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  1. #1
    lolly81 is offline Junior Member
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    California HP speeding ticket

    I'd like some advice on fighting a ticket.

    For the record, I'm a very careful driver, and though I do speed, I try to keep it at 5 miles over, and always slow it down when I see that needle creeping up to 10 over. I know that this is, technically, against the law, but if you drive down any CA highway, you'd see that I'm right in the middle of the speed of traffic, and maybe even on the slow-poke end.

    A couple of weeks ago I was on the 101 between Gilroy and Salinas, driving with mild traffic, when I was pulled over. When I saw the officer on the side of the road after a turn (and everyone else, including the car that was passing me, breaking), I checked my speedometer, which said 70. This section of road has a limit of 60, so I thought I was within a reasonable threshold...obviously not. The officer said I was going 73. He did ask me how fast I thought I was going, and I said 60 (meant to say 70, but I was nervous! might be a good thing since I've now never made a statement that I was speeding). He wrote me a citation for going "approximately 70" and sent me on my way.

    I've just received the "courtesy notice" for $220. Given that I'm unemployed, and a warning would have been more than enough to deter me, I'm going to fight it, even though I think there's little hope I'll win. At least I'll make the system pay a little bit for my money Thankfully, being unemployed means I have the time to deal with this.

    I intend to first file for a written trial. I am not sure what I should say. I know that "going the speed of traffic" is not a defense, but there was a car that was passing me at the time. The officer used a LIDAR, which I think means it can distinguish between individual cars, so I think he did clock me and not the other car. Too bad I don't slam on my brakes every time I see something that might look like a cop :[. Basically, I'm not sure if the existence of this passing car is relevant. If it is, how do I present it: I only know it was a red sedan. If it's not, is there anything else I can say in the statement that might sway a judge?

    I also know that even though the cop was around a bend just as the road started going down a significant hill it does not constitute a speed-trap. But could it be seen as mitigating? I was certainly going a few miles faster than normal just because of the hill (it was really right at the time that you'd be backing off from having accelerated up the hill--my foot had just moved to cover the brake for the down-hill), and wasn't able to check my speed because of the turn. Is there even such a thing as mitigating circumstances in traffic court ?!

    My mother was in the car with me. Should she offer a statement as well (all she'll be able to say was that I was going the speed of traffic, and another vehicle was passing me as we turned the corner and started to go downhill). She will likely not be able to attend court with me if it goes to a physical trial.

    Should I file for discovery at this point, or wait until it may go to physical trial? Anyone know where to file for discovery? It seems pretty inconclusive whether its the CHP, the court, or the DA's office.

    Also, I've read something about getting a road survey. I'm unclear as to whether that applies to highways. Any advise on that, as well as where to file for one if it is applicable, would be much appreciated!

    And a bit of a complicated question: my drivers license is from CO, which means any points for minor traffic citations won't show up on it (yipee!), assuming I can't shake off the ticket. However, I'm most likely going to have to establish my residence here in CA in the next couple of months. Will CA points that are not on my CO record show up if I end up getting a CA license?

    Thanks to anyone who responds to any part of this very long post!!!
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    How are you going to come up with the money for bail in order to do the TBWD?
  3. #3
    HighwayMan is offline Senior Member
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    The passing car was not relevant. At typical enforcement distances, the width of the traffic Lidar laser beam is about 10-15 inches. There is absolutely no problem picking individual cars out of a pack.

    Sorry you think you were entitled to a warning - but everybody says that.

    The hill and curve are not defenses. Speed limits are absolute. It's also not believable that you were unable to glance down at your speedometer to check your speed because of a curve in the road. That must have been some curve! Even so, exceeding the posted speed limit because of a hill or curve is no defense.

    Your mother's testimony sounds useless. She's going to say you were keeping up with traffic (no defense) and that the roadway was curved and downhill (again no defense), so what's the point? Unless she was looking at your speedometer (which may or may NOT be accurate) and knows what your exact speed was then she will add nothing to your defense.
  4. #4
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighwayMan View Post
    The passing car was not relevant. At typical enforcement distances, the width of the traffic Lidar laser beam is about 10-15 inches. There is absolutely no problem picking individual cars out of a pack.
    Assuming it was only 300ft away or if it was 1000 ft the beam width is 3ft and on highways most are operating at 1000 ft not 300ft. Let not forget about pan and slip errors or sight misalignment which could cause the beam at 1000 ft to hit the car next to the targeted car and the officer would have no idea which car that was hit since LIDAR is INVISIBLE. There is a misconception that all laser beams are visiable since we all seen laser light shows and that LIDAR hit what you aim at and since you can not see a LIDAR beam you can not prove it hit returned what the object it was pointed at.

