Trial by Declaration is the Best Way to Start Your Traffic Ticket Fight in California

If you are really serious about doing all you can to fight a traffic ticket, a Trial by Declaration is a good way to start.  It is a way to have a judge rule on your case after reviewing written statements from both sides.  And no court appearance is necessary, so it requires less effort than a court trial in person.

A defendant can win a trial by declaration if they have a real defense, and there is no harm in trying – because a defendant who loses a trial by declaration can still have a court trial in person.

To set your case for a Trial by Declaration you must request one in writing from the court clerk.  Generally, it must be requested before the deadline on your citation – or before your first court date if the court changes the court date on you.

You can also ask for a trial by declaration at your Arraignment (first court date) but the judge may deny the request and send you to a live court trial instead if the request is too late.  But generally, the courts prefer a trial by declaration because it prevents the officers from coming in to court, and limits the amount of resources the court must spend on the trial.

In general, Defendants who want a Trial by Declaration must post “bail” with the court as a deposit on their sentence if found guilty. However, a Defendant who goes to court for an in person arraignment and asks for a trial by declaration may request TBD without posting of bail.

Some courts, such as the Santa Cruz Superior recently, will receive the request for a trial by declaration over the phone, and send you instructions for posting bail by mail. It is probably best to make the request in writing using the Judicial Council Form described below.  Some, but not all courts have their own local “TBD” Request Form which is optional. Check your court’s web site under “Local Forms”.

After a Request for Trial By Declaration is made, the court has 15 days to set a deadline for the defendant and officer(s) to submit written statements for review.

After requesting a Trial by Declaration and getting a date, you must submit (file) your statement to the court clerk with all of your evidence on a standardized form. You can find the Form at www/ ( Official Trial By Declaration Instructions are available at the San Diego County Superior Court’s Web Site – Traffic Court Forms Section.

Once you submit your statement and evidence, the officer who issued you the citation must submit a response. Once the officers response is in, the court reviews the statements and evidence, and makes a ruling without the parties being present in court.

Some defenses are ideally raised in a Trial by Declaration. For example, in a case where an officer makes a mistake you can prove, such as there was a “Yield” sign where the officer thought there was a “Stop” sign.   A picture of the intersection and a sworn, signed, Trial by Declaration from is a good way to present that defense without wasting time and effort.

If you lose a Trial by Declaration, you can request a live in person court trial, and start over. When the court sends you the decision that you lost, it will also include information on how to request a “Trial De Novo”, or a new live court trial. Basically, you must fill out the Request for Trial De Novo Form ( and submit it to the court – within a very tight time line (probably 20 days). So do not delay in filing the Request for Trial De Novo.

“De Novo” is Latin for “of new”. Just like “El Nino” is Spanish for “the Nino”. Moving on . .

Beginning Tips For Winning a Trial By Declaration:

1. Present a Defense. You cant just say the cop is lying. That will not work, because the cop has a legal duty to document and tell the truth in the court’s eyes, and you are just some gronk off the street wasting court time. You must have some defense to present.

2. Realize there is Evidence Against You, and Address It. The police officer has submitted a citation to the court signed by him or her under penalty of perjury which (probably) states the officer SAW YOU VIOLATE THE LAW. This citation, signed by the officer in the course and scope of his/her public duty is a “Verified Complaint” and is competent evidence against you. You must have something to counter this evidence to win.

3. Stick to Relevant Facts. It does not matter where you were going or why you were going there. It does not matter who was in the car with you. It does not matter where you work or where you went to school. Your future plans for your kids do not matter, etc.

4. KISS your case. No, this is a real tip. KISS= Keep It Simple Stupid.

Questions?  Leave a reply below

About Attorney Christopher Dort

Public Interest Attorney. CA State Bar #196832. Licensed to practice law in California 1998, and then the US Federal District Court in 2000. Civil Litigation Trial Attorney (Insurance Defense Firms) 2000-2003. Private practice 2003 - present. First Solo Criminal Jury Trial 1998 (Santa Cruz County). First Civil Jury Trial 2002 (Orange County). Santa Cruz County Public Defenders Office 1996-1999 (law clerk). BA in Politics from UC Santa Cruz, 1995. JD, University of California, Hastings, 1998.
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169 Responses to Trial by Declaration is the Best Way to Start Your Traffic Ticket Fight in California

  1. Danny says:

    Hi Chris,

    A few days ago, an officer pulled me over for speeding 10 mph on a 30 mph street. Can i have your opinion if whether my argument (posted below) is a legitimate defense for a “written trial be declaration” and whether or not it will be strong enough to win the case. Location is in Santa Cruz, CA.

    On August 9th, 2014, I was safely driving down on Bay Street at the speed limit 30 mph. As I was approaching the intersection of Bay and Escolona, I safely reduced my speed to 25 mph in order to abide the upcoming speed limit sign of 25 mph after the intersection. At this area, the police officer was located at the intersection possibly due to a speeding trap purpose. As I reduced my speed and continued to drive at the safe speed limit, the officer made a turn on the same street as I and signal his vehicle lights behind my vehicle. I responded immediately by pulling over to a safe location in order to park and present the officer my driving license and car registration.

    The police officer claimed that I was speeding and that I was “dipping” my speed when I saw his vehicle. However, that was not the case. I have been a local UC Santa Cruz students driver since 2012 and have become familiar with the roads over the last two years. Driving along Bay street has been a routine basis for me, as I been driving on this street since 2012. The reason why I was lowering my speed to the upcoming speed limit of 25 mph was not because of my sight of the police officer, but my instinct of driving on this street came into affect even before my car had made visual contact with the police officer vehicle. Coincedently, it is understandable for the officer to claim that I was lowering my speed when my vehicle was approaching near him. As I stated earlier, the officer parked his vehicle near the intersection, which make sense that my car had passed his when driving safely down Bay street.

    My witness was in my vehicle at the time of this incident. My witness stated that she saw my speedometer roughly 3 seconds before my vehicle had made any visual contact with the police officer. She stated that I was driving at the legal speed limit of 30 mph because the tick on my speedometer was on the 30 mph line. In addition, she also states that the car was reducing it speed when approaching the intersection of Bay and Escolona. As a local UC Santa Cruz student driver herself that also drives along Bay street routinely, she also knew that it was common for local drivers to reduce their car speed to abide the posted 25 mph speed limit up ahead.

    This is what i have so far. Can you give me your best judgement on what you think about this argument and what i need (if necessary) to add onto my TBD. Thank You!!

    • Danny,

      This is a good comment. I can help you out by pointing out the common mistakes. Here are my free, defense attorney oriented thoughts for entertainment purposes only.

      Your biggest problem here is you are not focused on what is actually relevant.

      Here are the facts as they will most likely come form the officer:

      “I witnessed the driver driving at a speeding which I visually estimated to be in excess of the speed limit at 43. The speed limit is 30 at this location. I have been certified in visual speed estimations. I then used my Lidar device, which I am certified to use, to measure his speed. The measurement was 40 mph, which is excess of the 30 mph speed limit at this location. The conditions at the time were [insert conditions]. Here is a copy of the Engineering Traffic Survey as required by law to valid date the posted speed limit in that location. In my [expert] opinion, I feel driving at 40 mph at this time and in these [insert conditions] was unsafe.”

      That is what you can expect as the prosecution evidence. The officer is not going to talk about how your speed dipped. That information is not relevant, and is not going to come out from the officer. The officer is not going to say you were driving safely. The officer is not going to say everyone else was going to the same speed. What the officer told you at the side of the road is not going to be evidence in the case. The evidence is going to be what the officer saw and measured.

      So where does that leave you? To win such a case, you probably have to convince the judge that you were driving at or below the speed limit and safe for the conditions. 31 mph will probably not work, because that is a violation of the law. Unless you can convince the judge the engineering report was wrong and faulty, and you were driving completely safe at that [dangerous location].

      I know that location well. I used to come flying down that hill at 45 mph myself. On a sk8 board, carrying a surfboard, and wearing a wetsuit. I never hit anyone.

      But then one day, a garbage truck ran over a cyclist there. Then a few more people got filled there.

      I say this because you might also have to deal with an officer talking about fatalities at that location.

      What you have to do in a Trial by Declaration here is pretty simple.

      If true – write something like this:

      I declare under penalty of perjury from the County of Santa Cruz that at all time mentioned in the citation that is the basis of this case, I was in full compliance with the law. At the time the officer claims I was speeding, I was driving at or below the posted speed limit. The speed limit in this location changes, and all drivers are required to low from a faster speed limit to the lower one in a short distance. At all times mentioned in the citation, I was doing exactly that, complying with the law, and reducing my speed to meet the lowered speed limit in this location.

      There is insufficient evidence to exactly identify the location of my vehicle at the exact moment of the alleged Lidar measurement in relation to the changing speed limits. I dispute the accuracy of that Lidar measurement, but even if it were accurate, there is no evidence to identify the speed limit at the exact point of measurement on my vehicle.

      At all times listed in the citation, I was driving safely with a good faith intent to comply with the law. I did not hit or collide with anything, I did not skid or spin out, there is no evidence I had to make any sudden stops or unsafe maneuvers.

      I am innocent. I am presummed innocent.

      On this basis, I request a not guilty verdict.


      What about your witness? You will need a declaration from that person, signed, notarized.

      Forget about all that other crap.

      It does not matter how fast everyone else was driving. It does not matter where you come from or where you go to school. It does not matter how many times you drive past that intersection. The judge is not going to care about what you think is common, or what your witness thinks is common. None of that info is relevant to the real question of:

      Whether or not the defendant violated the statute as it is alleged in the citation.

      Oh yea, forget about the part where you talk about when your “vehicle made visual contact with the officer.”

      That sounds like you are trying to pretend to be a cop, and use cop talk. But cars cannot see. And it does not matter when you or your witness saw the cop. IT DOES NOT MATTER.

      Why? Because he tagged you with that Lidar way before you saw him.

      Escalona? The people got killed on Bay and .. is that High Street? Not escalona. Escalona is up the hill a little. I was probably only going 38 by then on that sk8. But you get the point.

  2. Will says:

    Hi Chris,

    I recently got a ticket by a motorcycle cop for crossing over double yellow line / exiting carpool lane along the highway.

    The truth is, there was a car accident up ahead and traffic was becoming slow-to-stopped. As the cars around me began to slow, a different police car zoomed ahead of traffic and swerved back and forth across five lanes. They clearly did this to slow traffic for the accident up ahead.

    I saw a motorcycle cop come up slowly behind me in the carpool lane and when he tailed me, I exited the lane to let him pass. Next thing you know, he crosses the lane and gives me a ticket. Very unfriendly cop, might I add!

    I have photographic evidence of the accident that stopped traffic, in addition to three witnesses who were in the car with me. The law states that an “emergency vehicle” is one that sirens and/or puts on its emergency lights. I doubt there’s any way I can prove whether or not the motorcycle cop displayed his lights.

    Do I have a fighting chance? Is the accident photos even evidence in my case?


  3. Joe says:

    I got a ticket in California for failing to yield to an ambulance.

    I was driving north bound and saw a cop behind me. An ambulance driving south bound and came around a corner, by the time I thought about reacting he was beside me then passed me so I didn’t pull over and stop.

    The ambulance didn’t have a siren on and was flashing white/ yellow lights. Not red lights.

    Can I say that in the declaration or do I need proof? Can I write the cop and ask for the dash cam video? Or write the ambulance company for a report, showing what lights were flashing and if there was a siren?

    What’s the best way to do handle this.

    • Joe!

      This is the best question we’ve seen in years.

      When you file a “Declaration” for a “Trial by Declaration” you are providing testimony, under oath. Your testimony is evidence. But you may want more evidence.

      You do have the right to use the court’s subpoena power to get documents and videos such as those you want. The court clerk at the courthouse can issue the subpoenas for you, and you have to get them served. You need the exact address and name of the person to be served (custodian of records or the witness holding the evidence).

      I wrote an article about how to do that here somewhere. You have to “declare” on their form that you need the evidence, and have reason to believe (essentially) that the person to be served has it.

      Start now! if you do not get the documents in time, and lose the TBD, get read for the court trial you can demand afterwards.

      Here is the link to the related article:

      But be read for the officer to testify that the siren was on, and that you did not hear it. If you can get the right evidence, slam dunk!

  4. Rick says:


    I was given a citation for not changing lanes or slowing down for a emergency vehicle at the side of the road on a highway. I was driving down the highway and a highway patrol car was at the side of the road with there flashers on giving a another car a ticket. The police officer just finished giving that car a ticket and the officer was coming around the back of his vehicle and simultaneously I passed by him with my car. He chased me down and wrote me a ticket for that violation. However after reviewing the law I did slow down to 60 mph in a 65mph highway and furthermore I did not feel that it was safe to change lanes. I plan on fighting this ticket do you have any advice I would appreciate any.

  5. CDA says:

    I filed a TBD over a month ago-and I noticed they deposited the check. Am I to wait for a ‘verdict’? as in will they contact me? Or do I contact the court to find out of I need to file a for trial de novo? san diego county- thanks

  6. Michelle says:


    I have 2 questions regarding a VC 21655.8(a) – “Driving over double lines of preferential lanes” ticket I received in April. 1) I was trying to cross when appropriate access was available, however there was inconsiderate members of traffic in the lane that would not allow me to get over. The access closed off right as I was crossing over (when traffic allowed me to do so safely), and the CHP officer pulled me over. I could not have been 100 feet into the double yellow line, but she got me anyway. I am technically guilty, but feel I was justified due to safety issues… should I contest? I have seen several of your responses saying “if you’re guilty, you’re guilty!” so I wondered if my defense of safety would work or matter. My 2nd question is, if I’ve filed an extention (never received courtesy notice and forgot about it until the DAY OF my appearance date, called to file an extention). Can I still file a Written Trial by Declaration? Thanks for your help with this!

  7. may says:

    Thanks for the Q&A. Very educational.
    Violation: 216558a 29
    In summary, physician on the way to a medical emergency caught in a LONG, SINGLE lane stretch of FastTrack (going North on 110 near 105) behind a Metro Bus going FAR too slowly for there to be a reasonable response to the emergency. Double lanes were crossed to pass the bus (to the right) and resume reasonable speed in front of it. response. Ticket says speed “>85.” Safe execution. No one injured or endangered. TBD have weight?
    I’m interested to see what you think may get this dismissed.

    • May,

      I’ve had this case many times. If you were an “on call” surgeon, one of those who has to be at the emergency room within 15 minutes, carries a 1990s beeper, and because of that you have to live in that crappy pico section of culver city even though you have the money to live in Santa Monica proper, I’d say you have a good argument. Get some proof.

  8. Ella says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to consider my case. I recently received a ticket for operating my scooter after dark with only an instruction permit, but what originally prompted the cop to pull me over was because of my “unsafe movement to the right.”

