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Why Handling a Moving Violation Is Not for DIYers

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According to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, New Test for Law Schools: Do Enough Graduates Pass the Bar, only 40.7% passed the bar exam in California in 2018. That represents five years in a row where fewer applicants passed than failed. If representing yourself in court on a moving violation were that easy, don’t you think more applicants would pass the bar exam, especially after all those years of study?

Furthermore, most people are only capable of seeing an event from one perspective. If you believe you are not guilty of a traffic infraction such as running a red light or a misdemeanor reckless driving, you will likely not be able to look at it objectively. Sometimes, even when you are not guilty, you might not be able to convince the court “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The traffic court judge, in many cases, will take the word of an experienced LEO over the driver, especially those without representation.

An Attorney Has the Knowledge to Word a Request for Dismissal

However, an attorney can objectively look at the incident from a legal perspective. They will look at the “elements” the state must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and determine if your case is winnable. Not all are winnable, even when you are not guilty. Even in the circumstances of a non-winnable case, the lawyer could write a request for dismissal, and depending on how busy the court is, the judge could grant it to save overburdening the court.

When you “feel the need” to represent yourself in court, wait for a cellphone ticket or a non-moving violation that will only cost you the amount of the fine, and not the cost of increased insurance premiums for three to ten years.

Reduced Fines for Moving Violations

If the request for dismissal gets denied, a lawyer can request a reduced charge or fine. Many law enforcement officers (LEO) write the worst possible ticket, such as reckless driving because you took a corner too fast and squawked your tires. The judge might reduce the charge from a misdemeanor reckless driving charge to a speeding infraction.

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 23103, Driving Offenses states very clearly, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” The judge might determine the driver did not willfully or wantonly endanger public safety when they took the corner too fast. In these circumstances, a felony that could be a misdemeanor, or a misdemeanor that could be an infraction are what the court usually calls a “wobbler.” The judge doesn’t want the driver to get saddled with a criminal record for unintentionally taking a corner too fast. Keep in mind; there is nothing in the traffic code that arbitrarily links speeding to reckless driving. Likewise, many infractions can get reduced to non-moving violations when a knowledgeable attorney writes up the request correctly.

An experienced attorney can request the judge to consider the driver’s salary before imposing a fine. Actually, the driver could do that as well, but most are too nervous even to ask.

An Attorney Could Cost Less

That’s right. Even though many people do not believe this, an attorney is quite often the less expensive option. Consider the fine plus the cost of increased auto insurance premiums, and you can hire an attorney for much less. Although there is no guarantee of dismissal or a reduced charge, both have a chance of success when asked for by an attorney. The layperson typically does not know the specific wording required.

Most laypeople will go to court and “throw themselves on the mercy of the court.” The presentation they practiced for weeks leading up to the hearing suddenly disappears as soon as the traffic court judge calls their case because they suddenly got cold feet about speaking in front of a crowded courtroom. It’s understandable, but this is what traffic attorneys get paid to do.

Which would you rather: pay the attorney, or possibly pay the fine and your auto insurance company because of an infraction after many years with a clean record? After a conviction, the DMV will assess Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points for the violation.

Minor infractions, like speeding less than 100 mph, running a stop sign, following too closely, etc. is one NOTS point, as is an at-fault accident, any accident where the investigator finds you more than 0% responsible.

Major infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies get assessed two NOTS points by the DMV. After only four points within a year, six within two years, or eight within three years, the DMV could issue an Order of Suspension/Probation.

Traffic law attorneys are in traffic court nearly every day. Even when it is not their client’s hearing, they are privy to the judge’s ruling. They know how each traffic court judge typically rules on specific charges in the courts where they practice. Often, a traffic attorney can get the cooperation of a law enforcement officer (LEO) to get a reduced charge when there are special circumstances. However, only the judge can reduce the charge or fine.

Let a Traffic Attorney Handle Your Moving Violation in an Owens Valley Traffic Court

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, if you receive a moving violation. We regularly handle traffic tickets for Mono County drivers in Bridgeport and Mammoth Courthouse, and Inyo County drivers in Independence or Bishop Traffic Court.

Give us a call, and let’s discuss your traffic ticket.

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Send us an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.

References:

CVC 23103, Driving Offenses