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Trial by Declaration

Mark: No, but there is an interesting scenario that comes up sometimes that is related to that. What happens is in California you actually have two different options. I normally don’t pursue this if I know the officer and can see what’s going to happen in court if I contest it.

There is an option to file by trial by declaration, which basically means you’re going to fight it with paper. You’re not going to show up in court. Oftentimes what will happen is the clients will hire me after they lose the trial by declaration.

You Can Retain an Attorney After the Trial By Declaration

That filing is where they make a declaration of what happened, they send it into court and the officer also makes a declaration, they send it into court. The judge makes a ruling. Then, depending on the outcome, you can actually appeal that and ask for a trial in person.

Oftentimes, people will, at that, point hire me to be their attorney. I will go to court and try to reduce the penalty to a non-point violation or something that will not be on their record. I try to make the infraction basically “go away,” although they will have to pay the fine.

Check Your Driving Record With the DMV

Sometimes when a ticket is reduced, the record doesn’t get to the DMV in the correct form. I always have my clients is, after three months, check with the DMV and just make sure it’s not on their record. It’s important to check, because if the infraction is on their record, they need to contact me.

I will go back to the court and say, “Even though there was originally a conviction for speeding, that was changed in court to a non-point violation,” and they’ll straighten it out with DMV. However, because DMV is in disarray and the court system is somewhat so also, there could be a short period of time where the record in inaccurate.

Interviewer: So what other kinds of traffic tickets are there that will be more serious than the normal speeding tickets?

Severe Penalties for Speeding

Mark: What you see fairly often here is tickets issued for driving over 100 miles an hour or over 30 miles an hour over the speed limit. For instance, if on a country road you’re going 85 and it’s a 55. That ticket can carry a two-point violation.

If you’re driving over 100 miles an hour, the penalty can carry a 30-day driver’s license suspension. That is a fairly common occurrence because, as I mentioned earlier, we live in a wide-open area with straight roads, where people have to travel a lot of miles to get places. So it happens pretty often.

A Ticket for Driving Thirty Miles Over the Speed Limit Can Add 2 Points

Interviewer: So it would probably be especially a problem if you’re in a 60-mile an hour speed limit zone and suddenly it dropped down to 30 or 45. All of a sudden you’re in that 30 plus danger zone, right?

Mark: Yes, and that is actually something else that commonly comes up is for commercial truck drivers. If they’re exceeding the speed limit by 20 or over, they’re in trouble. This will frequently occur on the grapevine. There’s a stretch of road on the I-5 where you’re going downhill and the trucker’s speed goes to 35 miles an hour.

Well, it’s still, I believe, 60 miles an hour for the rest of traffic, but 35 miles an hour for truckers, and oftentimes truckers just, in the back of their mind are saying I don’t feel comfortable having these cars whizzing by me like this, and they subconsciously speed up.

If they’re going 55 and it’s a 35, then that can be looked at as a three-point ticket for them. That is three points on their record, and this scenario comes up fairly often.

By Mark Bigger