    I was going to make a slight right onto a ramp, but the warning sign before approaching it stated a street name and also had the name of a freeway written right below it. When I saw the name of the freeway, I automatically thought that if I merged onto that ramp, I would enter the freeway, and my scooter can only operate on local roads. In order to get home, I quickly decided to merge to the left lane to catch another ramp that’s going the opposite direction. That was when I got pulled over.

    On my permit, it states that I “must not practice during darkness or on freeways.” This might be irrelevant information, but I was coming home from Costco, and I didn’t intend to be there for that long. Before I knew it, it was already around 8pm, and my scooter was my only mode of transportation. On my ticket, for the comment section, the officer circled “dry weather” and “clear traffic conditions.” For my TBD, can I use that to my advantage and say that I made a good judgment to ride home in decent traffic and weather conditions? Also, I got my permit almost a year ago but haven’t had the time to get the license, so can I safely say that I was no longer “practicing”?

    Thanks again for your help!

    • Ella,

      I get this sort of question all the time. This is a common sort of issue.

      What issue? The issue of Defendant missing the point.

      If you received a citation for operating a scooter without a proper license – the only question at your trial will be whether or not you had a valid license or permit at the time. If you did not, you are guilty. That’s it, end of story, game over. Guilty. You have no defense unless you have a valid permit or license for that day.

      Regarding your statement: “On my ticket, for the comment section, the officer circled “dry weather” and “clear traffic conditions.” For my TBD, can I use that to my advantage and say that I made a good judgment to ride home in decent traffic and weather conditions?”

      I have to say sure, you can try that, but it won’t matter, because it WILL NOT HELP YOU PROVE YOU HAD A VALID LICENSE OR PERMIT.

      Get it? You have to focus on the violation you are accused of. If you are accused of driving without a valid permit – then you need to focus on that violation.

      There is a side issue here. I guess you could argue that you were driving safely, and that you were pulled over and stopped illegally BEFORE THE OFFICER FOUND OUT YOU DID NOT HAVE A VALID PERMIT OR LICENSE.

      But is that going to fly? No way. You have to expect the officer to testify he/she saw you driving unsafely.

      Once that happens, your own statement that you were driving safely is (probably) not going to convince a judge the cop is lying.

      There must be something wrong with my eyes, because I can’t see your defense working here.

      Of course I could be wrong, and you should not rely on what I say because I don’t know all of the evidence in your case, – but I would say unless you can prove you had a valid license or permit on that day, you probably should not waste time or effort trying to fight the violation.

      Then again, there is nothing wrong with demanding a trial and seeing what happens. It’s your right. You have to make your own decisions. Maybe the officer will not respond or show up at trial? Maybe you can get lucky?

      • may says:

        This response is hilarious! Point is keep focused on the violation at hand. What are you being accused of? I like the creative approach of saying you were pulled over illegally. Profiling perhaps?
        I like this forum. Reminds me of LD debate days and remembering that “I want to be a lawyer” came out of my mouth at one point.

  9. Dustin says:


    I received a citation on Feb 12 of this year for unsafe speed. I was cited for 48 in a 40. The officer said he paced me. I was going faster than 40 but not faster than 45. Traffic was very light. Clear night. I decided to do a trial by written declaration. How do I write my statement without admitting I was going faster than 40 but that I wasn’t going 48 as the officer claimed, plus that the speed wasn’t unsafe given the conditions?

    • Dustin,

      If you were actually breaking the law, then the only thing you can truthfully say is: “I dont believe there is sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of innocence.”

      But why waste your time? Even if you convince a judge you were going 41, you are STILL GUILTY!

      People just dont understand that point.

      To win the trial, you should expect that you have to convince the judge you were complying with the law fully.

      It is not enough to convince the judge the officer made an error of 2 or 3 mph.

  10. Mike says:

    Hi Chris,
    I just recently got a ticket for crossing a red arrow light. This light was very confusing. I was on Atlantic Blvd approaching 3rd street in Long beach. When I approached third street I came to a complete stop even though there were two large lights that were green. There was another light that looked like a pedestrian crossing or something which had a red arrow. So I decided to make my left turn onto this one way street. I was pulled over and asked the police officer what I was pulled over for. He said I ran a red light. It was midnight and there were no people walking the streets or any traffic. It was safe to turn. I told the police officer that this light was very confusing and I would never go through a red light especially when I saw him parked on the other side of the road. I told him I respected the law , would not break it and I grew up with officers, my Uncles being Police Captains in another city. He gave me the ticket. Afterwards I decided to follow him and he went back to the same spot parked turned his lights off and waited for someone else. Everyone I have spoken too about Long Beach has said the same thing about the downtown area. Very misleading and confusing lights intersections etc….

    I never get tickets and when I have I just pay them. Is there a way I can do a trial by written declaration and what would I say. Thanks for any help in advance.

    • Mike,

      I hear you. This is a common complaint everywhere.

      I can only help by helping you focus.

      1. It does not matter who your uncles work for. Forget about that part of the story, it will not help you.
      2. It does not matter that the police officer went back to the same spot and waited for another victim. Forget about that part of the story, it will not help you.

      Yes, you can demand a trial by declaration – so long as you do it on time. If it were me, I would go to the courthouse in person and demand the trial by declaration in person at the court clerk’s office. They have the “Request for Trial By Declaration Form” from the California Judicial Council there for you. You should expect to have to post bail with your request.

      If you lose the trial by declaration, you can demand a new court trial and try again.

      You need evidence though. You cannot just say “It was confusing.” That is not a defense. Being confused is not a fact that will help you win a trial.

      What will help? Video of the scene from the same time of day showing your exact approach and point of view. If you have video, you might be able to convince a judge that your action was not a violation of the section you are alleged to have violated.

      How to get a video into a trial by declaration? Good question. I would attach it on a CD or DVD to my declaration – and in the declaration I would describe what the video shows, and why it is relevant to the trial.

      Good luck!

      Dont miss your deadline. Read your citation 3x, carefully. Look up the exact words of the statute you are accused of violating so you know what you are fighting against.

      • Mike says:

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the reply. The officer charged me with 21453 (c) vc red arrow. The ticket was issued on 1/9/14.


        • Mike says:

          BTW my ticket or court appearance is scheduled for April 4, 2014. I called the LA Superior Court House and listened to their recording about trial by declaration and it said that no videos are allowed into evidence unfortunately.

          • Mike,

            From a Defense Attorney’s point of view, it is illegal for them to limit your evidence. There is no law that prohibits a defendant from offering photographic or video evidence in a trial by declaration. I would include it anyway, and describe it in the declaration. As follows:

            Attached hereto as “Exhibit ‘A’” is a true and correct copy of a video I made of the scene of the alleged violation.
            I made the video listed in Exhibit A under the same conditions as those that existed at the time of the alleged violation. The video of the scene shows relevant evidence in this case. Specifically, it shows that ……….”

            Then if you lose the Trial By Declaration, demand a Trial De Novo and bring the video again. If you lose that, appeal all issues you can think of.

            Or just give up and pay. Ask for traffic school.

          • Mike says:

            Hi Chris,

            Do you think it is a good idea to hire the ticket clinic? I was told they know how to word things better in a TBD.

          • Mike,

            Excellent question. I do not know who those people are. But I can tel you this for sure: It is unlawful for a person without a law license to give other people legal advice, even in traffic court.

            Do not ever hire a person without a law license to give you legal advice or to tell you how to handle a court case. There is a reason why they do not have a license to practice law.

            Unless…. unless.. you are one of those people who will drive down to mexico to get new dental implants from an unlicensed dentist because you think it is cheaper than hiring a US licensed and insured dentist. (that is a real example! people do it!)

            So ask them if they are licensed to practice law. If they say no (or divert your attention), ask them: 1) “are you sitting in a cubicle?”; and 2) “are you illegally practicing law without a license?”

            How do they know what to write? Is it because they went to an accredited law school and passed the California Bar Exam? Is it because they have spent years handling similar cases in real court for real clients?

            Or is it because they are just copying and pasting things they stole from their last job as a law firm assistant before they got fired the last time?

            But then again, do you really need a license to grab a broken tooth with a pair of pliers and pull it out? You might just need a pair of pliers and a bottle of whiskey, not a license. Who knows.

            I have no opinion on the subject.

            Oh wait! Here is a great alternative question to ask these people to find out if they are practicing law without a license –

            Ask them this question:

            “If I lose the Trial By Declaration, will you schedule a Trial De Novo for me and appear in court and handle the live court trial for me while I go to work?”

            Only a licensed attorney can handle a live court trial after a Trial By Declaration for a client.

            Unlicensed fakers cannot appear in court for you. But they can take your money and copy chit someone else wrote, for someone else, onto free court forms for you.

  11. Kristin Biggs says:


    Hi Christopher,

    I received a traffic violation notice in the mail. VC 21453C “Failure to stop at Red Signal.”
    It was a notice that had photographic evidence that I committed that traffic violation, photographed by a traffic camera. I recall the day when it happened, and I was making a right turn on a yellow light, NOT a red light. My guess is that the traffic camera photographed my car, me & my license plate at the completion of the turn, (when the light had turned red.) If I attempted the turn while the light was still yellow, am I still in violation of the law? Also, none of the photos show evidence that I turned on a red light. Secondly, there was a white truck passing through the intersection at the precise time that I was making my right turn, and was also caught in the photos. That would indicate that he was driving through the intersection while the light was at least yellow, if not green. Does that also support my case for a non-guilty plea by Trial by declaration?

    My concern is that if I file a TBD and the court finds me guilty, my understanding is that I will not be allowed to take traffic school, and will have to pay the ticket & have that moving violation on my record.

    What is your advice for me?


    • Kristin Biggs says:


      Hi Christopher,
      Kristin here again. I should add to my previous post that there was a sign posted that says “no turn on red” and I was traveling NB to EB Canoga Ave. at Vanowen Street.


    • Kristin,

      If it is true, as you say, that “none of the photos show evidence that I turned on a red light” – you are totally innocent!

      If that were me, I’d have a trial by declaration and write only one sentence:

      “None of the photos show evidence that I turned on a red light. Thank you.”

      Why do you need me? I dont get it. If there is no evidence, there is no evidence. You should win a trial by declaration unless our justice system is corrupt. Or unless … … unless you have the common disease of Defendantosis, which leads me to ask this follow up question:

      Is there a video of the violation you are ignoring?

      What about the white truck? Not relevant to your alleged violation at all as you described it.

  12. Chris Huang says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am a victim of a recent police action coded as “pedestrian operation decoy”. Basically, police set up a trap by having under cover policemen walking across the street while motorist approached. When I drove near the trap, I saw a police check point and I think the pedestrian action was blended into the police action. Do you think if I will have chance winning TBD by saying “The pedestrian action was blended into the overwhelmed police action, and I slowed myself down to looked for a check point. ”
    Thank you.

    • Chris,

      That is not a good defense in my defense attorney opinion this morning.

      Your argument is the same as saying

      “I did not see the pedestrian, and even if I did, I did not believe it was a real pedestrian.”

      What would I try? I might say something like (if this is true):

      “This alleged violation is fundamentally unfair and a violation of the constitutional right to Due Process under the 5th and 14th Amendments because of the following facts:

      The police used an actor to portray a pedestrian. They gave the actor instructions on how to approach moving cars in a way that they (the police) thought should cause a driver to become aware and react to a dangerous situation. They intentionally sent an actor in front of my car to create a dangerous situation, at a time calculated to make it difficult for me to react and stop. This is trickery by the police, and should be found to be a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution on the grounds that it is Fundamentally Unfair!

      I ask for a ruling on that point.

      I also move to dismiss on the grounds that the government has not met its burden to prove I am guilty of this alleged offense. They have not overcome my constitutional right to be PRESUMED INNOCENT!

      I ask for a ruling on that point as well.

      As side from that, I am not guilty. At all times listed and relevant to the citation in evidence here, I was in fact complying with the law, making a good faith effort to comply with the law and I did have a good faith belief that I was in full compliance with the law.

      And aside from that,

      There is no competent evidence that there was a legitimate pedestrian there.

      And even if there was a pedestrian there, the police intentionally sent that pedestrian into harm’s way in a manner that made it impossible for me to react the way they wanted me to react.

      And even if it was possible for me to react to that alleged pedestrian, I did in fact comply with the law and the evidence shows that.

      I ask that you find me not guilty on that basis.”


      Maybe there is an idea in there that will help you.

      I wish you luck.

  13. Preet says:

    I got a citation – 21755 unsafe Passing on right shoulder. I got pulled over at Hesperian Blvd Junction. There was heavy traffic and one car in front of me was trying to merge into the Hayward line to our left (which was not moving at all) and I need to take 880 S exit on the right. So I waited for the guy to merge into the left lane and when he was away at a safe distance on my left and I just went sideways to go past him and I think may be at that time I briefly and partially went over the shoulder line on the right. After 5 minutes I got pulled over by a cop. It was not at all unsafe pass.

    Do you think I have any chance of making it through TBD. Also in case I loose TBD, m i going to still have traffic school option.

    • Preet,

      This is a great comment.

      Imagine your trial by declaration. The evidence is:

      1) a signed citation from the officer stating under penalty of perjury that he/she saw you make an illegal and unsafe passing maneuver;

      2) a signed statement from you saying it was safe.

      Who wins?

      That is the problem with a trial by declaration when the facts are disputed. Here, the officer is going to say he/she saw you commit the violation.

      A trial by declaration works best when: 1) the defendant is completely innocent; and 2) the facts are not truly disputable.

      For example, the officer claims you were doing 45 in a 25 mph. But he’s totally wrong about the speed limit, and you have proof that the speed limit in that exact location is actually 45, not 25. Bang! You win.

      Or, officer claims you had headphones in both ears and were therefore violating the cell phone while driving ban – but – but – it just so happens that you have photos and a doctor’s note to prove that you only have 1 ear.

  14. Rik says:

    Hello, I recently got a citation for violation 21651a, (crossing over divided hwy). I wanted to fight it by TBD. My defense is simply, Im heading West, I made a u-turn where no signs were posted “no U-turn”, or any double lines in a T Intersection.

    Now heres the thing… There is section before that T intersection that has double yellow lines that alot people make U-turns. Ive done it before. I simply stopped because of constant cops pulling people over. Didnt want to risk it anymore!

    Anyways, The officer that pulled me over was about 40ft down the street of the S-bound side of a main intersection right before those Double yellows and the T-Intersection. Basically way to far to see where i turned. I end up turning south bound (the street he was on). At the same time im making the U-turn people are doing the Illegal U-turn, turning south bound before me. Officer was in the middle of the road pointing at cars to pull over. i was the only sucker to pull over.

