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How to Handle a Ticket for Failure to Stop at a Red Light

undefinedThe first thing we should do is clear up some misinformation or clarify some information about a “failure to stop at a red light.”

There are two types of “base fines” for failure to stop at a red light ticket. The first is when you go straight through an intersection without making a turn, which carries a base fine of $100. CA traffic law provides Sections 21450 - 21468 regarding red lights.

However, for our purposes, we will take a look at CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21453Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices, which states, “A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown.”

So, you see, the traffic code provides three alternatives, stop at the limit line, the crosswalk, or stop at the intersection if the first two do not exist.  

Then, you can make a right turn on red if you first stop behind the limit line, yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians in the crosswalk, and then proceed with caution, or if you are making a left turn from a one-way onto a one-way street, you must also yield the right of way.  

Whenever you fail to come to a complete stop behind the limit line, if there is one, before the crosswalk, or at the intersection, the base fine for this is $35. However, never pay the fine without consulting a traffic attorney first. It could save you hundreds of dollars and a lot of aggravation. 

What Is the Difference Between the “Base Fine” & What You Will Actually Pay?  

First, the good news, you might not have been driving when the camera-enforced ticket for failure to stop at a red light was issued. There are exceptions and technicalities, which could get your ticket dismissed or could reduce your ticket to a no-point conviction or a non-moving violation. Always consult a traffic attorney to determine what is best for your situation.

Any of these scenarios can be requested or negotiated by an attorney with the traffic court judge. If approved by the judge, you pay the fine, but there are no negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points for a non-moving violation. This can be unbelievably valuable to a driver with a traffic ticket within the last 18 months.

If you have had a ticket within the previous 18 months that you used a Traffic Violators School (TVS) to keep your minor infraction confidential, then you are not eligible to use it again. More on that in a minute.

Most drivers fail to consider that the $490 fine is only about 25 percent of what you will pay when your auto insurance company sees the conviction or paid fine and revokes your “good driver’s discount” of 20 percent and adds the additional risk.

The average CA driver saves 20 percent due to the voters in 1988 approving Proposition 103, which made every insurance company operating in CA give drivers with a good driving record a 20 percent discount that amounts to $392 annually, based on the average premium of $1,960. Of course, many variables determine how much you will pay. For instance, older drivers pay less, as do females, married people, etc.

More Mixed News for a Failure to Stop at a Red Light Ticket

First, the good news. You might not have been driving when the camera-enforced ticket for failure to stop at a red light was issued. There are exceptions and technicalities, which could get your ticket dismissed, or could reduce your ticket to a no-point conviction, or a non-moving violation. Always consult a traffic attorney to determine what is best for your situation.

Any of these scenarios can be requested or negotiated by an attorney with the traffic court judge. If approved by the judge, you pay the fine but there is no negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points for a non-moving violation. This can be unbelievably valuable to a driver with a traffic ticket within the last 18 months. 

If you have had a ticket within the previous 18 months that you used a Traffic Violators School (TVS) to keep your minor infraction confidential, then you are not eligible to use it again. More on that in a minute.

What most drivers fail to consider is that the $490 fine is only about 25 percent of what you will pay when your auto insurance company sees the conviction or paid fine and revokes your “good driver’s discount” of 20 percent and adds the additional risk. 

The average CA driver saves 20 percent due to the voters in 1988 approving Proposition 103, which made every insurance company operating in CA give drivers with a good driving record a 20 percent discount that amounts to $392 annually, based on the average premium of $1,960. Of course, there are many variables that determine how much you will pay. For instance, older drivers pay less, as do females, married people, etc. 

Should I Use TVS to Keep My Auto Insurance Down?  

It would be best if you discussed this with your attorney because every scenario is different, and there are circumstances where using TVS will only cost you more money with no benefit. You should never use it for a correctable or “fixit” ticket, such as no license in possession or proof of insurance violations, or loud exhaust, and there is no benefit to use it for a cellphone ticket since there are no NOTS points for those.

Plus, you can’t use TVS if any of the following conditions exist:

  • You did not have a legal CA driver’s license
  • You were driving a commercial vehicle
  • You have a mandatory court date
  • It was a misdemeanor or felony offense, which includes a DUI

What’s more, if your attorney recommends TVS, you must plead guilty, pay the full fine amount, pay the county administrative fee (typically around $65, pay the DMV to post your attendance results to your motor vehicle driving record (MVR), pay the tuition, and complete a DMV-approved course before the court-mandated completion date. All this can be accomplished at the county clerk’s office, and a list of DMV-approved classes is available here

What is essential to understand is that no two traffic tickets are alike, especially a failure to stop at a red light, and you should discuss your options with a traffic attorney who offers a free initial consultation.        

Bakersfield Traffic Attorneys Who Offer a Free Initial Consultation 

When you come home to a failure to stop at a red light ticket in your mailbox, or get stopped for “rolling through a red light,” you have options. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, for a free initial consultation to determine your options. We could save you a lot of money. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Natalie S. of Bakersfield said on Yelp, “These guys were here for me from beginning to end! I had total anxiety about court, so I reached out and got an attorney for my 2 red light tickets and they ended up getting one reduced to a [non] moving violation and the other completely dismissed!! No points whatsoever and I didn't even have to step foot in court, which was a blessing to me plus I would have had to miss work, so it was a win-win!! Love these guys and they stayed in communication with me either by text or email or called to let me know how my case was going ! I always knew what was going on and Becker [never] had to ask or hunt them down to ask! Very professional and courteous!”

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The 2020 CA Driver Handbook.pdf

The DMV TVS Portal

CVC Section 21453Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices