Monday, August 5, 2019

Your first traffic court appearance - part 2

A few years ago I received a ticket for texting while driving.  I was absolutely guilty of doing so, because even tho my car was stopped at a red light, I was still technically driving.  I saw the red lights in my mirror after the light changed [and I'd put my phone away] and sighed.  Oh well.
Step 1:  Cooperate with the officer.  Maybe you'll get lucky and only receive a warning.  I've had this happen several times, but unfortunately not for this texting ticket.
Step 2:  When you get home, read the ticket.  It will generally include the time of day, weather conditions, and road conditions.
Did the road look like this?
Make notes on what YOU remember about those items.  Sometimes they're wrong on the ticket and you can prove it [weather reports etc] and throw doubt on the officer's recollection.
Or this?
A traffic violation is a technically a criminal offense, so the officer must prove your guilt BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.  Anything you can find to cast doubt is a good thing.

Step 3:  Note the number of the law the ticket says you violated and LOOK IT UP.  For example, the officer said he stopped me for texting while driving.  The actual Vehicle Code number he wrote on the ticket was NOT for texting, it was for TALKING.

WRONG!  I was (1) inside the car, and (2) texting not talking
Step 4:  Are you eligible for traffic school?  In CA you can choose traffic school once every 18 months for certain violations.  You'll have to pay the amount of the fine PLUS the traffic school charge, but once you complete the program you won't get a point on your record, which will help with your insurance costs.
Traffic School in Assen, Netherlands
Step 5:  Decide if it's in your best interest to fight the ticket or just pay it.  Consider things like how many tickets are currently on your record, whether you'll lose your license or your job if you have another point on your record, the inconvenience or expense of taking more than one day off work, and other factors.

Next week we'll look at deciding whether to just plead no contest.

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