HOW TO FIGHT THE TICKET IN TRAFFIC COURT AND WIN!
Your Evidence convinced me, kid!
"If you really want to try to fight your ticket, read 'Beat the Cops' by
Alex Carroll," a pal recently confided, when I wept over a ticket.
My pal went on "I ordered the book through Carroll's Web site and read it. And for the
first time since seeing those blue and white lights I felt a glimmer of
hope. The book describes how the author got 16 tickets in a short time
and was able to nullify 10 of them. He eventually wrote his book based
on what he learned.
Even more interesting was the writer's perspective. Unlike traffic cops,
who make you feel like a serial killer for speeding, the book states
that the majority of tickets are issued to generate money for government
municipalities. Insurance companies benefit from traffic tickets, too,
raising your rates when your driving record shows a moving violation.
The National Motorists Association claims that costly radar guns are
donated to police departments by some insurance carriers to encourage
them to write more speeding tickets.
Finally, I was getting somewhere in this process. I called Carroll and
told him the details of my traffic stop.
"A speeding ticket based on pacing is the hardest kind to beat," he
"Pacing" is when a police officer follows you and checks your speed by
looking at his speedometer. Speeding tickets can also be issued based on
an officer "estimating" your speed — this is nothing more than a cop
watching you and guessing how fast you are going.
If a radar gun was used (or other device like that), you can subpoena the piece of equipment and require that its calibration be tested. They HATE this because in a small town, they may not have too many of these things to hassle The People with, and may drop the charge if it means they have to take the equipment offline till after the trial.
According to Carroll, there are three ways to beat a ticket:
1. The cop doesn't show up for court
2. You exploit a technicality (such as a problem with the patrol car's
3. You have a good argument for extenuating circumstances (you are
speeding to get your pregnant wife to the hospital)
4. NEVER GO TO COURT in the first place. Another pal wrote me: "I keep a $50 bill in the envelope with my registration - gave it to a cop when I was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt and running a stop sign - it was 5 in the morning on my way to work - got it back without the cash but with a warning." THIS IS REAL. Hey, it never hurts to keep a big bill around when driving the lanes of life. As long as you lock your car well.
This reminded me of a story a third friend told me. He was driving down a canyon road when he struck a bird, which became lodged under the windshield wipers. His daughters were in the car with him and they began
screaming hysterically. He sped up to dislodge the bird and, at that moment, was pulled over for speeding. When he told this bizarre story to a judge, the ticket was dismissed.
My pacing ticket didn't fall easily into any of Carroll's three categories. The only technical angle to exploit was to prove that my speedometer was malfunctioning. I spoke to Edmunds.com's technical editor and he told me the speedometer might in fact be wrong. My heart jumped. "I think it's actually a little low," he said.
Another tactic Carroll describes is to delay the trial to a time when the ticketing officer can't come to court. He suggested I call the station house where my California Highway Patrol officer was based and find out when he was on vacation, or what his days off were. This could be done by calling over a number of days to find out when he was working. Then, when I extended my court date, try to schedule it for a day that he wasn't on duty.
Other strategies might include requesting the officer's notes written on the back of the ticket hoping there is something there which is inaccurate.
I decided to extend the date of my trial to increase the chances the officer wouldn't appear in court. As I attempted to do this I made an alarming discovery. You can request only one postponement (called an
"extension") and it must be requested 10 days before your trial date. This is stated in very small print on the ticket, and it doesn't really make sense. I mean, you're more apt to have a scheduling conflict arise at the last minute rather than 10 days earlier. But this is the way the law is written so I was committed to the assigned trial date.
However, I still had one ace in the hole. If the ticketing officer did show up, and my defense was falling on deaf ears, I could quote California Vehicle Code 41501 allowing me to attend traffic school. But — and this was important — I should make a photocopy of the law because some judges weren't familiar with it.
"If it looks like you're going to lose, say, 'Your honor, I see that you're very busy here. I will cite CVC 41501 and take traffic school,'" Meyer told me.
With this backup plan in mind I set about creating a reasonable sounding argument. But I had to get busy. My court date was in three days.
On the day of my trial for a speeding ticket I arrived outside traffic court in West Los Angeles to find about 30 people milling around, waiting for the doors to open. At the other end of the corridor, the police officers who had issued the tickets had gathered. I noticed that these two groups didn't mingle at all.
When the doors finally opened (45 minutes late) we all filed into the courtroom. The police officers sat on one side of the room while the ticketed motorists sat on the other.
I had prepared for my day in court in several ways:
* I wore a coat and tie
* I had read several books about presenting cases in traffic court
* I had drawn a diagram of the area where the traffic stop occurred
* I had copies of the California Vehicle Codes relevant to my case
The only thing I was lacking was a compelling argument to prove that I
wasn't speeding. I mean, I was speeding and there were no real
technicalities I could exploit to contradict that. My strategy was to
wait until the last possible moment, hoping the ticketing officer didn't
show up, and then, if he did make an appearance, invoke California
Vehicle Code 41501 stating my right to go to traffic school.
The judge finally appeared and told us that he would be reading off our
names. If we were prepared to proceed to trial, we should respond by
saying, "Ready." The judge sternly warned us that this was our last
chance to opt for traffic school. If we went to trial and lost, there
would be points on our license. If we took traffic school now our sins
would be forgiven.
Surveying the room, the judge then said to one of his clerks, "You know,
I saw a lot of officers downstairs. Let them know we're starting now."
The clerk disappeared. This, and several other comments showed that the
judge was trying to scare us into taking traffic school rather than
tying up the court with a trial.
The judge then began reading our names. In several cases, the defendant
answered, "Ready," and the police officers responded by saying, "The
people are ready." The judge set these case files to one side for trial.
