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3 Traffic Court Surprises You Should Know About

undefinedTraffic court is vastly different from the court cases you see on TV and in the movies. You are still innocent until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, there are at least three surprises that await you in traffic court.

Some people think there is a different standard. Around 95 percent of those who get a ticket do not challenge it in traffic court regardless of their innocence. Invariably, we hear people say all the time, “It’ll be my word against the cops, so why even bother.”

That’s why you should hire a traffic attorney to dispute the ticket for you. The fact is that a traffic attorney only has one job in traffic court. That is to raise the level of reasonable until it favors their client. However, they will ask the law enforcement officer (LEO) several questions that the LEO is bound by law to answer accurately, raising that doubt.

Although you can do some things, a traffic attorney does, like subpoena evidence such as laser or lidar guns calibration record, the LEO’s training record on the device, red-light photos and video, review all pieces of evidence against you, call witnesses, etc. However, you do not have the knowledge and experience gained by spending day after day in traffic court.

Traffic attorneys sit through hundreds of cases just like yours. They also hear how specific judges rule on particular offenses or arguments. For instance, if they know judge Brown will be on the bench the day of your 100+ mph speeding ticket, and that judge has ruled against the attorney on every case, they could postpone for a later date. Likewise, if they know the LEO who issued your ticket will be transferred or retired in one month, why not delay for two?

That’s true in traffic court too; you have “the right to face your accuser,” so if they’re not there for the actual trial, an attorney can request a dismissal. 

#1 — You Might Have to Pay Bail to Contest Your Ticket in Traffic Court

Normally, the first appearance is just an arraignment where you request a trial.  But if you are trying to avoid taking off two days from work, the judge will sometimes allow you to post the fine amount and set it for trial in writing.  If you hire an attorney you do not need to worry about appearing in court or posting bail, unless the best strategy is a trial by declaration.  A trial by declaration should only be chosen in consultation with your attorney. If you win the case, the bail amount is returned to you. 

#2 — You Cannot Ask for a Recess to Call a Witness or Get Documents

If someone was with you in the car that knows about your traffic incident, you could call them to testify for you. However, if they are not there in traffic court with you, you cannot call a recess to get them.

Traffic court is fast-paced. The traffic court judge could hear 100 cases or more in a day in Los Angeles. You could wait from 9 am until 2 pm for your name to be called and then have ten minutes or less to present your case. It is always wise to consult a traffic attorney and hire them if they believe you have a “winnable” traffic court case.  

#3 — You Don’t Have the Right to a Lawyer, Nor Will One Be Appointed to You If You Can’t Afford One

In traffic court, when you challenge a traffic ticket, most of the same rules apply. However, if the traffic ticket is an infraction (you can tell if the “I” on your ticket rather than the “M” is circled), you are not entitled to a jury of your peers or a court-appointed lawyer. You should consult a traffic attorney before you decide how to proceed.

If the “M” is circled, that means you have been charged with a misdemeanor such as reckless driving, a hit and run with damage only, some type of speed contest or exhibition of speed, failure to appear or pay (FTA/FTP), or another. In this case, you will be tried in Superior Court with a jury, and all Constitutional rights will be afforded, such as a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford one. 

Consult a Traffic Attorney Who Can Resolve Your Traffic Court Case  

Bigger & Harman is a Bakersfield Traffic Law team that can assist you in resolving your ticket in Los Angeles County Traffic Courts; call (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

When you choose to plead not guilty to a traffic infraction, we can help. We practice only non-criminal traffic law in Los Angeles County Traffic Courts such as Chatsworth, Beverly Hills, Downey, Glendale, Inglewood, and others. Give us a call today.  

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The 2021 CA Driver Handbook English y Español