LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Proof of insurance and registration is the first thing police ask for when a driver is pulled over. If a person doesn’t have it, they face a pricy ticket.
Susie Kim told CBS2’s Rick Garcia that she knows what it’s like to be in that stressful situation.
“I was rushing to get home, thus I got pulled over by a police officer,” she said.
Kim said the cop who pulled her over let her get off with a warning.
“He could hear my baby wailing, so he was going to let me go,” she said.
However, when the officer asked for her proof of registration and insurance, Kim said her insurance card was outdated and she couldn’t find the registration in her husband’s new car.
“(The officer) just gave me this yellow ticket. He said I just needed to come in and show proof of registration and the insurance card,” she said.
Kim was told to wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. When it came eight weeks later, she was asked to pay up.
“I was in shock! How could I be fined $1,000 when the officer clearly told me that this was a correctable ticket?” she said.
Kim said her options were confusing. She could pay the fine for $1,096, pay $925 with proof of correction, or go to court on a specified date and speak with a judge.
“Even with the proof that I did have the insurance and the registration, it still seemed to me that I had to pay $925, which is quite a lot,” she said.
Kim went to court, but never had to speak to a judge. Her fine was reduced to a $50 processing fee.
Although Kim was relieved she didn’t have to pay the fine, she wondered how many people mailed in their proof of registration and insurance and paid the more than $1,000.
Diana Weiss Aizman, a Sherman Oaks defense attorney who specializes in traffic and DUI defense, said if a person receives a notice like Kim’s, they should:
- Call the court and request an arraignment date.
- Get the violation corrected before that date.
- Show up to court on that date with proof of correction. If the person can’t attend, they should hire an attorney to represent them on that day.
“If you miss the date then it constitutes a bigger problem. Then you have what’s called a ‘failure to appear’ and that’s a misdemeanor. And the fines levied with those particular charges are extremely high,” said Aizman.
Meantime, Kim said she didn’t know about a California Assembly bill passed into law last year that states a driver can use an insurance app on their smartphone to provide proof of insurance.
“I found that out actually after getting the ticket,” said Kim.
The Golden State, however, doesn’t allow motorists to provide electronic proof of registration.