Trial by Declaration in Absentia and Civil Assessment for Failure to Pay – Santa Clara Superior Court

Traffic icon Project Name: Trial by Declaration in Absentia and Civil Assessment for Failure to Pay
Court: Santa Clara Superior Court
   Links: Court Self-Help Traffic Webpage

Overview/Program Description:

In order to adjudicate cases in the traffic division when a defendant fails to appear in court or fails to contact the court by the due date on the citation, the court proceeds with a Trial by Declaration in Absentia pursuant to Vehicle Code section 40903. The cases are submitted to the judicial officer, and, upon review, the judicial officer finds the defendant guilty or not guilty based on information in the Notice to Appear. A decision notice is sent to the defendant and if there is no response by the defendant within 25 days, a $300 civil assessment is imposed for failure to pay pursuant to Penal Code section 1214.1. If the defendant does not respond within 10 days, the court notifies DMV of the failure to pay pursuant to Vehicle Code section 40509.5b and a suspension is placed upon the defendant's driver's license.

Program Benefits/Savings:

Pursuing collection by converting fines into money judgments and notifying the DMV of the failure to pay has enhanced compliance significantly. This process is superior to the court’s previous FTA process under Vehicle Code section 40508a.

Other Courts Using Similar Programs:

  • Los Angeles Superior Court
  • Sacramento Superior Court
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