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FAQs


Q: I got a ticket...now what ?
A: Visit our "Start Here".




Q: Why NOT give any reasons or excuses when the cop pulled you over ?
A: Many of you may think that the Officer will let you go without writing you a ticket
   if you have a good reason or excuse.  Well, sometimes, and it all depends on your luck,
   and on what the Officer thinks.

   Remember:
 
   1) The city needs to collect more taxes since it is about to declare bankruptcy,
      so most likely, you will get a ticket no matter what your reasons are.
      And, the Officer is going to write it down on the back of his police notes, and it will
      be used against your case if you decide to fight your ticket later. Since your "reason"
      has been written down on the police notes, you may NOT change it later if you have 
      a better one. Trust me, you will have a better excuse later, say after you think through 
      it in depth during a weekend, or talk about it with your friends/coworkers during lunch.

   2) The Officer has been hiding for quiet a while, and he/she has no patient to wait
      for another driver to make mistake(s).

   3) The Officer may have quotas to fill, and it usually happens at the end of the month
      (after 25th of the month), or the beginning (before 5th of the month), or sometimes
      during the middle of the month.

   So, please only reply as follows:

         Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over ?
   Your Response: I don't know.
   
         Officer: Do you know how fast you were going ? What's the hurry ?
   Your Response: I was driving at a safe and reasonable speed. (Don't mention your exact speed!)
   
         Officer: Do you know you were changing lane unsafely ?
   Your Response: I was driving safely.
   
         Officer: (whatever the questions are) ?
   Your Response: I was driving safely.
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: What is "County Seat Please!" ?
A: A county seat is a term for an administrative center for a county, and usually, there is
   only one (1) court house at the county seat. But, for some cases, such as the Los Angeles
   County, every court house is the county seat. However, at the Santa Clara County,
   the Santa Clara Courthouse is the county seat.  (Note: It used to be at 935 Ruff Drive, San Jose, CA.
   But since the mid of 2008, this courthouse no longer handle any traffic cases. Too bad, this should be the real county seat!)
   For more county seat locations in California, refer to the link, "California County Seat Location", below.
   
   If you live or work closer to the county seat than to the assigned court house, or, the county seat
   is more accessible for you, you may request the Officer verbally for county seat, and write "County Seat Please!"
   next to your signature on your ticket as evidence. If you are not sure, you may still do the above, and request for it.
   At least, you may say that the county seat is more accessible for you due to lighter traffic.
   
   There are two (2) times and one (1) place to request for county seat, and you MUST
   request at both times, and place.

   FIRST TIME:
   The first time is when the Officer issue you a ticket. You may have to show your ticket to the Judge
   where you have already written "County Seat Please!" when the ticket was issued to you.
   If you did not have "County Seat Please!", you may still request for county seat, but do not mention anything
   unless the Judge ask you about this FIRST TIME thing. If the Judge ask about this FIRST TIME thing, you have
   to tell the truth, and your request may be denied due to this reason.

   SECOND TIME:
   The second time is in your Trial By Written Declaration (TBWD) by writing. 
   Or (not the best way), at your arraignment at the court house.
   At an arraignment, after pleaing NOT GUILTY,
   immediately say, "I request for a Change of Venue to the county seat."
   The Judge may asked, "Why ? Reason ?". Then, your reason must be one of the followings, for example:
   "The county seat at the Santa Clara Courthouse is more accessible than to this courthouse."
   Or,
   "The county seat at the Santa Clara Courthouse is closer to my home than to this courthouse."
   Or,
   "The county seat at the Santa Clara Courthouse is closer to my work than to this courthouse."

   If your request for county seat is granted, it will increase your chance to beat your ticket.
   For most traffic cases, the Officer will assign only one court house location for the case since the
   court house address may have already been printed on the ticket, and most likely it is not the county seat
   if the location of your violation is not close to the county seat.
   If there are ten trial cases, and nine out of ten cases are at the prepared court address, and only
   your case is at the county seat, the chance for the Officer to show up at your trial case is lower
   than those nine cases.

