Yes, I know I'm an idiot.
July 26, 2014 3:50 PM   Subscribe

A failure to pay a fix-it ticket on time in California led to a failure to appear notice and a big-ass bail/fine. I know that I'm dumb, and I do have some valid excuses (my dog died and my life has been a goddamn mess that is sort of starting to get better) for why I forgot to mail in the proof, but I have specific questions after the jump.

I got a notice dated 7/15 (there is no way it actually arrived in a timely manner, but arrived earlier this week - trust me, my post office sucks) saying that I had to pay $881 bail, and that if I paid it within ten days, the amount would be reduced by $300. There is also a hold on my license.

I am planning on going up to the courthouse an hour before they open on Monday and getting this taken care of ASAP, but in the meantime:

1. Is my license suspended? I assume it would eventually be suspended, but I'm unclear if it is currently, actually suspended. I haven't received any other mail, such as a letter from the DMV.

2. How soon do these things go to collections? Is there a way to check?

3. Have you been in a similar situation? What happened?

I know that I made a stupid, expensive mistake. I'd like to avoid making things worse. I always pay parking tickets on time, dammit! Ugh.
posted by ablazingsaddle to Law & Government (4 answers total)
From when this happened to me, I think you can go in front of a judge and plead guilty and ask the judge to reduce the bail amount. I think when I did this they halved the amount. The person at the window at the courthouse will be able to tell you your options.
posted by hamsterdam at 4:26 PM on July 26, 2014

This happened to me in Nevada (there was a warrant out for my arrest!) and I just went to the local ticket fixer law firm and they sorted it out for me. Their fee was less than the amount they got my fines reduced by. So if they have ticket fixing lawyers in your area, try them first as they do this sort of thing all day long.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:01 PM on July 26, 2014

This exact same thing happened to me and my boyfriend (in LA, also) earlier this year.

1. Your license will be suspended eventually, but probably isn't right now. They will send you a letter saying as of when it will be suspended if you don't clear everything up.

2. Having had my first car in LA towed for parking violations, I can state that on that end, it takes a really long time to go to collections. They send you lots of mail in the meantime.

3. Our fix-it ticket was for a missing front license plate. What I did is, I screwed the damn thing on there (car didn't have a mount for a front license plate, being an AZ vehicle), and took it down to the Sheriff's station, which the nearest one to us (we're in East Hollywood) was under the 10/110 interchange. I forget what streets exactly, but if you take the 110 south towards the 10, and get off at like Olympic or thereabouts, it's nearby. I brought the citation with me, the guy stamped it (didn't really verify whether or not I had fixed it), and then told me I had to to go the courthouse because the deadline was expired. Since it was actually my boyfriend's ticket, he did the courthouse part, he went in the morning, waited around for a few hours, got called before the judge, and got fined like $300, and that was the end of that.

It was pretty straightforward, however, my boyfriend lost a few productive hours milling about the courthouse. When I got a driving violation more recently (illegal U-turn) and failed to pay it on time, I also started getting threatening mail about my license, collections, and the new, giant amount owed. What I did instead, is like Jacqueline suggests, hired a cheap traffic lawyer. I paid them $275 and they got my failure to appear dismissed and are going to court sometime in August- I believe I won't owe them anything more than the $275 I already paid, which is actually less than the amount of the wretched ticket if I had paid it on time. So I would do that. Memail me if you want the name of the lawyer I used- otherwise just look on Yelp for highly-rated traffic lawyers.
posted by Aubergine at 6:28 PM on July 26, 2014

In case anyone would like to know:

-My fine had already gone to collections. That sucks. Hopefully my FICO score will come out of this okay. When I go to court, the fine will go back to the court, though. It's a convoluted system.
-I have a court date in late February. That was the earliest I could get. Due to staffing cuts, there are no walk-ins and traffic courts are super duper booked. Ah, well.
-I paid $10 to get an abstract sent over the DMV so nothing will happen to my license and my fines won't increase.
-Everyone was really nice to me and said that a judge would probably take pity on me. Fingers crossed!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:29 PM on August 1, 2014

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