Statute of limitations on CA speeding tickets

I must be using the wrong search terms or something, because I’m coming up with nada here…

In 1990 I received a speeding ticket just north of San Diego. As I was in transit at the time I had the cop mail the ticket to my permanent home address, then proceeded to a tech school in Vallejo, took a couple of weeks of leave, spent a few days at home (where I picked up the ticket and a few more things), and proceeded on to my duty station in Homestead, FL. When I arrived in FL I popped open the ticket only to find I had about four days to mail it to CA. It didn’t make it, of course - which I found out about a month later when I received a letter stating something along the lines of “Thank you for your payment of $67.50. Unfortunately we do not accept partial payments. Please submit $347.89 by <date>.”

I threw that letter out and figured if California wanted that money out of me they could damn well track me down and ask for it in person.

About a year later I received a phone call from my parents informing me there was a warrant out for my arrest in the state of California, and if I sent them more than $500 they would gladly remove the warrant from my records. Again, I figured if California wanted me that bad they could damn well track me down and arrest me.

In the years since I’ve renewed my driver’s license…what, four times?.., been pulled over and ticketed four more times (hey! I was young!), had two background checks done, and have never had any problems.

Does this mean the warrant has been expunged, or do states not share traffic-violation warrants with each other (or insurance companies)?

I think you’ve been lucky. I don’t know what kind of background check (BI) was done on you, but for some types, the outstanding bench warrant would have surfaced. If you apply for a fed job, sometimes there is a form with a section asking about moving violations in excess of $150. If you were to be interviewed for a BI, this situation might have to be disclosed.

I understand that the statute of limitations is “tolled” when you leave the jurisdiction of the court (in your case, CA).

I’m not sure if the concept of Statute of Limitations applies. You’ve already been essentially convicted of the crime and you were sentenced. I think that as far as the State of California is concerned, you still owe the money.


I would never throw out a ticket in California, they keep adding to what you have to pay. This can
go on forever. Otherwise people would just wait & not pay them & the state doesn’t want that
to happen. You could go to court & ask the judge to reduce it, my brother did that once.

One of the BIs was for the military; the other was recent and was with local law enforcement. If there was still a warrant out, don’t you think they would have arrested me while I was there?

Do a Google search of States Drivers License Compact. Some states are saying it will take many years to get all the information into the database, and when they do, zap goes your driving privileges. I also frequent a forum for those with legal questions and we get asked quite often about driving licenses suddenly being suspended for long forgotten unpaid traffic tickets. It could take a while but do not be surprised if you try to renew your license and are refused. Or worse, get pulled over and have the officer tell you your license is suspended. In some state, driving while suspended is an automatic trip to the pokie and impound of your vehicle. It can get expensive.

Used to be in California you could store up the tickets & then just sell the car & then
be clear of them. But not any more.

Parking tickets maybe but not moving violations.


You can always get a copy of your CA DMV record:

I think your parents relayed incorrect info., or you are very lucky!! :slight_smile:

Or bureaucracy’s ineptness was on my side, for once? :smiley:

If not, at least I have something to look forward to :\

Ah, quite possibly yes! – As I look at a parking ticket… :mad:

I once got a ticket for speeding in San Bernadino County on my way to Las Vegas. That was in 1995. Six months later, I had not heard from them and asked an attorney if I should contact them, or ignore it. He CAUTIOUSLY told me to probably forget about it…he said speeding tickets would not be sent to LA County as they had enough on their plate and would not take minor violations from neighboring counties. He did warn me, however, to be very, very careful whenever driving through San Bernadino county, as they might have my name in their little scrapbook for years to come.
Now I live in Nevada, with Nevada driver’s license & plates and figure it would be kind of hard for them to prove I am the same guy from 8 years ago.

Have you actually seen the “warrant” your parents were notified about? It was most likely not a warrant, but some other form of summons that would not show up in a background check. I’ve never heard of a warrant being taken care of by paying a fee without an arrest being made…However we are talking about California here. :rolleyes:

In my jurisdiction, we do not typically enter misdomeanor warrants (which this most certainly would be), and would certainly not enter it nationwide. Imagine the cost of extradition from Minn. to Cali for a piddly little traffic summons.

Were I you though, I would take care of this ASAP. It is very doubtful that the state will “forget”, and in the meantime the fine will continue to grow. You were obviously in the wrong (by your own admisson) and it would suck in 30 years to suddenly have the state of Cali tell you that you owe them 30 million dollars for a stupid speeding ticket. :slight_smile:

Another point to be made is, if you pay now, it will most likely not affect your insurance as it happened so long ago.