Unfortunately, too many Kings County drivers believe the myth that attending traffic violators school (TVS) is a viable forgiveness for their traffic tickets for minor infractions.
Attending and completing TVS before the court-imposed deadline will only make your conviction (yes, you must plead guilty and pay the total fine amount, plus the county admin fee of $64 in Kings County, tuition, and the DMV filing fee).
If you don’t complete it on time, you forfeit those fees, and the conviction is placed in your motor vehicle driving record (MVR). That means, upon renewal, your auto insurance company will revoke your “good driver’s discount” of 20% and add the inherent risk of the violation. Typically, a minor infraction adds 10 to 15% to your premium.
According to Bankrate, that 30 to 35% increase will be between $687.30 and $801.85 because the average California driver will pay $2,291 for insurance in 2023. The insurance increase is about two or three times the fine for a minor infraction. Be sure to consult a traffic attorney before you plead guilty and accept TVS. Many traffic tickets for minor infractions are easy to get a dismissal with the help of a traffic attorney.
Know the Traffic Laws
One of the first and most vital steps in disputing a traffic ticket is understanding the laws you are accused of violating. Familiarize yourself with California traffic laws and regulations and understand the charges against you. This familiarization might help you determine if any defenses apply to your case.
Search Google for the CA Vehicle Code (CVC) quoted on your citation. Choose the https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov, such as this one for speeding:
CVC § 22350 - California Legislative Information - CA.gov.
The CVC will give you the information about what the State must prove to find you guilty. However, if it states a “base fine,” that is what the fine was when the law was approved by the State Assembly, many haven’t been changed since the 50s or 60s. Since then, the Assembly has approved ten surcharges, penalties, and assessments, which will make your actual fine about five times the base fine.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Innocence
The next step is to gather evidence to support your defense. This can include photographs of the location of the incident, witness statements, and driving records. You should also consider hiring an attorney to present your case to the traffic court judge.
A clear understanding of the laws and evidence will help you build a strong defense and increase your chances of getting your traffic ticket for a minor infraction forgiven. However, it's important to note that there is no guarantee that your traffic ticket will be forgiven, and it is ultimately up to the judge to make a final decision.
Attend Your Arraignment
Unless you hire a traffic attorney to dispute a traffic ticket, you have the right to attend a hearing and present your case in court. However, due to the court schedule, you might need to attend two sessions. At the arraignment, you can plead not guilty, but you might need to return another day for trial.
This allows you to explain the circumstances surrounding the incident and provide evidence supporting your defense. It is crucial to be prepared and professional when attending your hearing. Dress appropriately, be polite to the judge and court staff, and present your case clearly and concisely.
However, remember that you will only have about five to ten minutes to present your case. If you get tongue-tied or have stage fright, the judge will likely find you guilty and impose a fine.
Consider Attending Traffic School
TVS attendance might not be an option once you attend the trial. The county typically offers this method of masking your conviction instead of trial. One option is to attend traffic school, but as stated above, it is not forgiveness. This course educates drivers on safe driving habits and California traffic laws. If you successfully complete the course, the DMV will keep your conviction confidential (if you are a class C driver), so your insurance premium stays the same.
But if you fail to complete the conviction record will be included in your MVR as a public record.
Be Prepared for Your Hearing
It's essential to be prepared for your hearing and to have a clear understanding of the laws and evidence that apply to your case. You should also be professional and polite when interacting with the judge and court staff. By following these strategies and being prepared, you may be able to have your minor infractions forgiven in Kings County, CA.
However, the best course of action is to consult with and hire a traffic ticket defense attorney to represent you in court. Too many drivers consider only the fine when weighing the pros and cons of hiring an attorney. The fine is usually only one-fourth of the actual cost. The increased insurance over the three years your conviction will remain in your MVR could total as much as $2,400 or more over the next three years.
In conclusion, disputing a traffic ticket can be challenging, but by following these strategies and being prepared, you may have your minor infractions forgiven in Kings County, CA. Always familiarize yourself with the laws, gather evidence, attend your hearing, and consider TVS as an option to reduce penalties only when advised by an attorney.
But first and foremost, consult an attorney.
Consult with Bigger & Harman, APC, When You Need Assistance for a DMV NOTS Hearing
We can help you resolve your traffic tickets in Kings County Traffic Court, and many others around Central Valley and Eastern California. Call us today.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The Bankrate.com article, Average cost of car insurance in California for 2023.
CVC 22350, Speed Laws.