    Sounds confusing huh?… if any of this makes sense, do you think i have a chance at fighting with TBD? Thanks, any insight will help.

    • Rik,

      I’ve got good news! I just has lasik surgery yesterday and I can finally see what you all are talking about!

      Wait. Yes, I can actually see what you are talking about. Finally! And english too! Sweet.

      Cop was too far away? Not if he had my eye surgeon (Dr. Scott Hyver – same dude who did Terrell Owen’s eyes). If he had my new eyes, he not only saw you, but saw that “on button” on his new zoom enabled license plate scanner that CA is using to track and document millions of plate and location impressions on you.

      Seriously – my new vision is more than perfect. I actually saw a gopher underground this morning in the park before my dog smelled it.

      So I dont see the “unable to see me” defense working.

      How about the classic “Other People Do It All the Time” defense?

      Dont waste your time taking video of other people breaking the law, it wont help you.

      What else you got?


      The best possible defense is: “I was obeying the law at all times”.

      Here, you are having great difficulty saying that even to me, an anonymous Iphone screen.

      No, I dont see your defense working, even with my new eyes.

      But you can certainly fight it through a TBD and trial de novo if you wish. It is your right. Dont feel bad about it. Burn up some of those tax dollars the county takes from your beer money. You earned it first, after all.

      • Rik says:

        Hahahahahahahaha. Man thats funny…. Seriously.

        I wasnt trying to use the “Unable to see me” or “Other people do it all the time” routine, but I gotcha. I wish I had your new eyes because then I would of seen that coming… Anyways , thanks for making my day. I sure can buy a whole lotta beer though with that $300 fine.

  15. AB says:

    Christopher, My wife has a handicap placard because of an incurable gastro intestinal illness. Her Dr. wrote on the application for the placard , “… has to make emergency restroom stops as many as 10-20 times a day, with little to no warning and often times while driving”. She has to time her drive home hoping for light traffic. She was ticketed for making a right turn at a stop sign into a shopping center parking lot without coming to a complete stop. She needed to use the restroom while on her way home. Her contention is she had an emergency. In your “opinion”, does she have a defense? She wants to contest this by TBD. If she loses the TBD, would she still be able to opt for traffic school? (San Diego) Thanks in advance…AB

    • AB,

      Good question.

      This is the old “I did it, but….” defense.

      Forget about the placard. It has zero relevance to a traffic violation. Zero. That is for parking, not for driving.

      Aside from that, there is the question of “Is a medical emergency a defense to an alleged traffic violation?”

      The answer is yes, but in your wife’s case I dont see it working. You can try, but I dont see it working. (I am getting eye surgery next week . . .)

      Having to take a pee is not an emergency like having a heart attack. Think about it – if the public driving next to her has a choice, would they rather have her piss her pants in her own car, or make an unsafe and illegal maneuver to protect her clean car seat? I say let her pee her pants in her car and continue to drive safe or stop legally.

      But then again, I am not the judge. Maybe you can get a more sympathetic person to hear the case?

      Just as a side note – my wife actually has a pee in the car device for these sorts of emergencies.

      If you lose the TBD, the traffic school option is gone unless you demand a new trial, and then somehow talk the judge into granting you traffic school if you change your (wife’s) plea. It’s possible.

      • AB says:


        Thanks so much for the response. One thing I didn’t make too clear…her emergency bathroom stops is not to pee !!! :( The reason I brought up the placard is because her medical condition and wording …specifically detailing her 10-20 necessary stops is addressed on the app and signed by her doctor. But, I think I will opt for the bird in the hand vs the two in the bush…when the opportunity presents itself to opt for Traffic school…I think we’ll just pay it and do the traffic school thing…she’s eligible…I’m just a bit rusty on the traffic school situation vs insurance co. getting your info. Years ago, it pretty much meant ins companies couldn’t get info on your moving violation if you attended traffic school. Hopefully, it’s still the same. Here’s a chuckler…I am a recently retired police officer (Sergeant to be exact). It’s been several years since I wrote tickets…but believe me, I was a real softee. I went thru more written warnings vs actual citations than my whole squad combined. My wife could have mentioned me to the officer, but since retiring, I’ve instructed her not to…it’s not fair to put the officer on the spot to decide if he should give me/her a break simply because I used to be one of them…weird, but it’s me. Thanks so much for taking the time to address my situation Christopher.

  16. Jay says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Let’s say, hypothetically, the arraignment date on a citation is June 15. An extension is requested, and granted, and the new date is July 30. Would the deadline to request a Trial by Declaration be June 15 [the first arraignment date] or would the right to request a Trial by Declaration also be extended, to July 30?

    Thank you very much.

  17. Michael says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Given your “Beginning Tips For Winning a Trial By Declaration” what sort of “Evidence” could a person present to counter a speeding ticket with a Radar? You’re right, you cant just say the cop is lying, what kind of defense can there be to present aside from a written statement though? Basically it’s our word against the word of the officer, and you pointed out the we must have something to counter this evidence to win… but what kind of evidence would exist to counter a speeding ticket?

    Thanks in advance for the reply, your posts have been frank and enlightening, I really appreciate your perspective.

    • Michael,

      I think I wrote that about 10 years ago.

      Radar is actually rarely used nowadays. The fuzz have moved on too more advance “Lidar”, which is a laser beam.

      You should read my article (much more recent) on what evidence to expect in a speeding trial. Basically, the officer usually testifies that she saw a vehicle traveling in excess of the speed limit, and then confirmed that speed with a Lidar measurement.

      So a defendant has 2 problems: 1) testimony of what the officer saw; and 2) testimony of the machine that supposedly measures speed.

      Recently a retired officer sent me a crap load of things he claims to be proof of CHP officers falsifying the calibration records for their machines. This unverified source says the officers just fill out the forms before and after their shifts, without ever doing the calibration tests. This unverified source further asserts that the evidence of falsified calibration reports can be seen in the times listed, when compared with the officer’s actual punch in and punch out times, and the times they check out their vehicles.

      The bad news is that our team hasn’t sorted through it all, and we have not quite figured this one out yet. We’re on the trail, but the best I can say about this now is: If you fight a radar or lidar citation you need to subpoena the calibration records prior to your trial, also the officer’s check-in and check-out logs. Different agencies will have different names for these records, which makes it tough. Perhaps you might also consider getting prior calibration records of the unit that was used on your citation.

      What else?

      Oh yea, it helps if you can testify that you were in fact driving at or below the speed limit, safely, at the time.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Love your site and thank you for providing so much useful advice on here! I recently was ticketed in SF for cell phone violation. I was sitting in dead stop traffic (due to a Giants game) and was on the phone with my sister wearing a wired headset when another call came in. I looked down and was debating about picking up the call when a cop on motorcycle knocked on my window and told me to pull over. (He pulled over a few cars at the same time… guess he knew a lot of people play with their phones while sitting in dead stop traffic!) When he knocked and I rolled down my window, I pointed to my headset and said I’m wearing a headset. He said I was looking down and therefore I was distracted. He then told me but he’ll write me a ticket for not wearing a headset. I’ve never gotten a ticket before so I thought maybe he was doing me a favor, that maybe a cell phone violation is better than a “distracted” violation. However, upon doing some Internet research, I could not find any vehicle code that corresponds to a “distracted” violation. I know the cell phone ticket carries no point but I was absolutely innocent! I was wearing a headset and I was NOT distracted. According to the DMV website, “This law does not prohibit reading, selecting or entering a phone number, or name in an electronic wireless device for the purpose of making or receiving a phone call.” I would like to contest this ticket with Trial By Declaration because it was factually false but not sure how I could prove that I was wearing a headset. My friends say that the cop will likely just respond and claim that I wasn’t wearing a headset and I would lose but aren’t cops supposed to be truthful under oath? What would be my best approach here?

    Thanks so much for your help and insights!

  19. JB says:

    I tried this defense and the traffic court commissioner said it was clever (or creative, I can’t recall) but still found me guilty. The appeals panel seemed to agree that my logic was correct but it would make the cop’s job too difficult b/c as soon as he attempted a pace over the speed limit he would have to turn on the light and I would slow down, as if that is a valid excuse. Shoot, nearly everyone could have an easier job if the laws didn’t apply. The argument is this, cops have to follow the traffic laws just like us (CVC 21055 and 21056). Allowing pacing evidence is unconstitutional, equal protection, all that. Think about it, he is not abiding by the exemption laws by turning on his lighted red lamp (and siren when necessary) during the entire pace until he hits the lights to pull you over. That makes him subject to the same fines and punishments as will be administered to the defendants since he testified in court under penalty of perjury that he drove those speeds to pace you. I also tried the fruit of the poisonous tree argument, since the evidence was gathered illegally. Another issue with pacing is that the cops merely speed illegally through the freeway w/o having a suspect in their sights. They almost always happen upon a speeder from behind. The city attorney tried to claim I was a suspected violator of the law, but even still he needs to turn on the light for exemption.
    Your thoughts? Have you tried this argument too?
    I’ll give it a shot on my next ticket. I’ll take it to the real appeals court, not the phony appellate division of the superior court. You’ll see my name on a relevant case law some day.

  20. Questionable1 says:

    Sign says no turn on red. I Stop and Turn. I never saw the sign because it was in an obscure location, not near the signal itself. Can the location of a sign being to far from the signal I am focusing on be used as a defense in any case? Doesn’t guilt imply I purposely disregarded the sign, Rather than not seeing it?

    • Questionable1,

      If it’s an unfair sign, it is an unfair sign. Take a picture of it, demand a trial, and use the picture to try and win your case.

      Pleading guilty doesnt carry any implication with it other than you admit you violated the law. It’s probably a “negligent driver point” offense for Department of Motor Vehicle Records. If you dont like the sound of “guilty” you can use “no contest”, but it is the same thing. DMV doesnt care which you choose.

      Extra tip: those “no turn on red” signs are usually there because it is unsafe to make such a turn when the opposing light is green. To combat this problem, you also want to show at trial that your turn was safe.

  21. JOSE RAYA says:


  22. Amir says:

    Hi Christopher,
    I got a CVC 21651 (a), driving across dividing section on freeway prohibited, however I was turning left over a single set of double yellow lines and into a parking lot. I recently flagged down an office and he said that the turn is legal when turning into a parking lot or your residence. Any insight would be appreciated, I am planning on TBD.

  23. Jay says:

    Hi, can I use a TBD to dismiss a stop sign ticket, where there is a technical error on the ticket. I slammed on the breaks at the stop sign. Officer did not think it was a full stop (CVC22450). Here, the officer writes the wrong direction of travel S to N. (uphill) whereas I was going downhill. Do I need to supply proof that I was going downhill. Officer was hidden behind bushes not seen from downhill but fully in view from uphill. Also the location of violation is not technically correct writing “MerryLand xxxx”( not legible, like VA0S), instead of “Merryland Park”. And just because I am not fully clear , will the request traffic school at the end of TBD rejected if ticket is not dismissed?

    • Jay,

      The fact that you were going N or S instead of S or N is not relevant to the question of whether or not you stopped in time.

      If you lose a Trial by Declaration, you will probably lose any traffic school option you had, if any.

  24. shaundra says:

    i got two tickets a month and a half ago in less then 5 minutes from two different cops and the cops were sitting less then a half a mile apart from eachother. anyways doing traffic school for my first one which was a speeding but however the second ticket i got was for “running a stop sign” which i did not. I stopped for a safe amount of time for the time of day there was no one around it was 7 AM i made it to MY driveway and was about to get out of my car when i noticed the cop was right behind me (stop sign is about 50 yards from my house) and he still wrote me a ticket even though i told him a had literally just got one and i had done nothing wrong. any tips to fight a “running a stop sign” ticket even though i had stopped?

    • Shaundra,

      Bad luck!

      Sadly, there is no law that prohibits the police form giving you 2 different ticket in 5 minutes.

      Any tips to fight a “running a stop sign” ticket even though i had stopped? Yes. Show up to court on time. Plead not guilty, demand a trial. Once in trial, and after the officer testified that he/she saw you run the stop sign, tell the judge you did in fact stop. Try to get the judge to believe you and not the police officer.

      Maybe, if you have a lot of energy and tolerance for frustration, subpeona the officer’s dashcam video (if any) from the incident.

      • shaundra says:

        how would i go about asking for the officers dash cam video (if there is one) i have already thought about it but i have no idea where to start and how to go about doing it. ive already asked for an extension but im planning on sending in my bail money along with a request for a TBD and i plan on sending pictures of the intersection the same time of day on the same day with my argument.

  25. Moe says:

    Hi Christopher, I got a speeding ticket with no Radar. Officer was parked on the side of the highway and claims that I was driving over 80mph on a 65mph highway. He did not mention or provide a radar reading nor did he paced with me to estimate my speed. His claim was solely based on the visual estimation for a second that I passed by him. I believe I was driving under 70 mph. Do I have a chance to fight my ticket by TBD ? If I do, how should I go about it ?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Moe,

      Sounds like the evidence is weak. A Trial By Declaration is a good way to start. Expect to need a Court Trial if you are committed to fighting.

      Warning: even though the officer did not tell you he measured your speed with a LIDAR device – you might be surprised to find out at trial that he/she testifies to a LIDAR or Radar measurement. If that happens, you have to be ready.

  26. Mickey says:

    I was cited for 21658(a)VC – unsafe lane change on freeway 22 in OC. I was changing 3 lanes to make the exit. It was at 6.30PM on a Saturday. Traffic was light, I did stay very briefly in each lane before moving to the next lane. I did not cause any cars to brake and of course there is no accident.
    Wonder if you can give me some advice to fight for this ticket. My goals are (in order of priority) to change the ticket to no-point moving violation and to reduce the fine. Thanks in advance.

    • Douglas says:

      Hi Christopher,

      On January 2, 2013, at 8 PM on a Wednesday evening, I got a ticket from the CHP for an unsafe lane change. The only witness is the CHP in front of whom I changed lanes. I was in the #3 lane of the I-10 freeway and he was in the #2 lane. Traffic was light. I was going 60 MPH (which he acknowledged), turned on my left signal, looked in my mirrors, over my shoulder, it seemed safe to me and I changed the lane. I admit that I did see a car coming in that lane but he was at least 150 feet back when I first looked. He was still 100 feet back when I began to change the lane. By the time I finished the lane change, I looked in my mirror and that car was much closer, now about 35 feet behind me and CLOSING fast, then coming within ten feet of my bumper and turning on these flashing red lights. (Then I knew it was a law enforcement vehicle.) It seemed that he had not been attentive to my lane change (distracted?) and closed the “safe distance” which had been there after the fact, thus creating the impression that I had made an unsafe lane change. I would hate to think he had done this intentionally, and I won’t bring that up in the TBD or court.

