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It would be best to have a proven stop sign ticket defense strategy when you receive a ticket—particularly when you have previous convictions, and a paid fine could lead to a suspension.

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) are like any other human; they make mistakes. However, how you present the mistaken observation or subjective conclusion can make all the difference.

The traffic court judge will likely believe the LEO because that is their job, and most will not ticket an innocent driver without cause. You need experienced and knowledgeable legal representation to convince the judge that a mistake was made.

Challenge the LEO's Subjective Conclusion

In traffic court, like any other courtroom, except civil suits, the standard of conviction is “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Therefore, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to raise the level of doubt. You must question the LEO’s view of what happened. 

An attorney could present factual evidence suggesting the officer's conclusion that yours was not a full stop or that you pulled out too soon when traffic was coming. Their view was possibly compromised, or they were preoccupied with another task.

Another Stop Sign Ticket Defense Could Be to Challenge the LEO's Observations

Was the officer in an optimum position to observe your stop? If the officer was across the highway from your position, they might not have a clear view. 

Where the law requires objective observation by the officer (not a judgment call on safety), the argument often comes down to whose version of the facts is correct. If cited for failing to stop at a stop sign, the outcome depends on who the judge believes. 

Typically, the officer's account prevails unless you can cast doubt on their perception. However, techniques exist to raise a reasonable doubt about your guilt. A diagram and pictures showing the officer’s position could sway the judge to your perspective.  

You should always discuss your situation with a traffic attorney. Traffic attorneys spend much of their day in traffic court listening to similar cases. They know what works and what doesn’t with specific judges.

Show That It Was a "Mistake of Fact" 

A traffic court judge has significant leeway in determining whether your actions were a "mistake of fact," they should dismiss your ticket.

When you travel the same route to work each day, and a new stop sign is added, the judge might consider this grounds for dismissal. However, if the sign has been up for a few days or weeks, it probably won’t work.

If, after a storm, a downed branch covered a stop sign, you should take pictures to show the judge. 

Your Stop Sign Ticket Defense Could Be to “Avoid Harm”  

Say that you have an extremely rare emergency situation where you were rushing your partner or child to the hospital and saw that the road was clear, and you consciously chose to run the stop sign. This could be a valid "emergency" defense.

Any of these stop sign ticket defenses could lead to dismissal or a reduced “no-point” charge, the equivalent of a parking ticket. However, the layperson usually does not have the legal knowledge or prowess to argue these effectively. Always consult a traffic attorney.

Why Hire an Attorney When Paying the Fine Might Be Cheaper

The fine for running a stop sign, a minor infraction, is about $238 in Kings County. However, if you are not eligible to attend traffic violator school, and there are several reasons you might not be, your auto insurance premium will be far more than the fine.

undefinedAccording to, the average California driver pays $2,290 annually for insurance. Yours could be lower or much higher if you have a teen on your policy. However, when your insurance company discovers your paid fine, they will take your 20% “good driver’s discount.”

That will increase your premium by $458 annually. Then, they will add the risk associated with running a stop sign, around 10%, or another $229 per year. This increase of about $687 will remain until the DMV removes your conviction from your driving record, usually 36 to 39 months.

So, that minor infraction could cost a total of $2,299. Certainly, you can find a traffic attorney for less than that.   

Consult with Bigger & Harman About Your Stop Sign Ticket Defense Strategy  

Before giving up and paying the fine, consult Bigger & Harman, APC, at (661) 349-9300 about your stop sign ticket defense in Hanford Courthouse in Kings County, CA. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Use our handy online contact form or email Send a copy/picture of your citation and a summary of the stop.


The CA Driver Handbook English y Español.

The article, Average cost of car insurance in CA for 2023.

CA VC Section 22450Special Stops Required.

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