Many drivers do not realize that fighting a school zone ticket is more straightforward than one would expect. Likewise, although the fine is much more than a regular speeding citation for the same speed, the fine is only about one-fourth of the total expense. The increase in auto insurance premiums makes up the other three-fourths. The insurance providers are the big winners when you plead guilty and pay the fine.
California Law Regarding a School Zone Ticket
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22352, Speed Laws provides guidance and restrictions pertaining to drivers who exceed the speed limit in a school zone, which is “up to 500 feet away from school grounds,” posted with a "standard 'SCHOOL' warning sign," and“while children are going to or leaving the school either during school hours or during the noon recess period.”
Therefore, if you get ticketed at five pm or in an area without a warning sign, did you actually violate the California traffic law regarding a school zone? If there were no children present, the portion of the law “while the grounds are in use by children” was not violated.
Any of these arguments must be raised to the traffic court judge by an experienced traffic attorney to raise a “reasonable doubt,” which is the standard even for a traffic infraction such as speeding.
All drivers must observe the following safety warnings when driving close to schools for the children’s safety and your driving record:
- Watch for children and be prepared to stop
- Obey the speed limit
- Do away with distractors such as cell phones
- Comply with crossing guards and signals
- Always yield the right of way to pedestrians, even when you are right
- Learn and observe the pattern of traffic when dropping off and picking up children
Saferoutes.org, sponsored by the US DOT, has practical information for both drivers and children around schools.
Why Hire a Traffic Attorney to Fight a School Zone Ticket?
The choice of hiring an attorney to handle your ticket or not is obvious when you consider that the fine could be between $175 and $1480, depending on your speed. Not to mention, the possibility of missed work.
As stated above, the fine is only about 25% of the total. If you are not eligible to attend traffic violator’s school (TVS), the DMV will assess one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point if convicted or you paid the fine, which means you plead guilty.
Once your auto insurance provider discovers the conviction, usually at renewal, they will pull your “good driver’s discount” and add a high-risk premium. Instead of the possible $175 to $1480, the actual expense is around $2,000 to $3,500 for speeding in a school zone ticket conviction. Surely, you can hire a traffic attorney for much less than that.
You don’t want the higher insurance rates for three years, yet you don’t want to lose time from work either to attend traffic court or TVS. Traffic court is unlike any courtroom setting you see on TV. On TV, everything is well-organized and unhurried. Some smaller traffic courts are well-organized, but it’s still terribly busy and hectic.
When you hire a traffic attorney, you stand the chance of getting a dismissal or reduced no-point violation, which will keep your auto insurance at the current premium level. Going to court to challenge the ticket on your own could be a disaster.
You could have a prepared statement, and when your name is called, stage fright takes over, and you can’t speak. Likewise, you might admit guilt by saying, “I was going a little over the speed limit, but…” In most cases, as soon as you admit guilt, the judge doesn’t listen to the rest. They often believe there is no excuse for speeding in a school zone. You should always consult an attorney.
Traffic Attorneys Who Handle Lamont Traffic Court Cases & Others in Kern County
Contact Bigger & Harman, APC, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We are California traffic attorneys who assist drivers in resolving traffic tickets and DMV NOTS hearings in Lamont, Shafter, Delano, Bakersfield, Mojave, Ridgecrest, and many other traffic courts in Central Valley and Eastern California. We use a flat fee so that you always know how much you will pay.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdf
CVC Section 22352, Speed Laws
The National Center for Safe Routes to School article, Safe Routes