Your Ticket, Pay the Fine or Fight the Ticket in Traffic Court?
OK, so you got a traffic ticket for speeding over the weekend and you have
resolved to pay it right after work tomorrow. What’s the sense in
bucking the system, it’s like they say, “You can’t fight
City Hall, right.” What if I told you that you can, you should,
and the results will likely be a lot better than you expected. Certainly,
better than if you just pay the fine and the increased insurance premiums
for a minimum of three years. In addition, there are other options before
or instead of traffic court.
Guilty or Not, Fight the Ticket
Your first course of action should be to Google your ticket’s CA
Vehicle Code (CVC) on your citation, then look for leginfo.legislature.ca.gov,
which will take you to the actual law (the others are ads, even DMV.org
is privately owned), and what elements the state must prove to find you
guilty of that infraction.
Say you were speeding 17 miles an hour over the speed limit or the officer
said you were anyway. CVC
22349 (a), exceeding 65 mph on the highway or CVC
22350, driving faster than is reasonable or prudent, are the most frequently
issued tickets. Although the law states the base fine is if convicted
is $70 for 16-25 mph over the speed limit, after all the state and county
surcharges, fees, and penalties, you will probably pay between $350 and
$490 for that ticket, then you can figure how much your insurance premiums
are and add about one-third.
And, what if I told you it doesn’t really matter if you were guilty
or not? Legal experts will tell you that your odds of paying a smaller
fine, if any, increase significantly when you fight your ticket rather
than just pay the fine. Of course, traffic court judges will tell you
to just pay the fine because they don’t want you clogging up the
system. It is almost a guarantee that if you just pay the fine, you will
pay the highest fine possible and the maximum points will be assessed
by the DMV. At the very minimum, before you pay the fine, ask a lawyer
and if they say pay the fine and go to traffic school, ask the county
clerk if there is a discount for first-offenders, you never know until
you ask. You are already going to pay the maximum fine if there isn’t
The county and state needs money for their pet projects and they know that
95 percent of drivers ticketed will never go to traffic court to fight
their ticket. Many believe the odds are not in their favor and it will
be an inconvenience to fight their ticket. Whereas it is true there will
be some inconvenience, what is a little inconvenience and expense compared
to $250-500 for a speeding ticket and a likely 30 percent or more increase
in your insurance premiums, for most people that’s an additional
$900 for the three years. Just losing your “good driver’s”
discount will cost you 20 percent, so you should speak to a traffic ticket
attorney before you decide.
CA Proposition 103
The State of California passed this Proposition in 1988 that guarantees
a good driver’s discount to drivers with
Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) point or less on their driver’s license (DL), which they
must have held for a minimum of three years without suspension or interruption.
That discount must make your premiums 20 percent less than other drivers
in your category, dependent on age, marital status, gender, and many other
factors. In CA, the most telling is your driver’s record since it
is illegal for insurance companies to use your credit standing as an indicator
for auto insurance.
Many motorists are aware that if they pay their fine and accept traffic
school, their first traffic ticket will be confidential when they complete
traffic school. Why do you think that is? The traffic court system wants
you to just pay your fine and accept traffic school because if 95 percent
fought their traffic ticket instead of just paying the fine, they would
have to build more traffic courts.
What’s more, once you use traffic school to mask a traffic ticket
from your insurance company, you cannot do it again for 18 months, so
that minor infraction that you paid the fine for and went to school, and
which your insurance company likely wouldn’t even have raised your
rates for was your only chance for 18 months.
Remember, Proposition 103 says you are still guaranteed the 20 percent
one NOTS point for a minor infraction that you went to traffic school to hide
from your insurance company. The wise choice would be to discuss your
circumstances with a traffic ticket attorney.
Bigger & Harman, APC
Bigger & Harman want to save you money and points on your motor vehicle
driver’s record. They will provide you with a FREE phone consultation
to discuss what action you should take, whether you should pay the fine
and accept traffic school. Bigger & Harman represent clients in traffic
court in Kern, Inyo, Kings, Mono, Fresno, Tulare, or other courts in Central
Valley. Call the expert team of traffic ticket defenders at Bigger &
Harman, 661-349-9300, or email:
Se habla Español 661.349.9755.