Can You Go to Jail for Unpaid Parking Tickets?

A car windshield with a penalty charge notice under the windshield wipers

You are walking back to your vehicle after a long day of work, eager to relax on the couch and put up your feet. Suddenly, however, you spy something on your windshield. You’re hopeful that it’s an innocuous flyer.

Today is not your lucky day. It’s a parking ticket, and you don’t currently have the funds to pay it off. Is it something you can put off until after you buy your groceries? Can you go to jail for unpaid parking tickets in California?

We’ve created this guide to help answer the most frequently asked questions about California parking violations. Continue reading to learn exactly what happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket and avoid penalties. 

What Happens if I Don’t Pay a Parking Ticket in California?

The state of California uses parking tickets to build revenue. That means you can face some fairly steep fines for making a minor mistake. The base fine for parking violations is $65.00 per violation. However, specific violations can come with fees as high as $825.00.

If you are struggling financially, you may not have the funds available to pay off your parking ticket. This can lead some residents to throw their tickets away or avoid payment. In some cases, you may simply forget to pay during the course of a busy day. You are still breaking the law.

Unfortunately, unpaid parking tickets do not go away if you avoid them. Instead, the state of California will attach additional fines. Typically, failure to pay results in a $300 fee known as a civil assessment. At that point, you must appear in court to settle your fines.

If you do not pay your ticket or appear in court, you may be issued a warrant for failure to appear. According to California Law, failure to appear in court can result in up to six months of jail time. Furthermore, you may accrue up to $1,000 in further fines or temporarily lose your license.

A frustrated woman discovers a parking ticket on her car

Do Parking Tickets Go on Record in California?

Yes. All unpaid parking tickets will remain on record indefinitely in California. There is no statute of limitations.

You cannot dodge a parking ticket because the fines do not expire. You will simply owe more and more in fines as time goes on.

Once paid, however, your parking ticket will clear from your record. Thus, it is always wise to pay off a parking ticket as soon as possible. It is always more affordable than waiting and accruing further fines.

How Long Before an Unpaid Ticket Becomes a Warrant?

Every ticket you receive will include a court date. If you choose to pay the fine, the court date is your deadline for payment. You must either pay the fine or appear in court by that date.

You have 24 hours to take action, or the judge can issue a bench warrant. This begins with a fine and escalates the longer you fail to pay or appear in court.

How Much Jail Time for Unpaid Fines in California?

If you fail to pay your fines, you can eventually face up to six months of jail time for failure to appear. If your license is suspended as a result of traffic violations, you can go to jail for driving without a license. Violations and fines will continue to compound until you pay them off.

Need Help With Bail? Bail Hotline Can Help.

While you can go to jail for unpaid parking tickets, it is unlikely that you will. If you do face jail time, however, Bail Hotline Bail Bonds is eager to help. We’ll explain your rights and help you post your bond. The sooner you connect with our team, the sooner you can get home to your family and resume your life.

We’re ready to help you earn your second chance. Call the experts at Bail Hotline for assistance today.

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