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What's In A Name?

gavelIn a case that has serious implications for travelers to the Sierra Madre Mountains, a California appeals court recently ruled that a government agency can skirt the law by redefining key terms on a traffic ticket.

In Everett v. Mountains Recreation & Conservancy Authority, a driver received a photo enforcement ticket in the Sierra Madre Mountains. As a cost-cutting measure, the MCRA camera only took a picture of the license plate, and not the plate and the driver. Mr. Everett sued, claiming there was no evidence that he was the driver.

The Court of Appeals basically said “sorry, Charlie,” because the MCRA ticket was an “administrative penalty” as opposed to a “citation.” The judges cited the infamous Senate Bill 949, which changed the law in 2010 to usher in red-light cameras.

Infractions and Offenses

The Legislature plays a similar game with traffic tickets as a whole, but to drivers in Visalia and Porterville, the game isn’t much fun. California traffic tickets are technically “infractions,” meaning that they are a hybrid between civil and criminal cases. So, many of the Constitutional protections that apply in misdemeanors and felonies, including the prohibition of “excessive fines” and the right to a jury trial, don’t apply in California traffic court.

As a result, traffic ticket cases are typically resolved in one or two appearances, whereas most criminal cases may drag on for months. That’s good news in the sense that the matter is wrapped up quickly, but bad new to the extent that motorists have fewer rights in traffic court. An attorney can ensure that you get a fair hearing, and the judge issues a just ruling based on the evidence.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive lawyers at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-859-1177 or email attorney@markbigger.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-376-0214.