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Old 12-28-2011, 02:36 PM   #1
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CA Traffic Court

I'm looking for some advice regarding a court date I have for a traffic violation. I received a ticket for running a red light a few months ago and received the citation in the mail recently. The fine is $489! This is ridiculous, so I'm going to court in the hopes of getting the citation waived or a reduced fine.

Is there anything I should know or do before going to my court date? Should I dress nice or have my case all set up? I've never gone to court and want to look/act appropriately.

Also if the officer who cited me does not show up does my ticket get waived? I'm not sure if that is a myth or not.

Now onto my ticket and why I'm going to court over it. I volunteered to pick up my brother-in-law from the bars one night and was woken up to pick him up. After picking him up I approached a green left turn light and noticed as I was approaching the cop car sitting across the intersection and from what I thought the straight green light turning red. I 100% genuinely thought the straight light was turning red and the left turn was still green. The lights are situated close together and at 1:30 am they looked alike.
Well I immediately got pulled over and had no clue why I was. I knew the cop was sitting at the intersection prior to entering it and definitley wouldn't have ran the light if I realized it was red. I was in no hurry and hadn't drank/taken substances at all. The cop was nice and I did all the right things when he pulled me over (turn the car off, turn on the interior lights, license, registration, insurance and my hands on the wheel). Obviously the cop thought I was on something, but issued me my ticket and let me go on my way. I understand now that I was most likely wrong, but at the time I was 100% convinced I hadn't done anything wrong.

In your experiences is there any chance of a reduced fine or getting out of the ticket? I'm not trying to cheat anyone, I just don't have the money to pay the ticket. After traffic school I will be out close to $600 and I really don't have that kind of money to spend. That's close to a months rent for me. Thanks for your time and I appreciate all that LEO's do for our communities.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:47 PM   #2
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Its worth goin to court and hope the Officer is busy that day. If they dont show up ,,,your citation is dismissed. You can explain your story to the judge but 99% of the time they side with the Officer. Sometimes they will reduce your fine, if your lucky.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:51 PM   #3
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Here in Oregon you can show up in court and explain your situation and if you are nice and respectful they will reduce the fine, usually about %25. I'd have to ask myself what a day of my time is worth. An a $500 ticket I'd waste a day in court to save $125 and it wouldn't be worth it to me but everyone is different. I have also mailed my fine in with a letter of explanation and gotten a refund of some of it back. Good luck in California. I grew up down there and they seem to like to bleed people for all they can get.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimo View Post
Its worth goin to court and hope the Officer is busy that day. If they dont show up ,,,your citation is dismissed. You can explain your story to the judge but 99% of the time they side with the Officer. Sometimes they will reduce your fine, if your lucky.
I'm not expecting it to get waived unless he doesn't show up, but even a $100 reduced helps a ton.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scottri View Post
Here in Oregon you can show up in court and explain your situation and if you are nice and respectful they will reduce the fine, usually about %25. I'd have to ask myself what a day of my time is worth. An a $500 ticket I'd waste a day in court to save $125 and it wouldn't be worth it to me but everyone is different. I have also mailed my fine in with a letter of explanation and gotten a refund of some of it back. Good luck in California. I grew up down there and they seem to like to bleed people for all they can get.
My job is salary, so I won't be losing any money, just time. Also my boss is very laid back and is fine with us coming in late for these types of errands. Like I said before $125 is a lot of money for a few hours of my time and I may get lucky.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:20 PM   #5
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Cops are the government, judges are the government -- they'll probably stick together

So pray that he doesn't show up. I would think in CA they're pretty busy. But then again, it is a big ticket.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:33 PM   #6
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Your only hope is that the officer doesn't show up. I believe you can ask to make payments. The only thing I've seen judges waive in CA traffic courts are fines associated with your ticket like late fees. Hopefully your case isn't the first case so you can learn from others before you. Try to schedule a court date closer to federal holiday. You can also extend the already scheduled court date. You have better chances of the officer not showing up closer to a holiday. Hopefully, they are on vacation.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:14 PM   #7
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Doesn't California allow you to fight the citation by mail? That's the way to go. If you go into court the officer will get paid to be there. If it is a written response to your mailing he does it on his time and doesn't get paid for it. Much less likely to respond.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:29 PM   #9
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I had the same ciatation two years ago, for running a red light in Laguna Beach, Ca. I went to court to try to get it reduced or dropped, I have a CDL so traffic school was not an option for me. Well the first time in court, the officer did not show up, so a new court date was set, the officer did not show up for the secound court date, so the ticket was dismissed, only a few hours lost from work, no fine so I was happy.

Hope it works out for you.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:32 PM   #10
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Red light tickets are like getting caught killing baby seals in California.
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