      The officer stated three peculiar things to me while issuing the ticket. He asked me, “What speed do you think I was going?” (his own speed) I said, “In retrospect, I believe you were going about 67 to 71. He said, “No, I was going 62, because I looked at my speedometer.” (really?) I said, “You closed on me at a very fast rate of speed. How could you be going 62 and close like that?” He just shrugged. Seemed he was trying to get a straight story for himself. After I said that I had used my signal and mirrors, he said, “Signaling is only a courtesy to other drivers.” Implication? He ignored my signal. And the third thing that was peculiar was when he said, “Traffic right now is light. This means you ought to allow extra room between vehicles when changing lanes.” That was odd because it suggests that if I made that same lane change at the same speed in heavier traffic, he would find it to be safe and legal.

      Chris, thirty-one months ago, I got a very bogus ticket from the CHP where I lost the TBD and decided not to go to court or traffic school. Therefore, it would be very expensive to me (insurance and otherwise) to get another point.

      • Douglas,

        I hear you – but whatever the officer said after he stopped you is not relevant to the question of whether or not your lane change was safe. It does not matter what the officer said to you after you stopped. That is not evidence of anything.

        What is evidence? The officer’s testimony that he saw you make an unsafe lane change.

        To win this case, you just have to convince the judge it was a safe lane change. You didnt crash did you? That seems like a good fact.

        And sadly, it’s also true that your prior ticket is not relevant to anything. Except sentencing, where it can be used to increase your fine if you are ultimately found guilty.

        Traffic School may be a helpful option for you this time. If you can get a traffic school referral, you can prevent insurance companies from seeing the violation.

        • K says:

          As of June 2011, Traffic school does not remove the violation from the DMV record anymore, according to the San Diego Superior Court disclaimer. What good is paying extra fees to go to traffic school when they are going to keep it on your record anyway? Thanks for your help.

  27. Grey says:

    Hi Chris,

    I see your comments are a lot of help to others and hope it will be the same for me.
    I received a ticket on hwy101 south for speeding while passing through Marina, CA. I was traveling with a passenger and I notice an officer behind me so I merge over to the slow lane (there are only two lanes) so that he may pass. The officer passes me and I merge back into the fast lane to continue down the road within the proper speed limit. With the highway patrol in front of me he. Starts the siren and pulls over the car in front of me but also points his hand outside his vehicle to pull me over as well. I park to the right side of the road in front of the car he just pulled over. He says i was passing up people at 85mph in a 65 zone. He asks if I was driving with the vehicle he just cited, and I reply I do not know them at all.

    Do I have a chance of winning a TBD if I follow with these details that I was obviously not speeding because the officer had immediately passed me first within the speed limit before pulling me over ,and also that his judgment was off presuming that I was in cohorts with the other vehicle? I also took a rear view picture of the car that got pulled over with me and the highway patrolmen behind them to prove my facts. How should I go about this? Hope to hear back from you soon, thanks!

    • Grey,

      your defense does not make any sense.

      “I was obviously not speeding because the officer immediately passed me first within the speed limit before pulling me over . . . ” ??????

      WTF?, over. I dont get it. Logically – it is non sequitur. Keep working on it.

      And by the way, almost no one wins a trial by declaration. But it is a good start on the way to a real court trial.

      One last piece of advice: Do Not Hire a person without a law license to help you with a traffic ticket problem. There is a reason why those traffic ticket “service” people dont have a law license.

  28. Rick Reisman says:

    I received a ticket for a violation of CA VC 27001 (A) or 27001 (B). The note on the ticket is unclear which VC is cited. This is for unnecessary use of my horn. The circumstances are: I was stopped at a light Eastbound on Ventura Blvd at Sepulveda. The light turned green and the car in front of me did not move. I tapped my horn and car in front released its brakes and crept forward, veering slightly across a solid white line denoting a Right Turn only lane. Cars behind me began to honk loudly. I tapped by horn again and car continued to creep forward again. It then showed a right turn signal and brake lights.

    This action created a hazard for the safe operation of my car. My reasoning is that the car in front of me was, by virtue of an illegal lane change (CA VC 21658(a)) exposed both our cars to a significant chance of collision by a car traveling in the empty right turn only lane to our right. I began a more sustained honking and waving of my hands to try to gain the driver’s attention.

    As it turned out the driver in front of me was reacting to hand signal commands from an LAPD officer who was stepping into traffic to stop vehicles for violations. At no time during this encounter was I able to see the officer in front of the car in front.

    Does this defense stand a chance?

    • Rick,

      Hellz yea.

      The citation is unconstitutionally vague. You cannot defend yourself because you did not have constitutionally adequate notice of the charges against you. It’s the government’s burden to prove you violated the law. Although it may have appeared to the officer that you unnecessarily honked from his point of view – it’s your point of view that matters. The officer was not looking through your eyes. That statute as applied to you in this situation is unconstitutionally vague because it does not take into account use of the horn safely when it appears to an outsider that it was useless. It does not matter what the officer saw. It matters what you saw and what you felt and what you feared at the time with the information in your CPU (brain) at that exact moment. and the rule should be to favor the use of a horn – not to discourage it when in doubt. When in doubt, SHOUT!. “Officer, did you see that burrowing owl that might have swooped in front of my windshied at the moment that other car appeared in my vision with a mouse in its grille?”.

      “Grille? Whose Grille? What mouse?”

      “Mighty mouse, your honor. It does not matter, your honor, the point is I had to honk at that moment.”

      And besides that. . . . there is no competent evidence that the sound came from your car, is there?

      Defendant is presumed innocent by law.

  29. Ys says:


    I got cited for making a right on a red light when there is no ‘no right on red sign’ on the street intersection. It was a camera citation so no officer was involved. The video clip shows me slowing down to ALMOST a stop and making the left since there is NO traffic coming on to the road I am making a left on. Futhermore the vehicles on the intersecting lane are making a left so there CAN be no traffic coming on to the lane I am making a right on because someone would have to run a red to do that. Lastly, video shows the car behind me does exactly what I did.

    What chances do I have of getting success via trial be declaration?

    thank you in advance.

  30. Michael says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I just got a ticket last night! This ticket was for not stopping at a stop sign. I have the habit of stopping early and then moving in to make sure there’s no car and stopping once more before going (which is where you probably spotted me from a block down). It was around 11pm (dark) so I know for a fact I stopped again just to make sure, since some people sometime drive w/o their lights on.

    I was making a right during this time and the officer was at least a block down to my right during that time and maybe further because I spotted the police after I was half way down that main street to the next block after making that right and when i stopped at the traffic light, he busted a uturn and posted right behind my car. He waited until I made a left to get on that next block street and turned on the lights. When I first saw the police car he was about 2 cars away on the other side of the street and from one block to the next, its about a good 300ft, and I honestly thought he pulled me over because I was playing loud music with my windows down, but it really wasn’t that loud, i even turned it down cuz I was scared.

    When he went up to me, he asked “Did you know there was a stop sign right there?” rather than saying no or yes, I said, “I was looking for my friends house” and he responded, “That’s why” or “thats probably why” basically assuming that I didn’t know the area and thats when he went on saying where i’m coming from and I said I come from stockton, and I think that’s when he started giving me a hard time asking again where im’ from and if I’m from this address after seeing my license. asking where I’m going again, I said my friends house, he said where i’m, I said down this street.

    The reason why I didn’t say yes or no was because I was nervous for some reason, I can say for a fact that you can be innocent and did nothing wrong but still get nervous when someone is questioning you. The fact that he said “that’s why” he assumed since I”m not from the area, I don’t know the street, which I do because I’ve been in that area the night before that and its downtown, each street has a stop sign. And that street that I was on before making that right, had at least 5 stop sign at each intersection which I stopped at each point meaning I had no reason not stopping at that mean street. And I know for a fact that I stopped meaning on speedometer = 0 is my definition of stopping and and stopped early just making sure I was on the right street and I pulled out a little knowing the street I was going on was a main street just to see if there’s a car coming from the left and I stopped again and that’s probably what he said from the next block down.

    I think it’s an unfair judgment on his part the fact that he was all the way down another block so I didn’t see me stopping for the first time and assumed that since I wasn’t from that neighborhood, it was my fault and since stockton has a bad reputation as it is, he probably used that again me. I’m not a bad person, my friends even laughed at my story saying I drive like a grandma, mainly cuz I think tickets are overpriced and its something I don’t want to ever pay for, so I obey the law very well.

    I’m really bad at this but after kind of cooling down to think when the police was in his car running my information, I told him I did stop and he didn’t care too much about it, he just said “This is “JUST” a citation” in my head I was thinking a warning? but found out its an actually ticket, and I don’t know, its just something that is kind of bothering me right now. Even paying over $50 is something that I can’t afford to do and I’m not willing to pay something I know its unfair on my part.

    So unfair judgement, assuming I wasn’t from the area and basically giving me a ticket because I didn’t answer Yes/No because I was kind of nervous, and yes you can be nervous, its naturally, I come from a good family out in the bay area and only moved into stockton like 5 years ago and haven’t been in trouble so yah, what do you think?

    • Michael says:

      I also want to add that I see it all the time, people stopping passed the stop sign and into the crosswalk and I hate that, so I have the habit to stopping a little too early and then merge out slowly onto the street and stopping again before getting into that street. Regardless, he questioned me as if I didn’t stop at all, which I know for a fact I did. And for him to be at that angle, to judge like that is just unfair, if he was just posted there and saw everything, he would of known, but he was driving himself during that moment, doesn’t matter. I don’t think it matters if he made a left, right or was further down on that main street, regardless he wasn’t nearby me to make that call.


      • Michael says:

        One last thing, I want to know what the cost is on average for stop sign and will I get a point if i lose the case? is there traffic school for this? Can I do this in writing or do I have to appear in court? I don’t mind going to court, it just that it’s an hour + drive away, which I don’t mind doing, if I have to.

  31. John says:

    Hi Chris,

    I got VC21453 (a) running an red light from red light camera in city of Commerce. However I was making an right turn from westbound(WB) traffic into Northbound(NB). There was NO signing stating that no turning on red. The Only sign there was “Right lane must turn right” and “No stopping anytime” There was no traffic coming into NB because Southbound(SB) had an green arrow for cars to move Eastbound(EB). What are my chances with an TBD. I believed I was safe enough to proceed with my right turn when I saw the intersection blocked off with an row of cars making lefts. Thank you

    What do you think my chancing of winning and my best bet

    Will an TBD

    • DortLaw says:


      Finally someone with a good question and the important facts.So you got a 21453(a) problem in the City of “Commerce Used to be Here”?

      Well, judging from the fact that in this comment you were unable to say “I fully stopped and was in full compliance with the law” – I’d say your chances of winning a TBD are exactly zero.

  32. Marco says:

    I recieved a ticked for passing a divided highway VC 21651(a), It was during the morning rush and its a very busy highway. Traffic was terrible and the chp officer had 4 cars pulled over(creating more traffic) so I crossed a gore point in order to get to the lane that was merging onto the freeway I needed to get to. The cop pulled me over and wasn’t really clear in telling me what I did wrong. At the time he had several other cars pulled over, and I had no idea I was breaking the law Do you think a TBD would work for me?

    • ric says:

      chris, no answer? very interested in getting your thoughts on this. i had a similar situation like marco.

      • Ric,

        Here are my thoughts on Marco’s comment:

        Not knowing you are violating the law is not a defense. The officer is not required to tell you what you did wrong in any way other than listing the violation on the citation. I dont really see a ‘not guilty’ in there.

        A much better defense (if true) is: I was fully complying with the law at all times. I am innocent. And you got the wrong person.

  33. Lisa says:

    I filed a TBD on a red light camera (camera in place and maintained by a company the city is trying to enter into a contract with) ticket. I am pleading ‘not guilty’. I paid one of the traffic ticket fighting services to prepare the written portion (14 pages). I lost. I want to file a Trial de Novo.

    Basis for the plea of not guilty is that the video evidence presented is inadmissable and still photos of my car don’t prove that I did NOT stop:

    Officer wasn’t actually present and so s/he can’t testiy the picture accurately portrayed scene, there is no way to confirm that the private camera company’s data and maintenance logs officer may have presented is accurate since the officer is just acting as an intermediary between the company and the court vs being an expert in xyz’s system testifying, and the city is actually not even authorized to enter into a contract with the company running the system – Oakland has to hold a public hearing before authorizing entry into such a contract …and yes, I do have the code# and detail that says that – and the public hearing is set for July 27th for using this camera system. I was ticketed in early June so the video evidence being presented is inadmissable). The still photos only show the car and me driving with the car in different positions – it doesn’t really prove whether I stopped or not.

    I went to the court to ask for a court date and to request a copy of the testimony of the officer who cited me. Clerk: “…You want what?…” and “…I’ve never heard of such a thing…” And as for asking for a court date – I asked for night court (they hold it once a month according to the web site). Clerk: “..we don’t do night court any more…” Me: “…but it says it right here on your site…” Clerk: “…I don’t know about that but we don’t do night court…”. She turned around and got into a conversation with her friend for about 5 min. and so I left and tried to find a place to get info. I was told the info person was the guy running the xray machine. He knew nothing either.

    Should I make my request by certified and registered mail instead? And how do I get a copy of whatever the officer presented for their side of the story in the original trial – write a letter asking for it and mail it to the court or is there a form and a fee and some particular whole shtick I have to do for this? Should I bother? Should I actually hire an attorney for this and would it be cost effective? And of course, lastly – do you think this has any chance at all?

    This ticket is well over $500. I had a perfect record before. The TBD finding did permit me traffic school to dismiss. I live entirely on social security so this is almost 1/2 of my entire month’s income.

    Thank you for your take on this.

    • DortLaw says:


      So you hired a non attorney who never went to law school or passed a bar exam to help you with a court case and you lost? No way! How shocking!

      Anyway . . .I’ll move on to paragraph 2.

      Well – a trial by declaration is a good way to start a fight against an unfair traffic violation. But it is not the only or best way. It is really just a good start. To fully defend against an unfair violation you have to start with the TBD, and then be ready for a real court trial. TBD is just step 1.

      There probably was no officer testimony or input at all for your TBD.

      My advice? My free advice? If you want to fight the violation further – schedule a court trial for whenever the court wants you to go, and show up on time. Do your best to convince the judge you did not violate the law. And/or that the images are not admissible.

      Or just pay and do traffic school. They will give you a fine payment plan. For an extra charge that is.

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  34. FancyNancy says:

    Goodmorning Christopher
    I received a speeding ticket (79MPH in a 65MPH zone) on California HWY 99. The officer said she “paced” me for 1/2 a mile. I was in the far left lane, going with the flow of traffic. The basic speed law 22350 states no person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent……

    It was a clear sunny day and I do not believe I was going over the speed limit. I have an excellent driving history. The only ticket I have was a speeding ticket 25+ years ago. I am a 47 year old lady who was very courteous to the officer. Do you think I have any chance of winning a Trial by Declaration? Do you think I could win a Court Trial? Thanks for your help and advice.

