The rules are simple, if you’re given a court date, you’re expected to be in the courtroom on time. Your personal feelings about the charges, your innocence/guilt, the other people involved in the case, and whether the law is correct are not valid excuses for missing your court appointment. If you do fail to appear for infractions, you’ll quickly learn that you’ve made an already bad situation even worse.
When you fail to appear in court for a traffic infraction, the California judge handling your case will issue a bench warrant. In most cases, the bench warrant goes out quite quickly but there are also times when it can take up to 20 days before it goes into effect. It generally depends on how busy the judge is at the time.
When it comes to California traffic violations, the law states that if you’re required to appear in court, you must first sign a written promise that you will appear. Once you sign the statement, you’re committed. If there is something too intense, such as you had to be rushed to the emergency room, that made it impossible for you to keep your court date, you’ll want to notify the courthouse right away.
The only other way you may be able to avoid the bench warrant is by paying any fines connected to the traffic infraction immediately after you’re missed court date. Remember, you don’t have much time to stop the bench warrant.
Once the bench warrant has been issued, you’re vulnerable to arrest. It’s unlikely that the cops will knock on your door, but if they pull you over, they will see that there’s a bench warrant for you and you will be arrested. In some situations, steps will be taken to suspend your driver’s license and you won’t get it back until you’ve resolved all of your outstanding traffic infractions.
If you do miss a court date for a traffic infraction, your best course of action is to talk to the court about how you can pay all connected fines so that you can resolve the matter as quickly as possible. It’s far better to take a proactive stance and handle the situation than to wait until you’re pulled over and arrested.