Anyone successfully fight a traffic ticket using one of those $99 lawyers?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by acer, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. acer macrumors member

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    #1
    Got my first ever running a red light citation tonight!!!!!! And just my luck, the damn cop was right behind me when I did it. Asked the officer how much the fine was and he pretended not to know so looked it up and it's pretty steep... $500 + $50 & traffic school!!!!!!!!!

    So I started looking up traffic lawyers and found several sites offering something called "Trial by Written Declaration" for $99. They guarantee I win or will refund the money. Does this really work? They say even if I lose, I can still contest it in court or pay fine and attend traffic school so what have I got to lose?

    I admit to running the red light but I feel they purposefully shortened the yellow light so it changed to red pretty quickly. I will probably go and video tape it for evidence if I ever decide to go to court.
     
  2. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #2
    Traffic lights are always regulated to match the conditions, ie. speed allowed. So if you didn't have time to stop, then you went too fast. Be responsible and pay your ticket, and learn from it.
     
  3. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Well, this was a highway with 55mph speed limit so whether the yellow was purposefully shortened matters since it's more difficult to stop and they would've done it to issue more citations.

    Years ago, I got a parking citation because supposedly I wasn't parked 15 feet from the fire hydrant (they claimed my car was only 13 feet... like who goes and measures when parking????). They purposefully didn't paint the curb red so they can keep issuing tickets. When I complained they finally painted the curb although refusing to overturn my ticket. So although I still had to pay the fine, it probably saved others from getting one. Maybe if I can prove the yellow was purposefully shortened at this intersection to issue more citations, it'll save others also.
     
  4. daflake, Apr 23, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017

    daflake macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I have a hard time believing that running a red light is that steep of a fine. What state is this? My red light fee in Baltimore was $75 dollars.

    As for the $99 dollar lawyers, I have never used them, but I haven't heard anything good from it either. I would avoid something like this and get a hold of the city to find out the actual cost of the ticket before you start to invest in a lawyer. You could end up throwing money away.

    Looking into this a little further and I do see that some states (mainly Utah) can run up to $1000 for running a red light. However, it does say "up to" which means that there is another underlying fee schedule that they can use.
     
  5. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    This was in California. Was your ticket recent? Cause according to an article I read, red light fine used to be just $103 in 1993.

    I was looking over the ticket and found an error: cop wrote down the wrong time... off by an hour. Could this get the fine dismissed by any chance?? I mean I have restaurant receipt showing I was elsewhere around that time.

    Also found out how long the yellow must stay lit for that speed limit and no way it was on that long. I will now have to go videotape it as proof.
     
  6. daflake macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    It was a camera ticket back in 2009.

    I suppose you could get out with the time being wrong, but I would also call the city where you got the ticket and see what the cost is going to be. They should be able to tell you the fine so you can make a determination if fighting it is even worth it.
     
  7. Tech198 macrumors G4

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    #7
    Speeding fine (high) price would be relate to how fast you were going in the first place. The speed limit is irrelevant,, because u were speeding over it anyway... The fact is "how much over" and only u could have know that if u looked at your speedo regularly. If u have no idea, then there is no case to prove.
     
  8. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #8
    You seem to have some slight difficulty admitting that you should not have run the red light and should not face a penalty because of it.

    They did not "purposefully" do anything; rather, you committed a traffic violation. You are not entitled to do that, not without possible consequence if you are caught.
     
  9. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    Apr 6, 2017
    #9
    What are you talking about? This wasn't a speeding fine plus I wasn't speeding.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2017 ---

    I did admit it. But if they purposefully violated the law by making the yellow light change quicker, then why shouldn't I fight it? I mean do you just allow the government to get away with anything because you think they can do no wrong?

    Next time you go over the posted speed limit or don't come to a complete stop and wait a full 3 seconds at the stop sign, you should turn yourself in.
     
  10. Scepticalscribe, Apr 24, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #10
    But "if"? What "if"? Why do you assume this?

    "They" are the authorities - ultimately, they have the right to determine what the regulations that govern traffic actually are and to enforce them accordingly.

    You appear to have difficulty with this concept, as you query their right to enforce the law and clearly doubt their bona fides in doing so.

    The tone and the tenor of your posts appears to suggest that the authorities set out deliberately ("purposefully" in your words) to ensnare you in wrongdoing by tweaking the timing on the yellow light.

    Lights are tweaked all the time, and often for very good reason - I would not presume malevolence on the part of the authorities.

    Seriously, admit that you were wrong and pay the fine.
     
  11. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    Well, everything I've read points to a severe fine so I have nothing to lose by hiring a lawyer. If I can prove the yellow light isn't on the required amount of time I should have an excellent chance of winning.... unless the judge is corrupt, which is possible.

