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All These Years, I've Been Doing It The Hard Way

It turns out there's an app for that.

In a recent press release, a Westlake Village lawyer announced his new "GetDismissed" app that "enables California drivers to effortlessly fight traffic tickets." The app sends the paperwork for requesting a trial by written declaration to an e-mail account. It's free to download, but the email service costs $49. Steve Miller, the attorney behind GetDismissed, claims the "straight forward and painless" service will "completely reinvent[]the category by offering a cheaper, more efficient, on-the-go option."

GetDismissed is heartily endorsed by a retired CHP officer, who admitted that he'd "like to arrest the guy who invented this thing."

Mr. Miller failed to mention that anyone can request a Trial by Written Declaration, app or no app. Thousands of drivers choose the TWD avenue each year, typically with mixed results.

Not everyone qualifies for a TWD. The due date must not have passed, your ticket cannot say that your appearance is mandatory and the alleged violation can be no more than an infraction. You then make a written statement giving your side of the story and include copies of photographs and other evidence. If anything is not formatted properly, the judge will not even consider them. The judge then compares your written statement to the police officer's written statement. Who do you think the judge will believe, especially if you have no advocate?

A TWD is better than rolling over and playing dead by pleading guilty to the violation and paying the fine "just to get it over with." In some instances, if the state's case is exceedingly weak or if it was a clear case of mistaken identity, a TWD may be the best option. But it takes an attorney regularly practicing in Kern County traffic courts to make that call.

A piece of paper cannot bring out legal precedents in your favor, cross-examine the witnesses against you and make legal arguments on your behalf. Only a flesh-and-blood attorney in Lamont or Shafter can do these things.