   If your request is legal and reasonable, but refused by the Judge, it will also increase your chance to beat your
   ticket. But, you will have to do more work, and possibly, you will need an attorney. The idea behind this 
   is that your right for "place to appear" or county seat has been violated. A non-county seat Judge has no
   jurisdiction on your case. The ruling on your case is invalid. Therefore, you have ground for appeal.
   This appeal is not the Trial de Novo. This is at the appellate court, and the appeal process
   requires at least a few hearings at the court house, a lot of your time, and a few hundreds of dollar.
   
   You may also request for County Seat for your Trial de Novo if you had already requested it for the
   
Reference(s):
California Vehicle Code Section 40502
California County Seat Location



Q: Posting bail check payment before submitting your TBWD, what should be on the check ?
A: If you post bail before you submit your TBWD, and you are very sure that you want to plead "NOT GUILTY",
   you must write, "I plead NOT GUILTY" on the check. Otherwise, if the court makes a mistake and assume that
   you want to just pay the fine instead, you can still argue about it.
   Moreover, only pay for the bail amount which does not include traffic school, and it should be the lowest bail amount
   on your Courtesy Notice letter.
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: What is my court date, ticket due date, and etc ? So many of them!
A: There are so many different dates, and they are confusing....

   They are:
   1) "Court Date" from the Notice To Appear (the "yellow" ticket) under Defendant's signature.
      (i.e. See Reference "Notice To Appear", and look for "WHEN:")
   2) "Due Date" from the Courtesy Notice letter (i.e. See "Courtesy Notice", and look for "DATE DUE:")
   3) An extended "Due Date" - after Defendant has granted a Continuance/extension.
      Usually, this extended "Due Date" is one month from the "Due Date" on the Courtesy Notice.
   4) "Arraignment Date" from the Arraignment Notice is not a court trial, but it's kind of a "Court Date"
      since you have to show up in court, and plea for your case.
   5) "Court Date" (if you don't fight with TBWD) can be assigned during an Arraignment by a Judge.
      (i.e. See Reference "Arraignment document", and look for "NEXT COURT APPEARANCE DATE:")
   6) "Court Date" (if you don't fight with TBWD), can be assigned after Defendant has responded the court by
      checking both "REQUEST COURT APPEARANCE" and "COURT TRIAL".
      The court should mail the Defendant a letter regarding the assgined "Court Date" which
      will be a court trial with witness presents.
   7) "Court Date (Trial de Novo)" (if you did TBWD, and lose) is an appeal court trial date.

   IMPORTANT NOTICE:
   For 1), if you have never received your Courtesy Notice by the "Court Date" at 1),
   you MUST appear at the court on or before that "Court Date" to handle your case.

Reference(s):
MotherCopper.com - Case 0007 - Notice To Appear
MotherCopper.com - Case 0007 - Courtesy Notice
MotherCopper.com - Case 0007 - Arraignment Notice
MotherCopper.com - Case 0007 - Arraignment document



Q: Seems like the Officer wrote down an invalid violaton code. What should I do ?
One of the followings may happen:

A) It was the Officer's BAD handwritings, and the court clerk may take a guess, and take the valid one.
   Nothing will happen, and you will receive a Courtesy Notice with the correct code on the letter if the clerk guess it right.

B) The court finds out, and notice the Officer. The Officer fixed the ticket, and filed the amended copy.
   Then, someone will server the amended copy to your home, most likely an Officer or US Postal Services.
   In this way, the Officer did followed all procedures, and you cannot argue that anymore.

C) No one finds out, and you receive a Courtesy Notice with an invalid code on it.
   Then, you submit your TBWD and plea NOT GUILTY to such code, and don't mention that the code is wrong.
   Otherwise, you give a chance to the Officer to correct that at last minute.
   I have seen Officer correcting the violaton code at the trial in front of the Judge and Defendant.
   However, this is WRONG. The Officer must follow have done what is described in B) above.



