Monday, September 9, 2019

Preparing your case to fight your traffic ticket, part 2

Here's a great page that explains the steps to prepare your case.

First, read the actual statute/law that was written on your ticket.  In California, texting while driving is a violation of Vehicle Code section 23123.5.  However, I was cited for violation of Vehicle Code section 23123.  I looked up that code and found this:

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving. 

This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity.

This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using a wireless telephone while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

This section does not apply to a person driving a schoolbus or transit vehicle that is subject to Section 23125.

This section does not apply to a person while driving a motor vehicle on private property.

First, check to see if what you did qualifies as an exception, which are identified in bold italics above.

1. Emergency purposes – including [but not limited to] an emergency call to law enforcement, health care provider, fire department, other emergency services or entity.
2. Emergency services professional while operating an emergency vehicle, on duty.
3. Driving a schoolbus or transit vehicle
4. Driving on private property

Numbers 2, 3, and 4 obviously did not apply.

Number 1, however, was a possibility.  I could argue that texting my son the day before he reported for Navy boot camp was an emergency.  He was my oldest child and moving out to join the military and my BABY was leaving me and I wouldn't be able to talk or text or email or have pretty much ANY contact with him for THREE WHOLE MONTHS.  All of which was true at that time.  Plus, the contents of the text was related to his leaving the next day.

It was a long shot, but it sure sounded like an emergency to me.

Next is very important.  Sure my testimony would be valid, but what other evidence could I use to support this argument?

1. The text message itself.  I printed a paper copy to bring to court.  Do NOT just plan to show your phone to the judge.  You'll need to have your actual phone in court, because it's the original evidence, but also bring a paper copy.  It's awkward to hand your phone to the bailiff for the judge to look at, then have it returned to you so you can find the next piece of evidence and hand it back to the bailiff, etc.  Easier to hand up the paper copy and let the judge know you have the phone with you in case the judge wants to look at it too.
2. My son's orders.  I made a copy of my son's paperwork showing he was scheduled to report to boot camp the day after I received the citation.
3. Photo of me and my son.  Not really relevant but couldn't hurt, right?  I had a great one on my phone, which I printed so I had a paper copy in court along with the original photo on my phone.

If nothing else, maybe the judge would have mercy on me and reduce my fine =)

Next week, we'll look at the main part of the code section itself.

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