One writer recently wrote a
scathing piece about traffic court. The lesson is clear for motorists passing through
Central California on 395 who end up in other courts as well: if you want
to fight your traffic ticket in a small town like Mammoth Lakes or Bridgeport,
you need an experienced attorney who practices in that court.
First, a bit of history. In 1968, the California Legislature created a
new category of crimes called "infractions." A person charged
with an infraction does not have the right to a jury trial and does not
have certain other Fifth Amendment rights that apply in criminal cases.
Today, nearly all Vehicle Code violations, except DUI, reckless driving
and a handful of others, are infractions.
Robert Miller wrote that he watched 37 trials in Santa Clara, and all but
three resulted in a guilty verdict, including a woman who claimed she
was unable to get out of the carpool lane due to heavy traffic and a man
who said he was confused by excessive signage.
The Judges and CHP officers in Mammoth Lakes and Bridgeport see each other
almost every week. It's only human that that the Judges there would
be more inclined to believe a CHP officer that a person defending themselves
on a traffic ticket.
Mr. Miller concluded by saying that the
traffic ticket system is designed to raise revenue and system is so heavily weighted in favor
of police officers that there is no point in contesting a Mono County
traffic ticket. While the first conclusion is probably spot-on, his second
one is flat-out wrong.
If you challenge LeBron James to a game of one-on-one, you will lose. For
that matter, if you challenge
Julius Randle to a similar contest, you will also lose. In a similar vein, if you appear
in court without an experienced advocate, you will probably lose.
An attorney can identify defenses you may have missed and can effectively
negotiate to get the fine and/or points reduced, saving you money.