Defense Attorney Tips for Effective Cross Examination of Traffic Ticket Officers

I recently got stuck in a traffic court department during a traffic ticket trial session. I didn’t want to be there, but I could not help it. I needed the judge to sign off on a warrant recall. The judge knew what I wanted, and I knew what he wanted.  He wanted me to wait until the infraction trials were done.

Wait I did. I waited through 5 horribly discombobulated traffic court trials where everyday people tried to ask police officers questions, but really got nowhere at all. In fact, they got “housed” by the cops – which in my world means “Sent Home Crying”.

Yes, you can ask a police officer questions in a Traffic Ticket Trial. It is your right to cross examine witnesses against you, and a cop is a witness against you. (5th & 14th Amendment to the US Constitution)

I thought to myself “these people have no idea what they are doing”. And I fondly remembered one of my first days working at the Public Defender’s Office when my boss, the brilliantly talented Defense Attorney, Ed Chun, called me into his office and taught me how to “Cross Examine” a cop on the witness stand.  Then later that day in 1997, I went to court and did it for the first time.

Hello! It dawned on me. Maybe this sitting in traffic court is not a waste of time! Maybe I can write a blog article on How to Ask Police Officers Questions in court – and maybe make some $$$ on the Google Ads??? Yes. A Blog Article.

So here it is:  Criminal Defense Attorney Tips on How to Ask Cops Questions. From a real trial attorney who has done it before the right way. And yes, it is free.

1) Know the Incident Scene Better than the Officer.

Attorneys call it a “Site Inspection”. You must go to the scene of the incident prior to the hearing and look at everything. Is there a cross walk? What kind of bushes are there? What do the lights look like? What kind of lines are painted around the area? How is the lighting? What are the traffic patterns? What do the signs say?

If you know the scene better than the officer, you can lead with one or two questions about details that he may not remember, and put him/her on edge to start with. Catch them unprepared to start.

2) Never Ask a Police Officer “WHY” He/She Did Something.

If you ask a cop the dreaded “Why” question, you are giving the officer a free shot to explain anything they want to.  And they have been to court more than you.  They know what the judge wants to hear.  If you let a cop start talking in court on his/her own, you are going to lose.

3) Ask Short, Closed Ended Questions.

Every single question you ask should be a “Yes” or “No” only question.  And they should be as short as possible.  Do not let the police officer talk on his/her own.  Do not allow the officer to say anything other than “Yes” or “No” in response to your question. Use the “yes” or “No” answers to justify your argument about what happened. That is all you want. Yes, or No.

If a police officer refuses to give you a “Yes” or “No” to a Y/N question, you can use my trick: Immediately after the officer starts saying anything other than Yes or No, ask the exact same question over again. Over and over until you get a responsive answer.

You can also make an objection: “Your honor that was a non responsive answer to a yes or no question.  I ask the court to strike that answer, and instruct the witness to provide a yes or no in response to my y/n question.

And if it gets really bad, strap on a set of balls, cut the officer off mid sentence and say: “Your honor, this officer is making things up, refusing to answer my question in a responsive manner, concealing information that favors my defense, and interfering with my right to cross examine the primary witness against me. I object and ask for a corrective instruction to the witness.”

An easy way to make sure that you are asking a Y/N question is to start with “Is it true that . . . .” or even “True or False,  . . . .” works.

For example, “Isn’t it true that you did not document the reason you stopped me on the citation?” is a great closed ended question. So is: “Did you use any tools to measure the distance between your car and mine?” and “True or False, the citation says nothing about a seat belt violation?”

An example of a Horrible Question: “Why did you pull me over?” If you ask this question, you are going to lose.

4) Figure Out What You Need The Cop To Say To Win the Case.

In advance of the court trial, it is imperative that you sit down and think about how the case will go.  Figure out what information you need the cop to provide to win the case.  If you cannot figure out what you need, do not ask any questions.

5) Plan Your Questions in Advance.

Once you figure out what you need, sit down and design a few, short, simple questions to get what you want.  Write them down if you want to – it is OK.  Do not just show and start invention question on the fly.  It will not work, and the judge is likely to cut you off before you even get to anything important.

6) Have a Plan for How to Use The Answers You Want If You Get Them.

Imagine the police officer gives you exactly the answers you think will help you win your case. Then, in advance, think about how you are going to EXPLAIN TO THE JUDGE WHY THAT INFO HELPS YOU.

If you cannot explain to the judge why the cop’s answers helped you, you are going to lose.

OK.  There it is.  Free Legal Advice on How to Ask Police Officer Questions.  Follow these tips in your traffic court trial, and you can have a useful, effective cross examination.  Do not be afraid to be bold.  When that judge calls your case, it’s your courtroom.  You paid for it – use it.

And finally, (for those of you still here), and because I feel bad about using too many key words here – here is a final free tip:

7) Do Not Ever Ask a Cop a Question You Do Not Already Know the Answer To.

The object of cross examination (which is really an art) is to present favorable facts to the court as evidence.  Cross examination is not for finding out why something happened.

That’s it.  Game Over.  Insert new quarter Click. I could write a hundred more, but I have to work people.

Questions? Leave a comment.

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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162 Responses to Defense Attorney Tips for Effective Cross Examination of Traffic Ticket Officers

  1. Kyle L says:

    Mr. Dort,

    Thank you so very much for the article you posted here, you’ve given me some great pointers to use for my upcoming court date. I was wondering, however, if you could answer just one or two simple questions about my case. I can win it quite easily (I think), but the after-effects are what I’m worried about. Last September I was ticketed for no proof of insurance in Los Angeles county. The thing is, I was not driving the car at the time. My girlfriend was driving with me in the passenger’s seat, when an LA Co. Sheriff’s deputy pulled us over. He stated that the September temporary registration paper in the back window, which features a watermarked number “9,” is sometimes actually a June “6″ that an unscrupulous person would flip over to get a “free month.” When he asked for her license, registration, and proof of insurance, we hit our little snag: she had yet to get insurance (had just bought the car) and she had forgotten her purse (that we were going to get) with her license in it. He then asked if I had my license on me, which I did, and said that he needed a license to put on the ticket, and he had us switch seats and and proceeded to make the ticket out to me (misspelling my last name as well, I think he may have been new.) I know that I can win the case based on not being the operator of the vehicle at the time, but my question is this: can he then just ticket my girlfriend for the proof of insurance and license after it’s dismissed? Or is there some other thing I should be concerned about? I hope you find this case interesting enough to noodle on a bit, but if not, I understand. Anything you can help me with would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

    • Kyle,

      This story is a little hard to believe. But if true….

      If you were not driving at the time the officer stopped the car, and that is the evidence that comes out, you are 100% innocent. IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO BE A PASSENGER IN A CAR WITHOUT HAVING PROOF OF INSURANCE.

      If the officer forced you to switch seats, and then falsely declared on the citation or in court that you were the driver he or she saw driving – that is PERJURY. The officer can end up in prison for lying under oath, or under penalty of perjury on the citation.

      What would I have done in the same situation? “Sorry officer, but there is no way in the world I am going to drive this car now or sit in the driver seat. I completely refuse to change seats.”

      My suggestion? Bring your witness to court with you. Try to catch the officer lying in court with direct questions (“testilying” as it is called) then use your own testimony and your witness’s testimony to prove that you were not driving.

      If you have really good proof of perjury, make a formal written complaint to: 1) the head of the officer’s agency (CHP?); and 2) the county district attorney.