  35. Glenn says:

    Hi Chris,
    I have the arraignment for my traffic ticket next week. The reason I was given the ticket was that I turned on a NO TURN ON RED SIGNAL. I had the sun right behind my back which made the red light appear yellow(the cop showed me the video and the light looked completely yellow in the video just as I saw it).
    Would it work for me to show up at the arraignment and ask for a trial by written declaration and take it from there? I will be working with the sheriff’s office to obtain a video of the incident. My hope at this point is :

    1. The officer does not respond to the TBD
    2. The judge sees the video where the red light shows as yellow and reduces my fine.

    thanks in advance for your inputs.

  36. Mou says:

    I have a question: if I write the Trial By Declaration, will the police read my writing first and make response?

  37. Elva says:

    Thank you for this great website!
    I recently received a no turn on red ticket from Cerritos, CA. Honestly, I do NOT even realized it says no turn on red as I am so used to just stopping on red. I watched the video and I did stop and looked on both sides and make sure there were no cars. I was wondering what is the best explanation for me to write a TBD and win the case. The fine was $480.

    Thank you so much!

    • DortLaw says:


      Don’t take this personally – but I have tell you this is sort of a barf question.

      I say that because you are GUILTY! Not seeing the sign is not a defense. When you say “I did not see the road sign” or “I did not realize it was illegal” what you are really saying is “I was not paying attention to the safety rules of the road and I think that is a good defense.”

      Wrong. Guilty. Don’t waste your time if there was a sign.

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      • Elva says:

        Thanks for your information, sorry I was mistaken by the ticket. I looked at the ticket and the video, its not a no right turn on red, i think what they are saying is I did not stop and look on red. The video shows that when I turn right, its yellow light turning to red light… I don’t know whether I should just pay for fine or can I request on reducing the fine in my writing?

        thanks for your help!!

  38. ohm nicole says:

    I was just sited for speeding in Los Angeles. The officer wrote on the ticket that I was going 60 mph on a 40 mph street. The actuality of it is the street has a speed limit of 45, and there is no way I was going 60. He said I was about a football field away when I asked where on the street I was going that fast. He also said I should feel free to contest this ticket. Can I reduce my fine and still go to traffic school without the point on my record?

    • Ohn,

      If you are innocent, demand a trial. Start with a trial by declaration, expect to have to continue on to a court trial.

      Mark the GPS coordinates of the location of the alleged violation exactly with your Iphone with Motion XGPS. Then, turn on the camera. With video. Turn it sideways. Walk from those exact GPS coordinates to the exact spot where the speed limit is set for that section of road. Narrate the video. Have a friend narrate the video. Have the Dali Lama narrate the video. Get a signed declaration from the narrator about what he or she saw (in this life).

      Create a declaration for yourself that says “attached is a true and correct copy of the video I took of the exact location of GPS coordinates of the alleged violation of : INSERT GPS COORDINATES AND PRINT OUT OF MOTION X GPD TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP : with a true and correct copy of the map of the location and an image of the sign that sets the speed limit and a signed declaration from my friend gina, His Holiness the Dali Lama.

      Then, write: “The officer was wrong. He made a crucial error on a material point – the limit of the law. He was wrong. He did not do his job correct in this incident. It is obvious from the video and images and Dali Lama declaration that he was flat out wrong about what was legal in that point of space and time were I passed through his limited, distracted, imperfect human, government employee vision.

      And, in the alternative, I am innocent. I was not traveling at the speed he says I was traveling at, and there is no independent, competent, admissible, objective evidence of my speed at the point in time and space of the alleged violation. (x,y and z axis).

      And in the alternative, the givernment cannot not meet its burden on these facts, on this evidence, to overcome the presumption of innocence that exists here in this state, in this county, in this court, on this point in space and time, but not in China.

      I ask the court to rule in my favor on that basis.

      And I ask for a factual finding of factual innocence.

      Then, if true . .. .

      And Judge I ask for a note for my doctor. From you. On this post it. I missed my cardiogram this morning to be here, because I am innocent. And they have a $75 no show fee and my credit card number. I cannot afford that fee, and my insurance may not cover it. And if not, I cannot go back there.

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      • Can you reduce your fine and go to traffic school?

        Possibly. Show up in court for an arraignment on or before the date on the citation by your signature. Ask the court to “suspend” your fines and allow you to go to traffic school (if you plead guilty). Maybe they will say YES.

        But if you are factually innocent . . . . and you have a lot of time. . . . and a high tolerance for whatever chemicals are in that air by the Airport courthouse, Or the LA Metro Courthouse, make them prove it up. What have you got to lose?

        Sorry about the shameless insertion of useless key words. But that is how we float this soap box.

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  39. Jennifer says:


    I need an honest opinion on whether I have a fighting chance of winning a TBD or if I would be better off going to a court trial in person. I was being harassed by the same cop in the neighborhood my boyfriend lives in. Every time said cop would see me coming or leaving my partner’s house, he would accuse me of drug dealing or “hooking” as he would call it. (I have no criminal record whatsoever, not even traffic violations which is why accusations like this were so offensive and frustrating to me.) I told my dad what was going on, who just so happens to be a retired Commander of the same department this officer works for, and he (my dad) called the department to speak to the commander of said officer’s division. on April 9, 2012, I had just picked up my boyfriend, we were sitting at a red light waiting to turn right when the same cop was turning onto the street I was turning off of. he immediately recognized me and stopped his vehicle. I wasn’t doing anything wrong so when the light turned green I completed making the right turn when the officer turned his lights on & pulled me over. Mind you, both my hands were on TOP of my steering wheel when he recognized me. I immediately asked him why he was pulling me over and the officer claimed he saw me texting with a black & gray cell phone in my left hand. I told him there was no way he saw me with my cell phone, 1. my phone was in my purse which was sitting in the backseat. 2. my phone case has neon pink & yellow stripes all over it, no way you could mistake it to be black & gray. when I grabbed my purse to get my license out, I showed the officer what my phone looked like and that it was in my purse. He said he didn’t care and was going to ticket me anyways. I have cell phone records to show the last text message sent from my phone was at 11:26 a.m. when I was parked and waiting for my boyfriend to come out of his house. I also printed out records from phone calls and when I last used internet on my cell phone as well. The ticket was issued at 11:36 a.m., there was no activity from my phone in that time frame. The officer also wrote on the ticket that I was going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone when he claimed to have seen me texting & driving. My main question is do I at all have a chance of winning this trial by TBD by submitting a statement along with my cell phone records and witness’ statement or should I go ahead and make a court trial if I even have a fighting chance at all?

    Thanks in advance!

  40. Nile says:

    Hi -

    I was cited for failing to turn right (on a right-turn only intersection). I challenged the citation with a TBD and represented in the TBD that the “right-turn only” sign was obstructed by thick bushes and the sign on the ground street was obstructed by a cargo truck – therefore I did not have notice. But I was found “guilty” anyway. I even sent in photos of the street/intersection. I just sent off my request for a new trial (de novo), but I would like to attend traffic school instead. What is the best way I can maximize my chance of getting traffic school at this point? (since I have already lost my TBD). Thank you.

    PS – I have a clean record. No points on my record for at least 10 years+

    • Nile says:

      BTW – this is in Los Angeles Superior (traffic) court.


    • Nile,

      Did you argue that the lane lines painted on the pavement did not identify the lane restriction correctly? There’s another issue for you if it is true. Solid line? Dotted line?

      2 signs? Clearly not enough.

      Once you get a date for your trial de novo, show up early, tell the bailiff and/or judge (before your court trial starts) that you want to change your plea to guilty if they will refer you to traffic school.

      If you have a live court trial and lose, then ask for traffic school, you will probably be denied.

      • Nile says:

        Hi Mr. Dort -

        No, I stated that the signs were obstructed by extended bushes and a large cargo truck. I sent in my Trial De Novo request and am awaiting to get a new date. Thanks for you advice on this.

        PS – can I call ahead of time and ask for traffic school or would that be futile attempt?

        • Nile,

          This is actually a great question.

          OK. Assuming it were my case. And Assuming that I wanted to go to traffic school, and that I probably would lose the trial, and that the traffic school would in fact save me money in the long run… I would:

          Request a Trial De Novo. Show up on time for the trial. As soon as I arrived, I would check in with the courtroom bailiff. When I checked in, I would tell the bailiff I have a trial scheduled, but probably want to just change my plea (to guilty) to prevent a waste of court time.

          That will trigger the bailiff to put your case at the top of the list if she has a mind to do so – because – because – and here is the 15 years of experience part – because the bailiff want to be able to tell her friend the CHP officer that he can leave early, and still get paid! Cha Ching a ding! Get otta here dude!

          Then, if you are lucky, the cop bails. The judge calls your case. You tell the judge the situation. You want traffic school. Dont want to waste court time. Told cop to leave. Dont know what to do.

          Then – by force of nature and the FORCE itself – you may get exactly what you want. Or maybe even better than you thought.

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  41. Lisa Ramirez says:


    I got a traffic camera ticket for right turn on red. I watched the video (video view shows only the back of the car – so it is hard to tell) and it clearly shows me slowing down with red brake light. I don’t recall if I turned since the intersection was completely clear… The video appeared to go very fast and I thought it was manipulated. Sure enough, the video site says the following disclaimer below — how am I supposed to decide whether to contest or just pay close the case when I don’t really know what the real evidence is? So funny they claim ‘…the format has been modified to provide a higher level of security…

    “The video you are viewing on this website is provided as a courtesy and convenience to you. The video is in no way purported to be a true and correct copy of evidence that will be presented in court. The format has been modified to provide a higher level of security and as a result may display slightly different than the original captured video. If you do want to view the original video please contact the citing agency located on your notice and follow the instructions for viewing the evidence from their location. “

  42. Franchesca P. says:


    I got a ticket for running a red light and was fined $480. I was wondering if I should bother filing a TBD or if it’s plausible have the fine reduced?

    There was construction going on along middle of the road I was on (so the road perpendicular to mine was completely blocked and can only make a right turn), and the construction worker signaled for me to keep going even though I was on a red light. This happened multiple times. So when I was on the same intersection the next day and there was a red light, I stopped completely. But remembering what the construction worker did, I got confused and thought as long as there was no car on the perpendicular road turning right, I can just go. So I did & got the ticket.

    I’d like to try requesting TBD, but is it a waste of time?

    Thank you.

    • steve says:

      Similar situation happened to me. Too bad you didn’t receive a reply. Does the fact that you didn’t receive a reply mean you have a chance?

  43. Ian Bowers says:


    Your advice in the blog is very helpful. I recently received an unsafe lane change ticket VC21658(A) and plan to plead not guilty in TBD. Although I’m confident of my innocence I would like advice as to if its worth fighting this ticket.

    I received the ticket driving on hwy 1 south, south of moss landing where the hwy intersects with hwy 156 and becomes 3 lanes from 2 lanes. As the highways merged I was in the fast lane and merged in front of another vehicle that was driving on 156. Because this vehicle was clearly going faster than me I indicated and got into the slow lane so he could pass as he came up and tailgated me. Once I was in the slow lane and decreased speed the other vehicle slowed down as well, so I was now in the slow lane driving parallel to this other car in the fast lane about 4 car lengths behind me. I kept going like this for a couple hundred yards, and as I came up on a slow moving semi truck in front of me in the slow lane I looked over my shoulder and indicated properly about 4 car lengths still in front of this other car back into the fast lane. A few hundred yards after this a motorcycle cop pulled me over.
    He either saw me do this lane change from far away behind me or a cop that already was on the side of the road pulling someone else over saw it, and radioed the motorcycle cop. Anyways after I got pulled over it was obvious the cops were cracking down on this part of the highway, there were two other people in front of me that were also being pulled over. He ticketed me for the lane change going back into the fast lane claiming i cut off this other car and possibly saw the other cars brake lights go on, but I am convinced I took all the precautions to make a safe lane change using my mirrors, indicating, and looking behind me.

  44. Spener says:

    Hi Christopher,
    Thanks for the information you have provided on the website. I just recently lost a TBD for cvc 21461(a) , right lane must turn. I am so surprised about the speed of the Compton Court. I submitted my TBD on 2/10/2012 and court made the decision on 02/15/2012.

    On my TBD, I stated that the “Right Lane Must Turn(R3-7)” is too close to the intersection. According to the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (California MUTCD) for Streets and Highways January 21, 2012 Edition (MUTCD) Section 2B.20-15 and 16, P157, it states

    The R3-7 sign should be erected on the appropriate side of the road, 150 to 300 feet in advance of the turn. “

    There is only a distance of 100 feet or less, from the placement of Right Lane Must Turn(R3-7) to the intersection. It definitely does not meet the California MUTCD guide which indicates that there should be at least 150 ft. in distance.

    I used the google map to measure the distance.

    Here is my questions,

    1, Is there any way, I can request for the traffic school without requesting the Trail De Novo?
    2. If I request the Trail De Novo, it mean a living court?
    3. If my defense are good enough?

    BTW, the tickedted date is my second date driving in CA…HA


    • Spener,

      After you lose a TBD, technically you are guilty, and your case is over. So no, there is no way to request traffic school unless you undo the “judgment” of the TBD by requesting a trial de novo.

      And yes, after a trail de novo request, you get a live, in person, court trial with a judge. You will about 3 minutes of judge time, so stay focused.

      Is your defense good enough? If it was you would have won the TBD.

  45. Ron says:


    Great blog and really great job for speedsters like us. ;)

    I have been charged with VC 22350 and requested a TBD. I received the forms from court to proceed with TRAIL BY WRITTEN DECLARATION. In the packet, I received WAIVER OF ARRAIGNMENT INFRACTION along with INSTRUCTIONS TO DEFENDANT and the cover letter.
    I called up the court to ask if I have to sign and send the WAIVER OF ARRAIGNMENT INFRACTION. She said I have to check both, (1) Plea NOT GUILTY… and (2) I waive statutory time for trial (45 days). Then sign the form and send it across with TRAIL BY WRITTEN DECLARATION along with check or money order.

    Is this true? I have to waive statutory time of trial?

    I have to send this form today, so any help/advice on this matter will be highly appreciated.

    Keep up the great work.


    • Ron,

      My opinion: it is illegal for the court to force you to give up (waive) your Constitutional Right to a speedy trial.

      But if you want a real speedy trial, you need to go in person and have a court trial.

      The “waiver if arraignment” is not a big deal. Arraignment is just the time when you get to say “not guilty, I want a trial”. They are trying to tell you they will take your not guilty plea on paper instead of in person.

      If you want an in person arraignment, give up on the TBD process and go to court.

