OK, so here is tale that stretches two continents and a tropical island:
Prelude: I was a student in LA from 1993 to the summer of 1996. No money, no car, and a big fan of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. CA driving license.
Summer of 1996: In a friend’s car I got a ticket (95 in 65 near Oceanside) just six days before I moved to Hawaii (to finish up University.) The ticket required a court appearance a few weeks later. This was just not a financial possibility for me. Hawaii has a great public transportation system, so I thought “deal with the ticket later when you have a job.” I believe this has resulted in a “failure to appear” bench warrant, but am not sure.
Summer of 1997: While in Los Angeles for a friend’s wedding, I borrowed a car. Oops. Clearly stupid in hind site, but I was young, dumb, and …… Anyway, I got pulled over for an illegal U-turn. I had no ID on me, but the LAPD was fairly nice about it all considering the situation. For some reason my name did not show on their computers from the above ticket. I think it was because they spelt my name incorrectly, a fact I did not clarify, but am not sure. My friend’s truck was impounded for 30 days, and it cost me several hundred dollars to get it out. Another “failure to appear”?
I have not driven an automobile since.
Summer of 1998: I finish University and move to Europe where a job is waiting for me. Twice since then I have tried to clear up the above tickets but have been unable to navigate the California government bureaucracy from so far away.
I feel a moral obligation to clear this little mess up, but am loath to drop thousands and thousands of dollars on this.
November 2004: California has placed a $4700 tax lien on my credit report. I have a tax attorney looking at this now. I have been very correct and legitimate with my taxes and truly believe this to be an error…or could it be one or both of the above tickets? Since I do not live in the US now, the credit damage is of no consequence to me. I check my report every now and then to ensure there is no identity theft. (A very nasty predicament friends have suffered from.)
- I gather the tickets will not magically go away, correct?
- How long do the bench warrants stay active? (I do occasionally go to California to visit family—every two years or so. It is a concern.)
- Is it possible that the tickets have made their way to Cali’s FTB?
- Would the state be willing to negotiate down any fees, fines, etc. to something reasonable?
Cheers for any constructive or informative comments,