Civil assessments for failure to appear or pay
A Civil Assessment of $300.00 is imposed against anyone charged with a traffic offense that fails, after notice and without good cause, to appear in court for any proceeding authorized by law or to pay a fine. The civil assessment is in addition to any other fines imposed on the case.
If you fail to appear on a date you are supposed to be in court, or fail to pay a fine, the court sends a warning notice to you to the address shown on the notice to appear (your ticket), or to the last known address, if you have provided the court with a different address. If mailed, there is a presumption that the notice has been received. There is no requirement that the court prove that you actually received the notice, only that it was mailed.
The civil assessment will go into effect 10 calendar days after the court mails the warning notice to you.
If you appear within the time frame or pay the fine amount shown in the warning notice and show good cause for not appearing on the date you were supposed to appear or for not paying the fine amount by the payment date, the court may vacate the civil assessment.
Good cause is a sufficient reason that is beyond your control, (e.g. medical emergency, military duty, etc.), which prevented you from making an appearance or payment on or before the date listed on your citation (ticket) and a demonstration that you attempted to resolve the matter as soon as possible after that date. Good cause is determined on a case-by-case basis.
You may submit a request that the court remove (vacate) the civil assessment by completing and submitting your request on the court approved form. (RI-OTS38 – Request to Address Civil Assessment for Failure to Appear or Failure to Pay PC §1214.1). The judge will review the request and either grant or deny your request. You are not entitled to a court hearing and the issue will not be addressed in court, unless the court orders a court hearing.
What are the consequences of a civil assessment for failure to appear or pay a fine?
The civil assessment is imposed after the 10 day warning notice is mailed, and at or about the same time a notice is sent to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requesting that a hold be placed on your privilege to drive, until the matter is cleared with the court. The only way to have the hold lifted for a Failure to Appear is to appear in court, enter a plea to the original charge or charges.
The only way to have the hold lifted on a Failure to Pay is to pay the entire amount of the fine, including the civil assessment. Once you have appeared or paid the fine, the court will lift the DMV hold. Even though the court lifts the DMV hold, you will still have to pay the civil assessment unless the court in response to your written request to address civil assessment vacates it. The court will not provide any restricted licenses.