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Traffic Tickets and The Legal Process

<"The Judge's" comments on tickets are accurate, for the most part.  If,
however, you go into the Court and ask for an "abstract" of your case,
chances are the blonde will say "Huh?"  Are you referring to a docket

First of all, let me clear up the misinformation given.  Any clerk, for any
court (whether the judge's clerk or the "clerk's office") is going to know
what an "abstract" is.  It is indeed a copy of the final disposition in
your case.  The "docket sheet" is nothing close.  A docket sheet is a list
of the cases before the court that day (whether it be arraignments,
"in-custodies", pre-trials, motions, trials, parole/probation violations,
or sentencing) (my blonde girlfriend knew that).  If you ask the clerk for
a docket sheet pertaining to your case you will get a long list with your
name (and about 40 others) with a case number and a time.  Ask for the
abstract, they will know what you are talking about.

<<<Another If:  If your case is already closed, ie., you have  already paid
the fine, said something stupid in your own defense [Well, yes judge I was
going faster than 55, but not 72 like the ticket says], or finished off
driving school [what a s***a** use of time and space], the court will no
longer have your file.  May be in the CLerk's office, but, the only thing
you can be certain of ESPECIALLY in Metro Calif. clerk's offices is that
the person you will be speaking to (1) doesn't want to be there (2) doesn't
want to deal with you there, and (3) will cop an attitude wider than the
ass that followed you in the door.>>>

Again, misinformation.  I have been in courts ALL OVER metro CAl.  Almost
every single court (even the rural ones like Tehama and Mendocino counties)
keep this information ON-SITE in HARD COPY for two to three years.  It is
true that the clerk who works for the judge you plead to will not have it,
but the Clerk's Office certainly will (and the DA's office usually will
also).  Regardless of the hard copy, all information, in every county in
CAL, is kept on computer.  A compter printout signed by the judge or clerk
with the official seal will serve as an abstract.

While I am sure most clerks do not want to be there, I work with these
people and they are not as bad as the public makes them out to be.  It is
true that many have the "public servant" grudge, but THEY ARE REQUIRED BY
LAW to give you the information you need.  Their attitude should not affect
your chances of getting the proper information in a timely fashion, and
they will usually be nice to you, irrespective of the "myth" about clerks
being mean.

<<<It has been stated that "Attending traffic school in lieu of a fine,
advantage here is getting out of the fine & penalty assessment."  One word
of advice.  If your ticket is for the real deal ie., usually 15+ in most
states, 20+ in others, reach in your pocket and hire a real lawyer NOT
someone who will hold your hand while you plead guilty.>>>

Again, an inaccurate representation.  I did not say hire a "traffic lawyer"
to fight the ticket, I said hire a "traffic lawyer" to clear your record.
These attorneys have much more experience dealing with these procedures
than will a "real" defense attorney as you put it.  They have dealt with
the BMV/DMV many times in the past and know the right people at the
BMV/DMV, and can really help.  BTW, I personally know many "traffic
lawyers" and take offense to your insinuation that they are "hand holders"
and not competent attorneys.  Most of these people are top-notch criminal
defense attorneys that have trial experience and can smoke most "regular"
crim. defense lawyers.

<<<Advantage here is that many times, the prosecutor handling your case
[more common in rural counties] will allow you to pay the fine, penalty,
whatever, and dismiss the ticket.  IT IS THE POINTS, NOT THE FINE, THAT
SHOULD CONCERN YOU.  ALWAYS!!!! Be happy to pay the fine and "penalty
assessment" [huh, again.  Do you mean court costs?], to get the ticket
dismissed.  In the long run, it would always be better to pay double or
triple the fine / penalty IF the ticket is dismissed.  Remember, The BMV in
most states is nothing more than a confab of incompetency.  It is next to
impossible for them to get anything right--especially getting a traffic
record expunged. Once something gets printed on a document sent to them,
you will see exactly why the copper smiles when he writes tickets.>>>

Not true.  Most prosecutors (if you are lucky enough in Cal. or elsewhere
to have one show, most traffic cases are now you, the judge and the cop
without a prosecutor, esp. in METRO Cal.) will not give you this deal.
They do not care about you paying thge fine, but NEED A CONVICTION for
their career and to satisfy their Head Deputy DA.  You imply the oppositie
by saying they will make you pay a fine and "dismiss the ticket."  This
cannot be done, as if the ticket is dismissed, you are paying a
fine/punishment for an offense that doesn't exist (because it is
dismissed).  Think about it: "well your murder case is dismissed, but you
will spend 10 years in prison for the "dismissed chages" anyway.  This is
simply not true.

