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Ignoring a Speeding Ticket in California
When you see those flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror, it’s natural to feel a sense of dread. The consequences of a speeding ticket in California can be immediate and hefty, including fines, court fees, and points added to your driving record. However, the ramifications of ignoring a speeding ticket can be even more significant, contrary to some common misconceptions.
The Myth of the Vanishing Speeding Ticket
A prevailing myth is that if you ignore a speeding ticket, it will eventually “go away” or “fall off” your record. Unfortunately, this is not true. In California, unpaid traffic citations do not just disappear over time. Instead, they can lead to additional penalties and long-lasting consequences.
What are the Consequences?
First and foremost, ignoring a speeding ticket will result in an automatic “guilty” plea, as stated in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) 40508. This may result in the maximum fine being levied, often significantly more than what you would have initially paid if you’d responded to the ticket in a timely manner.
Consider the case of Jake, a Los Angeles resident, who chose to ignore a speeding ticket he received for driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. Had Jake addressed the ticket promptly, he would have faced a base fine of $35, as per California’s uniform bail and penalty schedule, plus additional fees and assessments, totaling around $238. However, by ignoring the ticket, the court entered a “guilty” plea on his behalf, and he was assessed the maximum fine, which reached up to $490.
The Charges Keep Piling Up
Secondly, ignoring a speeding ticket leads to a “failure to appear” (FTA) violation under CVC 40508. This can result in a misdemeanor charge, leading to potential jail time, probation, and an additional fine of up to $1,000. This is a criminal offense that will appear on your record, potentially affecting future employment and other aspects of your life.
Additionally, an FTA will also lead to your driver’s license being suspended. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the court communicate regarding unpaid tickets, leading to an automatic license suspension until the ticket is resolved. You might think you can continue to drive unnoticed, but in the era of electronic records and license plate recognition technology, getting caught driving on a suspended license is more likely than ever – a violation that carries its own set of hefty penalties.
Furthermore, the court can issue a civil assessment of up to $300 under CVC 1214.1 for the FTA, and an additional penalty under CVC 40508.5, where the DMV can withhold the renewal of your vehicle registration until the ticket is paid.
All of this to say, ignoring a speeding ticket in the state of California will result in the precise opposite of the common misconception that traffic infractions disappear as long as you ignore them.
An Attorney Can Make All the Difference
If you or a loved one is dealing with an unaddressed speeding ticket and you believe that you have accrued the fines mentioned above, then contact a traffic ticket attorney. An attorney has experience with reducing or removing fines, suspensions, and penalties such as points from your driving record.