People get traffic tickets every day, whether for speeding, running a red light, reckless driving, DUI, or even parking tickets. California traffic tickets come with notoriously high fines, as the state, counties, and cities use traffic fines as revenue generators.
While most of us grudgingly pay for our traffic tickets, it’s also easy to forget to pay the ticket. Unfortunately, life gets in the way. And for many people, money is tight, so you ignore the ticket and hope for the best, raising the question: can you go to jail for not paying traffic tickets in California?
In some cases, yes, you can face jail time for unpaid traffic tickets. Find out how you can handle these tickets before they result in severe consequences with our team at the Simmrin Law Group.
What Happens if You don’t Pay a Traffic Ticket in California?
Failure to pay traffic tickets in California can land you in hot water. Unpaid tickets can result in additional fines. Until June 2017, when the governor signed a new bill, failure to pay those fines could lead to an automatically suspended or revoked license.
Now, the DMV no longer does that. But ignoring your ticket can still lead to a suspended license or jail time. So, it’s not a straight line from failing to pay a ticket to jail time, but you can go to jail because of not paying traffic tickets in California.
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How Should You Handle Unpaid Traffic Tickets in California?
We know every case is different. Still, generally, if you’re not going to dispute a traffic ticket, we would advise you to pay the traffic ticket on time so that you avoid further fines or suspension of your license.
You may want a traffic lawyer to help you dispute a ticket or navigate the system. Lawyers step in if you’re facing more fines and a suspended license. Our experienced traffic violation lawyers can help you decide how best to move forward.
Our team can discuss what your best legal options are. Then, depending on the reasons behind your traffic tickets, we can represent you in traffic court and at DMV hearings.
Failure to Appear Charges Related to Traffic Tickets
Can you go to jail for unpaid parking tickets or other traffic tickets in California? In short, yes, but a few things happen before that. If you do not pay your ticket or appear in court, you could have your license suspended, and you may face additional penalties.
Not showing up in court is called failure to appear. If you violate the promise to appear (you signed a promise when you received your ticket), you might be found guilty of an additional crime.
If you did not already pay your traffic ticket and you fail to appear in court, the traffic court judge can do several things, including:
- Charge you a civil assessment ($300 to your fine amount)
- Hold a trial in absentia and find you guilty
- Refer your case for collection
- Issue a warrant for your arrest
Therefore, you can end up in jail for not paying traffic tickets due to a failure to appear charge. Technically, failure to appear represents a stand-alone crime in California. However, it can tie into cases involving traffic tickets.
Do You Always Have to Go to Court for Traffic Tickets?
You do not always have to appear in court after receiving a traffic ticket. Your lawyer may contact the court before your Notice to Appear date (which the police list on your ticket) and make other arrangements, for example.
However, we recommend speaking with your traffic violations lawyer before your court date to confirm the facts about your case. Additionally, you usually do not have to appear in court if you decide to simply pay the ticket before your court date.
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How Long do You Go to Jail for Not Paying a Ticket in California?
You could face serious jail time if you don’t pay your traffic ticket in California and fail to appear in court. California Vehicle Code § 40508 details the punishments for failure to appear for a traffic ticket. These penalties include up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Unpaid traffic tickets are a severe matter you can’t afford to brush off. An experienced attorney can work with you to help you avoid lengthy prison time.
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How Long do Unpaid Traffic Tickets Stay on Your Record in California?
Unpaid traffic tickets do not disappear in California. Instead, they remain in the system until you address them somehow, either by paying them off or working with a lawyer to dispute them.
You cannot outlast a ticket by hoping for the statute of limitations to run out. Instead, you can face higher fines if you wait longer to resolve the ticket. Therefore, the professionals recommend that you reach out to a lawyer immediately to handle these charges.
Types of Traffic Cases We Handle
At Simmrin Law Group, we can help you with several traffic violations, including:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Reckless driving
- Driving with a suspended license
- Driving without insurance
- Running a red light
We have a solid record of helping our clients get charges reduced or dismissed. If you’re facing one or more traffic tickets, the last thing you want to do is fail to appear in court. Lawyers can handle some traffic violation cases without you appearing in court, while others require a mandatory court appearance.
Sometimes, your lawyer can appear in court for you so that you don’t miss work. Hiring a traffic lawyer will probably be in your best interests if you face a felony, misdemeanor, or significant infraction charge. For minor traffic violations, you may want to at least consult with a lawyer.
Benefits of Hiring a California Traffic Violations Lawyer
Hiring a traffic violations lawyer may sound like an expensive proposition, but hiring a lawyer can save you money in the long run if they can get your charges or fines reduced. Depending on the traffic violation, we can represent you in traffic or criminal court.
Working with a lawyer could protect your driving privileges, as the DMV may suspend your license after some accusations. The DMV may also put points on your license, even for speeding.
Additionally, insurance companies may increase your premium if you get points on your license or traffic convictions. And getting a reduced charge can also reduce the number of points on your license, which can help you avoid an automatic suspension of your license.
Contact a Los Angeles Traffic Lawyer for a FREE Consultation
Can you go to jail for not paying traffic tickets in California? Depending on how you handle the ticket, it could result in jail time.
Whatever the circumstances of your traffic ticket, if you want to dispute it, you need an experienced traffic violation lawyer to help ensure you get the best possible outcome for you, your job, and your family.
If the court charges you or a loved one with a serious traffic violation, or you have got arrested for not paying your traffic tickets, call the Simmrin Law Group or use our contact form for a free case evaluation. We’re available to help you 24/7.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form