  46. Ilya says:

    Hi Chris,
    Enjoyed reading your responses…. may be you have an idea about my case.
    I recently received a speeding ticket on Hwy 17 – 22350vc
    65 in a 50 and I was on a motorcycle.
    I genuinely don’t think i was going 67mph (what he told me and then lowered to 65 because he was trying to “help me out”)
    He was hiding behind a blind corner.. and i was behind another car in the left lane and had a car in the right lane between me and the cop. I saw him the sec i went around the corner and instinctively hit the brakes. When he stopped me i asked him for a radar read-out. His word for word response while stuttering was ” ahh.. umm.. i didn’t lock it in”. If he didn’t lock it in… can i fight the ticket based on the fact his determination of 67mph is hearsay?
    I actually fought a speeding ticket on 17 about 3 years ago and won, basically proved that my speed was safe for the conditions… so i can always go that rout as well.

    • Ilya,

      Police officers are not required to show you a radar reading. I never understood why people think that matters.

      • Ilya says:

        but when asked.. he told me “he did not lock it in”. He did put on the ticket that he got me using radar. Doesn’t that mean he is lying? obviously it’s my word against his… but if i can get him to admit that he said he did not lock it in.. will this force the judge to dismiss the case?

        • Iila,

          If you were to have a trial on this case, the officer would come and say:

          “I witnessed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed that I, based upon my training and experience, identified as a speed over the legal limit. I used my radar gun to confirm what I saw. My radar gun confirmed that vehicle was in fact traveling at an illegal speed. Based upon my observation and the radar reading, I pursued and stopped the vehicle, and issued a citation. The end”

          And then your defense: “Your honor, he did not lock in the radar reading!!!!! He is lying.”

          Judge: “It does not matter if he “locked in the radar reading”. Who cares? What does that mean anyway? What are you taling about? Lock what into what? He testified he saw you speeding, and he testified that he saw the radar reading that was above the limit. By seeing it, he locked it into his brain. By signing the citation, he has certified under oath that what he saw was true and correct. That is 2-0 in favor of the police. And he is a cop, with a gun and a badge, so that is 3-0 in favor of the cop. 4-0 if he shows up in a suit and tie. Unless you got some more evidence, you are guilty.”

        • Iily,

          You do have a fundamental hearsay problem with the radar reading. But the problem is not that they did not show it to you, and not that it was not printed or saved.

          The problem is that the witness (a machine) made an out of court statement that you cannot challenge.

          The statement is the reading. Whether that comes in on paper, in a digital reading or via an officer’s testimony it is an out of court statement by a machine.

          What you are stuck on is confirmation of what the officer claims he saw. But that does not matter. What you need to focus on is “Assuming that the officer saw what he thinks he saw, how do we know that:

          1. the machine was working properly?
          2. that the officer was properly trained to use the unit so that it is accurate and does not measure the wrong vehicle;
          3. that the temperature and moisture was not causing a false reading;
          4. etc.

          You are focused on the medium of the out of court statement – when you should be focused on the lack of a foundation for that hearsay that would let it in under an exception to the hearsay rule.

          You should definitely try to get the radar reading excluded prior to the actual start of testimony on hearsay grounds. It is hearsay, and it only falls into an exception if there is a proper foundation laid for its entry into evidence.

          To do that, you need to make a pre-trial motion (at the start of the trial) to exclude all “out of court statements by machines” before it come into evidence. Get a ruling on your motion.

          You need to read my article on hearsay problems. And you need to either buy my pre trial motions package to get my form or write your own motion to exlcude that evidence.

    • Ilya, seriously? I was driving behind you and you were definitely going 80. Highway 17 is unsafe and going faster than 30 mph kills beavers and deer. Slow it down!

  47. Jenni says:

    Good Evening Chris,

    My fiance got one of those red light camera tickets in Moreno Valley CA. The intersection in which he was photographed,is apparently on the borders of Riverside. Moreno Valley has done away with all of their camera lights, and this is the only one in the town being run by the City of Riverside. After searching info on the net, it seems that Riverside has a contract that includes an illegal “cost neutrality” clause. Do you think that filing a Motion in Limine in regards to this clause to be sufficient enough to have the camera evidence excluded and thus have the ticket dismissed?


  48. Anna says:

    Hi Christopher -

    Your site is a great resource, thank you.

    I got ticketed for 21461(a) – no right turn on red sign. I was making a good faith effort to comply with the law and I believed I was complying with the law. The ticketing police officer was sitting at the entrance of a parking lot around an adjacent corner, watching the intersection. From her vantage point (at least 50 yards away), she could not actually see whether the light in my lane was green or red as the traffic light has vertical blinders. I went back and took pictures of the light from her vantage point and can document this.

    Is this an viable defense?

    • Anna,

      Another good question! 2 in a row today!

      Red sign? What the hell is a red sign?

      I will assume you mean red light.

      OK – lets pretend we are in the trial. Cop come in and says: “I saw her make an illegal right hand turn on a red light.”

      And you want to say: “The cop could not possibly have seen what they claim they saw.”

      This is called the cop is lying defense. Usually, the “Cop is Lying” Defense is a last resort when you having nothing else.

      What you probably should hand your hat on is something like:

      “I stopped legally. I made a legal right turn. i cannot say what the cop saw, because I was not there. But whatever it was, it was not me making an illegal turn.”

      If you try the “The Cop Could Not Have Seen Me” route – think of all the foundational facts you have to prove first: 1) the exact location of the cop at the time they claim they saw you (how in the world are you going to do that?); 2) the exact view from that location of the site where the violation allegedly occurred (I guess you could use video here); 3) there is no way for the cop to determine what the lights are doing from that point (oooooooouh. This might be a trap. There may be a little tiny indicator light on the back of the signal that you do not know about!)

      Anyway – get my point? Too many foundational facts to prove up in a 3 minute traffic court trial.

      Maybe a better defense is: “What ever the cop used to make an identification of the status of the light I was looking at is hearsay because he did not see the same thing I did, and there is no proof that what ever he saw actually correctly reflects the status of the light only I could see, which was green, which led me to make a fully legal turn. Whatever the officer used to determine his believe as to the status of the light I saw is an unreliable out of court statement by an unidentified machine that cannot be verified or cross examined here. And it is therefore inadmissible hearsay.

      Remember: if you testify under oath that you made a legal turn, and the cop testified that he saw you make an illegal turn – it is a TIE! 1 to 1. Tie goes to the defendant. You are presumed innocent. It is the government’s burden to prove you guilty.

      If you get mired down in trying to establish foundational facts in a short traffic court trial, you are going to lose. You only get a minute or two to tell your side of the story (assuming the judge listens at all). dont waste it.

  49. Darren Tran says:

    Hi Chris,
    I mailed in my TBD on 12/15. (My check cleared on 12/19). I was cited for making a right turn and not turning into the right most lane.

    Basically I am wondering how long a typical response would be for the TBD? It was my first time filing one and it’s been over a month.

    I am really hoping my case was dismissed, but I’m still really anxious and I want to know when I’ll receive notification by.

    Thank you,

    • Darren,

      I would not be surprised if they never respond.

      Check with the court by calling or visiting in person. Dont hold your breath though. I believe that Less than 5% of all TBDs result in dismissal.

  50. Milin Thosani says:


    I was cited for 22350 VC-INF (god knows what that means) because I was going on 70 miles an hour on a 50 miles an hour road. It is a highway 17 (Santa Cruz, CA) with varying speed limits (65 for some part and 55 for some part of the road and then all of sudden 50 miles an hour).
    I was struggling up the hill and I believe was not making more than ~55 miles an hour and at the end of uphill, it is a sudden down hill. I think that is when cop caught me making 70 miles an hour. I have been fines for $369.
    What do you think is my best bet? What should I do? What are my chances of winning the case if I plea not guilty?

    Your reply will be highly appreciate.


    • Milin,

      I know that stretch of road well. I’ve driven it hundreds and hundreds of times on my way to court late. 10 years or more off an on. Never once got a speeding ticket.

      You have a common problem here – wishing you were innocent when you are not.

      Have you actually read your comment? Here is what it says:

      “I was cited [for speeding] because I was going 70″

      You are guilty. You are admitting it right here.

      If you want to fight this citation, you need to plead guilty, and then be able to go into court and convince the judge you were driving LESS THAN THE SPEED LIMIT at the TIME THE COP SAYS you were speeding. YOu have to be able to say you are innocent!

      I dont see that here.

      It does not matter if there are hills or not. Unless your defense is that it is impossible to drive the speed limit on that road. Some people might agree with you.

      You are accused of speeding on the most dangerous road in CA.

      By the way – over the years, I have figured out that you can drive 64 on hwy 17 usually without getting a ticket. But at 65 – they get people. And they get people at the summit by that store. You have to go 50 there for sure because they sit there in that parking lot.

      And for gods sake, dont drive 65 on that highway in the rain! Holly crap.

      If you want to know how dangerous hwy 17 is – lust look at the multi colored scrapings in the pavement and on the concrete walls. That’s not art, that is the left overs of fatal flip over accidents.

      And that judge you have to go talk to has probably had to drive over 17 many times a week for years.

      Bottom line: . . .

      Wait, do you want to hear about my friend Patrick who did a 360 at 60 mph on hyw 17 in the rain and ended up on the side of the hill tipped on the side of his car? He lived, but when he got back to SC, there was a redwood branch sticking through the metal of the back bumper. Then there was the client I had a couple of years ago who picked up a DUI on hwy 17 after hitting a deer at 65 mph on one of those corners. She woke up bleeding in jail. She won a free deer. Then there was the lady I represented once who was driving on hyw 17, got sick, drifted off the road, hit a power pole, pulled the power pole down, pulled the wires across all lanes of the hwy, both sides of traffic, which then tangled into another van filled with kids on a church camp trip going 60 mph and flipped it over and treated the passengers like a box of popcorn rolling down the hill in an electric shock box. Imagine that, one minute you are driving on hwy 17 looking forward to the weekend, thanking god for life, next minute, wires wrapping around your van and picks it up, flips it over, and tosses it like a bean bag. True story. Then there was the [court officer] I once represented who crashed and totaled her car on hwy 17′s big moody curve at 75 mph with a .24 BAC one day. Total freaking miracle that she did not kill 4 or 5 completely innocent people that day. Scary road.

      My point? Life can change in a second on hwy 17, and the judge is going to know it.

      If you want to win a trial on a speeding ticket on that highway, you need to be able to convince the judge (after the cop testifies against you) that you know for sure that you were driving less than the speed limit and that you would never speed on that road because it scares the shit out of you.

      I dont really see that defense in your comment.

      • Milin Thosani says:

        Thank you very much for your reply Chris…
        I am fairly new to CA (~6 months) and this is my 1st speeding ticket in CA and 2nd in US (in last ~5 years), so I dont know legalities, sorry though. :)
        I did not know these problems about highway 17, I was just visiting Mystery Spot to have some fun when I was cited.
        Yaa, talking about my ticket, Chris, I am not sure if I was really making 70 miles an hour, but I do remember that I saw the last posted speed limit of 55.
        I was with my wife that day who liked the forest around and started taking video when we were stopped by a cop. At first I thought we were stopped just for taking pictures and videos (may be you were not allowed to capture the mysteries of the mysterious road to the mystery spot :) ). So I have that video with me. I dont know if we can get the vehicle speed using that video, but I thought I would let you know about it.

        Let me tell you a short story about my first ticket.
        I was making 95 miles an hour on a 65 miles an hour road (NJ Turnpike) and I was fined ~$400. I decided to plea not guilty just because my friends told me that cops never show up in the court. I went to the court prepared to plea not guilty and that was my first time in court room ever. When judge called my name, I went in front of the judge and he asked me how do I plea. I was so much scared, I said guilty. :D
        As a favor judge reduced my fine to $250 and offered me a payment plan. I guess he was really nice to me.

        Anyways, Chris, I just want to tell you that I am very new to this traffic ticket stuff. I dont think I was making 70 on highway 17. I just want to get rid of this ticket. What do you think my best bet is? Should I file a TBD?

        Another important thing, on the ticket below my signature, the date mentioned is 12/1/2011 and in my courtsey notice the due date is 02/10/2012 beside the bail amount (369.00).
        What does that mean? have I missed my chance to plea now?


      • JB says:

        Chris, I hate to question your expertise here but I feel obligated. If he was cited for 22350 how can you claim he is guilty? Merely going over a posted speed limit of 50mph doesn’t make him guilty. If you were familiar with that VC section or any related cases you’d know the People would have to prove the speed was unsafe for one of the legal reasons (traffic, weather, visibility, etc.).

        • JB,

          You are right. A person charged with CA Veh Code 22350 is not automatically guilty just because they go over the posted speed limit. The prosecution has the burden to show that the speed was unsafe for the conditions, and this element can be proven in large part by a valid traffic engineering study that says the speed is unsafe.

          Veh Code 22349 is different. No need to prove “unsafe for the conditions” to get a conviction under that section.

  51. Marisa Lewels says:

    I got a ticket for turning left on a red light. The motorcycle cop was in front of me making the same left turn and he went through on yellow. I was behind him and already in the intersection when the light turned red. He claims he could see that I wasn’t over the line yet even though I was behind him. I am requesting a trial by written declaration. If I lose that will I still have a chance to do traffic school so I wont get points for my insurance? I don’t want this to end up costing more just because I tried fighting it.

  52. kathy says:

    i filed a TBD and was found guilty and now I have filed a Trial De Novo and the same judge will be hearing my case that had found me guilty on my written declaration.
    I don’t think that can happen, can it?

    • Kathy,

      A trial by Declaration is not a Real Trial. A Trial De Novo is not an Appeal.

      There is no reason why the first judge cannot hear the full case. Why not?

      You can file a motion to disqualify him/her, but you will need to do it in writing, in advance. Like 10 days prior to your court trial date. File it in person at the court clerks office. That is all I can tell you for free.

      Oh no, I can tell you this – even though it seems like it is the same judge, my personal opinion is that it is very unlikely the judge actually read your declaration himself/herself, so it will be your first time with that judge in reality.

  53. Berlyn M says:

    I am a california native and was visiting las vegas for my little brothers football game when i was rear ended in Las Vegas and i called the police for a report when the jerk of a cop cited me and told me it was my fault i was rear ended. He responded saying he measured the lane and it is wide enough to be two lanes so according to him i was making a wide right turn and its my fault.

    In my defense, i had my blinker on signaling that i was making a right turn and i have pictures of a car driving down the same street exactly how i was driving, which was as if there were only one lane.

    To top it all off the Lady who hit me was Latina and she just explained to my mother how one year ago she rear ended someone else and totaled their whole car which is why she now has full coverage insurance and then when the police office came she started acting as if she could not speak english! it was ridiculous! i am livid and would like to file a TBD and by the way this all happened on Thanksgiving Day this year 2011. Please help!?