    If the op does research on the above you can come up with a very good defense. LIDAR is far from perfect and if used improperly it can give wrong speeds.

    Just challenge the LIDAR evidence and show the court all the possible sources of errors and you stand a stronger chance of winning. Also in CA there is no Judicial notice of LIDAR being admissible in court as evidences, again if you look this up you see this is viable defense.
  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    And a bit of a complicated question: my drivers license is from CO, which means any points for minor traffic citations won't show up on it (yipee!), assuming I can't shake off the ticket. However, I'm most likely going to have to establish my residence here in CA in the next couple of months. Will CA points that are not on my CO record show up if I end up getting a CA license?

    Thanks to anyone who responds to any part of this very long post!!!
    Hi, I know exactly where you were and they pull people over there all day every day and have seen speed teams work that area, so obviously, sir, you are going to lose at about probably a 95-98% rate going in there.

    So that said, by way of some advice, you should ensure that you:
    a) are prepared to accept the point on your record
    b) if that is an issue, find out if you are guilty, will this judge deny traffic school.

    If neither of those are an issue, then I say the lidar challenge is about your only hope. Disqualify the sitting judge who knows all these cops by first name as they sit there every week convicting people just like you in that same spot .. so do that using a 170.6 ccp peremptory challenge and zap that judge who knows them and sits with them everyday (get his name from a clerk/website) and maybe hope for some loose retired judge and do your lidar thing.

    good answer on your speed.

    The other defenses you mentioned are guilty pleas with excuse.


    What code were you cited for?

    Good luck.
  6. #6
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    about your license.

    The point will be on there. The DMV convicts you in the CA computer (even assigning you a number) AND sends that conviction to CO, so yes, it will be on your record.
  7. #7
    I_Got_Banned is offline Senior Member
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    Which vehicle code section were you cited for?

    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    Anyone know where to file for discovery? It seems pretty inconclusive whether its the CHP, the court, or the DA's office.
    You file it in court but you are also required to serve it on the DA and/or City Attorney (check with the court clerk to see who handles criminial cases for that area). Due to the fact that the information will more than likely come from the CHP, it is in your best interest to serve a copy of the same on the CHP office where the citing officer is stationed out of.
    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    Also, I've read something about getting a road survey. I'm unclear as to whether that applies to highways.
    In as much as the posted limit is not the maximum 55, 65, 70mph that is normally considered a maximum speed, it would be safe to assume that a survey is required to justify the 60mph limit.

    VC 22354. (a) Whenever the Department of Transportation determines upon the basis of an engineering and traffic survey that the limit of 65 miles per hour is more than is reasonable or safe upon any portion of a state highway where the limit of 65 miles is applicable, the department may determine and declare a prima facie speed limit of 60, 55, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30 or 25 miles per hour, whichever is found most appropriate to facilitate the orderly movement of traffic and is reasonable and safe, which declared prima facie speed limit shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected upon the highway.


    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    Any advise on that, as well as where to file for one if it is applicable, would be much appreciated!
    You should request it as part of your informal discovery request... But since you may/may not get much from that, I would contact the local CalTrans office for that area for information on how to obtain one.
    Last edited by I_Got_Banned; 06-25-2010 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Added 22354
  8. #8
    lolly81 is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the info

    Thank you all for responding so quickly. Here are the particulars:

    Zigner: I have a very little bit of savings that I can dip into for the bail. I suppose it makes sense that they want a bail, but a bit annoying that it's the entire amount. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to put it back into my account. If not, at least I'll know didn't just hand it over to the state...

    Highwayman: I'm sorry to be blunt, but your post was unnecessary and unhelpful. If you had read my post carefully, you would have seen that I don't expect that I'll get out of this, and will in all probability end up with the citation standing. I acknowledge here that I was not following the letter of the law, and will pay the consequences if I have to. BUT, I do think it's fair to expect the state to shoulder its burden and not use minor traffic infractions as a revenue source. I wanted advice on legitimate ways to present defense given my circumstances. That's no reason for derision.