Have you ever been to California?  Have you ever seen the signs in the
Carpool Lane that say "Minimum Fine $270"?  Look in the Cal. Veh. Code.
The offense for the carpool violation is punishable by a max fine of $100.
Why the other $170.  It's the (P)enalty (A)ssessment.  The PA is not court
costs, but it is like a fine on top of a fine.  You could argue that a PA
has court costs built in, but often the judge will make you pay costs
anyway.  On top of it all, you may have to pay SRF $100.  This is the
"State Restitution Fund" and the court is reimbursed out of this many times

In Cal. the FINE and the POINTS and the TICKET should all concern you, not
just the "points" as you put it.  A prosecutor can give you NO fine and NO
points but a "mover" goes on your record anyway.  The insurance company
will hike your rates for this even if there are no points listed (whether
through a deal or otherwise).  You can get a "Speed-no points" and still
get socked on your premiums.  In Cal. ytour insurance is high enough,
without the FINES and the TICKETS listed already.  Again, there is really
no such thing as "pay a triple fine and have the ticket dismissed."  YOU
after traffic school is not considered the same thing, in that traffic
school is not "punishment" per se.

Expungement:  You can get a traffic conviction expunged.  If it is not a
4-pointer or otherwise (Usually DUI?DWI/OMVI, reckless operation (both dry
and "wet", fleeing the scene, hit and run, etc.), almost every state has a
provision in their Criminal Code that provides for a one-shot expungement
as a matter of right (within reason, will not go into it here).  Moreover,
if as in the case of the Fla. gent, you are improperly suffering due to
clerical errors, you can have your record cleared.  As I mentioned in the
original post, it takes some time and effort, but it can be done.  The
have to change it if inaccurate, by court order if needed.

<<<Bottom line is this: If you get a ticket and it is of a type that
will cause you big-time problems w/ your D.L. or insur., find a lawyer
that can work with the prosecutor.  Usually, this is not the guy who
advertises for traffic work. Tell him your story and ask if he can talk
to the prosecutor handling the case about paying the fine or whatever to
dismiss the ticket.  If they will not dismiss the ticket they will
sometimes allow you to plead, pay, etc., with the agreement that the
ticket will be expunged if you don't get another one within a certain
period of time [varies, 3-6 months is not uncommon].  If you get clocked
and caught for a big-boy ticket, ie., 120 in a 65, find someone that
knows how to try these cases, with the aid of a radar expert, and get
ready.  Usually, the cost of this [with no guarantees of winning] will
get extreme. Oh, BTW, be nice.  The more you talk, argue, etc., the worse
it gets!>>>

How do you know it is not the guy who advertises traffic work?  Often they
will be the very person who gets you a deal with the prosecutor.  While
some criminal defense attorneys may know a prosecutor better, they usually
know next to nothing about the vehicle code other than the DUI/DWI/OMVI
statutes.  Your information of procedure and dispositions is flawed, and
the deals you talk about are uncommon.  They work deals, but not to the
extent you state.  The prosecutor has absolutely nothing to do with
"expunging" your record.  Expungement/deletion/sealing are all judicial
functions, not prosecutorial ones.  I think you are confusing expungemnt
with dismissal.  Three to six months is uncommon for a "period of grace",
it is more like one to two years.

BTW, if you get hooked up for a ticket going 120 in a sixty-five, do not go
to trial.  Almost every state will have "judicial notice" of the validity
of radar guns, and they may not allow an expert to testify.  In this case,
you are looking at the speeding violation, a violation for 100mph+ and
usually a reckless/negligent operation ticket.  You are better served by
dealing with the prosecutor and getting a lesser fine/license suspension
(believe me, your license will be suspended in that instance) than going to
trial, losing and having the judge really put it to you for making it go to

"For the most part", the information you have stated is inaccurate.  While
traffic procedures vary from court to court and state to state, I have
dealt with this many times and disagree with your conclusions.  I do agree
that you should always "be nice" no matter what.  Most prosecutors are not
the devil in disguise, and they will work with you (to a point), but do not
expect a "dismissal", that is not their job.  Remember, their job is to

The Judge

'90 80Q
'85 5K (real son of a bitch; gone and forgotten)
'84 VW Scirocco 16V Wolfsburg Ed.

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             The Ol' Scales of Justice