Know When to Fight a Speeding Ticket in California
Deciding whether to fight a speeding ticket in California requires legal consultation. The first step is for you and your attorney to decide whether it is worth it to dispute your speeding ticket. In most cases, a conviction will result in a substantial fine and other penalties. The speeding laws in California are different than in many other states, so it is imperative to allow a traffic lawyer to explain what the laws are and if you have a case. Be sure not to admit wrongdoing to the issuing officer because they will testify against you in court.
How to Avoid a Speeding Ticket
There are many ways a law enforcement officer (LEO) uses to determine how fast you were driving. They use radar and lidar (like radar but uses a laser) and follow or pace a vehicle to detect a car's speed. Sometimes, LEOs even guess the speed of the vehicle, which many judges allow for experienced officers.
Police often use vehicles and aircraft to monitor traffic. However, even though an aircraft can be used to detect speeding vehicles, a ground vehicle must pace the car or use another method to determine it is the right vehicle. Imagine trying to distinguish which late-model white sedan was actually speeding from the air. So, if a patrol officer stops you and says an aircraft clocked you on radar, you should consult an attorney, you might have been entrapped according to CA law.
The best way to avoid a speeding ticket is to know and obey the posted speed limit and drive under the speed limit. There is a myth that a car will not get stopped unless it is going ten or more miles over the speed limit, but that is not true. Driving more than one mph over the limit is a violation. But, you can even get a speeding ticket when driving under the limit, when weather and road conditions dictate a slower speed.
Slowdown in cities, towns, business and residential district, when conditions warrant, and in school or construction zones. Remember, fines are doubled in these zones when signs, children, and workers are present. Always overtake other vehicles with caution. Passing a car is not an excuse to drive faster than the speed limit.
The Four Levels of Speeding Penalties
No matter how careful you are, you might get distracted or surprised by a reduced speed limit. There are four levels of penalties for a speeding ticket conviction in CA. Three are minor infractions, and the fourth is a major infraction for speeding 100+ mph. A conviction for minor infractions will result in DMV assessing one Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) point and for a major infraction, two points.
A speeding ticket conviction of 1-15 mph over the limit will get you a $230-250 fine, 16-24 mph over, $360-370, and 25+ mph over will result in a fine of $490-500. The DMV-assessed points will trigger a higher auto insurance premium at renewal. Unless you have not used traffic school to mask a traffic ticket from public view in the previous 18 months, you might be eligible to attend. If you are ineligible for traffic school, your insurance premium will likely rise 35-40 percent when you lose your “good driver’s discount” for a speeding ticket (you lose your discount, plus get an increase based on what type of violation). For the average Californian, that means a rise of $1500 over the 36-39 month period the conviction or paid fine will remain on their motor vehicle driving record (MVR).
The DMV allows drivers to attend traffic school to mask one minor infraction during an 18-month timeframe from conviction date to conviction date. It is not based on the attendance date. That could make a difference depending on your court date. Ask a traffic law attorney for specifics.
The major infraction conviction will stay on your MVR up to seven years, and your insurance premium will double or triple. This could cost up to $10,000 for the $900-2600 fine and increased insurance over seven years. Since a major infraction carries a mandatory court appearance by either you or your lawyer, you cannot mask the conviction with traffic school attendance. And, CA law allows traffic court judges to suspend a convicted driver’s privileges for 30 days. Most Central Valley judges use this option depending on the circumstances. Therefore, this is a speeding ticket you should fight with the assistance of a traffic ticket attorney.
When Not to Fight a Speeding Ticket
Generally speaking, the only time not to fight a speeding ticket is on the advice of a traffic ticket attorney. Many experienced traffic attorneys offer a free initial phone consult. However, when a first offender receives a 1-15 mph over speeding ticket, and they are eligible for traffic school attendance, a traffic law professional will most likely advise them to pay the $230-250 fine and attend traffic school. In that example, it would probably not make sense to dispute the ticket because your insurance premium would not rise.
A speeding ticket in CA is costly, both the fine and increased auto insurance; therefore, it makes sense to consult with a traffic ticket attorney before you decide to challenge a speeding ticket or pay the fine.
Traffic Ticket Attorneys Who Regularly Represent Clients in LA and Santa Clarita, CA
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. Bigger & Harman regularly represent drivers in Los Angeles County Traffic Court such as Santa Clarita, Inglewood, Burbank, and Glendale, to name a few, to secure dismissals and reduced charges for their clients.
When you receive a speeding ticket, we will do our best to make sure you get a fair trial with a favorable result. Also, we assist drivers at DMV NOTS Hearings to help them avoid a suspension.
Send them an email, email@example.com.
Bigger & Harman maintains a Facebook business page, where you can find links to traffic law articles such as this, and client comments. More comments and feedback are available on Avvo and Nolo or Yelp.
The 2018 CA Driver Handbook .pdf