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Advice for traffic ticket that has no fine, just a court date?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by theatwar99, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. theatwar99

    theatwar99 Member

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    So just got off the phone from my wife, who got a ticket here in Southern California at the start of her commute out to the Inland Empire in her Model S.

    She’s a doctor, and was in a rush to deal with an emergency in her Model S, and wound up ‘cutting in’ to the Express Lane on the 10 Freeway (the Express Lane is similar to an HOV lane, but you pay to use it), instead of using an entrance, which was another few miles down the road.

    She has an Express Lane transponder, but the cop pulled her over for crossing over the Express Lane divider instead of waiting for her entrance.

    She was stressed out trying to get to her patient, which unfortunately read as “attitude” to the cop, who wrote her a ticket instead of giving her a warning — but unlike past speeding tickets she’s received, it just has a court date and no fine.

    Normally we would just pay the fine… but all she has on the ticket is a court date, which is confusing to us.

    Not sure if this is too ‘off topic’ — about the only Model S detail she mentioned was that after the cop walked away, she easily re-entered traffic because of the car's awesome torque (risking, I suppose, another run-in with the cop, but I suppose it was slightly satisfying) -- but anyone in Southern California have experience in dealing with a ticket like this?
     
  2. Galve2000

    Galve2000 Member

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    I would hire a lawyer to explain this to the judge. unfortunately crossing into/out of the HOV lane without using designated entrances / exits is a big no no. (I'm not saying I have not done it, and I have seen others do it, but that doesn't make it right)

    your wife will have a better chance of getting this cleared up if she hires a lawyer. and she doesn't have to appear at the court either, so she can make better use of her time.

    sorry about this.
     
  3. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    it appears that she has no defense and the cop decided to punish her by forcing a court appearance.
     
  4. freeewilly

    freeewilly Member

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    I don't believe CHP decides the amount of fine on the ticket. The fine and additional court notice (traffic school) will come later in the mail.
     
  5. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    I can't say how things work in CA, but in many states there is a set schedule of fines/points for each infraction.
     
    • Informative x 1
  6. andrewket

    andrewket 2014 S P85DL, 2016 X P90DL (soon 100)

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    Hire an attorney, and document the emergency. It still doesn't make it legal, but I suspect a judge will toss it with a warning.
     
  7. taurusking

    taurusking Member

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    This is so weird for the cop to do that...Yes I understand it was a mistake but like most of you guys/gals I think judge will dismiss with a warning
     
  8. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    Most jurisdictions do not put a fine amount on the ticket in California. You will receive a letter in the mail with the fine and the procedure for paying it, or taking Traffic School.

    However, if you are referring to a Mandatory Appearance, and it is what I think it is, get an attorney. When an adult driver gets a mandatory appearance ticket that is not a misdemeanor, and they have a valid license and insurance proof at the infraction time, it's often because there is a potential for the bench to issue a suspension due to a poor driving record.

    If this is indeed the case, and you choose not to use a lawyer:

    Have someone drive you, or take a taxi. A bench suspension is immediate, and court officers have cited/arrested people who get into their car to go home from court.

    California is a Double Whammy state. The judge can issue a suspension, and so can the DMV. Both can do it on the same case. You'll get the bench suspension, then the DMV sends you one much later, effectively extending your suspension.

    The DMV will grant you a hearing before suspending your license. DO NOT skip that step. This is your chance to get a "to and from work only" suspension clause.
     
  9. 4SUPER9

    4SUPER9 Active Member

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    McRat is correct. She will receive a notice in the mail in a week or so giving her several options. One is to pay bail and contest, another is to pay the fine and choose traffic school. I think there are other options as well. I highly doubt this is a mandatory appearance. This is an infraction, not a misdemeanor.

    If she rarely gets a ticket, it is typically easiest to pay the fine and do the traffic school. Those are now cheap and can be completed on-line in under an hour.

    If she chooses to fight it, she can argue the urgent matter you mentioned. There is a law on the California books that allows minor violations in cases of true urgent need. My father is a retired physician and got a ticket years ago for jaywalking to a potential crises, and his ticket was dismissed on these grounds. It was long ago, so I can't find the code. If she does fight it, bring in an affidavit signed by the patient (if possible).
     
  10. Edmond

    Edmond Permanon

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    Man I'm glad I don't live in Caleefornea.

    Used to be, doctors could get Exempt plates. Why no more?
     
  11. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    A clarification. For traffic tickets, you can plead not guilty, guilty, or guilty with an explanation. The path you would take for breaking a traffic law that you believe was justified would normally be guilty with an explanation. Not guilty will require you to be found not guilty of the infraction, and will require a day in court. This has dismal odds if an officer saw you commit the offense. It won't be a question of whether you were justified, it will be simply whether you did or did not do it. However, the judge can reduce/suspend the fines once you are found guilty. It will go on your driving record though.

    Many courts now allow the guilty with explanation to be submitted in writing to the court. Provide a copy of all docs, and mail it in per the directions on the notice. If the jurisdiction does not allow that plea by mail, you will spend a day in court. It is completely at the judge's discretion to accept your explanation, but it gives the judge the ability to dismiss the case without a trial, and you get no points.
     
