Q: I got a traffic ticket a while back, and missed my court date. I’d totally forgotten about it until I got something in the mail last week, saying I owed money on my outstanding ticket. It’s a huge amount now, with interest and late fees, etc. Can I ask for a payment plan or community service? I don’t have the money to pay the ticket right now.
A: The payment of past-due traffic tickets is handled through the Sacramento County Department of Revenue Recovery. Periodically, the agency sends out letters regarding outstanding balances, in an attempt to collect money owed to the County. If you receive a letter from the Department of Revenue Recovery and wish to pay the amount in full, you can do so online, by mail, or in person. Unpaid tickets are eventually assigned to a third-party collection agency.
If your outstanding ticket is still being handled by the Department of Revenue Recovery, the court still has jurisdiction over your case. This means that the court can still change the amount you owe, order traffic school, allow community service, etc. To make this type of request, you will need to go to the traffic court at 301 Bicentennial Circle between 8am and 4pm, Monday-Friday. You will receive a same-day hearing.
Once an outstanding ticket is assigned to the collection agency, the court no longer has jurisdiction over your case. This means that the court can no longer modify the amount you owe, or allow options such as community service or traffic school. Your must negotiate directly with the collection agency about setting up a payment plan. Your driver’s license will remain suspended until you pay all fines and fees on your record.
If your ticket was due to be paid before January 1, 2009, you may be in luck. The state recently announced a limited-time “Amnesty Program” for outstanding court debts. With this program, California Superior Courts are offering a 50 percent off discount on some old, unpaid traffic tickets. The program will be available January 1, 2012-June 30, 2012. The eligibility requirements may vary from county to county. More information about the amnesty program is available at www.courts.ca.gov/partners/941.htm.
Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.
Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian