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For Teens : WHAT NOW? : Life in the Fast Lane Can Prove Costly

January 13, 1994

" I'm 16. I just got a ticket for going 65 on the freeway. Do I have to go to court or can I pay by mail? My dad will be so mad; do I have to tell him? "

No way out. Unlike adults who get tickets and can just mail in the bail amount, most kids in L.A. County have to show up for a hearing with parents in tow.

If you don't show up with your folks at the special traffic school for minors, there's no way to avoid serious trouble.

All traffic tickets are reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which sends a letter to your parents, or whomever signed your license, telling you that in two days your license will be suspended.

But once you get past that hump, it's not so bad. The usual fine for a first moving violation is around $49, and there is also a $24 state-imposed administrative fee. If the money is a problem, they'll usually allow community service instead.

Even better, if you haven't been to traffic school in the past 18 months, the court will let you attend. It takes two Saturday afternoons and costs from $25 to $45 in addition to your fine. But the good news is that once you attend--you have to do it within 60 days of your court hearing--the case is dismissed and doesn't show up on your public record. That means no increase in your insurance premium, which otherwise could go up by several hundred dollars a year.

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