Don’t Let This Be Your Monday Morning Story
You’re out there on Highway 65 in Tulare County heading north from Bakersfield to Porterville. It’s a clear morning, not another car or truck in sight, and the sun just peaked up over the horizon when you suddenly see the lights flashing in your rearview mirror. You look down at your speedometer, and sure enough, you’re speeding, doing about 75 in a 65 mph speed zone.
The law enforcement officer (LEO) asks you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance. As you are searching for everything, the LEO asks, “Do you know why I stopped you this morning?”
You politely reply, “I’m not sure, officer.” Even though you know you were speeding, you do not want to give the police too much information in case you decide to challenge the ticket and maybe he pulled you over for something else. You figure, the LEO is probably wearing a body camera, and “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Although drivers hear this almost daily on different TV shows and in the movies, most reply, “I may have been going a little over the speed limit, but I am running a little late for work.” It is highly likely that the LEO does not care that you are late for work. It is their duty to enforce the law, and you just made it easier for them to do so. When they show your recording to the traffic court judge, you will most likely be found guilty.
Speeding in California
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22349, Speed Laws states, “…no person may drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 65 miles per hour.” Although some portions of Highway 65 in Tulare are less than 65 mph, you were fortunate enough to have been on a stretch of that highway where it is 65. Where there are only two lanes, on undivided highways, the speed limit is 55 mph except within city limits where it could drop down to 25 mph.
Whatever your speed, when issued a speeding ticket, it is the state’s responsibility to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Burden of Proof for Speeding
In California, as in most states, the burden of proof belongs to the state when a defendant challenges a speeding ticket. Many drivers believe it is their word against the law enforcement officer (LEO) who issued the speeding citation, and the judge will take the word of the LEO over theirs.
That often winds up being the case when the driver with a speeding ticket represents themselves in traffic court. Fair or not, that’s typically true. It’s often not as much that the judge is biased as the driver cannot express themselves adequately. Whether it’s stage fright or mistakenly admitting guilt, they often end up hearing the judge rule, “guilty, pay the bailiff on your way out.”
According to Cornell Law School, the burden of proof, “Generally, describes the standard that a party seeking to prove a fact in court must satisfy to have that fact legally established.” In the case of a speeding ticket, that burden belongs to the LEO who issued the ticket. If the LEO does not show up, the judge will normally dismiss the ticket on the recommendation of the attorney. When you represent yourself, you may not know when or how to do that.
Also, a practicing traffic attorney has several years’ experience listening to traffic court rulings, not just their clients’ but thousands of others they hear while waiting for their case to come up. Who better to raise a “reasonable doubt” about your innocence?
Bigger & Harman, APC, Handle Tulare County Traffic Tickets
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We are a Bakersfield-based traffic law firm that can handle your speeding ticket in Porterville or Visalia Traffic Court. We only deal with traffic law to give our clients the best possible result in resolving their traffic tickets or at a DMV NOTS Hearing. Give us a call or send us an email.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdf
The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (LII) website
CVC Section 22349, Speed Laws