Q: Can I request for Trial By Written Declaraion (TBWD) at an arraignment (hearing) ?
A: To be honest, we have never tried this yet.
   However, unless your arraignment is MANDATORY, do NOT setup an arraignment.
   There is no need to request for TBWD, you just use the TBWD (TR-205) form, and mail it to the courthouse in a timely manner.
   If your appearance at the courthouse is MANDATORY, you should mail your "Written Not Guilty Plea" letter along with the request for TBWD
   to the courthouse at least two (2) weeks before the date of your arraignment.
   Then, at your arraignment, remind the Judge that you had entered your "Written Not Guilty Plea" along with the request for TBWD
   at least two (2) weeks prior to this arraignment. The Judge should grant your request for TBWD.
   You should NEVER enter your plea at your arraignment, and then, immediately afterwards, request for TBWD.
Reference(s):
MotherCopper.com - "Written Not Guilty Plea" letter



Q: What is Trial By Written Declaration (TBWD) or Trial By Declaration (TBD) ?
A: TBWD and TDB are the same thing. TBWD is a court trial by writings only. There is no need to visit the court house
   for your trial. The original purpose is to protect the crime victims from being harrassed. You, as the Defendant,
   will have to submit your declaration of reasons, excuses, photos, diagrams, and etc to the court house.  And,
   the Officer, as the witness, will also have to submit his part of declaration of what he/she witnessed.  The Judge
   will then make decisions on the case. Usually, it takes six (6) to eight (8) weeks to hear back from the Judge after
   your submission.
   
   The advantage(s) of TBWD:
   * If the Officer did not submit his part of declaration, the Judge should find Defendant not guilty.
     But, it depends, the Judge may still find the Defendant guilty for the money.
     However, you must ask the Judge for the Officer's declaration when you are at the Trial de Novo (or new trial).
   * If the Defendant lose at the trial, the Defendant may request for a new trial in person called the Trial de Novo.
     At the Trial de Novo, the Defendant has one last chance to fight the ticket (if there are no grounds for appeal).
   * 95% of the Officers will attend a court trial since they get overtime paid unless they have trainning or
     they are on vacation. However, for the TBWD, they don't get paid, and they have to do their homeworks
	 (or submit their declarations).

   If you need an arraignment, you MUST request the clerk for TBWD at least ten (10) days before the scheduled date
   of an arraignment. The reason is that during arraignment, the Judge will most likely to deny your request for
   TBWD, and then, the Judge will set a court trial date for you immediately which is very bad for you.
Reference(s):
MotherCopper.com - TBWD



Q: Which State allows Trial By Written Declaration or Trial By Affidavit or Affidavit of Defense ?
A:
StateType of Written Trial
California (CA)Trial By Written Declaration
Florida (FL)Affidavit of Defense
Hawaii (HI)Trial By Written Declaration
Indiana (IN)Trial By Affidavit
Louisiana (LA)Contact the court for details
Nebraska (NE)Contact the court for details
Ohio (OH)Trial By Written Declaration
Oregon (OR)Trial By Affidavit
Wyoming (WY)Trial By Written Declaration

Reference(s):
motorists.org



Q: What are the differences between Trial By Written Declaration and Trial By Affidavit and Affidavit of Defense ?
A: While the Trial By Affidavit and the Affidavit of Defense are the same, they can be distinguished from
   the Trial By Written Declaration as follows:
   * Trial By Affidavit and the Affidavit of Defense require the Defendant to, explicitly, waive the right to have testimony
     presented in open court which is to waive the right to testify or cross-exam any witnesses (including the Officer).
   * Trial By Affidavit and the Affidavit of Defense's waiver form and Defendant's Affidavit require
     to be signed in front of a Public Notary or a Deputy Court Administrator.
   * While the Trial By Written Declaration also, implicitly, waived the right of the Defendant to have testimony presented
     in open court, the Defendant may later request for Trial de Novo where the Defendant may testify or cross-exam any 
     any witnesses (including the Officer).
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: When is the best time to send out the Trial By Written Declaration (TBWD) ?
A: Depends on your ticket due date:
   a) If your ticket due date is close to a long weekend (or public holidays),
      you should mail it about 2 to 3 weeks before the long weekend and of course,
      the ticket due date.
   b) If your ticket due date is about 4 to 6 weeks away from any long weekend
      (or public holidays), call the court's Traffic Court, and request for an extension
      (or Continuance). Usually, the ticket due date can be extended for one more month.
      And, you can follow a) above.
   c) If none of the above, you should mail it about 10 days before the ticket due date.
   
   Reason:
   Well, during any long weekends or public holidays, most people as well as the Officers 
   are going to be busier. So, there is a chance that the Officer may not have time
   to submit his part of TBWD on time.
   Here are the statistics I took when visit the traffic courtrooms.
   During any normal weeks, the Officer's show up percentage is about 95% to almost 100%.
   During any long weekends, the show up percentage is about 55% to 65%.
   And these are the show up percentage for the in person court trial.
   For TBWD, it should be lower.
   