  12. markb1

    markb1 Active Member

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    It doesn't sound like the OP wishes to fight this ticket. But just in case, since this is California, the way to go is a trial by written declaration. This is done entirely through the mail. I would suggest delaying this as much as possible. You can download the forms online, but don't. Instead, wait until just before the deadline and then mail a request for the paperwork. This will get you a new deadline. Cops don't get paid anything extra for responding to these sorts of trials (unlike when they appear in court) so there's a good chance they won't respond, especially if you delay as much as possible. If they don't, you win! If you lose, you are entitled to a new trial in person, so there's nothing to lose (except for your time, of course).
     
  13. 4SUPER9

    4SUPER9 Active Member

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    I didn't realize trial by written declaration was possible. Interesting.
    As far as Guilty with an Explanation goes, according to my judge friends, all they see is "Guilty" and move on. They don't care. The only way to get by with an explanation is to plead not-guilty, and explain why at the trial. Of course, if the officer does not show up, you are done.

    Here is another good tip: while officers do not get paid for appearing, you will find that traffic trials are assigned only to specific days. The officers have these days permanently marked in their schedules to show up (i.e.: Wednesdays). Ask for a continuation or different calendar. Note the day of the week you are assigned and insist on a different day of the week. If the Court says no, insist. They should allow it provided traffic court is open on other days.
     
  14. ElectricTundra

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    Still can but most don't want them. In some states having the plates comes with mandatory incident assist responsibility. There are time and liability issues with this and good samaritan laws are only minimally helpful. Our litigious society has made 'don't get involved' a core mantra.
     
  15. theatwar99

    theatwar99 Member

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    Thanks for the valuable feedback, everyone! Really appreciate all of you taking the time to reply. Not sure what we will do yet but sounds like we have a few options. My wife doesn't have a bad driving record (only 1 speeding ticket from years and years ago, she paid the fine and did online traffic school) and hopefully we can get this cleared up ASAP.
     
  16. 4SUPER9

    4SUPER9 Active Member

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    There is an "MD/DO" red sticker than can be affixed to the back of the car. Of the several hundred cars in the doctor's lot at my hospital, there are only a handful of people that I used one. They are UGLY!
     

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  17. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    My wife & I are both docs. She has the red MD/DO sticker on her black S70D--I choose not to. This sticker simply lets the officer/CHP know that there is an existing statute/CA vehicle code that allows MD/DOs to exceed the legal speed limit when responding to legitimate emergencies. It does not allow you to violate other statutes. It was originally intended to allow docs in rural areas who need to go long distances to hospitals to get there sooner. However some docs like to take advantage of it. Thus the CA Medical Society had these stickers made up (not an official DMV sticker) to hopefully get their members off the hook and reduce stops. I don't think it would apply here. That said, maybe a CHP officer would pause before making the stop. FWIW, I think that having the sticker is a license for someone to break into your car looking for something to steal (...but again, in the SF Bay Area it seems like there is no discrimination except for obvious items in view or obvious rental cars). YMMV.
     
  18. Skipdd

    Skipdd Member

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    I don't live in CA, but after reading all the posts, and based on family experience, I would recommend hiring an attorney and getting their advice and assistance. Let me elaborate. We have 2 YA kids - the daughter got an infamous "reckless driving" charge in Virginia, which is treated as a misdemeanor, requiring a mandatory court appearance. In Virginia, you get this for a variety of reasons - 20 miles over the speed limit or greater than 80 mph, being two. She was on the Dulles Toll Road in rush hour and got clocked doing 81mph. Hired a lawyer, and plead guilty with explanation and the judge reduced the speed to make it no longer a misdemeanor and she paid a fine. Son has had a few fun trips to traffic court in MD. I will share the most amusing - he was clocked doing 70 in a 35 mile zone. He plead guilty with an explanation and his attorney knew the judge (I'm guessing that helped the judge believe the story) the explanation was that one of his dogs had a an "accident" in the car, and he was rushing to his friend's house to clean it out. I quote the judge, "Poop in the car, wins every time." Judge reduced the speed which reduced the points and saved the son's license. FWIW, the story was true, but it is still a stupid reason to speed. Moral is - hire an attorney.
     
  19. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    The one time in my life I had to go to court was in 1993 IIRC. Give or take a year or two. The judge fined me $500. Add inflation for 23 years, and that would be my estimate. That was for the first and only offense in my life. Not because I behaved after that, mind you. I almost always behave, regardless. This was a special case where I had tweaked the settings on my carburetor and was testing performance afterwards, and got caught speeding on an empty highway. Most annoyingly, I was accelerating up to a certain speed, then slowing back down, and got ticketed for the top speed I hit. Not like I was just cruising down the highway at that speed. Probably should have hired a lawyer for that one, but I was just a kid, what did I know. All I knew was to tell the truth, so I plead guilty, as I was indeed speeding. I've kind of had a grudge against highway patrol ever sense. I love city cops, but the highway patrol can kiss my tailpipe (have to keep an ICE around for that I guess). Lordy me, I'm rambling. Okay, I'm done.
     

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