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New 2023 California Traffic Laws

Posted by Robert Berglund | Jan 03, 2023

A couple of new California traffic laws took effect on January 1, 2023.  The laws will change penalties for driving without a license (Vehicle Code Section 12500) and failing to appear in court.

Driving Without a License

Vehicle Code Section 12500 prohibits operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license.  This offense is referred to as a "wobblette," meaning it can be charged in court as either a misdemeanor criminal offense or in traffic court as an infraction.  The discretion on how to file lies with the prosecuting and law enforcement agencies.  Previously, in some jurisdictions the violation would be filed in criminal court, regardless of the person's driving record.  In other jurisdictions, absent the driver having a history of prior convictions, the violation would be filed in traffic court as an infraction.  Effective January 1, 2023, Section 40000.11 has been added to the Vehicle Code to require a person's first or second violation of driving without a license to be filed as an infraction.  The prosecuting agency would not have discretion to file it as a misdemeanor criminal offense until the person's third violation, e.g. the person already has two traffic court infraction convictions.  

Failure to Appear

Under the law prior to January 1, 2023, if a person received a traffic citation and failed to respond prior to the compliance date on the ticket, the court would notify the California Department of Motor Vehicles and their driver's license would be suspended.  The Vehicle Code section that provided the authority for the court and DMV to take these actions has been repealed effective January 1, 2023.  The change in law will effectively eliminate driver's license suspensions for failing to respond to a traffic ticket for violations occurring on or after January 1, 2023.  It remains to be seen what actions the court could take in response to those who fail to appear.  For example, Los Angeles County Superior Court already refers those individuals that fail to respond to red light camera tickets to a collection agency (note that red light camera tickets in Los Angeles County  were not previously reported to DMV).  We will learn more in 2023 about what action the courts could decide to take in response to a person's failure to appear or respond to their traffic ticket.

Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Attorney

If you received a traffic ticket in Los Angeles County, call our traffic law firm today at (877) 667-1205 or submit our CONTACT form.  

About the Author

Robert Berglund

Attorney Robert D. Berglund is dedicated to handling any and all traffic violations, including traffic infraction tickets, as well as misdemeanor criminal traffic violations, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving on a suspended license, and reckless driving.


Our office specializes in representing individuals facing traffic violations. We represent our clients in both court and at DMV hearings. Your case will be handled with the personalized attention and expertise that it deserves.

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There is no charge for the phone consultation. Our office specializes in representing individuals facing traffic violations. Attorney Robert D. Berglund will personally speak with you about your case and provide you with an honest analysis. Contact us today.