    Plus the cop gave me a court date in another city that is 50 miles away from the city where he issued the citation. So he could be out of his jurisdiction. There's too many red flags here for me to just do the "right thing" and pay the fine like these sheeple are telling me to do.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 24, 2017 ---

    If the government is being unscrupulous, why shouldn't I bring it to light and expose them for it? There's been numerous occasions where whistle-blowers outed the government for their wrongdoings and we are better for it.

    If they aren't following regulations with the lights, they are indeed stacking the deck against the drivers as it will cause more violations. This is unlawful and many citations have been thrown out in such circumstances. You can certainly choose to be a sheeple, bow down to the government and pay all your fines without question. But I'm gonna choose to fight if I feel I was wronged.
     
  12. Scepticalscribe, Apr 24, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017

    Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #12
    I really have to question your mindset here.

    Why should enforcing traffic regulations be seen as "unscrupulous"? It is merely enforcing the law.

    Are corrupt judges the norm in the US? Then, your system is far more broken and in a far worse state than I would have assumed or could ever have imagined.

    You were in the wrong, - you broke - or ran - the light - yet you persist in viewing this as a conspiracy on the part of the authorities to wrongfully extract money with menaces from you.

    Admit you were wrong and - yes - I'd counsel that you desist from indulging in these ridiculous conspiracy theories.
     
  13. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    #13

    If the regulation says the yellow light is required to stay on for 5 seconds but only stays on for 2 seconds, would you pay the fine or fight it? Simple question.

    How is it a conspiracy theory when I can simply go back to the intersection, videotape the light and time how long it stays on? It's common sense.

    Since you're not from around here, you're probably unaware of all those countless times where the courts have found the government guilty of committing illegal acts. So Big Brother isn't your mother who is looking out for your best interest, they are only out for themselves.
     
  14. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #14
    Let us agree to differ on this.

    You ran the light - that is a violation of the traffic regulations and you cannot blame the authorities for what was your own fault.

    Beyond that, I think we have a fundamental difference of perspective: You see government as essentially corrupt, predatory and unjust; I - as a European - tend to see it in a far more positive light, as something that is a necessary feature of a functioning state and society, and - in a functioning democracy, government governs with consent.

    No: You ran the light. I think the effort you are putting into attempting to portray the authorities as unjust, corrupt and conspiratorial excessive, to say the least. You doubt their integrity and question their right to fine you, whereas I would ask why you were not prepared to exercise due caution and care for other drivers when approaching a set of traffic lights.

    In this case, as you (or I) am clearly in the wrong - a police officer - "the damn cop" mentioned in your OP - was right behind you and saw everything clearly - I would pay the fine and cease spouting ridiculous conspiracy theories.
     
  15. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    #15
    I asked you a simple question yet you refuse to answer it. Quite telling and speaks volumes about you. Again, there's no "conspiracy theory" here, if I can prove the yellow light fails to meet regulations, which is simple to do, I win.

    Maybe you're fortunate and live in a country where corruption never happens in your government but we Americans aren't as fortunate. Did you hear the one about where one of our governors purposefully created a traffic jam to punish another politician? Yeah, that really happened and several people were convicted and went to prison. And this is the government I should blindly trust? LOL!

    Again, you can choose to be a sheeple but I choose not to.
     
  16. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #16
    All we have to go on is your side of the story. :) Does California accept trial by written declaration, whatever that is?

    You have to decide if the time and extra cost of a lawyer is worth a possible different outcome and ultimately saving some $. Do an Angie's List checkup on the lawyers you might consider using. You could make some comparisons of the length of yellow lights in the vicinity for streets with the same speed limit, but don't be surprised if they are consistent. I suppose a yellow light has to last long enough so you can either get stopped before the light or get into the intersection while it's still yellow. I have no idea what the length of such a yellow light should be.

    If you flat out ran a red light, well then I'd not say you are being picked on and you should pay your fine. I've seen two flagrant cases where one ended up in a serious high speed collision.
     
  17. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #17
    I will tell you what I do when I get a ticket. I've had plenty of them since I was 16.

    Note that my perspective is coming from California traffic laws because that's where I learned to drive and I lived there for 20 years.

    Fight your ticket.

    Your ticket will have a court date. Show up. It's going to be a cattle call and they will announce your name (eventually). The judge is going to ask you how you plead. "Not guilty" is your answer. Somewhere in there, either the clerk or the judge will ask you if you wish to waive your right to a (speedy) trial. Do NOT waive your right. If you waive your right, the judge will decide right then and right there and 99% of the time he will decree you guilty.

    If you demand your right for a trial this is where your chance comes in. Show up, be prepared to explain yourself and your opinion. But what you are hoping for is that your officer does NOT show up. You have the right to face your accuser in open court. You have the right to question the accuser in open court.

    If this was Highway Patrol then your chances of getting off this way aren't good, but a local cop? Usually they don't bother showing up for court dates. And this is what you want.

    The state cannot convict you for "lack of prosecution". The officer HAS to show up and the officer HAS to present his side (the state's side). If the officer does NOT, then unless you have a sadistic judge, your case will be thrown out. That means, no fine, no traffic school - end of story.

