SF traffic violation

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SF traffic violation

Postby AD72 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:53 am

Not the usual question about kiting but I need some SF local advice. I just got a $1,100 ticket in the mail for unintentionally cutting off an officer driving downtown. He was pissed off and wrote me up for illegal lane change and I did not have the latest insurance card so he wrote me up for that as well. What is the procedure for fighting this? Thanks in advance for advice. I rarely drive to the city after living in NY and LA.
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Re: SF traffic violation

Postby adamrod » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:41 am

the instructions are written on the back of the ticket...usually you mail it in saying you want to contest it....then, you'll get a letter back, saying your contesting was denied, however in the small print it will say "if you want to contest this in front of a judge, complete a. b. and c." you can contest the ticket by mail for the judge, i don't believe you need to actually ever go to court, although i've never gotten a ticket quite that expensive before...
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Re: SF traffic violation

Postby michael » Fri Sep 09, 2011 4:39 pm

Here is what you should do:

1) Send the payment in full, a check attached to a letter requesting "Trial By Written Declaration". They should mail you the forms setting a deadline.

2) Fill in the form and mail it to the court. Don't waste your time writing about what happened and what didn't. Just write "I am not guilty, the case should be dismissed in the interests of justice".

3) If the officer submits his declaration, the judge won't even read your part and will find you guilty. However, if the officer does not submits his declaration by the deadline (he might forget, it might get lost in court papers, etc.) - the judge will find you not guilty (again, your declaration will not be read, so don't waste time writing stories), the court will refund you all your money back. Among all citations I received about 50% were dismissed because the officer did not write his part.

4) If the court found you guilty, you have one more chance. You must go to the court within 21 days from the trial date, and request another trial - "Trial De Novo". When you request this trial, ask the clerk to make you a copy of the officer's declaration. Read what he wrote, perhaps there is something obvious you can dispute.

5) Go to the trial. If the officer does not show up, you will win and get all your money back. If the officer does show up, your best bet is to plead "guilty with explanation". Explain what happened, and ask the judge to reduce the fine. In your case $1,100 is a lot of money, so the judge will easily reduce the fine. But you still will have two good chances to get ALL your money back. In the worst case you would need to go to the court twice: one to request Trial De Novo, and another for the trial itself. In the best case you won't need to go to the court at all.

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Postby tgautier » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:48 pm

And post back here with the results. :-D

I think you can also change the court date one time. Shoot for the holidays - you can probably hit Thanksgiving at this point.

I too had a ticket dismissed this way :-). Your chances are good cop won't show especially if you move the date.
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Re: SF traffic violation

Postby AD72 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:26 pm

Thank you for the responses and advice! So why would I have to pay in advance if I request a trial date?
I was shocked at how much it was. Last time I had a violation 6 years ago in LA it was maybe $200.
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Re: SF traffic violation

Postby super_monkey » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:13 am

Contest it as said above and file for continuation at some point to extend the trial date and hope the cop won't make it. City cops may or may not show up, on the other hand, CHP officers pretty much always show up (or, themselves, file for continuation). You have no chance if you go in front of a judge on your own. Officers are trained to do this and the judge will always side with the officer unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary.

I usually pay a lawyer to handle these things and if you choose to go that route pick one that has been around the court at which you are scheduled to appear. Your chances greatly depend on when and where the particular thing that you did wrong happened.
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Re: SF traffic violation

Postby adamrod » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:29 am

you pretty much always have to pay first. I've heard that cops get paid double to show up in court, but get paid zero to write a declaration. hence, why the mail method often works.

1100 is a lot of money, i have a feeling a judge would at least reduce it to something more manageable.

did you really cut off a cop?
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Re: SF traffic violation

Postby AD72 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:45 am

Yes, as dumb as it sounds. It was late at night.
I am going to follow all the advice step by step. Thanks guys. I will keep you posted.
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