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21 May 2007

Hope me bunnies! I got a speeding ticket...[More:]Tell me about your traffic court experience. I got a ticket today for doing 89 mph in a 65 zone. Oops. I deserve the ticket, I wasn't paying close enough attention. But I am curious about what to expect in traffic court. I'd like to try and get traffic school to take the points off my record. How often does this work, in your experience? This is my first offense.

I mean, I know I will have to enter a plea and ask the judge for traffic court. What I want to know is how it went for *you*. I have already looked up the fine schedule and can anticipate I'll be $241 poorer.

Thanks in advance for helping to relieve my anxiety about this.
Depends on the jurisdiction, but traffic school isn't an option if you were going too fast. Where I live, it is 25 over = no traffic school. You'd just squeeze in for that.

And where I live, you do the traffic school as a checkbox on the ticket. No talking to any judges.

Last time, I forgot to do the online traffic school and ended up going past the deadline and ended up having to pay the fine.
posted by birdherder 21 May | 17:17
I got the ticket in San Jose, CA; the courthouse address is in San Jose. I'm pretty sure it will fall under Santa Clara County Superior Court's jurisdiction. Thanks birdherder.
posted by Luminous Phenomena 21 May | 17:32
What kind of squadcar pulled you over? Highway Patrol? City? County?

I'm not sure how it works in San Jose, but here in Dallas it makes a *huge* difference. If you get pulled over by a County Constable, you're basically screwed into either traffic school (but, as I found out, this is only if you have a TX license...I'd just moved three week earlier and still had Okie creds). If you challenge them, it's in a J.P. Court and they *will* show up, and it's their word against yours, and you'll wind up paying the fine and court fees.

I'm not sure how harsh the TX Highway Patrol are, as I've not been pulled over by them.

However, I did get pulled over by a City of Dallas Officer that was standing in a side street with a radar gun and then walked in front of my car and waved me in. He ran my license for existing warrants (which is, I believe the main reason DPS does these little side-street traffic traps) and wrote me a ticket for 41 in a 30 (I forgot which street I was on and thought it was 35).

However, I was polite and told him to have a nice day and be safe. After asking me if I was serious, I replied "yeah, I've got no beef with you, man. You're just doing your job". He then basically all but came out and told me to challenge it and he wouldn't show up. So, given a pending court date (some seven months later, may I add) I'll show up and hopefully walk out scot-free.

I asked my best mate about it, since he's *cough* rather experienced with getting ticketed and he told me I'll be in a courtroom with some 50 or so other people that are challenging. They'll call about half of our names and tell us we're dismissed, and the other half with actually have to stay and go through a trial (by judge, not jury).

If I do wind up getting out of it (and I'm pretty confident I will), it'll be the second time I've gotten out of a ticket entirely, and the third (out of four times I've been pulled over) that it won't go on my record.

Moral of the story -- be nice to traffic cops. They take a lot of grief and will, more often than not, hook you up if you are.

Long story short, if you can, find someone in your jurisdiction that has gone through the process and talk to them about their experience.

And, fwiw, in TX, you also mark the "Defensive Driving" box on the ticket itself when you mail it in, although I think you have to mail it in within 30 days (or you admit guilt and have to pay the fine) and complete the training within six months.

Sorry for being so long-winded...
posted by ufez 21 May | 17:48
Yeah, traffic school is pretty much just checking a checkbox somewhere and then finding a local school and making an appointment. You can only do it once every 18 months as I recall but other than that (and I guess the potential 25-over restriction already mentioned) it's pretty much just a straightforward thing.

You asked for courtroom experiences so here's mine.

I was ticketed on a highway near Martinez around 2002. It was a location where a CA-numbered highway split off from the interstate, and eventually the speed reduced. But I was ticketed at a spot before the first Speed Limit sign for the new zone started, so I felt pretty ticked off that I hadn't done anything wrong. I went out there and took pictures of the location where I got the ticket, the location of the first speed limit sign, printouts of maps, etc. I assembled this all in an evidence packet for the court and had my day. The tropper was there. I made my case to the judge that the reduced speed zone had not yet started where I was ticketed. He essentially handed the evidence that I'd assembled over to the trooper, who stared at it for a few moments without really saying anything. He then just said something vague like "No this is wrong, there must be another sign before that" (there wasn't.)

I think the judge at that point just basically said "okay, that evidence is out, do you have anything further to present?" If I had been thinking clearly I would have asked for a continuance to assemble more counter evidence that the trooper was in fact mistaken, but I just stammed out a no. Found guilty on the spot, case closed. Apparently there is no easy way for a regular person to even begin to dispute the testimony of a peace officer. I was really bitter, but I just did my traffic school and that was that.

BTW, traffic school is horrifically boring and depressing.
posted by Rhomboid 21 May | 18:16 is the usual recommendation on the car-nut forums I haunt. The gist of it is that you use all available stalling tactics, and hope that by getting the court date pushed well into next year, the LEO loses interest in showing up to testify against you.
posted by Triode 21 May | 19:34
Plead not guilty, show up in court, accept the judge's bargain of a non-point offense. Pay the ticket, and your insurance won't go up.

Some folks say that if you overpay through the mail, and don't deposit the refund check they send you, that the case won't be closed and will therefor never show up on your record, but I don't know that I believe that.
posted by Eideteker 22 May | 06:10
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