Fight Your Ticket & Win in California Paperback – 31 Jul 2013
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Title: Fight Your Ticket & Win in California <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: DavidW.Brown <>Publisher: NOLO
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In a nutshell, I recently got a speeding ticket from an officer using a LIDAR unit. I bought this book at the suggestion of an attorney friend, and used it to figure out how to respond to this ticket.
As part of my preparation for the case, I visited a traffic court and observed several trials. I had read the relevant portions of the book (applicable to my case), and I saw at least two people found guilty who probably would have gotten a dismissal if they had prepared using this book. For example, there was one driver who had also been cited by a LIDAR-using officer, and the officer testified that the traffic and engineering survey for that street was more than seven years old. The book explains what is required for the survey to be admissible, and if the driver had known, he could have objected, and quite possibly obtained a dismissal.
I've never fought a traffic ticket before, but the key is careful preparation. This book is great for that. Can you find the same information out there on the Internet for free? Yes, I believe you can, but you have to wade through a lot of reading, and you never know if you're getting the truth, or the opinion of some fat dump with no legal education who spends hours and hours posting on different forums and wants you to think he's Perry Mason or something. The next time I get a citation, you can be sure I will check carefully before I just fold and pay the bail (and do traffic school).
In my own case, I was cited on a street where it turned out that the speed limit was not justified by a traffic & engineering survey (a "speed survey"). In other words, the speed limit was just an arbitrary number. The law in CA does not permit speed traps, and an officer using radar/LIDAR on a street where the speed limit is not established according to the law is creating a speed trap. Tickets issued under these circumstances can be fought and won. All you have to do is go to court, and be well-prepared to fight.
The book helped me with the discovery process-- requesting information, like a copy of the back side of the ticket, where officers often write notes to help them recall the circumstances, etc., and a copy of the traffic and engineering survey (I got letters in response saying there was no survey)-- and also helped me to understand how these trials go, and what to do.
In my case, I won because the officer failed to appear, but even if he had appeared, I was ready to win.
The cost of this book is negligible in comparison to the bail money you put up for most citations. It was well worth my money, even though I have friends who are lawyers and police officers.
Finally, I would have given this five stars if the forms you can see in the book were available as MS Word documents or PDF files or whatever. The forms are very hard to read on my phone, and though you can view them on a computer monitor, you can't edit them or customize them. You basically have to craft your own forms, typing them using a word processor or whatever. For that reason, I regretted buying the Kindle edition, as it would have been easier to work with a hard copy of the book.
Learned about different types of radar, and their great potential to be inaccurate or malfunction, whether due to human error, weather, faulty calibration, etc. Also learned what to do and not do, say and not say, if pulled over.
David Brown thoroughly explains the court/legal processes. Example: To plead "guilty with an explanation" is a bad idea. Even though you might succeed in getting your fine reduced, once you admit guilt, the violation will show up on your record, thereby raising your insurance premiums, or getting your coverage cancelled altogether. Plus, should you ever get sued by the other party, you're on record as having admitted guilt; ouch!
I'd had no idea that a person accused of a traffic violation has just as much right to a speedy trial as any other defendant. Denial of that right is grounds to request dismissal of your case. This can be either pre- or post-arraignment delay. Brown even tells what length of time is considered too long a delay. You also have the right to initiate discovery process. I won't try to explain here how that works, but it's a potentially beneficial step--one I'd use in a minute.
Did you know you could be issued a ticket for "being rude"? Brown explains what constitutes ticket-worthy violations and why.
I'm not advocating acting with impunity, or finding ways to be let off for recklessness. I took this information to heart to help me avoid putting myself in problematic or dangerous driving situations in the first place, and to decrease chances I'll be victimized when I'm innocent. It is just overall a helpful and enlightening book. (And yes, it did help me with the pending problem I had at the time of purchase.)
If you're not sure you want to buy it, borrow from your library. This latest edition, released less than 6 months ago (July 2013), is available at the library. I borrowed my first copy and was so impressed I ordered one from Amazon.