As CA traffic attorneys, we've heard many misconceptions about traffic tickets from clients over the years. Unfortunately, many believe these myths, leading to confusion and unnecessary legal trouble. This post will help debunk or clarify the top five traffic ticket myths.
#5 — Signing a Traffic Ticket Is an Admission of Guilt
Many drivers believe that if they sign a traffic ticket, they are admitting guilt.
However, this is not true. When you sign a traffic ticket, it is your promise to appear in court to resolve your ticket. This promise is legally binding and can have serious consequences if you fail to appear in court.
So, don't be afraid to sign your ticket, but make sure you show up in court to fight your ticket. If you don’t sign the ticket, you could end up sitting at the police station or in the county jail until bail can be arranged. That is not an ideal situation for anyone. Sign the traffic ticket and consult an attorney.
“Do not disregard your ticket if you do not receive your reminder notice in the mail. You must appear at the courthouse or settle your case by mail...Failure to appear on or before the appearance date may result in an additional fee, a hold placed on your driver’s license and referral to collections.” — San Bernardino County Traffic Court Division.
#4 — It's Your Word Against the Police Officer’s
Another common myth is that it's your word against the police officer when fighting a traffic ticket.
However, this is not the case. You have the right to challenge the police officer's version of events in court. In fact, an experienced and knowledgeable traffic attorney can often find flaws in the police officer's testimony or evidence that can help you win your case. But you should know that oftentimes the training and experience of the officer will also be considered by the judge, who may find the officers statements more credible than yours. Always consult a traffic attorney before you decide on a strategy. It is their job to raise the level of “reasonable doubt” about your guilt.
#3 — A RADAR/LIDAR Device Malfunction Will Lead to an Automatic Dismissal
Some drivers believe that if the radar or LIDAR device used by the police malfunctions, their ticket will be dismissed automatically.
However, this is a myth or misconception. Oftentimes the judge will consider other training and experience of the officer in determining speed to find you guilty.
Your best option is to let a CA traffic attorney subpoena and interpret the radar and/or lidar records. Competent traffic attorneys should be familiar with the science and form in these areas as they deal with them on a near-daily basis. If they send in a request for radar or lidar records, they know how to word the document, whom to address it to, and what the CA Vehicle Code says about speed measuring device calibration and law enforcement training requirements. If these issues come up in court, they know what to say to the judge.
#2 — The “I Was Just Keeping up with Traffic” Defense for a Traffic Ticket
Many drivers still believe the old defense that if they were keeping up with traffic flow, they wouldn't be found guilty of speeding.
Unfortunately, this is a dangerous myth. Speed limits are set for a reason, and if you exceed them, you can be ticketed, even if everyone else on the road is driving at the same speed. Saying you were "just keeping up with traffic" can even be seen by the judge as an admission of guilt, so it's best to avoid this defense altogether.
However, a traffic attorney knows the best option for your circumstances. Plus, if you hire an attorney to represent you in court without you appearing, you cannot self-incriminate.
You might believe, “Oh, this is too easy, I can handle this and save myself money.” Even if you studied law, you could still get tongue-tied or stage fright, and you would not have the advantage of more than a decade of practicing nothing but traffic law in CA courts.
#1 Traffic Ticket Myth - It's Too Expensive to Hire an Attorney
Perhaps the most common myth is that hiring a traffic attorney to fight your ticket is too expensive.
However, this is far from true, considering the fine and the increased auto insurance premium. The fine is typically only one-fourth of the total expense, and your insurance premium increase makes up the other three-fourths over the three years a conviction for a minor infraction will stay on your record. More serious offenses like speeding 100+ mph, reckless driving, and hit & runs can double or triple your premium. Don’t go it alone.
Appealing a traffic ticket conviction is difficult. You or an attorney must prove there was an issue with the court procedures. If you represent yourself and get stage fright, that’s on you, and it could cost you nearly $2,000over the next three years for the fine and increased insurance premiums without a 20% “good driver’s discount.”
A good traffic attorney can often save you money in the long run by getting your ticket dismissed or reduced, preventing your insurance rates from increasing. Additionally, some traffic attorneys offer a flat fee to affordable payment plans to make their services accessible to everyone.
Consult with Bigger & Harman about Your Traffic Ticket in Victorville Traffic Court
Not only do we offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation about your traffic ticket, but we use a flat fee to settle your case in court. You will never pay more, regardless of the number of court appearances we must make on your behalf.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The Bankrate.com article, Average cost of car insurance in CA for 2023.