      If you were not driving at the time you were stopped, you are factually innocent.

      Finally, no, the officer cannot issue a new ticket after the trial for an old date. No way, no how, no way.

      But be warned! Your story is very hard to believe. It makes no sense. Why would the officer not want to give the real driver the citation? That makes zero sense, and makes your story hard to believe. You need to deal with that problem somehow.

      And be double warned! dont get caught lying in court yourself. Dash cam video is way more common in traffic court trials than most people think – and if he has video of you driving, and you lie about it in court, seeeeeeee yaaaaaaaa! Pack your toothbrush because you may not be coming home right away.

      • Kyle L says:

        Mr. Dort,

        Thank you so much for responding to my comment. I do agree that this seems to be a very odd situation, and a little tough on my side. I initially intended to pay the ticket and be done with it, until I realized how expensive it would be. I know I was not driving (and to prove it the car is a stick shift and I can’t drive stick. If I were driving he would’ve ticketed me for impeding traffic lol) so if he does bring the dash cam footage I’ll dance a little jig. I intend to ask the court to move to dismiss in the interest of justice at arraignment, and if not I’ll try and get the footage and his notes in discovery. I’ve been scouring your site for tips and strategy, and I can’t thank you enough for “in absentia” helping me prepare for my case. If you’re curious, I’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. Jerry Clausen says:

    Mr. Dort, wow, you seem like a pretty smart. I to am in washington, but you may be able to help me. The other day (Jan 5, 2013) I received a notice to appear for arraignment for a ticket issued on February 13, 2013. This is the first I’ve heard of it. Yes I remember the circumstances, but the officer said I should receive a ticket within 15 days. This was a very sketchy stop and I was cited for driving on a suspended license 3rd degree. The officer had no reason to stop me, I was obeying all traffic laws, and when I asked him the dreaded question, he said he didn’t have to have a reason. He could pull anybody over he felt like. Now, this was a mini van for crying out loud. In addition the officer was extremely unprofessional, verbally abusive, and generally not a nice man. I am 60 and have had my share of tickets, and I try to teach my kids to respect police officers, but this guy was beyond belief! At one time he actually said “I can pull you out of this van and beat the s**t out of you if I want to” this in front of my 17 year old son. My questions are this. Is it reasonable to send out a ticket 11 months after the infraction. I just assumed that after he got back in his car he realized what a jerk he was and decided to not write the ticket. I guess not!! If police cruisers are fitted with dash cams, can I subpoena those? I know I can subpoena his notes. I also believe that did this due to a road rage incident that had occurred with me not 5 minutes previously. Not my road rage, but another driver. The reason I say this is that this cop was nowhere in site as I went down this street, and then all of a sudden he was right on my tail!! Practically out of nowhere. What reason would he have had to do that if I was just another driver on the road. This whole thing has left a very bad taste in my mouth, and my court date is Jan. 22nd. And I really don’t know what to do.

  3. Josh says:

    Hello sir, I Stopped at a stop sign. I then proceeded to the intersection less than 100m away and I couldn’t stop since I was less than a car length away when the light turned yellow and saw there were no pedestrians or oncoming cars. I was probably going faster than the limit, but he has no proof whatsoever of this. I then travelled a good distance before getting stopped. Officer said you zipped past me and ran through an orange. I was confused and scared because I was intimidated and wasn’t thinking properly.

    He didn’t issue a speeding ticket. He issued the ticket which said I failed to obey a road sign, by which he said he meant a speeding ticket.

    What are arguments that I can make.
    Can I say that he has no physical and sound proof that I was speeding and used his judgement to assume that I was?

    Also he was a highway patrol officer. So can I say he is used to seeing cars go fast and this happened in the city so he assumed I was going fast.

    I was intimidated by him, felt pressured and wasn’t thinking right. Can this get me out of anything I said on tape.

    Thank you

    • Josh,

      This is kind of a wacky questions. You did not tell us what violation you were cited for. You tried to explain it, but it did not come out.

      What code section are you accused of violating? Check your ticket (citation) for the code section. It probably says something like “Veh Code 22350″ – which means California Vehicle Code section 22350 (Speeding).

      Once you figure out the code section, look it up and read it. You can find it on line for free. In CA, the Vehicle Code is published on line by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

      Once you read the code section, you will be able to see what is required to be found guilty.

      The government has the burden (if you demand a trial) to prove you are guilty. If they dont have evidence, they cannot meet that burden – and that is a great argument.

      But if you are charged with violating a sign – your speed it not at issue. All that matters is whether or not the officer saw you blow off the sign.

      What kind of sign was it? Was it a red light?

      There is no such thing as an “Orange Light”. I recommend you forget about that part of the story. It will not help you.

      What about “Feeling pressured and not thinking right”?

      Well, if it were me, I might forget about that part of the story too. I wouldn’t want the judge to know I have trouble “thinking right” during a stressful driving situation. That is not a fact that will help you.

      So what really happened here? Did you go bizerk on the officer? Is that really what you are worried about?

      Are you really innocent of the charge? From your description, I did not get the felling you did everything right. It sounds like you were confused, not thinking right, and had no idea what was going on.

      You may want to consider just paying the fine and moving on – or work on making your side of the story clearer. Especially the part where you want to say “I am innocent!”

  4. June says:

    My daughter was pulled over in Kansas for a window tint violation and issued a ticket to appear in court. It’s rougly $200 with court cost which is a lot to a 22 year old working two jobs and going to school. The day prior he pulled over her co-worker and issued her a warning. So I called the trooper and asked why one was a ticket one a warning etc… I then asked if he had the control logs for the meter? He did not know what I was talking about so I asked how he knew the meter was accurate and he stated that he tests it after every use. So I asked again for logs – he told me he did not have to document the controls because he does it after EVERY use. I have attempted to get training documentation and window tint procedure policy under the KORA and my request was denied now in the attorney generals hands but will not have before court. My question is can my daughter present my documentation of the conversation with the officer during testimony and ask him if he agrees that this is a accurate account of our conversation. My goal is to get him to agree and concentrate more on the logs and that he doesnt have any than the fact that he stated he tested “after” every use. If she can get him to agree to that then I would have her ask the judge to dismiss based on the fact that he can not prove the meter was accurate at the time of the test and that he did not follow the manufactures instructions for use which clearly state he should do a control “before” use. But if I can’t let her use my account and I cant get my hands on their policy we may just have to pleade guilty and pay the fine.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Hello, I recently got in a car accident. I was at a red traffic light in the left turn lane. The light then changed to a flashing yellow light, and a sign next to the traffic light stating to yield yellow, as I did. After I let oncoming traffic pass me I proceeded with the left turn cautiously, mind you I live in WA and it had been raining on and off all day so the road was wet and it was around 11 at night. I ended up having to accelerate a little more, because I saw an oncoming car, which then caused me to do like a burnout from the lost traction, fishtailing, and ending up on a sidewalk… Car was damaged and not drivable. So the cop gets there and asks for my story and what happened and as I’m explaining how I ended up there, all he did was cut me off mid sentence and says, “So you were speeding.”
    Now, I am 18 years old… Teenagers= dirt bags, I didn’t like half of my high school peers, I get it … But he did that five times as I tried to tell him I was at a complete stop before turning and did NOT speed into that turn. Out of frustration and shock from it being my first accident I said fine, and let him have it. He came back and issued on the ticket that I was “Speeding too fast for weather condition”. I plan on cross examining the officer, if he shows up.
    I could ask if he has any proof of me speeding, but there’s the obvious I ended up on a sidewalk… Although, I do have a witness, my boyfriend in the passenger seat.
    Plus the area was 40 mph zone so I wouldn’t be able to go from 0 to over 20 without having to lose control in the middle of the intersection.