But in over half of the cases there was no response from the police. In
other cases the police responded by saying, "Officer doesn't remember,"
and the case was dismissed.
In one case, the judge got no response when he called the police
officer's name. He told his clerk, "Check downstairs. I know I saw the
officer down there." This case file was set to one side, and the
defender slouched in his seat, muttering an obscenity. The people whose
cases were dismissed usually said, "All right!" and left the courtroom
with a spring in their step.
When my name was called I responded with a confident, "Ready!" The judge
then called out the police officer's name. I held my breath. He called
it again. No response. The judge glanced over the case and said, "People
unable to proceed. Case dismissed. Watch your speed." I left the
courtroom feeling a load was lifted, and joined the other celebrating
ex-offenders in the corridor.
As I walked back to my car I realized that I had won in a number of
* The charges were dropped and my $77 fine would be returned
* No points would be put on my license
* My insurance premiums would not go up
* I wouldn't have to spend the money or time on traffic school
All of these benefits were the result of taking the time to go to
Several days later a friend of mine had a different experience in court.
So far this year my friend has beat two tickets and lost two. The two
tickets he successfully challenged were for speeding based on radar and
were given to him by California Highway Patrol; the two he lost were
from city police departments for non-speeding moving violations. In this
particular case he was ticketed for failure to come to a complete stop
at a stop sign. He went to court in West Los Angeles and waited for the
entire afternoon for the chance to argue his case.
My friend reported that the judge in his courtroom was like a flamboyant
game show host. When he ruled in favor of the driver, he seemed to share
in the excitement of the moment by boisterously proclaiming, "Looks like
you won't be going to traffic school! And we'll even be mailing you your
money back!" But when he ruled against the motorist he became sarcastic
The order of the events in the trials were:
1. The officer described the circumstances under which he issued the
2. The judge asked the officer follow-up questions about the case
3. The defendant told his or her side of the story
4. The judge questioned the defendant and referred further questions
to the officer
In some cases, the defendant was allowed to tell his story only to
discover that the officer had shot a video of the traffic stop. These
cases always went against the driver.
When my friend was stopped he had asked the police officer: "Are you
saying that I blew off the stop sign completely?" The officer said, "No.
You just rolled through it." But in court the cop told a different
The officer described the location where he was parked and stated that
he had an unobstructed view of the intersection. He then told the judge
that my friend had gone through the stop sign at 15 mph. The judge then
asked, "What's the error factor in your speed estimation certification?"
The officer said it was "plus or minus 3 mph."
When it came time to issue a ruling, this judge used this fact against
my friend. He said, "Assume for a minute that the officer had been
having a bad day. That still means you were going at least 9 mph.
Suppose he was having a really, really bad day. That still means you
were going 6 miles an hour."
My friend felt that he had learned an important lesson from this trip to
court. Since the police officer presents his side of the story first,
you should try to anticipate what he will say and create your strategy
accordingly. Clearly, this officer had presented what he thought would
be an ironclad story to refute someone trying to say that they didn't
"roll" through the intersection. If he had said that my friend had gone
through the intersection at 5 mph without stopping, that 3 mph variation
in his speed estimation certification would be cutting it pretty close.
This brought up another important point. Walter Meyer, a traffic school
instructor and freelance writer who lives in San Diego, Calif., said
that if the case hinges on your word versus the police officer, the
judge will usually rule in favor of the officer. This is because police
officers are perceived as experts in traffic rules. Furthermore, Meyer
said, "The judge knows that he can walk out the door of the courthouse
and find a dozen people breaking the traffic laws." This leads to an
attitude of "guilty until proven innocent" — at least in traffic court.
This was echoed by my friend who had some advice for anyone going to try
his or her case in traffic court: "Make sure your case is based on
concrete evidence and don't rely strictly on what the officer said at
the time of the traffic stop. Don't just go in there and say, 'I didn't
For example, one woman who successfully challenged her ticket convinced
the judge that the stop sign she supposedly ran was resting on a
concrete pylon that was too low to see. She brought photos to court to
show the judge and her case was dismissed.
Although my case was dismissed, I still had one important step. Experts
advise that you contact the DMV and get a copy of your driving record to
make sure your dismissed case hasn't inadvertently wound up on your
license. While the clerical error is the court's fault, you could be the
one spending a night in jail.
As my friend and I discussed our experiences we agreed that there was
very little reason not to go to traffic court. There was some chance
that the officer wouldn't show up and your case would be dismissed. If
the officer did appear, you could always opt for traffic school at the
last minute. Furthermore, some speeding tickets (most notably radar
tickets) can be challenged on a technicality. Other tickets can be
dismissed by presenting evidence such as diagrams or photographs.
It's important to take a larger view of this whole subject. The police
write many tickets knowing that the motorist will simply pay their fine
by mail hoping to put the whole incident behind them. Other offenders
will choose traffic school. Only a small group of motorists will ask for
a trial in traffic court. And an even smaller number will actually go to
Clearly, if everyone went to traffic court, the system would become
overburdened and collapse. So, if you feel your ticket was unwarranted,
ask for your day in court — you could walk out a winner.
I listened to my friend, but realized my car was street illegal, so how could I
go to the court, 20 miles west of my house? I had no tags, no driver's
license, no insurance, (that was the infraction!) so I did something even easier.
As I don't have to drive further than the corner market, I just tore
up the ticket. Seven years later, I applied for a driver's license
and got one. The ticket had gone to ticket heaven and
there was no record of it anymore.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! FRUGAL LIFE STYLE TIPS, HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also ARTISANRY FOR EXPORT, EARN EUROS....* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic! No smarter, more accurate career reading out there!
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