   Remember:
   * For all cases from a) to c), you should mail your TBWD before the ticket due date.
   * Mail your TBWD Certified with Return Receipt.
     Refer to "Certified Mail with Return Receipt".
   * More importantly, send a check for the bail payment $$$.
     Refer to "TBWD"
      
Reference(s):
MotherCopper.com - Certified Mail with Return Receipt
MotherCopper.com - TBWD



Q: How often can I take traffic school ?
A: Supposingly, up to two times within an eighteen (18) months period. But, you may ask for traffic school at an arraignment,
   and it all depends on the Judge. You may take up to as many times as the Judge allows it.
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: This is my first traffic ticket, should I fight ?
A: Well, if you have evidence (i.e. Engineering & Traffic survey, witnesses, and etc.) to proof
   your innocence (or good reasons), yes, you should fight. Otherwise, pay the fine by mail, and take traffic school.
   (Note: There is no good reason or argument at the court trial, most likely, the Judge will still find you GUILTY.
          I have been in the court trial for a few times, and all Defendants were found GUILTY even they have 
          good reasons and arguments. The Judge only believe the Officer's testimony. If you still want to contest
          your unfair ticket, please do Trial By Written Declaration.)

   However, if you get another ticket within an eighteen (18) months period, you may be eligible for traffic school Level Two (2).
   Plus, the fine for the second ticket will be higher. You have to ask the Judge for traffic school again at an arraignment,
   and it all depends on the Judge.
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: This is my second (or third or more) ticket in 18 months, should I fight ?
A: You may be eligible for traffic school Level Two (2). If not, you have nothing to lose if you fight your ticket.
   However, you may still ask the Judge for traffic school again at an arraignment, and it all depends on the Judge.
   To find out if you are eligible for traffic school, at your arraignment, do not make a plea yet, or say anything.
   First, ask the Judge if you are eligible for traffic school, and you decide from there regarding your plea.
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: What are the differences between traffic school Level One and Level Two ?
A: If that's your first ticket in eighteen (18) months, you should be attending Level One.

   At Level One, there will be no DMV point recorded, and there will be no record about your traffic school attendance.
   If that's your second, third, ...tickets in eighteen (18) months, you may be eligible to attend Level Two.

   At Level Two, there will be no DMV point recorded, but there will be a record about your traffic school attendance.
   Your insurance company may or may not look at your record. If they do, it is up to them to raise your rate or not.
Reference(s):
N/A



Q: Who may serve (mail or deliver) my court papers or documents ?
A: A person who serve the papers must be all of the followings:
   (a) at least eighteen (18) years of age
   (b) NOT a party to this action
   (c) either live in or are employed in the county where the mailing took place
   
   This person can be your friend or a family member.

Reference(s):
Proof of Service By Mail form



Q: How should I send legal documents to the courthouse ?
A: Legal documents or papers including IDR, Written Not Guilty Plea, Motion, TR-205, TR-220, and etc,
   can be either send it by mail or turn it in personally.
   All legal documents "should" (or, better) be properly served by a Process Server.
   But, it is still fine if your documents were not served by a Process Server since not everyone can find a Process Server without paying.
   If it is via mail, it must be mailed certified with return receipt.
   If it is via a personal visit, make sure a court stamp with date is stamped on the original legal documents,
   and you MUST ask the court clerk to make a copy of it, and you must keep it.

Reference(s):
MotherCopper.com - Process Server



Q: In a court trial, if Defendant has never waived time or granted a continuance,
and if the Officer did not appeared at the trial, but requested the Judge for continuance due to cause,
can the Judge still grant Officer's request for continuance ?
A: For causes such as police trainning, sickness, and etc, the Judge may grant Officer's request for 
continuance, however, the newly scheduled trial date should be within forty-five (45) days from the date when the
plead was entered, or when the date for which the bail was posted. If the newly scheduled trial date is beyond
the forty-five (45) days, it would have violated Defendant's right for a speedy trial.