  54. sofia says:

    I requested Trial By Declaration and filled out the form and sent it in already in early October and I haven’t gotten any response yet. Online it still says a date and after the date TBD, I am confused. So they never got it? Because I sent it to them and this has been going on for too long, I need a response and I need this to get off my driving record.

    • Sofia,

      Go to the courthouse in person right now and find out what is going on.
      If you cannot do that, the next best option is to call them and find out what is going one.
      Third best option is to send them written notice that you got no notice about your notice of a Demand for Trial by Declaration.

  55. Roger says:

    Hi Chris,

    I was cited for 9150 (a) VC, “failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk” and plan to contest the ticket by TBD. I’m a hundred percent convinced I’m innocent, but was wondering if I could get your input on the defense I’m laying out. This was a night time incident. I had to make a left turn down a side street and signalled a good 5 or 6 seconds prior to making the turn. I checked for pedestrians in the crosswalk, didn’t see any, then checked oncoming traffic, which wasn’t too close, so I commenced the turn at roughly 20 MPH into a 25 MPH road. Just as I crossed the crosswalk, I saw a pedestrian jump backward away from my car and land close to the curb. From my vantage point, the pedestrian seemed to have just entered the crosswalk and simply been “startled” rather than actually being in my path, but a passing officer saw this and tickted me for failure to yield. I honestly didn’t see this person sooner, due to the fact that the corner he tried to cross on was poorly lit, had no lighted buildings behind it (creating a large low contrast zone), and the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing.

    So my defense is based on subsection (b) of 21950 which states, ” This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.” They obviously meant for this subsection to be applied and have “teeth”, because it’s covered in the bail and fee schedule.

    Basically, since the citing officer also wrote on my ticket that my speed was 20 MPH (which jives with what I recollect) at the time of the incident, I can demonstrate that I started my turn into the side street at a good three seconds away from the crosswalk, and figuring in a range of average adult walking speeds between 3.6 and 4.2 MPH, along with roughly a 1 second reaction time for the pedestrian to “jump clear”, that the pedestrian tried to enter the crosswalk when I was two seconds or less away. This is a formula for pedestrian suicide, because even at 20 MPH it takes at least 60 feet to stop my vehicle fully and I was probably about 40 feet from him when he stepped out. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt. I’ve also taken a night time picture of the crosswalk showing how dimly lit and murky it is as part of my supporting evidence.

    Is this a valid defense, and, if so, can you give me any input on the best way to present it or even improve on it? I don’t want to roll over and just pay up, especially since the cop was a major prick during the stop. Any help or input would be appreciated.

    • Roger says:

      Sorry, meant to list 21950 (a) VC in the first paragraph above.

    • Roger,

      I can boil down your defense to one sentence:

      I did not see Pedestrian, and he was negligently walking in the cross walk.

      Hum . . . .

      Better subpeona the pedestrian to show at the trial, because the officer is going to say he saw the pedestrian just fine. How are you going to deal with that one?

      Sometimes people forget there is going to be a police officer there stating they saw you break the law.

      Forget all of that crap about times, distances, speeds, it’s all useless crap that the judge will not listen to.

      You are going to get about 30 seconds of court attention. Stick to the facts: you did not see the pedestrian, you believe a reasonable person would not have seen him. You made a good faith effort to comply with the law. The cop is lying (again).

      • Roger says:

        Well, I don’t agree that factual time/distance calculations are “useless crap” in proving that someone entered a crosswalk at a dangerous time and in clear violation of a vehicle code, but I get your point. Thanks for the input.

        • Roger,

          I say “Useless crap”, because you are not going to be able to get those numbers into evidence. How are you going to establish average walking speed? You’re just going to say it? Where’s your proof that is accurate? Reaction time? How are you going to lay a foundation for that one? Have you done studies? What was the age of the pedestrian?

          How far does it take to stop your car? You going to bring in the video to lay the foundation on that one?

          You are not allowed to put measurements or numbers into evidence unless you can first lay a foundation to prove that they are accurate measurements, times, etc. You can say them, but the judge is going to ignore inadmissible evidence. You cant have a defense based upon a math formula with variables you cannot prove up in court.

          Well, you can do it, and it might work if the judge likes you and you are well dressed with no tatoos on your neck, but I cannot say that is a good defense. I say avoid numbers.

          What’s going to happen if your defense gets muddle with numbers if the judge is going to be thinking “none of this is admissible evidence”.

          And then 30 seconds will go by, you will still be talking about where you THINK the pedestrian entered the cross walk, the judge is going to make his decision, tune you out, and start working on the paperwork in front of him until you stop.

  56. Ticket hater says:

    I received a camera red light ticket. It is 4 photos (all very blurry and black and white at that). There was man in the intersection drunk and staggering. I slowed down to assess the situation. I was going 23 and the speed limit was 25 (which is ridiculous on this road as everyone goes 4) . Is there anyway I can claim this man caused me to the run the light. I have a witness/passenger in the car that can testify he saw the man and me reduce speed to avoid him. This witness can also assert to the fact that he fees I would have made light if there wasn’t this staggering elderly drunk person. Unfortunately the man/pedestrian was not in any of the photos as he was behind the camera. Because I literally had to stop in middle of road I had several pictures taken of me, but they only gave me 4 pictures. Again if I had access to all pictures it would prove there was an obstacle/man in the road. Please give me some advice. Should I
    a) do try by declaration myself
    b)pay ticketkick to write TBD
    c)go to court
    d)accept that life’s not fair and pay it.

    Please let me know. I also have a perfect driving record for over 8 years prior to this ticket and because I am a student money is tight.

  57. Travis says:

    I just recently lost a TBD for cvc 22350 while dtriving 60 in a 45. In my TBD I cited that if the traffic survey on the street that that i violated is more than five years old, the officers use of radar to determine was illegal. I also said that the prosecution bears the burden of showing that the use of radar is not an illegal speed trap uncder c.v.c. 40803 (b). I also asked that the prosecution attach a certified copy of the radar device maintenance and calibration records to show that the radar was in proper working order when i was stopped and that the radar unit was in the ticketing officers posession. I claimed that if such above requested items are not provided, I asked that my citation be dismissed. Lastly, I asked the courts to reduce my fine and that I may attend traffic school in order to protect my driving record. The courts responded with a guilty verdict and nothing else. No records no proof, not even an opportunity to go to traffic school or a reduction in bail.

    My question is should I bother requesting for a trial de novo and would/could I win based off of what I’ve explained to you?


    • Travis,

      This is a great comment. I could write a lot here. But I am watching the 49 game, so I am just going to throw down some bullet points and then some recommendations maybe.

      1) Trial by Declaration is not a real trial. Dont expect justice. (I sometimes suspect they have 19 year old court clerks reading the declarations and ruling on them);
      2) nowhere in this comment did you say that you were not speeding. Nowhere did you claim you were complying with the law. People miss that a lot – and I am often dumbfounded by it. You actually have to make an effort to show you are innocent in order to expect a win; you have to convince the judge you deserve to win.
      3) I wonder what the officer’s declaration said. Do you know? I would not be surprised at all if the officer said something like: “I saw a car traveling at a speed that my training and experience told me was in excess of the speed limit. To confirm my observation, I radar ed the sucker and validated what I saw.” If the office said something like that (Technically adding personal observation evidence) – it would not matter if the judge excluded the radar evidence – there would still be the observation evidence that you did not challenge.

      Then there is this reality – even if a judge really did read your declaration- you probably only got about 8 seconds of judge time – not a thorough legal analysis.

      Usually if you demand a trial, most judges will take the traffic school option away from you. I get comments on this blog all the time where people say something like “the judge cannot take away your right to traffic school to punish you for wanting a trial”. Wrong. It happens all the time. I’ve seen it often. Right or wrong, it happens.

      Should you demand a trial de novo? Hell yes. A trial by Declaration is just a starting shot in the war against a traffic ticket. Dont expect perfect justice in a TBD. IN fact, the law actually recognizes the lack of real justice in a TBD and that is why the law give you the right to a live Court Trial Afterwards (trial de novo).

      The Trial de Novo is the real trial, in person. The judge has to listen to you. File motions in limine to ask the court to exclude the evidence you want to challenge.

      And if you lose that one, appeal.

      But sometimes it’s not worth the effort. And remember to tell the judge you are innocent. If you cannot do that, you are wasting your time. Practice” “I was making a good faith effort to comply with the law and I believed I was complying with the law . . . . . I was making a good faith effort . . . . . . . ” and so on with marbles in your mouth until you get it right.

      • Travis says:


        Yeah that niners game was awesome!

        So I have a few questions about what I may need to do about a Trial de Novo because I’ve never done anything like this before. I know now that I have lost my TBD that I have the opportunity to do this (within 20 days) but I don’t have any idea of how I would/could win. I think I’m beginning to get a little down on myself because I’m feeling a little lost and confused. In your opinion it sounds like because I didn’t really prove my innocense on my TBD that I was found guilty so how would I actually prove my innocense in court? Should I re read my TBD in front of the judge? Basically, my list of demands about speed traps and calibration records and how the traffic was clear as it was a hot, sunny day? That I was making a good faith effort and that I truley believe I was complying with the law? Which I really feel I didn’t put anybody in danger? Or should I go and just hope the cop doesn’t show up? hehe. I feel like I have now lost an opportunity to goto traffic school and cut down my bail amount – it’s truley disheartening and I think this is why they do what they do. So many mean words come to mind. Any more feedback would be greatly appreciated on what to do from here.

        thanks again,

        • Travis says:

          Oh yeah, and to answer your question I never saw any part of the officer’s declaration but I wouldn’t be surprised if it said any of the things you said. Does the officer HAVE to reply or not? All I received was the clerks certificate of mailing with that persons signature and the only other page was the decision of ‘guilty’ and notice of decision saying that I already paid said redonkulous amount and the judicial officers stamped name.


        • Travis,

          I cant answer all your questions for free. I can tell you this: if your defense is that the speed limit was illegal – you are not going to win.

          If you’re not innocent – if you cannot tell the judge you were complying with the law – just stop, and pay ASAP. Dont waste your time. Get proof you paid. Life is short.

          But if you do file a request for trial de novo on time – show up and try to win somehow. Use your brain. Dont take it personally if you lose. Some people are actually guilty.

          There are no magic words to beat a speeding ticket. No one being honest with you can give you a guaranteed way to win.

          Does the officer have to send in a declaration for a trial by declaration request? No. The citation that the officer signed and turned into court is evidence against you – even if nothing else ever comes in.

          • Keith says:

            Great stuff, Christopher:

            You say an illegal speed limit alone will lose. I agree. But how exactly, from a legal standpoint, does an illegal speed limit help an innocent driver in a pacing/22350 case?

            I was driving safely AND at a safe speed for the conditions. The officer wrote on the citation that the speed limit (30) was also the safe speed, which it is not (as shown by the 85% on the speed survey). FWIW, the speed limit was reduced 5 miles per hour to match the speed limit going the other direction.

  58. Johnny says:

    I recently received a ticket for following to closely to another vehicle. I honestly believe I was pulled over so the officer could fill a quota, but that really doensn’t matter as it doesn’t count as a defense as you have stated. I was traveling in a group of 6 vehicles, and I was second from the front. All the vehicles were following each other at the exact distance, which I believed to be within the limits of the law for following. The officers defense is completely subjective as I see no difference between this and the officer guessing my speed and writing me a ticket with no proof of a radar. He was a total asshole too. How would you present hard evidence to refute his guess at my distance for following as he actually said, “it appeared that you were following to closely, and I can’t tolerate that so i’m going to issue you a citation”. Any feedback would be appreciated.



    • Johnny says:

      Thank you for not responding to my question. Your response was not needed. I beat my traffic tickets with Trail by Decleration, which I still can’t believe. So, for all those people that read these and think it can’t be done or the nay-sayers that say they just rule guilty, that isn’t true. The highway patrol was an asshole and based upon the non-biased evidence provided, I prevailed and was relieved from paying $500 in tickets. Today was a good day:)

      • Johnny,

        Good work! It is possible to win. But you actually have to say you are innocent. Most people skip that part.

        Unfortunately, I cant answer all of the questions I get. And the people who have paid me get top priority. Often, I skip over questions I have answered elsewhere. So if you are one of those who did not get an answer, the answer is probably already here somewhere.

        And if you have a big, serious problem and what to get to the top[ of the list, I sell one hour attorney conferences for $89 (as of 2011):

        • Wendy says:

          I don’t see you answer related to 21703 anywhere. Help if you can? Thanks.

          • DortLaw says:


            I have no idea what you are talking about. But I wish you luck.

  59. Pavel says:

    Hi Christopher,
    This a kind of unusual case, may be some interest for you. I was driving Los Angeles Crest hwy2 in day time head lights on zone with day time running lights on. On one of turnouts there was a police car with flashing lights and a cop beside it probably watching his radar in opposite direction. I slowed down just in case but he didn’t turn around and didn’t stop me so I continued driving. Approximately 1.5 miles down the road I saw a police car with flashing lights behind me and pulled to the first turnout. Cop fined me for “falied to obey regulation sign – headlights on during daytime” on the stretch where I passes by him and his car. Would the fact that cop didn’t stop me on that stretch be a good defense point? I suspect he just didn’t see the headlights but saw that rear light were off and decided that headlight were off as well. BTW – I tried to explain the cop the way day time running lights work but he literally said – “sit in the car and don’t argue with me”.

    • Pavel, too small of case for me, but sounds like you have a complete defense. Go to court on time, plead not guilty, and at your trial:

      1) testify that you did have your lights on;
      2) testify how your lights work; and
      3) offer your auto manual with the right page marked as evidence.

      4) ask the judge to find you not guilty.

  60. D says:

    I got a speeding ticket a few months ago (the vc49 not 50), received my letter in the mail, have a date set for next month and want to win a TBD. If I file this, where or how do I find out how to fill this out in order to have a good chance of winning? I read somewhere you can just say “Not guilty” then if the cop doesnt respond, you win. I really have no evidence of me being able to prove I was guilty, I just want the chance of winning based on the cop not responding. I also wanted to know if it really makes a big difference with the trial being not speedy and me losing my rights to that by electing to a mailed in TBD? Should I drive down to the court and hand deliver the TBD in order to gain a speedy trial? Lastly, if I lose the TBD, then request a TDNovo, do I just say Im guilty and ask for a reduced fine since this is the 1st ticket I have ever received? Thanks…love the answers you give!


    • D,

      I am only responding to this comment because there is so much terrible information out there from non lawyers who pretend the are qualified to help you with a trial by declaration when in reality they are just blowing smoke up your ass, showing you a mirror, and taking your money in exchange for complete bullchit. (yes, I did use that word. I don’t have a boss).