    I would like to know your thoughts on my infliction. Thank You.


    I was wondering what your intake is on what I briefly put out.

    • Stephanie,

      I am not licensed to practice in WA. But I can tell you this:

      A driver has a legal duty to maintain control of their vehicle AT ALL TIMES.

      Here, it sounds like you lost control.

      What does that mean? You were probably negligent. But negligence is not the same as speeding!

  6. Christian says:

    I was on a completley empty freeway thing I guess (103 N from Terminal Island) The speed limit is 55 and he said he clocked me at 79 with the radar device. There were some streetlights out and he was in the pitch black center divider. I don’t know if it matters that the center divider is rough surface while radaring. I was driving north and his car was also facing north. I saw his tailights fliker as I passed. So he pulls me over and asked me if I was going kinda fast and I said yeah. Seems like a vague question in my opinion. He asked for my proof of insurance. My card expirerd mid August and this was beginning of September. So he told me to bring my proof to the clerk. The ticket info just came in the mail today and it said the bail amount was like $870. Is that because of the lack of proof of insurance? I didn’t have any lapse just didn’t put the new paper in the car. Is there also any chance to win by questioning him radering me from the back of the car and being on a rocky surface. Does the fact some ofthe street lights were out help?

    • Christian,

      The one thing that stands out in your comment is the fact that you do not ever say “I was driving legally, within the legal speed limit.” If you cant say that truthfully, dont waste your time.

      No, a bumpy median does not affect the accuracy of “radar” speed measurements. And if it were possible, you would have to find an expert witness to testify how that problem may have affected YOUR SPEED MEASUREMENT in order to have any kind of real evidence to argue from.

      As for the insurance, you should read this article on how to take care of Vehicle Code 16028a violations correctly.

      If you were cited for a violation of Veh Code 16028a, you are guilty if you did not have proof of insurance when the officer asked for it. But if you had valid insurance at the time of the citation, taking the proof into court with you, on time, may help you get a dismissal. But dismissals are not free, there is a charge for a dismissal. And dont try to do it by mail. It will not work the way you hope it does. Take your proof of insurance to the courthouse in person, before the deadline date.

  7. Cat M says:

    Good afternoon from South Carolina -
    Last night I was driving my son to work. It was raining very hard and it was very dark. As I took the right on the road I usually take I noticed that there was a police car with his lights on sitting across the road. I drove slowly and thought that I would be directed by the police officer what to do, either drive around or turn around.
    I had no idea what was happening, if there was a tree fallen or a car stranded but I proceeded down the road. I did not see a police officer. My windows were up. There was a car behind me. Before I knew it I was in about 4 feet of water which was flowing fast and rising. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think I could back up because I still saw headlights in my rear view mirror and so I saw a chance to get to dry ground so I gun it and made it to dry land.
    It was then that I saw the police officer and I put my window down. He came running at me hollering and had to keep himself from saying some bad words. He asked me what I was doing and I said driving my son to work. He asked me why I went through the running water and I said it only looked like a puddle and I had no reason to think there was any danger ahead. He said he was waving and hollering at me with his strobe flashlight and asked if I saw it. I said no sir I did not. He said “really.” I said no sir I did not see you or a waving flashlight. Nor did I hear you hollering .My son said he didn’t as well. This police officer asked me for my license and snatched it from me and said he was going back to write me up a ticket for “disobeying a police officer while directing traffic.”

    1. the lights on his car were flashing
    2. I did not see the police officer, he was wearing dark clothing, he had no reflective clothing on.
    3. I had no idea that he was blocking on coming traffic from the flooding waters and there was no officer or cones out to warn us coming the opposite direction that there was danger ahead.
    4. If he was waving his hands up high with his flashlight it must have blended in with the lights on his police car that was very blinding bright.
    5. Some people were getting out of their car and walking through the waters to come ask the police officer questions.
    6.This officer stopped what he was doing and took the time to write me a ticket. Took him about 15 mins. Wasn’t he suppose to make sure that others weren’t in danger?

    Anyway I explained to him that I would never disobey an officer and that I really thought this ticket was unfair. He told me the court date and that was that.

    On my way home there were other road blocks with a patrol car at one end of the blocked area and cones set up on the other side. These officers were dressed in bright yellow rain gear with reflectors on them. There was no question that they had the road blocked so I turned around.

    I called his Commanding Officer and the guy basically said he will speak with the officer to get his side of the story but the ticket stands. He would not second guess his officer.

    So I guess like it or not I’m going to court. I do not want to pay the fine and do not was points taken off my license or for my insurance to increase.

    How should I handle this?

    How could I “disobey an officer if I never saw him?” Once I did I did exactly what he instructed me to do.

    I feel like crap. Sorry but I’m really upset about this. Please help!

    • Cat,

      You are not going to like this, but:

      My first impression from your story is that even if a reasonable, prudent, safe driver would not have seen the officer, you still did something stupid.

      The fact that you did not see the officer does not mean you are innocent. At the trial, you are going to have to convince the judge (following the officer’s testimony) that a reasonable, prudent safe driver in the same position would not have seen the officer or understood what the officer was doing.

      If there were other people there stopped, and you saw an unsafe problem (you could not see the road – hello!), and you kept going anyway……. I dont know … you sound guilty.

      There are some good facts here to point out at your trial. No reflective clothing (was it a low light situation?). No signs? no strobe light?

      Or did you say there were strobe lights? Maybe stay away from that fact.

      What would your son say at trial? “stop! Stop! Stop Mom! It’s a flash flood! Stop texting Mom! Stop! There is a river in the road! Mom! You almost hit a cop! Mom!”

      Actually, nevermind, that was just my own flash back. From the 70s.

      • Cat M says:

        You are funny.

        It was dark. He was about maybe a 1/4 of a mile away maybe a little closer. Or the car was. I did not see the water running it looked like standing water so I thought it was safe to continue up to the police car and then get directions from him on where to go. My son said he also did not see the police officer. The violation is 56-5-740 which reads: SECTION 56-5-740. Obedience to authorized persons directing traffic.

        No person shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer, fireman or uniformed adult school crossing guard invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic.

        HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-287; 1952 Code Section 46-287; 1949 (46) 466; 1977 Act No. 149 Section 1.

        I did not willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer – since I did not see him, hear him. There were no cones set up or any warning that there was a pond in front of me. Yes I felt rather stupid pretending my car was a boat but it all happened so fast I had no chance to react. It honestly looked like a puddle. A stupid puddle.

        He claims he was waving the strobe flashlight but I did not see it because I think he blended in with the police car lights. He said he hollered at me…I had my window up…raining could not hear him.

        Your mom almost hit a cop? They didn’t have cell phones in the 70′s ….I don’t think…anyway ……..

        I need help in preparing my downhill battle with the judge and cop…..any more suggestions? I know I know ….no more driving through puddles on dark rainy nights….

        • Cat,

          I am not licensed to practice there. I think. And I often write things with errors in them. But I think you are on the right track when you focus on the “willful” part of the violation. If it is a required element, your testimony can kill it.

