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What happens when: I missed a very old, or bonded, TVB ticket?

In Dante’s Inferno, the traitors reside at the seventh layer of hell, frozen in the clutches of the Devil. Cassius and Brutus, the Romans who betrayed Caesar. And Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. In Dante’s mind, treachery was the most mortal of sins.

Here on earth and in the Traffic Violations Bureau, we fear a different kind of mortal sin: missing an old or bonded TVB ticket.

Don’t worry, you won’t be sent to hell if you miss one of these. But the process might make you a teeny bit jealous of Judas.

First, let’s define the problem — “an old or bonded TVB ticket.”

In TVB parlance, “bonded” means the motorist previously paid a bond. A bond is a security deposit of $40. Judges have discretion as to if, or when, to levy bonds, but most of the time they are assessed when a motorist misses a hearing or reschedules one for a second time.

As with any security deposit, the money remains yours during the process. If you appear for your court date and are found guilty, the money will be credited to the fine you owe. If you appear for your court date and are found not guilty, the money will be refunded to you. If you do not appear for your court date, the bond will be forfeited, a snazzy way to say lost.

Once a ticket is bonded, judges are very hesitant to reschedule. As a general policy, bonds are issued before the last court date. This is, in essence, a warning: Show up on the next date, or else.

(As a side note, the term “bonded” is soon to be outdated. After the court closed for COVID, the court informally abolished bonds. There is still a chance they are reinstated in the future, but that seems unlikely.)

Even if a ticket is not bonded, an old one can be quite difficult to reschedule, especially if it has had numerous previous court dates.

“Old,” in TVB parlance, is subjective, and its definition varies from judge to judge. The two-year mark is a good unofficial barometer, however. By three years, a TVB ticket is old by anyone’s definition. By age four, it’s the traffic ticket equivalent of Betty White.

The history matters, as well. If the motorist has only had one prior court date, a judge might be more lenient with a reschedule. But if you have rescheduled the case two or more times, you may be told you’re running low on bullets.

What will happen if I try to reschedule this case on my own?

Once a motorist forfeits a bond, it becomes even harder to reschedule, because most judges do not take kindly to motorist missing bonded dates. The bonded date was your last chance, they might say — and you blew it.

Such a judge may present you with an unpleasant choice: Plead guilty, or take a date with a suspension.

A date with a suspension means just what it sounds like. You will remain suspended until the court date. After the date, the suspension will automatically be lifted. (It will also be lifted if the police officer fails to appear or if the DMV administratively reschedules.)

Pleading guilty is not a good option, either. If you plead guilty, you will owe a fine and surcharge. More importantly, you will be hit with all the points attached to the ticket, and based on your record, the judge may suspend or revoke your license.

So, what should I do?

It’s very risky to see a judge on your own for an old ticket that you missed.

Reach out to my office and I can give you an honest assessment of your prospects. In many cases, I can reschedule a ticket, even one with a terrible history. I know the judges that are more forgiving with these circumstances, and I have relationships with them that give me a better chance at getting a favor than you will be on your own.