    My comment about the warning wasn't to suggest that I was "entitled" to one, rather that it would have served the purpose of deterrence. As would a much more reasonable fine. Instead the traffic fines here have so many "extras" tacked on to them that a 35 dollar fine ends up being $220. This citation is paying for conviction, DNA, fingerprinting and construction costs for the courts and criminal justice system, among other things. I am actually a very rules-oriented person, and am willing to face consequences of my actions, but do not feel the state is right in using these citations to plug a hole in its financial issues. (BTW, I don't blame the CHP for this use of citations, and the officer who stopped me was perfectly polite and professional--it's the state, not the CHP, that I want to hold to account). Maybe if more people start contesting these tickets, they won't be seen by jurisdictions as an easy way to raise revenue, and might come down to be more in line with the actual cost on society for speeding...

    But THAT's really not an argument to bring before a judge. So I came here asking for help on how to approach the process. I realize that you feel that I should just pay up and go on my way, but I don't believe that's what the judicial system is about. The state has to fulfill its burden of proof. I'm realistic enough to know that it most likely will, but I don't see how that keeps me from being able to present a reasonable, non-incriminating defense. And given what I had seen in my preliminary research, this forum seemed like a resource that would help me do that.

    And do you stare at your speedometer every second of drive time? I tend to glance at mine frequently (I'd say at minimum every 10 minutes, or when I wonder if I'm going faster than I intend), but generally not while I'm navigating turns or traffic, as that seems like it would maybe take my eyes from the road. Not that this is a valid defense, of course, just pointing out another reason why your post was not helpful.

    Meastro64: Thank you for the lidar info. I was not aware that they could have such a large margin for error, so will look more into that. As well as how admissible they are in court.

    StevenJ_420Law: My points q is actually a bit complicated. Although CO does share DMV violations with most other states, it does not apply points from out-of-state infractions if they are minor. This citation is minor, so my CO license will not have points should the citation stand. But I think it will have the citation still on record, so I don't know if I will have the points applied if I have to get a CA licence in the next few months (i.e. will the CA DMV transfer the points of another DMV or assess the points from the record). I'm not explaining it very well, I know. I'll probably only find out after several hours on the phone with both DMVs, anyway, so don't worry about answering

    I_Got_Banned: I was cited for 22350. It was late afternoon on a clear day with light-moderate traffic, so the posted speed limit would have been in effect (i.e. no reason for a "safe speed" to be lower than posted).

    And thank you for the discovery info, and about the road survey. I'll chase those both down.

    I think that's everything for now. Thank you for your help so far, and I'll keep folks updated.
  9. #9
    I_Got_Banned is offline Senior Member
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    Maestro, while I am sure everyone appreciates your knowledge and expertise of pan and slip, beam width, etc... Reality is, none of those arguments will work in court. I am yet to hear of, see or find any California cases where a defendant was able to get a dismissal (or a reversal) because they presented a scientific argument in court. That leads me to believe that the DON'T WORK!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    Assuming it was only 300ft away or if it was 1000 ft the beam width is 3ft and on highways most are operating at 1000 ft not 300ft. Let not forget about pan and slip errors or sight misalignment which could cause the beam at 1000 ft to hit the car next to the targeted car and the officer would have no idea which car that was hit since LIDAR is INVISIBLE. There is a misconception that all laser beams are visiable since we all seen laser light shows and that LIDAR hit what you aim at and since you can not see a LIDAR beam you can not prove it hit returned what the object it was pointed at.
    Lidar distance and measurement aside, how difficult do you think it is for the officer to look at two vehicles headed towards him/her and determine which one is moving faster? And isn't a "visual estimate, a precursor to the Lidar measurement that the officer made? (At least that is what he will testify to in court).

    Furthermore, think about RADAR measurements and explain to me how the officer determines which vehicle the RADAR beam reflected off of (no visible beam there either)... How different is that from a LIDAR measurement? And how many cases can you cite because the defendant argued that a RADAR beam width is wider that the 2, 3 or 4 lanes that make up a highway...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    If the op does research on the above you can come up with a very good defense.
    A seemingly good defense... AS in a defense that looks good on paper, or in a classroom... But to say that it will unquestionably work in court.... I call that false hope. We have had these scientific arguments before but at the end of the day, courts have and will always consider electronic speed measurements, in conjunction with other elements of the the officer's testimony, sufficiently reliable for a speeding conviction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    LIDAR is far from perfect and if used improperly it can give wrong speeds.
    And that is where the officer's training and experience come into play... As long as the officer can show he has been trained, and in light of the CHP policy of calibration (every 6 months instead of every 3 years), and a possible "daily check" by the officer, raising sufficient reasonable doubt to get a dismissal will more likely than not, be a losing battle.