          • Cat M says:

            Oh now I just spoke with the LT. and he said that he over heard the officer speaking to his Commanding officer saying that I almost ran him over. ? Oh bring it on…… This….really sucks. Sorry but it does. I love police officers. I think they are all handsome and stuff in their little uniforms but this guy….not so much …. that better not come up in front of the judge because that wasn’t even mentioned nor was it part of the offense. I’m going to turn all lawyer on them!!! I gotta get a suit. Got the heels…going to tote one of those binders in there and wear glasses…put on my lawyer face…

  8. David says:

    Hello and thanks for the info. I was pulled over at about 230 a.m. in a pretty bad neighborhood while bringing a friend home in upstate NY. The police officer immediatley asked me what type of drugs or weapons I was buying etc. as soon as he got to my window. Saying what are you doing in this area etc. I told him bringing a friend home and i was doing nothing wrong. He saw what looked to be a marijuanna pipe in my back seat and asked me to get out of the car. Another officer came and they proceeded to search my entire car. After finding absolutly nothing, He took the pipe he must have presumed to be illegal(the reason for searching my car) and smashed it off the street. I then asked him if i could go and he said sit back in your car. He then came to my window minutes later and gave me tickets for failure to use my left directional, failure to obey a traffic device, and having a exhaust that was too loud. He gave No ticket what so ever for the Pipe he searched my vehicle for in the first place. I know entirly that I did not commit any of these offenses i was ticketed for. Everyone’s opinion i have got on the exhaust they say its not too loud at all and the other two tickets are plain not true. I have trial tomorow and know that i am innocent but i do not know how to approach this trial. Wish i found your blog sooner, if you can give me some advice ASAP it would be great! Thanks Dave

    • David,

      Here is my best recommendation: show up on time.

      • David says:

        As simple as this advice was it actually worked. I showed up early for the trial as did the police officer. I used some of your example statements I read of yours in other comments. Also showing lack of good judgment on the officers side by detailing how it is not standard police procedure or good judgment to forcefully slam what you believe to be an illegal smoking pipe on the ground in a public area, that he also used a tremendous lack of judgment in issuing these Falty tickets. I then asked the judge to dismiss these tickets on that basis and it worked. Thank you for making this blog as it helped me today tremendously.

  9. Mike Smith says:

    First of all, great post! Second of all, you probably won’t see this post since this particular blog is over a year old, but if you do see it, I have a few questions for you.

    My fiancee was pulled over for failure to stop at a steady red arrow (right turn) signal, on a divided 8 lane road. The center of the road has a concrete median with places to turn left/u-turn every 1/4 mile or so. In the auto-deposition that was printed by the police officer at the scene of the pull-over, it states that she made a right turn onto a East/West road (going East) on a steady red arrow from a side street. At the same time, another person was going westbound on the same road and moved to the left turn lane to (assuming here), make a left hand turn. The other driver instead made a U-Turn at this big intersection and almost t-boned my fiancee’s car on the driver side. The police deposition says that the other driver was making a legal U-Turn, when, in fact, I took pictures of that very intersection from all angles (which clearly showed not one, but TWO No U-Turn signs AND Left turn only lines on the ground), and that driver made an ILLEGAL U-Turn. Both the left turn arrow of the west bound lane of the main road and the right turn signal from the side road are synched together (the people going Westbound can make a lefthand turn onto the side road, while the people making a right turn from the side road can turn right, without interfering with each other).

    Here’s the kicker: I drove up and down that road in the same lane that the officer was in for over 30 minutes today and took pictures of that intersection. There was no way that he could see the Westbound lane signs from the Eastbound lane, and his view of the turn arrow from the side street was obstructed (as well as the Westbound lane signs), as my pictures show.

    What else do we need to do to mount a successful defense when she takes this to trial (she’s putting in a plea of Not-Guilty tomorrow morning)? An 1111(D)3 traffic violation in New York State is a 3 point violation and a pretty hefty fine.

    Have we covered all of our bases by taking pictures and making a diagram of the scene? She’ll be going to town court for this process.


  10. Jason Miller says:

    I was wondering if this is an ok question to ask an officer if nothing is listed on the citation as to why he pulled you over.

    What is the reason listed on the citation for the traffic stop?

    If nothing is listed then any other answer then nothing you should be able to abject his answer and use your line of and then ask for the Citation to be added as evidence.

    “Your honor, I would also like to add this citation to evidence, this officer is making things up, No reason is listed on this citation. He is refusing to answer my question in a truthful manner, concealing information that favors my defense, and interfering with my right to cross examine the primary witness against me. I object and ask for a corrective instruction to the witness.”

  11. Bruce says:

    Hello, Second try,
    My wife and I attended traffic court today for failure to yield on a left turn yield intersection. When I attempted to sit beside her at the defendants station, the bailiff asked if I was a witness, and I told him I was not, but that I was her husband. He told me that I would have to sit in the gallery. After the officer made his statement the judge told her she could ask the officer questions and make a statement. After making her statement the judge began making statements as though her description of the event was wholly different from the officers. My wife was flustered and nervous only asking one question of the officer, which he answered vaguely. Sitting behind them I could see how the my wife’s explanation and the officers did not clash. Instead, the officer looking up from his MDT or other distraction could easily have misinterpreted the relative position of the vehicles due his not having continuously observed them approaching the intersection and making false assumptions drew the wrong conclusion. He also claimed that she had stated that she had been distracted and admitted that he did not even recognize her 6 months after the incident. I wanted to ask the officer questions that would show that the officer was mistaken, but was precluded from doing so. Should I have been allowed to stand with my wife even though I was not a witness? Can she appeal based on that? Can I/we then question the officer and clarify how the officer had been mistaken during the appeal or at a subsequent retrial? Thanks for the advice either way.

    • Bruce,

      What you wanted to do was represent your wife in the trial. Sadly, the law requires that you have a license to practice law before you can represent another person in court, even if it is your wife. Unless she is under 18.

      So, no, you did not have a right to sit with your wife and ask questions.

      Your wife can appeal. On appeal, no new evidence is taken. Instead, the reviewing panel of judges considers whether or not there were errors of law applied to the evidence presented at the trial. In general, you cannot appeal findings of facts by the judge, just errors of law made on those facts.

      If the judge believed the officer, then there is little you can do.

      You did not tell us what the officer testified about. Did he/she say “I saw defendant violate the law”?

  12. Eric T says:

    Christopher Dort,
    thanks for taking the time to help us uninformed citizens out.
    i could use some advice on how to fight my CA traffic citation.
    I recently received a citation for following too closely. before receiving the citation i had noticed the officer had been following me closely for about a half mile as i knew he was behind me i was making an effort to follow all traffic laws. i checked my driving and realized i was fairly close to the car in front of me, but because i knew i was not violating any other traffic laws i signaled and merged right into another lane to move away from the car in front of me so i wouldn’t have to worry about the officer pulling me over, however after i merged over he followed me flashed his lights and signaled me to pull over. he told me he had pulled me over for following too closely he said he witnessed me being less than a car length from the vehicle in front of me and that he had the violation on video and would use it if i brought the case to court
    i don’t think he could accurately have been able to estimate the distance between the 2 cars let alone be able to prove any thing even if he did have it on video, since he was directly behind me for at least a .5 mile both before the alleged violation and the .5 mile after it supposedly occurred before he decided to pull me over.

    any advice on how to fight this would be greatly appreciated
    thank you, Eric

    • Eric,

      Yes I have some basic ideas if you want to fight it.

