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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default F-1 Student / Driving on a Suspended License - California

    My question involves a driver's license issued by the State of: Canada / California.

    Hello, I need some help as the Public Defenders seem to keep giving me more than one answer.
    Back to the beginning.

    I am a student from Canada, F-1 Visa, with legal license from a foreign jurisdiction.

    Feb.2018 I got pulled over for a texting & driving ticket. It was my first time being pulled over ever here in Cali and yes it was a stupid mistake I assumed it was a warning. I don't know what happened to the ticket, and I tried to look up the ticket online but couldn't find the ticket anywhere online. So I never ended showing up to court because I no longer had the original ticket, I thought it was a warning because I couldn't find it online.

    Fast forward to a Sat night July 2019, I miss parked and got my car impounded one Sat night, I ended up getting it released that night. But on the next Monday morning I got pulled over by a cop, he never gave me a reason for pulling me over but said "is this your car?", I guess when he ran my plates it said my car should be impounded. I showed him the release receipt and he asked for my license. He came back and said, did you know your license is suspended. I was in shock, I honestly assumed the first ticket was a warning.

    He said he won't impound my car, cause he believes me when I said I didn't know it was suspended. The cop then told me two things, go pay the texting ticket (which was now in collections) and reinstate your license and the court will dismiss this ticket. So the next day I went to the court house and got on a payment plan with GC Services because they said it was the only way to get my license reinstated. A week later, my Canadian was un-suspended. So I show up to court for my 1st appearance in September, and the Public Defender said that you should go get your CA license asap and we are going to plead not guilty today, to the misdemeanor. She also stated the cop never gave a legal reason for pulling me over and that it might be able to get dismissed based off of that. The ticket says "re: impounded vehicle" and nothing else in regards to why I was pulled over.

    Fast forward to October, I am working with the city's attorney's office that is going to help with the Failure to appear / texting ticket and fines. I passed my driver's test and now have a valid CA driver's license. My X ( an X number is the number they assigned my Canadian license with when they suspended it) and Y numbers are combined on my CA license. The public defender at the next hearing says that I never needed a CA license because I am a non resident and that it should get dismissed based off them not being able to suspend a Canadian license or something, that further confused me. Even though I am aware that I technically don't need a valid Ca license because I have a valid Canadian license.

    The one thing is I didn't know my license was suspended because the address on my Canada License has a Canadian address on it, even ttrhough my mailing address at the time was a Cali address. I've done everything I can at this point. On a payment plan and getting help from City's Attorney office - record clearing program. Got my Canadian License reinstated before my first court appearance. Then got my full CA license before my 2nd appearance. I can't prove the Canadian address didn't get the notice, but nothing was received there but it didn't get returned to the DMV either. Pre trial is in a couple weeks, Public Defender is certain she can get it dismissed and not go to trial or at least an interaction. But a friend told me don't settle for infraction and go to trial and fight it.

    This is all kind of a mess, I feel like I've done all I can do. But I can't afford a attorney as I have no job. And I don't want this to affect my Visa status..

    Any advice would help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Default Re: F-1 Student / Driving on a Suspended License - California

    First off, the officer is under no legal obligation to inform you why he pulled you over. His failing to do so will not get you off the hook.

    Second, you are a student on a Visa. That does not exempt you from licensing requirements in CA. If you were a tourist with a limited stay, you could make the argument. You have been here for AT LEAST 18 months. You need to obtain a CA license or you will continue to get cited or arrested, and have cars impounded. Why the attorney told you that you did not need one is a curiosity ... unless he doesn't work those issues very often.

    That being said, if you have a valid CA license, you may well be able to get out of at least some of this. The problem is the FTA and collections. You may well have to pay something, but even the city attorney cannot absolve you of the whole matter. It sounds as if you are working through the payment process, so that one may well be behind you.

    What are you in court for now? Are you going back to court for the original offense? Of, did you get a new citation in July? If so, what code section wer4e you cited for?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: F-1 Student / Driving on a Suspended License - California

    I am in court for the ticket that the cop gave me after pulling me over in July for, VC 14601.1 (a) - Criminal Court. S

    The original texting ticket is being taken care of, I am on a GC Services plan but I went to an even held by the cities attorney's office, where they said they could help with the rest of the payments and get that infraction removed.
    So that means I'm technically taking care of the texting ticket / FTA because the DMV reinstated my license after I started the payment plan, no?

    The biggest thing for me is I didn't know my license was suspend and the address on the ticket is in Canada where I don't receive mail while I'm studying here.

    Also this case seems very similar as far as driving in the US/most states where you can drive with a license from a foreign jurisdiction.

    Also this states we are indeed allowed to hold our license as long is it is valid.

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