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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Criminal Defense Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 24949
Experience:  18+ years of high-volume criminal defense work from arraignment through plea or trial.
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I received a ticket of about $25 without valid

Customer Question

I received a ticket of about $25 for driving without valid registration. (At the time I had registration, but I had neglected to place the sticker on my license plate). My car's interior was shortly thereafter waterlogged in a non-vehicular accident and the ticket was lost. Over the next several months I received notices from a credit agency claiming that I was indebted to the agency for increasing amounts of money, but giving no indication as to the source of the debt. I assumed con artistry and did not reply. One day my wallet was stolen, and in attempting to obtain a copy of my license I was informed that the old, long-forgotten $25 ticket had become a $945 ticket. I can pay $25. I cannot pay $945. Worse, I am told that I have to fork over $945 before I can even appeal the ruling, and that no ruling will reduce the amount to below $300. Can you give me any advice?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.
Unfortunately, about the only thing you can do is to arrange a payment schedule with the DMV so that you can eventually pay the $945 and appeal to get back what you can. While you are getting a reckoning of what you owe and setting up the schedule, you can ask them if they can dismiss any of the late charges. It never hurts to ask, especially if you are there with at least some money to pay towards the ticket.
California law states that it will waive some of its fees and penalites under certain specific conditions, and that may be helpful to you:
Whatever the answer to that which you get from the DMV when you broach the waiver of penalties, at least by paying towards the debt, you'll be able to keep further penalties from accruing. If your license has been suspended, you won't be able to drive until the ticket is paid.
I know that this is not what you want to hear, but it is the appeal procedure of your state. I'd ask you to kindly refrain from shooting the messenger.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm prepared to accept your analysis of the situation, but I was frankly hoping you could give me an idea of the rules regarding notice of increased fines. After all, we are talking about a +30-fold increase here, and the only notice I ever received was the original hand-written ticket for $25.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
I would have no idea how the DMV reached their figures as it's not on the web. I am sure, however, that they can give you a breakdown and a printout of registration fees and penalties that have accrued since you first got the ticket.
I understood your question to say that you DID get notices that you ignored. They may or may not have been related to this issue. In any case if the DMV determines that you did not receive notice, they can waive some of those penalties.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I can make the argument that a letter from a private company demanding money without reference is not proper notice. Anyone can say "you owe me money, figure out why for yourself" without you being expected to guess what they are referring to.However, I need to know what the position of the law is on what constitutes sufficient notice for increasing fines on an initial, properly-notified fine. Obviously I received legally sufficient notice of the original $25 ticket- I was there, after all. But are there any additional notice requirements for increasing the fine by a factor of +30? That is the crux of the matter.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
Legally sufficient notice requires proof that they sent letters to your last known address.
Again, you'll need the DMV to give you a breakdown of what you allegedly owe and how you were expected to know it. I cannot possibly tell you what you're up against -- other than the obvious -- until they can substantiate it.
I understand why you would like to know more, but I have no special powers enabling me to see into your driving records and the DMV files. I am unable to find a formal schedule for escalating California traffic penalties on the web.
I will opt out and perhaps a California lawyer who has more familiarity with the ticketing process out there can tell you more.