      1. Demand a trial by declaration, try to win, see what evidence shows up;
      2 After you lose that, demand a trial de novo and have a court trial;
      3. try to win the court trial by persuading the judge you were complying with the law;
      4. if video evidence shows up, object to it on the grounds that it is inadmissible hearsay,

      If you lose the court trial, appeal on the grounds that the video evidence should not have been admitted.

      Those would be my defense attorney thoughts.

  13. jennifer says:

    Hello, my son was pulled over for not stopping completely at a stop sign, and he went to court today and asked the judge to put it off for 30 days because he requested a hearing and the judge told him to sit down and they will get to him and then when everyone lefted the building it was my son and all the police officers and the judge and when the judge told my son to start his questions there was another cop that kepted telling my son to shut up or he was gonna throw him out and my son just said im asking the questions like the judge told me to do and the cop kepted telling him to shut up every question he asked, and when my son asked the cop if he had a video showing he did not come to a complete stop the answer was i dont have to have a video,
    my question is when you ask for a hearing isnt there suppose to be some kind of proof to be showed? and they said he could appeal it but he had to pay for it upfront and also couldnt he do something because there were two other cops laughing at my son and he just turned 18 and that is very humiliating for people that claim they are police officers that claim they serve and protect ha then they more less bullied my son in court

    • Jennifer,

      RE: “my question is when you ask for a hearing isnt there suppose to be some kind of proof to be showed?”

      Sounds like your son forgot to tell you about the part where the officer testified (under oath and penalty of perjury), “I saw the Defendant drive through the stop sign without stopping.”

      I say your son forgot to mention it, because it appears you did not mention at all what the officer testified to and I dont want to blame it on you. It’s your son’s ticket after all.

      A police officer’s live testimony about what he or she saw is competent evidence. If the judge believes what the officer says, it is proof.

      On a stop sign violation, if the officer says “I saw him drive through it without stopping” – no other prof is needed. Video is not required by law.

      Moral of this story: Dont trust your son’s version of what happened in court.

  14. Jay Correa says:

    I was recently pulled over and cited for running too close and taking a red light. I pleaded not guilty and I have a trail on May 16. I did not think I did anything wrong since the only time I was behind another vehicle was we were in the intersection waiting to make a left turn. I clearly saw the light as yellow and proceeded to make the turn after the vehicle in front of me. After the turn I was driving to get to work and as I looked behind me I noticed a cop car with his lights and siren on coming up real fast. I thought he might be responding to an accident or incident so since I was right next to a turning lane, I proceeded to move into it as to get out of his way. Well he pullled in behind me and I was shocked. The officer then shuts off his siren and with his lights still on he goes into oncoming traffic pulls up next to me tells me to roll down my window and proceeds to converse with me while still in the vehicle. He tells me to pull into a gas station and I knew he was not happy. I need some help as to what kind of questions I could ask so I can avoid this citations staying on my record. I have not had a tickets in over 25 years and I believe I did nothing wrong.

    • Jay,

      You dont need questions to ask. You need to convince the judge you did not violate the law, and the officer is not going to help you do that. You are not going to get the cop to admit he lied about what he says he saw.

      If you have a trial, you should expect the police officer to say he saw you run through a red light, and he saw you driving so close to another vehicle that it caused a public safety hazard.

      If you believe you are innocent, you need to tell the judge:

      “I am presumed innocent. And I am factually innocent. I stopped at that red light (or, if true, ‘the light was green when I entered the intersection’). I was driving safely and I did not get so close to any car as to create a hazard.”

  15. Adam W says:

    Great blog. Couple quick questions. Is there any truth to the no corpus delecti defense? That is to say that since there is no “cause of action” there is no standing? I’m sure you know the attorney who’s youtube videos I’ve watched to find this information, and it all seems too good to be true which in my experiences usually means it is BS. P.S. I love the Hearsay objection to the radar gun. I’m definitely going to use this. I was stopped for speeding but he got me before I crossed into the reduced speed zone. I was still in a 45 when he got me for going 42 in a 30. It may require some fuzzy math on my part but I think I can prove it. Thanks again.

    • Adam,

      “No corpus delecti” defense? I have no idea what that is in a traffic court context, and have never seen anyone try or describe it.

      “Corpus Delecti” refers to the legal requirement that there actually be a body of the crime, so to speak.

      No standing? I dont get it. The government has no standing to enforce the vehicle code? The government has no power to authorize law enforcement officers to enforce the vehicle code?

      Ha! There must be something wrong with my eyes, because I cant see it working. Anywhere.

      But I would also say try everything. Write up a brief. Find the law to support your wacky idea, and it might work. You might just be that one person who finally convinces a court that the government is not authorized to write traffic tickets??! You just might be that one guy in History who finally kills the vehicle code, who finally kills all traffic tickets!!!!

      And if all that goes . . . why in the world would we need drivers licenses? To Vote? What? WTF, over?

  16. Earl Conlon says:

    Hello sir,
    My name is Earl Conlon I am a commercial truck driver. and I have an issue with a state policeman at the Tn weigh station in Greeneville,TN highway 81 south bound.
    the Weigh station was open.. when i was pulled in my truck was over weight on my trailer axles, not gross weight. the Officer told me to come inside, I politely asked him if he would give me the chance to fix the problem with my axle weight.. his reply was ” why would i do a thing like that”.
    Well i knew then he was out to rake me across the coals.. he instructed me to bring the truck to the inspection bay for a complete inspection..
    he claimed on the inspection report and tickets, i failed to wear my seat belt.. i was wearing it.
    he claimed i had 3 wheel seals leaking.. they were NOT. No oil or grease contaminating the brakes shoes or drums.
    He claimed i had a popping noise when he shook my left steer wheel… 11,000+ on that axle no human could move it on the ground.
    He claimed my air brake buttons on the dash were not working because they did not Pop loudly. they popped slow and quiet..
    in the insp. bay he went into my truck and looked around EVEN THOUGH I DID TELL HIM I DO NOT CONSENT TO ANY SEARCHES. I have this On video.
    after he took a whole 2 1/2 hours with inspection and paperwork he placed me out of service.
    So My questions are: what is the differences between him stopping me with lights on a patrol car and a open weigh station sign?
    Don’t they need probable cause to stop you No matter what?
    and how do I fight cops who are writing bogus tickets that ruin my CSA record and my companies CSA record..
    I am guilty of Over weight on my trailer axle but they would NOT know that until i was on the scale.
    So before i was pulled in they had no way of knowing anything.
    but my big issue is that he wrote me up on things that were NOT broken and I did have other officers do a second opinion insp. and they really had to look hard to find what he was talking about.. but the standard for Out of service was NOT violated.
    How do i punish a cop who is writing tickets and destroying truckers and tucking company records and violating Constitutional rights , in the name of Revenue collections?

    • Earl,

      !!! Great Comment. Great questions.

      I dont know the answers because I am not licensed there. And I do not know how it works. I will certainly invite other attorneys to answer and I will approve any that come through (free advertising for you all).

      I can say this:

      If you were going to have a trial on the alleged violations, you should have an expert on the subject in court with you to testify about the mechanics. Maybe an old friend whose got 20 years of experience? Maybe your favorite mechanic? Someone who is qualified to give an expert opinion, and who can dispute the officer’s SUBJECTIVE findings. Dont try to go in alone and dispute the officer’s testimony (if you can get a trial) yourself. You need an expert to offer an expert opinion on your behalf. Start looking for one.

      We will try to get you a better answer.

  17. Michael R says:

    Just looking for some input.

    On February 14th 2013 I was driving a commercial vehicle headed home towards my terminal. I was in the center lane doing the speed limit. I noticed a motorcycle officer on the right shoulder using a radar gun. Just at that second a small red car came flying past me on the left. He saw the officer as well and slowed down, but it was to late. The officer passed me on the right side and crossed in front of me. I saw what was going on and started to slow my truck down. As the officer caught up to the red car he initiated his lights to pull the car over. And because the black car behind the red car was so close to it he could not get in between them so he decided to pull that car over as well. As all this was happening ALL traffic was slowing way down including myself. As soon as he had the two cars on their way to the shoulder. he turned around and motioned for me to pull over as well.

    When the officer approached my truck he was at full boil. He pointed his finger at me and said (in a loud angry voice) “I could give you a ticket for that!” I was perplexed and asked for what” The officer said I had not slowed down. I stated that I HAD slowed down. He then said “You didn’t slow down fast enough.” I stated that I was not about to just slam on my brakes in the heavy traffic. The officer issued me a citation for :


    Failure to yield to emergency vehicle or ambulance
    • penalty

    (1) A person commits the offense of failure to yield to an emergency vehicle or ambulance if an ambulance or emergency vehicle that is using a visual or audible signal in a manner described under ORS 820.300 (Exemptions from traffic laws) and 820.320 (Illegal operation of emergency vehicle or ambulance) approaches the vehicle the person is operating and the person does not do all of the following:

    (a) Yield the right of way to the ambulance or emergency vehicle.

    (b) Immediately drive to a position as near as possible and parallel to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway clear of any intersection.

    (c) Stop and remain in such position until the emergency vehicle or ambulance has passed.

    (2) A person is not in violation of this section if the person is acting as otherwise directed by a police officer.

    (3) This section does not relieve the driver of an emergency vehicle or ambulance from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway, nor does this section protect the driver of any such vehicle from the consequence of an arbitrary exercise of the right of way granted under this section.

    (4) The offense described in this section, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle or ambulance, is a Class B traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §582; 1985 c.16 §289; 1995 c.383 §46]

    There are several things I see wrong with this. I believe the intent of this statute is to provide a clear path for emergency vehicle to respond to emergencies. I do not believe that pulling over a speeder is and emergency. Also the officer was past me when he activated his lights and was not approaching me. I believe I had slowed down more than enough for him to conduct his stop and I did not impede him in any way.

    As a note when the officer approached me he was pissed. I think if I had just said sorry and cowed to him he probably would have let me off with that warning he had given me at the top of his lungs. However I am not intimidated by cops and I defended myself and my actions. This of course had other ramifications. He pulled a level 2 inspection of my truck ( found nothing wrong ) and examined my logbook ( nothing wrong there either. His parting shot was that he would compare my logbook to scale records and mail me any additional tickets he could find cause for. In other words he was already pissed when he stopped me and even more pissed that I stood up for myself.

  18. Mary says:

    Mr. Dort,

    First, a thank for you such a fabulous informative site overall, and this article in particular.

    I was recently pulled over in Florida for allegedly running a stop sign and received a citation I’ll be fighting in traffic court. The cop had an unusual name and I googled it, and learned that he has a formal record from 2007 of being adjudicated “guilty” of “untruthfulness” in his testimony before the local civil service board with regard to his appeal of a brief suspension for his participation in a kickback scheme from a tow truck company (the board further affirmed his guilt on that charge as well). He went before the police investigative board in 2010 on a citizen complaint that the officer had arrested him on a trumped-up reason and relieved him of a wallet which did not find its way back to his pocket upon his eventual release. While that charge couldn’t be substantiated, the board found his record of five citizen complaints within one year disturbing enough that it placed him on a formal monitoring list. Then, within this past year or so, his fellow officers have posted repeated comments in an online police chatroom about how he knowingly parks his patrol car outside the county jurisdictional line to nab (for speeding 5-10 miles over) civilian police personnel he knows are coming off shift from a certain facility.

    My specific question(s). I plan to start off with good legal and photographic evidence but if the case degenerates into he said/she said, I want to introduce evidence of his dishonest character. I figure I can bring up the formal board records from 2007 on a Giglio basis. As for the 2010 stuff, I’d have to agree that raising unsubstantiated matters wouldn’t be appropriate if HE were the one being adjudicated—but what about when another person is faced with his accusations, and would like to show that his record certainly raises a reasonable doubt? Finally, while I know of course that anonymous postings off the internet aren’t good for much, is there any way to trip him up with the illegal patrolling (my idea was that if he fell for it, it would be evidence that he doesn’t care whether tickets are legally valid, just that he writes them).

    Thank you in advance for any advice/recommendations you can give!! And of course I absolve you with an acknowledgement that you’re not legally representing me and we’re doing this over the internet.

  19. Vinny says:


    Can you share how you would attack an officer’s Visual Estimation of Speed testimony? He used a laser and it read 87 in 65 at 1416ft away (GA ticket). Police Car was stationary and road was flat, though traffic was medium. I don’t have an issue making the laser results inadmissible but what my concern is attacking his VES and especially it being 472 yards or 0.27miles away?

    1) What if officer is not sure how far I was from him when he finished estimating?

    Anyway to attack VES without doing Math using time and distance? This is assuming there no alarming issues with his personnel file.

    Thank you

    • Try and exclude it prior to trial.

      • Written motion filed in advance of trial date. Demand a ruling on the motion prior to trial.

        • Vinny says:

          I am not sure if its the true in CA, but in GA its held that Visual Est of Speed is considered Lay Opinion Testimony and by itself is enough to convict w/o radar/lidar results. With that being said, would a Motion in Limine to Exclude Visual Est of Speed Testimony be most likely granted if the officer fails to produce anything documentating his training during the Discovery process? Is there another reason besides lack of documentation I can put in my motion?

          Thank you so much!

          **Wish we had laws like Cali ..traffic tickets there seem a piece of cake compared to GA lol

  20. JohnP. says:


    Sorry for my wording being to long….
    I was traveling to the dr’s at 7;50 am Friday the 25th and came to an intersection where I had to stop .( i had over an HOUR till my appt so was in no rush)
    I made the stop and turned LEFT on SBELL AVE….
    I had to along with others be very cautious due to the funeral home setting up for a large funeral.
    So by the time we could procede were already 100 feet down the road
    ( i checked and it is 4/10 of a mile before any speed limit signs)
    As I went down the rd I had to stop to look at a house 4 sale n get the number that was another 1/10 + past the 25 speed limit sign.
    I stopped at the house….n looked in rear view to see if I was blocking traffic NO ONE was behind me so I put in park n wrote down the phone number.
    As I started FWD I AGAIN looked in rear View NOBODY BEHIND ME so ok to proceed fwd.
    I stopped 1/10 ahead and flashed person at 4 way stop to go ahead of me.
    I then stopped 1/10 + of a miles ahead for a red light for 3 minutes

    I had my widnow open smoking , my wife does not smoke n I did not want to stink up car….
    I sat at red light for THREE minutes and tried to pull over n park to get TEA but there wasn;t enough room…STILL NO POLICE CAR BEHIND ME but a WHITE LEXUS
    ( the rd now turns into N BELL AVE AT THIS POINT)
    I proceeded into intersection and at last minute a RED PU truck turned right in front of me going down which is NOW N BELL AVE.
    HE turned right 2.5 /10 th;s ahead to go to 7-11…….
    I picked up speed but cautiously as it was 15 degrees patche with patches of ice and 50 or so kids waiting for busses.
    About 50 feet further I had to SLOW DOWN for DEER to cross road….
    I started FWD and with 50 feet had to stop for SCHOOL BUS STOP
    ( there are many on this street)
    I had less than 100 feet at this point to where I turned right and was pulled over.