    Furthermore, and for the court to accept a layman's (or woman's) scientific analysis as proof of inaccuracy, short of hiring an expert witness (too cost prohibitive)... It is NOT going to happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    Just challenge the LIDAR evidence and show the court all the possible sources of errors and you stand a stronger chance of winning. Also in CA there is no Judicial notice of LIDAR being admissible in court as evidences, again if you look this up you see this is viable defense.
    From People v. Flaxman:

    It is a daily occurrence in our courts for witnesses to rely on the accuracy of machinery such as X-ray cameras and various kinds of testing devices without being required to explain the functioning of the machine or to vouch for its accuracy. Otherwise, we would constantly be "re-inventing the wheel" thereby imposing an inordinate cost on litigants and causing a great waste of judicial time.

    It is sufficient that the operator of a radar machine be familiar with the device and its operation and, recognizing that the device might not be properly functioning upon occasion, take a reasonable amount of precautionary measures to assure that it is properly operating. The measures taken in this case were sufficient to establish a prima facie showing that the machine was suitably functioning. Accordingly, we hold that the police officer's testimony was sufficient to establish the accuracy of the radar reading.
    That was a 1977 case (33 years ago)... and back when Radar was fairly new... One can safely assume that the same analogy will apply here as well.

    Furthermore, judicial notice need not be a blanket policy of every court in the state. It is up to the trier of fact to determine the credibility of witnesses and the reliability of the equipment used...
  10. #10
    I_Got_Banned is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    It was late afternoon on a clear day with light-moderate traffic, so the posted speed limit would have been in effect (i.e. no reason for a "safe speed" to be lower than posted).
    Your need for the E&T survey is not necessarily establish whether your speed was safe under the conditions existing at the time (that's a different ballgame that we'll get into IF the limit is justified). It is to establish whether the 60mph posted limit is justified pursuant to VC 627 (See http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d01/vc627.htm).

    It would be safe to assume that it is in fact justified... But until you have it in your hand, you never know. And that (an unjustified speed limit) is, IMHO, your only glimmer of hope here.
  11. #11
    HighwayMan is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    I wanted advice on legitimate ways to present defense given my circumstances. That's no reason for derision.
    How was I being derisive? You specifically asked about your mother testifying (among other things) and I advised you that her testimony wouldn't bring you much help. You also talked about hills and passing, etc. I was simply letting you know, based on my experience, that these issues are pretty meaningless.

    Quote Originally Posted by lolly81 View Post
    but do not feel the state is right in using these citations to plug a hole in its financial issues.
    So distinguish between citations issued to strictly raise revenue and those issued to further safety and punish bad driving and traffic violations. Or do you think they all fall into the former category?

    Individual officers really don't care much about raising revenue for the state or other governmental entity. You feel that only warnings be given. Well there are those of us who feel that verbal warnings do not mean much and are not much a deterrent. For some reason many people who get traffic tickets feel that they are unfairly targeted no matter what.
  12. #12
    HighwayMan is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    Assuming it was only 300ft away
    My lock distances are never more than 500-600 feet. Don't assume - either way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    ...sight misalignment...
    That's why a scope alignment test is done as part of a testing routine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    There is a misconception that all laser beams are visiable (sic) since we all seen laser light shows and that LIDAR hit what you aim at and since you can not see a LIDAR beam you can not prove it hit returned what the object it was pointed at.
    I never heard that misconception. Never had a motorist assume that or any attorneys for that matter. That issue has never been raised in court at any of my trials.
  13. #13
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    none of the radar bs works with our main traffic judge.. dunno about there, but I doubt it.. and the reason is simple.

    EVEN if you could show the radar is goofed up, the testimony goes like this:
    Officer testifies about his training/speed estimator certification and annual re-certification.. then

    "I observed lolly traveling at a high rate of speed and estimated that speed to be 73 mph, I turned on my radar /lidar/whatever doppler locks and noises and beeps and confirmed a speed of 72 mph"

    ie the officer himself is a tool of speed estimation and the radar only confirms it. And that is two independent measurements of your speed.

