When a driver receives a traffic infraction ticket, the officer asks him or her to sign the citation. Above the signature line is a date. This is what is referred to as a "compliance date." By signing the citation, the driver is allowed to leave but promises to respond to the ticket on or before the compliance date. You can usually respond in one of three ways: 1) go online to the court's website and pay the fine (be advised that taking this action means that you are entering a plea of "guilty" and it will result in a conviction); 2) request an arraignment date in traffic court; or 3) request an extension of the compliance date. Some citations, such as Vehicle Code Section 22348(b) (driving in excess of 100 mph) do not allow you to pay the fine online. You must schedule a court date. If you fail to respond to the citation by the compliance date, a new charge of Vehicle Code Section 40508(a) will be alleged against you and added to the existing citation. This charge is commonly referred to as "Failure to Appear," also known as "FTA."
Consequences of Failure to Appear
A Failure to Appear conviction can result in an additional fine + a separate civil assessment fine of $100. This fine can be imposed even if you are found "not guilty" by the traffic court judge as it relates to the original charge(s). Additionally, when you do not respond to the ticket by the compliance deadline, if you received the ticket on or before December 31, 2022, the traffic court clerk's office will notify the Department of Motor Vehicles and your driver's license will be suspended. Effective January 1, 2023, the court will no longer notify DMV of a driver's failure to appear. Visit our blog page summarizing the new law.
Missing Actual Court Date
Failure To Appear is also charged if you miss an actual court date. For example, prior to the compliance date you schedule an arraignment date in traffic court, but you do not show up for it. You will be charged with FTA for missing your court date. If you appear for the arraignment date, schedule a traffic trial date, and then fail to show up for the traffic trial, an FTA will also be imposed. In addition, if you fail to appear for a trial, many traffic courts will hold what is called a "trial in absentia." This means the trial will take place without you present. You will have given up your right to fight the ticket. The driver is almost always found guilty in a "trial in absentia."
Call our traffic ticket lawyer today at (877) 667-1205 or submit our CONTACT form. If you have missed your compliance deadline or a court date it is best to speak with a traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible.