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Out standing speeding ticket!! oops....

Travel Forums North America Out standing speeding ticket!! oops....

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1. Posted by alexstudly (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Hi all,
Well it begins. We (me and my loverly girlfriend leah) leave the UK on the 2nd of sept 08! for an adventure of a life time, starting in sanfran USA, a quick transfer in LA, then to fiji then to New zealand then over to OZ then up through asia.
BUT
The only thing worring me is i have an out standing speeding ticket dating back to summer 2006 when i worked and traveled the states. I got the ticket in the state of california. The ticket asked me to appear in court after the date i was leaving or pay $110 i did neither and left the US. Then a copy turned up at my UK house, I did nothing.

And thats the current situation......

Any one had a similar situation/ experiance???? Should i ignor it as i'm only transfering through LA and not going through passport or customs.
What should i do next??

Any advice would be a masssive help!!

Alex s

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 8y

"Only transferring" hasn't existed in the USA for several years. You will be going through passport control (and would even have needed a visa for this, except that as a European, you fall under the visa waiver program), complete - I think - with fingerprinting and mugshotting. Such is the USA nowadays.

I'd recommend paying that fine immediately, hoping it'll be processed by the time you arrive in LA, and otherwise taking documentation to show that you have paid it.

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 8y

Hey Alex,

I would also recommend paying it. I racked up two hefty fines down in New Zealand, and after hearing what other people had to say about unpaid parking fines, tickets, etc., it just seemed like the more sensible option to pay it in case I wanted to re-enter the country at any time in the future.

My brother was caught speeding in Switzerland late at night on a speeding camera. The fine turned up at home - he and the friend he had been travelling with at the time decided to ignore it. A few more weeks went by. They received a second fine, and on the third occasion, a very stern letter complete with photographs of the car, zoomed in on the driver. They were told that if they didn't pay the fine, they would then receive a court summons, so I think in the end they just felt it was the more sensible option to pay.

When you look at the amount of money involved in paying it versus the amount of future hassle involved in trying to re-enter the country if you dont pay it, it seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me.

Just pay it, I'd say. ;)

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 8y

It's too late to think about the problem now! Just pray that the computers of US Customs & Immigration are as inefficient as the rest of our systems!

[ Edit: Edited on Aug 21, 2008, at 12:00 PM by Daawgon ]

5. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 8y

I agree with Sander and Ev - follow up on this and quickly as possible. Since reading your post, I did a bit of searching for "statute of limitations" on speeding tickets in the US and specifically in California. There are no statutes of limitations so the ticket is still outstanding. Upon your failure to appear in court, most courts will issue a bench warrant for your arrest of the grounds of "failure to appear". The fact that they tracked you back home means you are still on the books. Your passport will be scanned at some point in the US and that could throw up unwanted red flags. Since you will be in California at that time, you will also be available to arrest on the spot.

Reading the law forums and the state government sites, it would be best to contact the US Embassy and work through this with them if possible. Not only does it show your willing to clear up this matter, it also gives you a bit of legal advice before contacting the California Police or Highway Department. The Embassy may be willing to work as a liaison. Realize additional fines could (and probably will) be added to the original $110.00 fine. (How fast were you going?)

If you do not pay it and are caught - no matter what they do about it, it will end your visiting the States again for quite awhile, if they let you in at all. You broke a law here and California still wants you to take responsibility.

One law forums attorney commented in several posts that many of the states are tracking tickets back as far as 1988 because enough money in fines is still uncollected and it would improve the state's budgets dramatically.

6. Posted by alexstudly (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Ok
Well i did a bit of digging after all of your very helpfull advice, and found out that my ticket had now gone to warrant status for my arrest! or pay $460

Now after hearing that i'm quite worried now, worried about getting arrested at the air port! So i decided to pay it but they dont take payments over the phone, so i would have to post it but i would arrive there before the money.

Ive spoke to the embassy and they said to put it all in an e-mail and send it to the london consulate and await advice...

But the lady asked how fast i was going and if i had a criminal record, because this would determine on which visa system i would go through on (the visa waver system) and possibly not get picked up at all.....

I leave on the 2nd of sept so lets hope i get an ansewr ASAP to what i should do.

I wish i'd payed it but i never thought i would go back!!!

7. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 8y

Can't you send the payment by registered priority mail? That should arrive within 3 business days, I think. It's expensive, and still tight, but it beats being arrested...

8. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 8y

Another possibility would be an electronic transfer of funds. If they are willing to take payment in such a manner, it could be completed within hours, rather than days.

I realize this is a real hassle for you and it would have been easier to just ignore it, hoping for the best. But, I applaud you're willingness to correct the situation so it doesn't "bite you in the ass" later on. Good luck and hope you get it rectified in time.

9. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 8y

Don't worry-the US Custom & Immigration Branch-Homeland Security-doesn't collect information on traffic tickets-that is nonsense-and the previous info is from frightened uninformed thoroughly cowed people.

10. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 8y

There is a warrant for arrest. That most certainly does show up for the immigration officer at passport control.

Hell, I seem to remember the DHS issuing a press release crowing about the success of some 'anti-terror' database in catching people with unpaid fines! (Which I'd call as far from successful use of such a database as is possible, but what do I know.)