Reference(s):
Proof of Service By Mail form



Q: How can I dismiss or disqualify the Judge at my trial or TDN ?
A: 1) As soon as you receive the notice for your trial or TDN date/time/Department #,
      find out the Judge name who will hear your case by visiting the courthouse in person, or by phone.
      Ask the court clerk for the day of week where TDN held. Usually, TDN is held every Wednesday 9:00 AM
      at a particular Department #. The Judge name will be printed on the roll sheet outside the court room.
      You may have to visit that Department in two times (i.e. two Wednesday) to be sure.
   2) Fill out a Peremptory Challenge (PC) form.
   3) File it at least three (3) weeks before your trial or TDN date under your case number.
      If you cannot file this earlier, file it ASAP, and it must NOT be on the same date of your TDN.
   4) Get a court endorsed copy (with a court dated stamp) of your PC form before leaving the
      courthouse. Keep it safely, and bring it to your trial or TDN.
   5) At the trial, do NOT sworn in, do NOT let the Officer (witness) to begin his 
      testimony. IMMEDIATELY mention that you have filed PC in a timely manner. 
      NOTE: If the Officer did not show up, do NOT mention this form yet.
            See if the Judge will dismiss your case!
   6) At the trial, also bring a blank copy of PC form in case the Judge has been changed.
      And, you may file that PC form at the very beginning of your trial.
      The Judge may or may not grant your request since it is untimely.
   7) Also, if the Judge is a Pro Tem Judge, you may simply object to that, and there is 
      no need to file any PC form. 
   8) The Judge will set a new trial date with the Officer and you, and a new Judge will
      be assigned to your new trial.
   9) Carefully study all reference(s) below... 

Reference(s):
MotherCopper.com - Peremptory Challenge (PC) form
MotherCopper.com - Your Right to dismiss any Judge
MotherCopper.com - Endorsed copy of PC form
MotherCopper.com - California Code of Civil of Procedure 170.6



Q: How can I attend Trial de Novo at the County Seat ?
A: 1) You should have followed all the procedures for County Seat request.
   2) If you did not attend an arraignment, you must request it at your Trial By Written Declaration (TBWD).
      And, most likely, the Judge will ignore such request at your TBWD.
      (Note: Try not to setup an arraignment just to request for County Seat)
   3) The Judge may not ignore your County Seat Request at your arraignment, but will most
      likely ignore it at your TBWD. So, you must setup Trial de Novo, and request for County Seat there.
      If the Officer shows up, after your request has been granted, the Officer has to show up again.

Reference(s):
County Seat Request



Q: Where can I obtain the Engineering & Traffic Survey ?
A: NOTE: This is only for those of you who has a speeding ticket of CVC 22350 !!! (NOT CVC 22349)

   1) Call, email, or visit the City Hall's Engineering Department, and ask to speak with
      a Traffic Engineer, or a Civil Engineer. The City Hall should be in the city where you were cited,
	  or the cloest city. If they don't have the survey, ask them which City Hall may have it.
	  Some of the City Hall may point to the courthouse for which you will not have access to.
	  Only the Officers have access to those surveys in the courthouse during the trial.
	  However, you may still try to ask if the clerk could get a copy for you.
   2) Ask them for the Engineering & Traffic Survey for the portion of the road
      where you where cited including:
	  a) your traveling direction like northbound, eastbound, westbound, southbound, and etc.
	  b) the two street names that defines the portion of the road that you were cited like
	     you were cited on southbound 1000 Copper Street between Market Street and 2nd Street
		 in San Francisco, CA.
   3) Ask them to fax you a copy, or visit them in person.
   4) Once you have it, check for the 85th percentile speed, or any justifiable speed.
      The Speed Limit of the road should be 5-7 miles above the 85th percentile speed.
      Some E & T Survey use the word "Varies", and you may have to clarify that with the Engineers.
   5) From the survey, if you see a term or phrase like "10 mph pace", please clarify with them immediately.
      (We don't know what that is!)
   6) Carefully study all reference(s) below...

Reference(s):
E & T Survey example



Q: What kind of cars get the most tickets ?
A: Please refer to the reference below...
Reference(s):
By MSN Money on Jan 21, 2009



Q: What car costs more to insure ?
A: Please refer to the reference below...
Reference(s):
By MSN Money on Jan 9, 2009



Q: As the economy is weak, would you get more tickets ?
A: Please refer to the reference below...
Reference(s):
By MSN Money on Jan 1, 2009