I liken 'traffic tickets' to demands made by petty thugs. If some thug demanded your wallet, taking what remains of your overtaxed hard-earned money, hopefully you would put up some kind of resistance. But if a cop gives someone a traffic citation, only a tiny percentage statistically is ever going to bother fighting it. Most people think it's way too time consuming or complicated to fight tickets and win. This in turn contributes to the problem, and police are increasing the number of tickets they hand out, because the masses simply submit and pay up.
In a previous essay I explained why everyone should fight their traffic tickets- every time. I am not a lawyer, but I have had a lot of success in beating traffic tickets since I learned how at HelpIgotaticket.com in 2001. The main thing is to simply remember that the number one way you will beat a ticket is by invoking your presumption of innocence. Make the revenue agents prove their case! Without pleading not guilty, you will certainly not beat anything.
I am truly heartened and joyous whenever I beat a traffic ticket. My latest victory was last week involved my first citation as a commercial driver. I was driving through Kern County, California, late last year when I pulled through a weigh station in a commercial vehicle- a big rig, 18 wheeler. A woman officer stopped me on the scales and came out, claiming my tires were too far apart. See, in California, the distance between the kingpin and the middle of the rear axle of a tandem can't be more than 40 feet, on a 53 foot trailer.
Tandems on big trucks are adjustable, so depending on what state one is driving through, one can adjust the position of the tires. To measure the length of my tires, this woman had used a raggedy looking rolled up tape. It wasn't even a regular tape measure. Since my trailer was 53 feet long, she walked to the back and stretched out the tape as far as her arms could reach from the back of the trailer, held the tape in place with her finger and then scooted over and tried to measure the rest of the distance. That didn't look like a competent, accurate, or approved way for a law enforcement officer to measure the tandems. Nevertheless, she issued me a citation which turned out amounted to nearly $200 in fines, if I wanted to plead guilty and settle the matter.
Now, $200 is actually very little in comparison to the dollar amount of many traffic fines today. However, since I never arbitrarily submit to government, I always make them prove their case. After all- if some hyped-up thug came up and demanded $200 from me threatening force, I'd take defensive action. What's the difference here?
I did not discuss the tandems with the officer whatsoever. Bickering with a cop about their accusation while on the roadside will never accomplish anything. Better to keep your mouth shut, admit nothing, and be as forgettable as possible. Her job is apparently to give tickets, and my job is to fight them. So be it, nothing new here. What I did do, however, was demand the County Seat. And that is where the problem started. The County Seat is every motorist's right in California, a right outlined in the California Vehicle Code. The County Seat simply means the location of the main courthouse in each county.
When I asked for that, the officer said that she was not going to give that to me. Now, most cops in my experience don't even know what the county seat is. I have actually had more than one cop thank me for letting him know what the county seat is. But this scraggly woman was particularly arrogant and obnoxious about her absolute refusal to give me the county seat. "40502b", I explained, and suggested that she call her supervisor if she was confused about my right to the county seat. She was working that weigh station by herself and had about five other people in the office who she was giving tickets to at the same time. She indeed was a pro ticket-giver, I gotta admit that.
More on the county seat issue later. She did eventually concede my point and begrudgingly give me the county seat, which in this case meant I was ordered to appear at the Kern County Superior Court in Bakersfield; much further than this cop's local courthouse. This apparently can cause inconvenience for lazy cops who do not like getting up early and driving over 2 hours in rush hour morning traffic! Perhaps this is why she tried to illegally refuse to grant me the county seat.
A week prior to my court date, the first thing I did was get an extension of my arraignment date, over the phone. That gave me about an extra month's breathing room. It's my experience that the longer one drags these things out, the better your chances to win. Another month later, with my new arraignment date approaching, I called the courthouse and told them I wanted to opt for a TRIAL BY DECLARATION. This is a trial conducted on paper through the mail, which is an option for all California motorists. The good thing about that is that if you lose, you are entitled, if you want it, to get a TRIAL DE NOVO, a brand new trial in person. It's like a free shot! Why wouldn't everyone use it? In the trial by declaration, the prosecution witness (the cop who issued you the ticket) is required to write out their statement. I have a feeling that cops don't get paid overtime to do this, unlike when they go to court in person. Many times, cops simply do not do the paperwork and the since there is no prosecution witness, the charge is dismissed in the interest of justice, as is the case with my friend John Shanahan. John has won several trial by declarations.
On the day of the trial I drove to Bakersfield, CA, a place I have never been nor care to return to. The lazy arrogant cop did not show up. I won. The judge ordered my $200 bail returned. See how easy that was? For goodness sakes, don't be a stupid lazy slug. Fight your tickets! Save your money!
Now, for more on the details about this particular cop's refusal to give me the county seat. I did not write this above because since people are stupid, if you give them too much information at once, their eyes glaze over and they get confused, and overwhelmed. Since my goal is to encourage everyone to fight tickets, I do not want to make it seem complicated. Nevertheless, if you're still interested, here goes.
Now I do not want readers to come away with the notion that asking for the County Seat will cause a problem for them with every traffic cop. I have demanded the County Seat for nearly every ticket I have gotten over the last ten years, since I learned what the County Seat was. I have rarely had any problem getting the cop to write the county seat on the ticket. I know that it's my right, and I wasn't going to take no for an answer. If the officer does not write the county seat courthouse on the ticket in the space where it demands you to appear, then you will not get the county seat as a location of your arraignment. In my case, I reiterated that I want the County Seat and stated that if she doesn't give it to me, I will write the words "UNDER PROTEST 40502B" next to my name. I knew that if I didn't sign the citation, I could be arrested, so I never refused to sign it. My notation of 40502b would simply be proof of redress, to demand a judge later transfer the hearing to the county seat, since I am entitled to it and demanded it at the time of signature. The woman cop then threatened to arrest me, impound my truck, and keep me in jail for the weekend if I did that!
Wow. "You are a criminal, and will be held accountable for what you're doing right now", I told her. I continued, "I hope this is being recorded, because I will get the county seat, and I am filing a formal complaint against you for civil rights violations. Now call your supervisor".
I think it shocked the officer when I called her a criminal in front of half a dozen people. But I was serious. I literally meant that yes, she was a criminal. There was absolutely no reason or just cause for her to threaten me with arrest simply because I demanded the county seat! That is literally, crazy. I have beaten about 14 tickets over the last 10 years, including winning a case in the Superior Court of Appeals, where I wrote my own legal briefs. This is not to brag, but simply to tell others that if you simply do a little research, study the laws, and demand your DUE PROCESS, anyone can win.
I told the crazy shrew cop that I wanted to speak with her supervisor, and when she refused to call one, I demanded their phone number. Finally, she rattled off a phone number. I called it with my cell phone, and the phone on the counter next to her rang. She answered, and I heard her both in person and on the phone. "Why are you giving me your phone number when I asked for the number of your supervisor?" I asked into the phone. The bystanders laughed, seeing the crazy absurdity of it all.
After about a half hour of making me wait to try and punish me, the criminal cop finally gave me the ticket. Since I had spent so much time calling her on her illegal refusal to grant me the county seat, she finally reneged and wrote the county seat on the ticket, and I left.
I proceeded to file an official complaint against this officer, (though the mail) which will stay on her record for 5 years. I suspect that another reason the officer did not show up for the trial is that she did not want to be subject to cross examination by me; (that actually would have been fun). I kept my $200, and I won.
SEE ALSO: LibertyFight.com TRAFFIC TICKET VICTORY ARCHIVE
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