Payment of Bail / Fines

Paying Your Traffic Bail/Fines

If you choose a statutory procedure for traffic cases that requires the deposit of bail (a statement of intent to plead not guilty, written not guilty plea, or trial by written declaration) or if the court otherwise orders you to deposit bail, you will need to deposit bail with the court. You may also choose not to challenge the ticket and to simply pay the traffic bail. The court can tell you what amount to pay for your ticket. The fine, penalties, and fees for infractions can be $490 or more.

After the court has processed your ticket, you may be able to pay online, by phone, in person at the court, or by mail. Check the ticket, courtesy notice, or court website to see whether you can pay by phone or online. If the court allows payment online, you can click to pay on the Internet at the State of California website.

Financial hardship and ability to pay. If you have a financial hardship and can show that you are unable to pay the full amount for the offenses on your traffic ticket, you may request the court to consider your ability to pay. However, you must appear before the court to do so. When you appear in court and plead “guilty” at arraignment, you may request that the court consider your ability to pay in reducing the fine to be paid. If you plead “not guilty,” after a trial and conviction, you may request that the court consider your ability to pay in deciding the fine ordered for the offenses. (Veh. Code, § 42003(c)). Once the court determines your ability to pay you can ask it to reconsider if your financial circumstances change.

Traffic Bail Forfeiture

How Is Traffic Bail Forfeited?

A deposit of bail for a traffic infraction is forfeited—meaning that you pay the court and do not get your money back—in the following ways:

  • When you do not challenge the ticket and choose to pay the traffic bail. If you choose to pay the ticket, send your payment and a copy of the ticket or the courtesy notice to the court. Do not send your original copy of the ticket. When the court receives your payment, if the offense does not require an appearance in court, your case will be closed. It will appear as a conviction on your DMV driving record. You will get points on your driving record and your insurance company may raise your insurance payment or cancel your policy.
     
  • When you pay bail before arraignment or trial and are found guilty. If you are found guilty at trial and you paid bail before your trial, the court will apply the bail deposit to payment of the fine, penalties, and fees. If the total is less than the amount you paid, the court will mail a refund. If the total is more than the bail deposit, you will owe the additional money. If you are unable to pay, you may ask for community service (Pen. Code, § 1209.5) or a reduction based on your inability to pay and a payment plan (Veh. Code, § 42003).
     
  • When you pay bail before arraignment or trial and then fail to appear in court. If you fail to appear as promised, the court can declare your bail deposit forfeited and report a conviction on your DMV driving record.

Misdemeanors and DUI.

For more serious misdemeanors like DUIs (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), your fine, penalties, and fees will probably be close to $5,000 or more. And there can be other consequences, like losing your driver’s license or even going to jail.

If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, you may:

  • Go to jail for up to 6 months;
  • Pay close to $5,000 or more; and
  • Lose your driver’s license for 6 months and be ordered to complete a 3-month or 9-month program.

If this is your second DUI in the last 10 years, you may:

  • Go to jail for a period of time between 96 hours and 1 year;
  • Pay close to $5,000 or more; and
  • Lose your driver’s license for 2 years and be ordered to complete an 18-month or 30-month program.

If this is your third DUI in the last 10 years, you may:

  • Go to jail for a period of time between 4 months and 1 year;
  • Pay close to $5,000 or more; and
  • Lose your driver’s license for 3 years.

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