    It just doesnt fly.. its good to sell "fight your ticket books" though.

    Thats why I say, disqualify the judge and maybe get some retired old coot that thinks the whole system has turned into a very expensive sham and he might let ya go on GP for putting up a good fight.. doubt but I've seen it happen a few times.
    Last edited by StevenJ_420Law; 06-26-2010 at 01:14 AM.
  14. #14
    lolly81 is offline Junior Member
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    HighwayMan--Clarification

    Let me first apologize for opening a discussion that was not necessary. I have recently been dealing with a situation in which someone has felt that e-communication allows him to be abusive with impunity. This has raised my hackles to my general frustration with lower civility standards in online conversations. I in no way want to suggest that your statement was abusive. Rather, to explain why I felt the need to express my dissatisfaction with your remarks. I should have let it slide, and this will be my last post on the matter, unless you have something that you feel really needs clarification

    Quote Originally Posted by HighwayMan View Post
    How was I being derisive? You specifically asked about your mother testifying (among other things) and I advised you that her testimony wouldn't bring you much help. You also talked about hills and passing, etc. I was simply letting you know, based on my experience, that these issues are pretty meaningless.
    I'll grant you the benefit of the doubt that your intent was not to be derisive, but your tone certainly was. Had you simply said "in my experience these things are irrelevant", or "I'd say you're right, none of these are really a defense", your point would have been made without leveling a value-judgement. Instead, you chose to use rhetoric which gave the impression that a) you felt my fighting the ticket was useless and perhaps unethical and b) that you had an incontrovertible expertise. That was why I found it unhelpful and unnecessary. Other people who have responded to my post have made it clear either in their text or in their signature that they are sharing an opinion and/or do not really have expertise, and no one else has taken a judgmental tone. I should have been able to let it slide off my back, but now that I've opened the can of worms, I feel I should make it clear why.


    So distinguish between citations issued to strictly raise revenue and those issued to further safety and punish bad driving and traffic violations. Or do you think they all fall into the former category?
    This is actually part of a whole micro-economic argument that has little place here (I wrote it out, and it was ridiculously long!), but the short answer is that though law enforcement probably does not see these citations as revenue, the state certainly does. Thus, the state has continued to place assessments on these citations that put it out of sync with either the use of a citation as a deterrent or as an effort to recoup the cost to societyof bad behavior. This is what I'm miffed at, and my primary motivation for fighting the ticket. I feel it's an abuse of the state's power, and feel the need to make the state earn my money. It is an ethical/moral stance, and one which you are certainly entitled to disagree with, but as it's my time and energy, it's my choice as to whether to act upon it.

    Individual officers really don't care much about raising revenue for the state or other governmental entity. You feel that only warnings be given. Well there are those of us who feel that verbal warnings do not mean much and are not much a deterrent. For some reason many people who get traffic tickets feel that they are unfairly targeted no matter what.
    Again you've made a value judgement as to my mention of warnings. At no point did I suggest that the officer had no moral or legal authority to issue me a ticket. Nor did I ever say that I was entitled to a warning. My point was simply that in terms of a deterrent, a warning would have been enough for me. You believe that warnings are not a deterrent--for some infractions and some drivers you are most likely correct, but that's a very blanket stance, and as you provide no evidence, I am perfectly comfortable in disagreeing with you. Particularly since I know, for me, it would have been enough of a deterrent.

    I also acknowledged in my argument that the state's use of citations as revenue is not the responsibility of the CHP (refer above as well). Again, the officer had the moral and legal authority to pull me over and issue the citation. I do, however, have to wonder, when all other state employees are furloughed whether CHP are implicitly, explicitly or even unconsciously being pressured to "prove" their furlough exemption through quantitative measures such as traffic citations. Just a theory, but one based on conversations with a CHP acquaintance and the apparent increase in traffic stops. That's a side matter, but one worth rolling around in the head.

    Again, unless you'd like for me to clarify particular points, I won't be adding to this particular discussion any more. I apologize to you if I offended you, as that was not my intent, and to anyone else who may see this whole conversation as off-topic.
  15. #15
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Hey lolly -

    A few traffic cites here and there come no-where close to plugging the states multi-BILLION dollar gap. So you can just stop barking up that tree...

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