    If your officer DOES show up and the judge DOES find you guilty then the silver lining here is that the judge has discretion to modify the fine as he sees fit based on past history. Very often the judge will much reduce your fine.

    All you are out is some of your time. And possibly less money than you originally expected to pay.

    My very first ticket was for doing 90 in a 55 zone on the 15 going to Barstow. I showed up, the judge reduced my $300 fine to something like $125 or so.

    Once, I made a right turn on red in Redlands. The City of Redlands had just installed a no right on red sign and the local cops had freakin' CONES set out to divert traffic as it violated the sign!!!! I got out of that ticket because I showed up for court and my officer did NOT!

    Usually the fine they specify when you ask is the max allowed under the law. Which is why I say the judge has discretion.

    Also, the courts will work with you on fines. This is an infraction, they cannot jail you. You can set up payments if that's what you need.

    Lots of tickets in my 20s. :D
     
  18. Foggydog macrumors 6502

    Foggydog

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    #18
    Hmmmmm.

    I have watched this conversation as a third party. And honestly, I can agree with both sides.
    Acer accepted that he ran the red light. He also stated he lives in California. This state is somewhere around 16 billion in the red. Although they have cameras is strategic location because of heavy traffic, I know there have been treating this as more of a way to bring in revenue. My sister lives near San Diego and the OP is right, the tickets in that state are way way over for what a simple mistake should cost. Maybe if running that light caused an accident.
    Acer, personally I wouldn't be surprised if that light it timed to change quickly just for the reason that it has a camera. If you think you can prove to the judge that it isn't timed right, then great. If not, I wouldn't hesitate to use a 99 dollar lawyer. All they will do is work a deal. He gets some easy money and the courts get a little as well.

    Edit: just read the above post from and agree.
     
  19. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #19
    I have answered your question - but perhaps you did not read my post.

    I have written that I would pay the fine, and admit that I ran the light - which can put others into danger - and stop wasting everyone's time with idiotic, ridiculous and paranoid conspiracy theories.
     
  20. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #20
    I wouldn't. But that's just me.

    The state has to PROVE that you violated the law. In court. If the state (the officer accusing OP) does not show up, the case has not been made and there is no fine because no one was proven guilty.

    Only if proven guilty would I then pay my fine. Which because a judge has discretion can be considerably lower than the max cost usually given for the violation.

    Showing up and fighting the ticket has benefits either way.
     
  21. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #21
    Not here give you legal advise, but instead to tell you about my anecdotes and those I've observed.

    If this is your first ticket, challenge it. Most reasonable people get one freebie. Tell the judge this is your first ticket, it was an accident, that you are a good driver and don't have a habit of gunning down yellows, and that your driving record is squeaky clean, and that you promise to be more cautions at yellow lights in the future. Be polite, timid, cautious, and dress well but not too well. 9 times out of 10 the judge will let you off the hook for the cost of the the court date.

    The guarantee or your money back lawyers are technically not allowed. It is against lawyers' rules of ethics to have these sorts of contingency fee arrangements for criminal matters. The idea is, if lawyers are paid only when successful in criminal matters, they have an incentive to lie. So I would be suspect of anyone that advertises this, they may not be actual lawyers to begin with.

    Do not argue the shortened yellow light theory. Even if you're right, you will sound like a conspiracy theory lunatic and you will not be taken seriously.

    My friends have used the low-cost craigslist lawyers with good success before. There was no guarantee, and I think they paid closer to $150-200 per appearance.

    Where I am, the fines aren't the issue so much as the insurance points which jack your annual insurance cost significantly for years, so even getting the violation reduced down to a non-moving violation is a win. Paying a $500 fine once isn't so bad, but being faced with a steep ($750 or more per year) increase in insurance until those points fall of your record in many years is a big deal so personally I would gladly pay a proper ethical licensed attorney up to $600 or so to fight a big ticket for me.
     
  22. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #22
    And, there's lots of ifs in this thread about one item that you apparently haven't measured yet - the yellow light duration.
    I bet it gets adjusted automatically, depending on traffic density - so, you would likely need to measure at exactly the same time of day, with the same traffic load. I expect that you will be annoyed by what you actually time there - that your recollection of the "short yellow" is a bit inaccurate, at best.
     
  23. daflake macrumors 6502a

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    #23

    It is a cultural difference. Americans fight everything and have a hard time when they are told to just pay. Even living in Germany the Americans here get upset when they get flashed by a blitzer whereas a German will just pay and move on.
     
  24. acer thread starter macrumors member

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    #24

    Excellent post, very insightful.

    So I guess you don't recommend or even need a lawyer for these proceedings. Do you recommend delaying the court dates as many times as possible so the cop gets sick of it and less likely to show up?
     
  25. daflake macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Have you found out the cost of the ticket yet?
     

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