    I was given an ILLEGIBLE TICKET that the speed is crossed out and can say anything from 40 , 41, 47 or 49….
    There is NOTHING written as far as HOW HE CLOCKED MY SPEED
    NOTHING under how far he followed me, minutes or seconds timed or method to check speed.

    He claimed he pulled me over for a SEATBELT infraction but when I produced a letter from cardiologist that HARNESS shoud not be worn as I have a PACEMAKER/DEFIB he said then i’ll just give you a speeding ticket.

    I had to call today to see what was up with the COURT and they give you 10 days to decide what to do but given the ticket was a friday I loose 4 of those days to contact you or an atty as they count weekends.

    Bottom line is the inconsistencies are
    1….ticket states infraction was on S BELL AVE where I made the 4 stops.
    2…IF you were trying to pull me over for a mile why no siren or PA system as I sat at a RED LIGHT? ( he wasn;t there)!!!
    3….How could I possible get up to any of those possible speeds if I had to STOP to let truck turn about 2/10s of a mile ahead, deer to cross rd and bus stop????.
    4….I had to stop for a BUS and waited at least 2 minutes there as well.
    5…I had less than 100 feet to go from 0-45 or more then turn right????? NO WAY
    6… he pulled me over for seatbelt but then changed it to SPEEDING
    7….It clearly says on ticket infraction took place on S BELL AVE but it is almost
    8. N BELL Ave is a thin road with a ton of potholes,, parking on both sides and 2-3 bus stops, and that road used by many to get to the 7-11.
    9…Though he claimed infraction happened on S BELL AVE he CLAIMS he followed me on NBELL AVE at 45 in a 25…..
    IMPOSSIBLE having to STOP for turning PU TRUCK, DEER and BUS STOP and then my turn right all in less than a mile.

    10…..I take this route monthly or when I need to go to docs…. allways very congested n kids all over. It is filled with parked cars, parents, kids n DEER very dangerous rd but a short cut to main rd..

    I have NO TICKETS OR ACCIDENTS for 30 years until now. AM a very safe driver especially where I know KIDS N DEER are present…

    11…. This officer has harrassed many people I know and given senseless tickets that they have beaten.

    12…..There is a petition to have this 2 man department CLOSED since it is already coverd by TWSP police, MANOR POLICE and STAE POLICE and his hiring cost twsp a PROPERTY INCREASE.
    HIS contract is up at years end.
    He assured the people that he can make up for the tax increase with citations so NO increase would be needed to reatain him after 2013.

    Sorry for the LONG VERSION…. actually given the extra time gaveme time to measure out the TENTHS of miles between areas and will be measuring wideness of
    N BELL AVE along with all pot holes and places I stopped at.
    I am trying to prepare a solid but as you put it NO A LONG DRONING EXCUSE.

    Thanks again for your time and help…….

    • John,

      I’d like to help, but it’s still way, way too long to understand. It’s filled with info that really does not matter at all, and information that you will never get to present in a traffic court trial if you demand.

      So here is how I am going to help you. I am going to get your focused on what matters, and what is truly relevant so that you can have a better understanding of how to fight an unfair traffic ticket. And in the process, I am going to punish your comment with a whole bunch of irrelevant info, but info that I think you should know.

      Here we go. Ready?

      1. It does not matter at all how long you had before your appointment. That information is not admissible, nor is it relevant to the question of whether or not you are guilty of speeding. You are not charged with being late. No one cares how long you had until your appointment;
      2. It does not matter at all why your window was open, or whether or not your wife smokes;
      3. It does not matter at all that:

      You did not see the police car (I’ll bet that surprises you – there is no requirement that you see the police officer who claims to have measured your speed);
      That there was a white lexus behind you;
      That this officer has given many senseless tickets to motorists that were beaten; (or was it motorists beaten senselessly like this poor sucker:
      That you have no tickets or accidents (this information is not admissible to prove you were not speeding on this occasion); and

      This thing that I do not understand does not matter:

      “There is a petition to have this 2 man department CLOSED since it is already coverd by TWSP police, MANOR POLICE and STAE POLICE and his hiring cost twsp a PROPERTY INCREASE.
      HIS contract is up at years end.
      He assured the people that he can make up for the tax increase with citations so NO increase would be needed to reatain him after 2013.”

      Maybe we could re write your comment:

      “I got a speeding ticket. The officer claims it was in a 25mph zone. The ticket is illegible. I cannot tell what speed he is accusing me of. There is no listing of the method used to measure my speed.

      I believe it is impossible that he measured my speed in excess of the speed limit at that location. I was traveling withing the speed limit at the time, and made many stops in this crowded residential neighborhood. I never saw the officer measure my speed, or even be in a location where he could measure my speed. I think this is bullshit and he is just harassing me like he does all of us vegetarians in this place.

      What should I do?”

      Answer: Demand a Trial. At the trial, try and convince the judge that you were in fact travel at or below the speed limit at all times. Do not mention your sick relatives. Consider leaving the funeral part out of the story – it’s killing your defense, even though you are dying to get it in there.

      I used “vegetarians” only as an example of class of persons that might be illegally harassed by the police. I assume you are a meat eater, and do not really subscribe to the whole “Meat is Murder” idea:

      Can you get access to police officer personnel records to see if there is evidence that you can use in your case to show the officer was engaged in a pattern of misconduct that led to your false allegations? Yes, actually you can. It’s called a Pitchess motion in this jurisdiction. But that is a subject for a different article that I have not written yet.

      • And I will go just a little deeper in an effort to help.

        The reason why your post is so long and convoluted is because you are trying to convince me of something illogical. Namely, what you are really saying is:

        1) it is impossible I was going that fast because of the conditions and a stop I made; and 2) it is impossible the officer measured my speed because I did not see him.

        Illogical because . . well . . .no, actually it is not impossible from the judge’s point of view. It is not impossible that the cop measured your speed with out you seeing him. Happen all the freakin time. And no, actually, it is not impossible that the conditions prevented you (completely and physically) from going more that 25mph. Bullpuckie. It was possible, and you know it. You could have gone 26 mph just for a second. It was physically possible.

        Therefore your convoluted defense fails on its face. It’s premise unproven, cannot be supported by enough evidence, even if you brought the funeral party into court to testify (and yes, they should be parties).

        In reality (which is where many judges reside) it is much better to avoid the “impossibility” defense and focus on something like:

        “I am here to testify under oath that I was not speeding. I do not know what he measured, if anything, because he was not anywhere near me. I do not know why he thinks I was traveling more than 25 mph, because I wasnt, and I do not know how fast he is accusing me of traveling because I cannot read the citation. I am presumed innocent by law. i am here to testify that I was not speeding. I ask that you find me not guilty on that basis. The accusation has not been proven, the government has not meet their burden. Not Guilty is what I ask the court to decide.”

        • John P says:

          Thanks so much Chris…

          I DO see why a LONG winded defense thought I THINK it may help me will not.
          Just present the facts n stick to that !!!!

          SHORT N SWEET !!!!
          Thanks again….. your help is appreciated I only wish you practiced in PA.

          Thanks again\
          John P.

