While visiting the great state of California, I was stopped by a police and issued a traffic ticket for speeding. I was looking for my hotel in an unfamiliar location, and I was in a hurry to start my vacation. The officer issued a citation of the Vehicle Code for speeding (VC § 22349), a moving violation. Reluctantly, I signed the ticket so that I could go about the rest of my trip. So I sacristy thanked the officer and placed the citation in the glove compartment of the rental, then I focused on enjoying the rest of the trip. We all know the rest of the story, you have an amazing time in California, return to your home state, life happens, and you never think of that California speeding ticket again.
What the officer may not tell you is that your signature is a promise to appear in a California courtroom to resolve the ticket. The California courts will use your signature to prove that you were on notice of the court location and the date to appear. Often times the date to appear is many months after the original citation is given. When you move to another state or you attempt to get a renewal license you are then told that the California courts have placed a hold on your license and that you are unable to be issued a new license until this issue is resolved with the California court system. How did this happen, and what can you do to fix it?
Out of State Traffic tickets and Reciprocity
According to the 1960 Drivers License Compact (DLC), forty-five states and the District of Columbia share information on moving traffic violations (Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Tennessee are excluded). The motto of the organization is “one driver, one license, one record,” so every violation is reported back to your home state, along with any court imposed holds from the citation issuing state. This hold will not impact you until you request another license; at that point you have a problem.
How do I fix this situation?
Generally you only have two options:
(1) Travel to California and fix this citation yourself by appearing in court to fight the ticket or paying the full amount of the fine, plus penalties.
(2) Hire a California attorney to fight the citation on your behalf.
Under option (1): you will incur travel expenses as well as the challenge of navigating a foreign court system that could include multiple court dates often several months apart, generating multiple trips to California.
Under Option (2): an attorney will appear on your behalf for each court date, and the attorney can often clear the hold very early in the process without the need to post the bail (fine) amount of the ticket. This attorney can also fight the ticket to its completion, in many instances, saving you a substantial amount of money by getting fines reduced or charges dismissed.
Overall, deciding how to handle your Criminal or Civil case depends on your individual circumstances. Therefore, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney to assist your needs. If you require representation on the above or any other traffic matter, feel free to reach me directly at The Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher: (800) 797 – 8406 and email: firstname.lastname@example.org