
#1 Traffic Ticket Los Angeles – Do I have a failure to appear or a future court date?
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you have a future court date or a failure to appear. The date to appear is written at the bottom of the citation near your signature, as shown in the picture below.
The citation above indicates an appearance was to be made by 10-21-15 in the Metropolitan Courthouse. If this was your ticket and you did not pay your Los Angeles traffic ticket online or appear in court on that date to contest it, then you would be charged with a failure to appear.
#2 Traffic Ticket Los Angeles – How to Handle a Failure to Appear
If you have not yet failed to appear, you can proceed to the next question to learn what to do next with your Los Angeles traffic ticket. If you have failed to appear, this section describes the options available to you.
In Los Angeles County, when you have failed to appear on a traffic ticket, you will no longer be able to pay your ticket online.
Your case will be referred to a collections agency called GC Services.
Additionally, a DMV hold will suspend your driving privileges in California if you do not take action in time.
Analysis: Clear the DMV hold in court, or clear it by paying GC Services?
GC Services will often pressure you to pay them in exchange for clearing the hold from your license, but this is not the only way to get the hold cleared from your license, nor is it the best way.
The better way to get the DMV hold cleared is to calendar a court date. In court, the hold will be cleared after your first hearing, which is called your arraignment.
The downside of handling your ticket in court is that you may have to wait a bit longer for the hold to clear, depending on the court’s soonest available court date. But the downsides of paying GC Services can be much greater.
When you pay GC Services, you are pleading guilty to all charges, including the failure to appear charge. In some cases, the failure to appear conviction will show up on your criminal background as a misdemeanor.
Additionally, you will receive a point on your DMV record if the ticket you paid with GC Services was a moving violation, which can cause your insurance rates to go up and can even cause your license to become suspended again if you have too many points in a given period of time.
When you handle your traffic ticket in court, a world of possibilities opens up, including:
- potential dismissal of your entire case
- significant reduction in fines on the failure to appear and infraction charges below the amount GC Services wants
- reduction in severity from a misdemeanor to an infraction for the failure to appear charge
- clear the DMV hold
- keep points off of your DMV record by getting a dismissal, amendment, or traffic school
Really, the only downside to handling your case in court is that you may have to wait a bit longer for the hold to clear than if you paid GC Services.
But this depends on the individual courthouse your case is assigned to – some court branches have much sooner court dates than others.
In my opinion, a slightly longer wait to get your license would far outweigh all of the other negative consequences associated with paying GC Services.
If you have more questions regarding the issue of timing to clear your driver’s license, please feel free to contact me below for a free consultation.
#3 Traffic Ticket Los Angeles – Can (and Should) I Pay My Traffic Ticket Online?
As discussed above, if you have a failure to appear, you will not have the option to pay your traffic ticket online.
Even without a failure to appear, there are some types of violations that require a mandatory appearance without the ability to pay online. These types of violations include speeding over 100 mph and cigarette litter offenses.
In all other cases you can pay your traffic ticket infraction on the Los Angeles County traffic ticket website here. But before you do, consider a few questions you may want to ask yourself first (discussed below).
Analysis: Pay My Ticket, or Fight it in Court?
Before you pay your ticket online, you want to assess whether the ticket is a moving violation, and whether the online system gives you the ability to request traffic school for your ticket.
In some cases, the court’s online system will not allow you to sign up for traffic school, even though it will take your payment. Before paying online, make sure:
- You are eligible for traffic school (you are eligible if you haven’t completed traffic school in the past 18 months)
- The online system is giving you an option to sign up for, or to request traffic school
- You choose a traffic school on the Los Angeles County’s approved list
Of course, if you believe you are not guilty of the offense you are charged with, you should opt to fight the ticket in court.
You can find your ticket online to schedule your first court date – which is called your arraignment – on the Los Angeles traffic ticket site here.
You can also learn more about speeding ticket cost here.
A fix-it ticket refers to a traffic violation issued not because of the way you were driving, but because of the condition of your vehicle.
Fix-it tickets may include violations such as:
- VC 4000 – No Registration
- Driving with Expired Tags
- Window Tint Tickets
- Driving without Insurance
- Headlight Out
For clarity, you cannot “fix” a no insurance ticket if you were not actually insured on the date of the violation, however, if you were insured but were unable to show proof to the officer at the time you were stopped, you can later get this ticket dismissed by proving you were validly insured on that date.
For no registration tickets, the Los Angeles courts are more liberal than for no insurance tickets and will normally dismiss your no registration ticket upon proof of after-acquired registration or upon proof you no longer own the vehicle.
For all other fix-it tickets, these are solved by correcting the issue (for example, correcting the window tint) and taking a copy of your citation to local law enforcement to have them sign off on the correction.
But you are not done yet! You have to show proof of correction to the court in order to avoid receiving a failure to appear on your correctable violation.
This is a common mistake my clients make and one that can quickly snowball into a much bigger mess, including being charged with failure to appear with a DMV license suspension.
Traffic Ticket Los Angeles – Get Help from an Attorney
If you need help with your traffic ticket in traffic court, you can call me at 888-250-8450 or reach me below for a free consultation.