How to Beat a Speeding Ticket in California

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Beating a speeding ticket in California (CVC 22350 or CVC 22349) can be very time consuming, but so is taking a long class in traffic school, working extra hours to pay off the fines, or losing your driving job due to too many points on your DMV record. But if you got your citation in California, you actually have lots of chances to win and actually stand a pretty good chance to win. Although daunting, many before you have beaten their speeding ticket in California and so can you by following these steps.

  • Before you have to try to beat a speeding ticket in California, make sure you plan on what to say to the officer, which is basically nothing useful. Never, ever admit any numbers like "I was going just 5mph over the limit" or say anything specific like "I was trying to get home/hospital/etc." All you should say are very non-specific and vague things like, "I was driving safely" or "I was driving at a safe and reasonable speed."

    Before you ever get pulled over, plan on where to pull over. Look for a safe place for you to pull over but don't make it comfortably easy for the officer. For example, on the freeway pull over on the left shoulder instead of the right and park close to the center divide so that it's safest for you and your car but the officer has to talk to you from the passenger side, where the traffic is whizzing by in the fast lane. In some cases, the officer will not risk his life to write you a speeding ticket. This trick worked in June 2009 for me but it may or may not work for you.

  • When you have been pulled over by the cop and need to beat a speeding ticket in California, ask the cop to change the court venue to the county seat (if it's more convenient for you because it's closer to work or closer to home) and write down "COUNTY SEAT PLEASE" next to your signature.

    If you know the county seat isn't the address listed on the ticket, write "COUNTY SEAT REQUESTED BUT REFUSED BY OFFICER".

    When asked by the cop about your driving, the only thing you should say is, "I was driving safely." Do not say anything else to confirm any alleged traffic offense.

  • Decide whether you want to fight the speeding ticket on your own, give up and go to traffic school, or hire an attorney or service to fight your ticket the ticket for you. There are companies on the internet that fight your California speeding ticket for you that basically follows the same steps below without involving you.

    For people who drive for a living, getting too many points on your DMV record can get you fired from your job. Your employer will be notified immediately of any conviction by the DMV, so don't believe for a second your employer won't find out.

  • Send an informal discovery request letter ASAP. At this point, you should have already hired a ticket fighting service or attorney to help you if you are not going to fight the speeding ticket yourself.

    There is no official form for informal discovery. You will have to write your own discover letter. Ask for all information regarding your case including the police officer's logs, notes, and reports. Cops write many tickets every month so they rely on notes to recall what you did. Cops generally don't remember much about your case.

    If you got nailed by RADAR or LIDAR, get the radar logs, maintenance logs, and all other records related to the RADAR or LIDAR equipment.

    You will send a copy of the discovery request to the police department or CHP with a copy to the district attorney at the court you've been assigned to. Have a friend serve these two parties via certified mail with return receipt.

    The request should have the citation number and the case number. Do not include the officer's name, you're hoping that the police and district attorney fail to respond timely, and use that failure to ask the judge to dismiss your case.

    If you get information from discovery, don't expect the information received to be valuable to defending your case. All you're hoping for is no response. However, the officer's logs will show if you said something incriminating. You did remember to say, "I was driving safely," right?

  • Get an engineering and traffic survey for the street where you were caught from city hall. There will be one for every street where RADAR or LIDAR tickets are permitted. You will use any mistakes found in the traffic survey at trial to fight the speeding ticket.

  • At least 10 days before the arraignment, call the court to a request to request a Trial by Written Declaration. You do not need to go to the courthouse to do this. You will lose your right to traffic school (if you had that option) once you file this request.

    The reason for doing a Trial by Written Declaration is that cops do not get paid to write their response and you're hoping the officer fails to mail a response. In 30% of the cases, the cop will fail to respond. If that happens and you don't admit guilt in your written response, the judge should dismiss your case once you've submitted your response.

  • If you had requested to change the court venue to the county seat, visit the court and try to change it to the county seat and set up an arraignment date. The change of venue is a trick strategy that provides an extra opportunity for the officer to fail to show up later on during the Trial de Novo.

  • Show up on the arraignment date printed in the courtesy notice or on the ticket itself. Plead not guilty, request the change of venue to the county seat, and make sure no trial date is set (you're doing trial by written declaration). Your request to change the court venue to the county seat will probably be denied if you didn't request it from the officer on the day you got the ticket.

  • Send in your response to the Trial by Written Declaration stating why you are not guilty of speeding in California. Pray that the officer does not respond.

  • If you lose, you must request a Trial de Novo within 20 days of the letter telling you you've lost. Only in traffic court can a defendant get a second chance to win. But time is of the essence here.

    You may want to request a continuance so that your court date will be right before or right after a holiday. If your trial is scheduled near a holiday, there is a much better chance that the officer might not be able to show up.

  • Appear at the Trial de Novo at the assigned date and time. If the officer fails to show up, say nothing and the judge should dismiss your case. Otherwise, argue your case the best you can. This is your very last chance to win and beat a speeding ticket in California.

  • Photo Credit Hannah Gunnell
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