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What Happens if You Fail to Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket?


When an officer issues a citation for a traffic violation, they will have you sign the ticket. Your signature is not an admission of guilt; rather, it is your promise to appear in court by the date listed on the document. Beginning in May of 2017, courts also began mailing out reminders of your appearance date, which lists out your options.

To satisfy your citation appearance requirements, you can:

  • Plead guilty and pay the fine
  • Sign up for traffic school (if you are eligible)
  • Show you have corrected the problem (for correctable violations)
  • Appear in court
  • Request a court trial (if you will plead not guilty for the offense)

If you fail to take action by the date on your citation, or reminder notification, you could face increased penalties, such as an a greater fine or driver’s license suspension.

Failing to Appear in Court

If you are required to appear in court, but you willfully fail to do so, you could be violating California Vehicle Code 40508 VC. This offense is charged as a misdemeanor, and if convicted, you could face 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or driver’s license suspension. The charges for failing to appear will stick regardless of whether your traffic violation was an infraction, you paid the requisite fines for the citation, or you later showed up in court.

If you failed to appear, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest (unless your traffic violation was for a parking ticket). That means if you have a run-in with police, and they check your record, they could take you into custody.

Discuss Your Case During a Free Consultation with Appel & Morse

If a warrant was issued in your name because you allegedly failed to appear in court, contact our skilled attorneys today. We have over 40 years of combined experience and have an extensive understanding of the legal processes. Our lawyers will help fight the warrant and protect your rights in court.

Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (805) 467-6060 or contacting us online.
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