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Officers DiscretionEven in a seemingly objective situation like a nonfunctioning headlamp, an officer has the discretion to follow four different courses of action, and courts in Mono or Inyo County almost never second-guess any of these choices.

First, the officer could do nothing. This outcome is especially likely if the officer was on STEP patrol or part of a saturation enforcement campaign. If the officer stops the motorist, the officer could issue a warning, a fix-it ticket, or a notice to appear. That decision will probably be based on an interview with the driver and a review of the driver’s record. If the officer gets the feeling that the headlight had just burned out, a warning or fix-it ticket may be in order. But drivers who are at all hostile or who have been previously cited for the headlight can almost certainly expect a notice to appear.

Subjective and Objective Violations

Most all infractions in the Vehicle Code have a subjective element. VC 22352, the school zone speed limit law, is a good example. Contrary to popular myth, the 25mph speed only applies “while children are going to or leaving the school either during school hours or during the noon recess period” and not during the entire day. Arguably, therefore, a VC 22358.4 ticket is invalid if, for example, it was issued at 10 in the morning.

The state must prove each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt, which in this case means establishing that there were children present near the street at the time. If the state cannot meet its burden of proof, a dismissal or reduction are the only appropriate remedies.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive attorneys at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-349-9300 or email to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-349-9755.

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