NOTE: It seems like this link shows up under Google's Search Engine, and I have a lot of people who sign up for LotusTalk just to PM me. I will only help you if you are a LotusTalk member in good standing, or a Honda-Tech member in good standing. If you just signed up for this forum just to talk to me (and many have), then I will not help you. If you are neither, and still want help, I will charge a $10 fee.
A lot of us like to drive our Lotus to far away locations. Examples including someone in Orange County going to Willow Springs, Buttonwillow, Laguna Seca, etc. Are you driving a few counties away to get to a Lotus meet?
I've decided to share some information on fighting your traffic ticket. You should know this even before you go out and drive next time. The following information will help you greatly if there is a lot of things question, or if you were (or weren't) speeding excessively. Obviously if you're racing over 100 MPH+ on the freeway, don't expect this to help much.
HIGHLIGHT: Never admit guilt.
Always be polite. Always try to get as much information as you can.
1. GETTING PULLED OVER
I recommended that you never admit guilt. By admitting guilt, you put your case into the hands of the cop who pulled you over. If you get a nice cop, he might let you off. If you don’t get a nice cop, and he gives you a ticket, you have just incriminated yourself.
Cop: Do you know why I pulled you over?
WRONG ANSWER: Yes. I was doing 80mph.
WHY: This self-incriminates you.
WRONG ANSWER: No. I don’t. What speed was I going?
WHY: This makes you seem like you don’t pay attention to your driving.
RIGHT ANSWER: Would you mind telling me why you pulled me over?
WHY: You’re not admitting guilt. You are not answering his question, but appear to do so by responding back with a question yourself.
Cop: Yes, you were doing 85 MPH in a 65 Zone.
WRONG ANSWER: No I wasn’t.
WHY: Arguing or disagreeing with a cop will not help you.
RIGHT ANSWER: Oh I see. Would you mind telling me how you were able to get that speed?
WHY: You acknowledge his statement and at the same time, getting information on how exactly he determined your speed. Not all cops will state how he determined your speed on your ticket. You need this information to fight your ticket.
Cop: Do you know how fast you were going?
WRONG ANSWER: Yes. I was doing 80 MPH.
WHY: This self-incriminates you.
RIGHT ANSWER: Yes. I believe I was going at a safe and reasonable speed as per CVC 22350. (MEMORIZE THIS ONE!)
WHY: If you’re doing 80 MPH on the freeway, he will write you up for CVC 22349 or CVC 22356. CVC 22350 basically states, “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” If everyone else is driving the same speed, sometimes driving 65MPH actually endangers the safety of persons or property if everyone is tailgating you, high-beaming you, etc.
This answer will trigger different responses from different cops. Some cops might think you’re a smart-@$$s. Some cops might think that you know what you’re talking about and continue to ask you more questions. If you get a cop that decides to throw a bunch of questions at you, make sure you slow him down. Think carefully about each question he asks you, always be polite, don't incriminate yourself, and if you can, answer a question back with a question to get information from him.
2. GETTING A TICKET
So the cop has decided to give you a ticket. As he is writing it...
Ask him nicely, "Can you give me a warning?"
It doesn't hurt to ask. If he denies it, tell him, “Excuse me officer. I would like request my right to appear county seat.” Do this only if you get a ticket in another county other than the one where you work or live. When he grants your request, he should ask you which court. If you get a ticket in San Diego, but live in LA, you could say Santa Monica for example. If you get a ticket in California near the border of Nevada, but live in Orange County, you would say Santa Ana. Obviously, if you're getting a ticket a few blocks away from your home, you can't do this.
If he denies your request, tell him, “According to CVC 40502(b), upon demand, I can request my court appearance closest to my residence or my principal place of employment. Can I request my right to appear county seat?”
If he still denies it, when you sign your ticket, make sure you face it away from the cop. Write in the signature box, “Request County Seat.” and then sign it. This is your proof that you requested it. If a cop denies you two times, and you write this in, you will have a STRONG CASE. The cop has denied your right to appear county seat, so now you have to write it in the signature box. You can use this as a basis to fight your case. PM me if this happens to you.
If you live in Orange County, and you get a ticket in LA, do it anyways. At the very least, you make him drive one hour or so to fight you in court.
SPEED TRAP: If it appears to be a speed trap, when the cop is writing you the ticket, ask him playfully any the following (depending on your situation).
"You know what officer, that was a good hiding spot. How many people did you get today from that spot?"
"You must be getting a lot of people from that spot today. Did you meet your quota yet?"
"You know, I see you a lot on Main St. Are you getting more people on this street?" If he answers yes, ask him "Wow. How many did you get today?"
WHY: You are building up evidence against a speed trap case. If it appears he has pulled over numerous people at that spot, you can request to see his log for the day.
MULTIPLE CARS: If a cop pulls over you and a few other cars at the same time, try to get their license plates.
WHY: If you are able to locate the cars later, everyone can fight the case together.
3. TRIAL BY DECLARATION
V.C. Section 40902 - Trial by Written Declaration
I recommend that everyone declares a Trial by Declaration, which basically means that you can fight it by mail. By fighting your traffic ticket by mail, you basically send your side of the story, and the cop sends his. The judge reviews both sides, and then makes a decision. The good thing about this is that you’re forcing a cop to gather his evidence and write a statement about your ticket. Some cops don’t like to do this, and will just let it go and would rather just go out and give another ticket. The cop has a certain amount of days to submit his statement. If he does not, you win. If he does, and the judge declares in your favor, you win. If the judge declares in the cops favor, you have another chance to fight it! You have multiple chances of winning, therefore Trial by Declaration is the best route to take.
I have samples of arguments you can use to submit to the judge. Please PM me. I have them for the following types of tickets:
Speeding on a freeway with a 65MPH or 70MPH posted speed limit.
Exceeding a speed greater than reasonable for the conditions present.
Failure to do a complete stop.
Red light camera ticket.
4. SO YOU LOST TRIAL BY DECLARATION?
If you lost Trial by Declaration on a ticket where you drove 5 - 10 MPH, then I'm very surprised. If you did, say 90 MPH in a 65 Zone, then I'm not surprised you lost. I suggest you get a laywer. Otherwise, keep going.
Hopefully, you got your ticket far from your location of residence. The latest statistic I have from a couple years ago say that a traffic ticket case in court is in the defendant’s case approximately 12% of the time. A majority of them are due to the cop not showing up. By having your court case outside of the cop’s favorite court, he is even more likely not to show up.
If you’re ticket is close to your location of residence, please PM me for more advice, or hire a lawyer.
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO
1. Do you have parents who live far away that you frequently visit? If so, let me know, and I'll share with you something you can do, so that if you ever get a ticket, you have higher chances of winning.
2. If you're ticket is for CVC22350, try to go online RIGHT AWAY and print out a few weather reports from a few websites.
3. If you're ticket is for speeding on the freeway, go online to SigAlert and print out what the current flow of traffic is. If you are far from home, call someone and have them do it RIGHT AWAY. Also, if it was for a Monday 11AM for example, go to SigAlert every Monday at 11AM and print out a speed report.
FOR THE RECORD:
I'm not a wreckless driver. I generally drive in a safe and reasonable manner. It all started, when I got a 45MPH in a 35MPH Zone many years ago, which no posted speed-limit. I did research, and I won! Since then, I fight every ticket I get, even if I can take traffic school. If I am eligible for traffic school, I usually fight by mail first. If I don't win, I ask to appear in court, in which I ask for traffic school.
As such, I have a good driving record, and a good driver's discount.