      RE: “how do I find out how to fill this out in order to have a good chance of winning”

      Answer: In your brain DUDE! If you were not speeding, write down that you were not speeding! There are no magic words. you have to convoke the judge you were not speeding. If you cannot say that, don’t waste your time.

      RE: “I read somewhere you can just say “Not guilty” then if the cop doesnt respond, you win.”

      Answer: Complet bullchit. Whoever told you that is pucking stupid, and unqualified to give you any help. Even if the cop does not respond to a court request for a declaration you can still lose BECAUSE THE CITATION SIGNED BY THE POLICE OFFICER IS A DECLARATION AND EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU AT THE SAME TIME. When a police officer signs a citation under penalty of perjury it is a verified complaint and declaration that the court can use as evidence even if the cop never shows up.


      • Mel says:

        Not true. I work at a court and the declarations are dismissed if the officer does not write a response. So who is pucking stupid? Trial by Declarations occasionally dismissed but a lot are not. The Commissioner/Judge likes to hear a good defense. Good luck.

  61. Tony says:

    Hello Chrsitopher,
    Stumbled upon your website while in desperate search for help.
    I’ve been cited vc21461(a) when I was parked alongside a curb in a no-stopping zone with my engine turned off. Would you reckon I’d be able to fight my ticket since this is not a “moving violation”? Office wrote zero for “speed approx” box on the ticket, which I believe indicates the fact that I was at complete stop.

    What do you think?


  62. gary says:


    While bicycling on Ocean Ave las month, (early Sunday am) my wife was waived over by a SMPD officer for going thru a red traffic light at Ocean and SM Blvd. The officer waived over my wife and a few other cyclists, and was already in the middle of issuing tickets to 2 other cyclists. She says he was at least 100 yards up the street.

    (She states that she was timing her speed to make the light and may have rolled through it as it was turning from red to green.)

    The ticket is $480.

    Is this worth fighting with a trial by declaration and if she loses, a trial de novo.

    Our goal is really to reduce the amount of the fine, as I don’t believe this will go on her DMV record, there is no DL# on the ticket. The ticket clearly states “BIKE” under the veh. lic. number space.

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

    • Gary, this has actually happened to me before. I’ve had a lot of bicycle tickets. But you try to do the speed limit down 10 miles of Monitor Pass on a carbon bike with bladed spokes and 18c tires filled with helium. Actually, that’s not true. I used regular air.

      Every time a cop standing still has stopped me on a bike, I’ve thought to myself: Am I stupid?

      One time, in San Diego, riding near la jolla, a cop tried to pull over the entire San Diego Bicycle CLub Saturday Ride in the rain. 100 riders. On the edge of the ocean. Good ole days.

      Sometimes when riding a bike in traffic you have to adjust to conditions to remain safe in a manner that the vehicle code and non bike riders do not understand. Like when you have to take up the entire lane on your way down Monitor Pass because you dont want people trying to pass you when you are going 59 mph on 18mm tires. I understand.

      You know, bike tickets actually were the inspiration for Prior to law school, I rode a bike for a living for a while. Had a lot of failure to appear warrants in multiple CA counties. One day, I drove all over the state to clear up many tickets with cash with my good friend steve who couldnt believe a dude with no car had racked up so many warrants in so many counties. But I did. Learned the whole process prior to law school due to a bike.

      So I say fight! fight every ticket. Bring up every issue you can think of, including failure to positively identify the right bike rider. Screw them.Make them pay for ruining your ride. You never know what it will lead to, even if you lose.

  63. john says:

    Ok so I was ticketed going 41 on a 25 zone, I was caught on a radar, by a motercycle officer. When I was questioned how fast did I think i was going I said (30-something I cant remember) but it was between 30-39 I told the officer. On the ticket he wrote violation of V.C 22350. Do I have a case to fight this?

  64. Carol A says:

    Got a citation for unsafe lane change in front of a CHP in Long Beach Ca. He was not in that lane when I began changing lanes. Signal on and looked over my shoulder. This is on a city street, lunch hour traffic. Perfect record for 49 years. Do I stand a chance for a TBD? Ticket is expensive. Also, if I lose can I request traffic school? Thank you.

  65. John H says:

    Thanks for the quick reply, Christopher. Also, thank you for providing such a generous service.

    Since I want to use the TBD, gathering video information doesn’t seem to be an option. In the introductory blurb you wrote, “A defendant can win a trial by declaration if they have a real defense, and there is no harm in trying …” I think that I have a real defense because I used a stopwatch and timed my times going from 14 mph to zero and back to 14 and found the numbers as I described previously. I found a YouTube video of an Odyssey accelerating. It’s not my car but very similar. I clocked it going from zero to 14 in 1.25 sec, which is faster than my own measurements.

    I doubt this would be admissible in court since it isn’t my car but it does provide corroborating evidence for my numbers. Do you think I could create a similar video and post it to YouTube and refer to it in the TBD? I suspect I know the answer but figured I’d ask so I’d be sure. Alternatively, I could take screen shots and provide hard copies of these, showing the speeds and time stamps.

    The fundamental question is: if I can’t supply such video or elapsed-time stamped screen shots as evidence and I can’t provide math as evidence, what options do I have to fight this via TBD?

    The second part of your statement, “no harm trying”, seems not to be accurate if my submitting a TBD precludes the traffic school option. Did I read that right?

  66. John H says:

    I want to fight a rolling right on red based on a traffic camera. I remember my stopping so I looked at the data. The speeds on the two pics were both 14 mph. The time between pics was 2.67 sec. I estimated the distance traveled between frames to be about 20 feet. I did some experiments in stopping from 14 mph then accelerating from 0 to 14 mph and got .5 and 1.5 sec on average. Plugging in the math I can demonstrate that all my motion occurred in 2.0 sec, leaving me stopped for 0.67 sec. The distance traveled is also consistent with my calculations. If I had not slowed I would have traveled over 53 feet in that time.

    Can I present this information against a traffic cam and have a chance of winning? I’ve also heard that I should end my TBD with a request of traffic school if my findings are deemed insufficient. Do you agree?

    • John, That you for the real question. If this were a real trial, in a real court, I would hire an expert witness (an engineer) and a separate driver witness to perform a video recorded experiment to show that it was possible you stopped and the camera missed it. Then you use the video and the testimony of the new witnesses in the trial, and you testify to state that you did in fact stop.

      Remember (and many people forget this part), you actually have to say you stopped and complied with the law 100%. If all you say is that it is possible that you stopped, you will lose.

      Unless you actually get video of it working, I’d say your chances of winning by spitting out numbers is pretty much zero.

      You need an expert to say it was possible, then you need to say you stopped.

      Usually, if you demand a trial you will lose the option to attend traffic school. Traffic school can be allowed or taken away by the judge at their discretion. And the rules on when traffic school will actually help you (in CA) have changed drastically this year. I wrote a prior article on it here somewhere.

      • John H says:

        Hi Christopher. I wanted to drop you a line to get closure on our discussion we had nearly three (!) months ago. I received a letter today from Superior Court. The case was “dismissed for lack of prosecution.”

        I don’t know if this is lawyer-speak for saying I pleaded a compelling case or if the court didn’t have enough manpower to pursue the case. I’d like to think it was the former. In either event, good news. But, for the sake of educating us, what does that expression really mean?

        Although I could not provide a video of my experiments, I did provide the raw data of my timing studies as well as Excel analysis and graphs, complete with error bars. I also described watching the official video of the event and not being able to tell, by the video, if I stopped or not (my memory was that I had). The playback was inconsistent, a little jerky at times, so I could not make a definitive conclusion from watching it. Hence my analysis.

  67. Bhavesh says:

    Hi Christopher,
    Thanks for the information you have provided on the website. I needed you feedback on my situation. I am planning to file a TBD. I got a red light violation VC 21453 (c) (on left turn on red arrow) when a cop pulled me over at a intersection. I was driving my friend’s car and I had my car insurance but could not locate where I kept it in his car. So he also added violation VC 16028(a). When I mentioned that I do have car insurance, he said that you will have to mail the copy to get it off the ticket. Will there be any issues if I send the copy over or will it be taken off?
    Regarding my red light violation VC 21453(c), I did not run the light and entered the intersection when the light had just turned yellow. By the time I I was 1/2 or 2/3 way into the intersection the light turned red. The cop mentioned that I ran the red light and when I mentioned that I am pretty sure the light was yellow, he said that the light on the perpendicular road had already turned green while I was still inside the intersection.
    My defense is that I already entered the intersection when the light was still yellow. Besides the intersection is a big intersection (3 lanes at the closest perpendicular road and 2 lanes on the road where I was finishing my turn). On the ticket my speed is listed as >15 MPH and I was indeed at the same speed around 15/16 MPH. The traffic condition was listed as Heavy on the ticket. Given the above scenario, If I would have ran the red light and entered the intersection after the light turned red, I would have gotten into a tangle with the cars approaching from the perpendicular roads since with my speed and the length of the intersection, I would not have completed the turn without involving in an accident. Also, my speed suggests that I was driving safely and normally and not trying to beat the red light.
    One more thing is that I was coming out of a shopping complex where, just before the light, on the right hand side there was fire vehicle/paramedic vehicle parked so I proceeded with utmost caution scanning the road to see if any other fire or paramedic vehicle is approaching hence I would have been slow completing my turn and thats when the officer would have seen that the perpendicular light turned green while I was still inside the intersection. But I did enter the intersection when the light was yellow.
    Do you think my defense is solid to clear my ticket? I have not had any tickets in my 10 years of driving history.


  68. Mike says:

    I get a seat belt ticket by cop’s mistake
    I appeared in court, pleaded “Not guilty” and get a hearing date
    Can I do now (before hearing) TRIAL BY DECLARATION?
    Thank you

    • Mike, thank you for the clear short question. Usually you have to request a trial by declaration prior to the date on the citation next to your signature (1st court appearance). So I think you are too late. You would lose anyway – because the cop is going to say he say you not wearing a seat belt, and that is what the cop wrote on the citation prior to adding his signature under penalty of perjury. What are you going to say in a trial by declaration? “I had my seat belt on and the cop was wrong!”. THat is not really a winning defense. You are better off in a live court trial where you can question the officer is a way that makes him admit he has no independent memory of the incident. TBDs do not work well with seatbelt tickets. Unless your car was so old that seatbelts were not required. But if you really want a TBD, request one anyway. All they can do is say no, and they may say yes.

  69. Al Catraz says:

    I just filed a “TRIAL BY DECLARATION” and I think I have good argument so I should win!. Based on LASER manual of operations and ENGINEERING SURVEY — the officer was also parked in an illegal spot — and all those make it a SPEED TRAP !
    I am not a lawyer, but your statement :
    “This citation, signed by the officer in the course and scope of his/her public duty is a “Verified Complaint” and is competent evidence against you”
    bothers me. The courts and so-called Judges, are lying to us ( since they depend on the money they extract from us!) The law in California is clear that NOTICE TO APPEAR is NOT a VERIFIED COMPLAINT! Verified implies that it was signed in front of a JUDGE! and that is never the case! Also, the officer will, most times, write notes on the back of the ticket — thust altering it AFTER you signed it! That is forgery, since the court has to have TWO IDENTICAL copies of the ticket you have!!!!
    Also, for years I fought off tickets written by sheriffs and local police, since they had no authority to enforce the Vehicle Code! Just a yera or so ago they added the authorization to to the Vehicle Code

    • Al Catraz, cool name. I hear you. Good work, A fighter!

      I like some of the ideas. But you do not have a clear understanding of what “Verified” actually means in the law. It does not mean “Signed in front of a judge”. Where did you get that idea? It’s plain, flat, wrong. “Verified” simply means signed under penalty of perjury. I can write up and sign a real, verified complaint right here in my backyard if I want to. Verified is simply a statement made where the penalty of perjury attaches. No judge need be present at all. I’ve written up many verified complaints myself for different types of cases, and had clients sign them anywhere – home, work, it does not matter where it is done or who witnesses it.

      And your notion of “Forgery” is not really correct. Forgery involves a knowingly false statement regarding a person’s identity. It has no application to police officer notes.

      But you are right in suspecting there is something wrong about a police officer taking notes and then not turning them over to the Defendant prior to trial. It’s really a discovery violation causing a denial of due process problem. How can you get a fair trial if you do not have access to all of the evidence?

      If you enjoy this sick sport, I recommend you try to set up your case with some appeal able issues regarding the police officer notes, and challenge legal aspects of it in an appeal, with real judges.

  70. b1-66er says:

    i’ve done a LOT of reading about TBD and i haven’t found a single case where someone has won through argument … in *all* cases when people mention that they’ve won, it’s been through default (the cop hasn’t responded) … if the cop responds, the defendant loses.

    do you know of *anyone* who has won a TBD by argument?

    • Yes, I have seen real Trial By Declaration Wins. Keep in mind that more than 90% of people who have a traffic court trial of any kind are found guilty. And in reality, 90% of the people are guilty. I like how you asked ‘won a TBD by argument?”. Argument alone? No. That does not work. You need a defense to win a trial. You cannot just make things up. If it’s your word against the cop’s, you are going to lose, that is true. But if you have a real defense – like I have proof I was not in the US on that day – then you can win. Here is another classic one – There is no Stop Sign where the officer says there is a stop sign.

      Then there is also the phenomenon of people who think they have a defense, but they do not understand the defense is not a defense. A clasic example of this force of nature are the people who have trials over speeding citations, claiming that they were traveling with teh “flow of traffic”. Hello people, that is not a defense. If your defense is: I was speeding, but . . . . you are going to lose.

      You can attach pictures of the location to your trial declaration – and sworn declarations by percipient witnesses.

      But in the end, you actually have to be innocent to have a reasonable expectation of winning any trial. Argument alone will not work.

    • Yes, I have seen real Trial By Declaration Wins. Keep in mind that more than 90% of people who have a traffic court trial of any kind are found guilty. And in reality, 90% of the people are guilty. I like how you asked ‘won a TBD by argument?”. Argument alone? No. That does not work. You need a defense to win a trial. You cannot just make things up. If it’s your word against the cop’s, you are going to lose, that is true. But if you have a real defense – like I have proof I was not in the US on that day – then you can win. Here is another classic one – There is no Stop Sign where the officer says there is a stop sign.

      Then there is also the phenomenon of people who think they have a defense, but they do not understand the defense is not a defense. A classic example of this force of nature are the people who have trials over speeding citations, claiming that they were traveling with teh “flow of traffic”. Hello people, that is not a defense. If your defense is: I was speeding, but . . . . you are going to lose.

      You can attach pictures of the location to your trial declaration – and sworn declarations by percipient witnesses.

      But in the end, you actually have to be innocent to have a reasonable expectation of winning any trial. Argument alone will not work.

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