  21. Big Downer says:


    I was casually surfing the net to get some pointers on traffic court
    when I found your blog. What caught my eye was the way you handled
    one comment by a retired Traffic Commander (“Jeff”)
    and another comment by an active duty police officer (“Sierra”). Given the
    disclaimer that we have no way of knowing if these people were in fact
    who they said they were, you replied under the assumption they were genuine.
    What is extraordinary is that you handled them with, shall we say, an intestinal
    fortitude that is rare in a public forum. And- you did not have the advantage of
    using an alias whereas they did. And that is a segue to why I’m posting. Tomorrow
    Wednesday January 15th 1pm I will attempt to beat a 21460 (a) infraction, and I’m
    nervous but I’m going in thinking I could win. Going to follow your tips on cross
    examining a cop.
    Here are the bullet points:
    • At 9pm I had come to a complete stop on a two-lane frontage road with one 18-wheeler directly front of me waiting to turn right into a lemon packing facility waiting area to load, and another 18 wheeler on the left of me stopped and waiting to turn left into the same waiting area, with 3 other semi’s in front of them. There are several areas in which a truck can turn in to the waiting area, as the entrance is about 100 feet wide, but not clearly marked.
    • This is a seasonal situation, with trucks lined up for hundreds of yards in both directions to load up with lemons 24 hours a day. The warehouse is located on a frontage road that is parallel with the 101 Freeway in Ventura. I inadvertently took this route with my 7 year old grandson strapped in a safety seat in the back of my vehicle.
    • There are no street lights in this area so it was pitch black.
    • I had come to a complete stop, with trucks idling all around me. One had just turned left in front of me from the opposite lane into the waiting area, which allowed me to move up to the rear of the truck in front of me, which was idling at a stop to turn right. To my left another semi which was behind the first one that had turned left, was idling to also turn left but I was blocking him. At that moment I see the police cruiser pull up behind me and we are all waiting. I surmise that I may be blocking the truck to the left who is now creeping past me to turn, leaving a slight opening when he passes. I decide to slowly veer left through that opening into the opposite lane to pass the truck in front and to allow it more space. This I do from a complete stop to about 5 mph, and I maintain 5 mph to complete my pass around the truck.
    • Back in the right lane it is clear and I accelerate to about 20 MPH when the cop pulls me over red lights, siren et al. He asks if I knew why he was pulling me over and I said I did not. He said I had crossed over solid double lines and I risked a head-on with oncoming traffic. There was no oncoming traffic – not one other vehicle, and if there were, it would have been at a complete stop because of the truck in front of it waiting to turn left.
    • I saw the cop when I turned – but I could not see the solid double lines because it was pitch black and even if it was during the day – I wouldn’t have seen them anyway because the truck was idling over those lines blocking my vision.
    • There was no signage within my line of vision, I was surrounded by huge trucks.
    • Noteworthy is that even with my vehicle Registration on his clipboard he identified my vehicle as a 2010 Dodge Charger when in fact it is a Dodge Challenger. When he wrote me the ticket he commented “That truck was about to turn anyway you should have waited.” I am not clairvoyant. I think he may say the truck had turned (false) or paint a different scenario because of his statement. He also said that he’s seen cars speeding down this frontage road above 45 MPH in some cases and crossing the double yellow lines could be fatal.
    • I’m hoping to impeach his testimony by pointing out if he is a trained observer and cannot correctly identify my car that is right in front of him and verified by the registration, then perhaps he may be in error about the position and number of trucks, the waiting time, and generally the circumstances and so forth.
    • Also, I did not argue with the cop rather I thanked him for the public safety “heads up.”

    My entire argument is yes under normal conditions and circumstances this is true,
    but these were anything but. Counselor, any thoughts would be appreciated – and
    either way I will refresh this page 25 times as a token of my esteem. No time to proof this so sorry for any and all errors.

  22. Daniel says:

    hey so i was pulled over for “speeding”
    i was on the 10 fwy and merging onto the 71 fwy. i had seen the CHP for a few miles now and constantly checking my speed since i was driving a red mustang. i was coming up on the 71 entrance and started getting over. i was traveling 65 and there was three cars to my right in the lane i needed to be in. the 1st was about 3-4 car lengths ahead of the car directly to my right (in my way of changing lanes) the next car was a little behind him and the officer was id say 150-200 ft behind me and one lane over to my right. i then accelerated to get over passing the car directly to my right and getting behind the car a few lengths ahead. i then slowed down alot due to the fact the ramp onto the 71 stated 50mph and was a long but slightly sharp turn. i then exited the 2nd exit and the CHP pulled up behind me at the red light and flicked his lights on. when he got to my car he said i pulled you over for speeding. you were also “shadowing me” for a good while and “driving disrespecfully near me” he then proceeded to say “didnt you see me? why did you speed? i then said i wasnt speeding and asked if he used radar? he replied with no i did not but i have a camera in my car. he then said what is the speed limit i replied with 65mph. he then asked how fast i was going i said i MAY have hit 70 while changing lanes, but that i only accelerated to change lanes safely and then said there is a 5mph cushion and that i was going with the flow of traffic. he took my info and went to his car. when he came back he said im ticketing you for going 75+ and reaching speeds of 85. i told him that is incorect and that i was not speeding he then told me your a 20 yr old and im not gonna argue with you sign the ticket sir. i signed it and left. my thing is this, i know i wasnt speeding and there was cars infront of me and to both sides going the same speed as me. i feel he singled me out and pulled me over due to the car i was driving and my age. also if i took the 50mph turn at 75 and reaching speeds of 85 i would have drifted and slid out since the car is stick shift. i was also in 3rd gear and if i travel that fast in 3rd im red lining it big time. and if any meaning at all what is “shadowing an officer” and “driving disrespectfully near him” mean? can i use this to my advantage saying he was in a bad mood or irratated at the time of my aledged speeding and pulled me over for things that dont exhist? thanks a ton

    • Daniel,

      So as you one of those people who feel if there are people in your way you need to speed up, not slow down? Sounds like it.

      I have some bad news. There is no such thing as a “5mph cushion”. 65mph is the maximum legal speed (based on what you wrote), even if people are in your way. It’s not legal to go 66, 67, 68, 69, or 70.

      It does not matter at all what the flow of traffic was.

      Based upon your own statement here, I’d say I have nothing to say that might help you. Except you have the right to a trial, if you want one.

  23. ev says:

    I got pulled over the cop asked do u know how fast you was going i said 30 maybe 35 he gave me a ticket for going 45in a30 but never marked the box of how it like radar clocked plane and i was in a 50mph zone 1/2 a mile and he wssnt behind me he was coming at me the oppisite way and he never told me i was speeding andcan i get it thrown out cuzmissing info on the ticket if not what questions should i ask thank you Ev ps its NH

  24. kim says:

    I just received a second dui (I know I know) the officer did not buckle me in which resulted with my head getting banged off the plastic thing seperating us. I also asked if he could handcuff me forwards, I get horrible anxiety attacks when I feel claustrophobic, he said it was for his own protection. Which is understandable. The man has a thing seperating us and I’m safety locked in. He was awfully nice though. Even dropped me off a few houses awayy from my house. Any tips??

  25. Sierra says:


    This isn’t at all what you intended by writing this blog post… but I just wanted to let you know, that I really enjoyed reading it and it has helped me prepare for my upcoming court dates! Little things like going back to the scene of the incident and memorizing what it all looks like… I didn’t think of things like that, before I read your post. So anyway, thank you.

    The difference between me and your other commentators… is that I’m a police officer. So like I said, you probably didn’t intend to help ME any by writing this, but nevertheless, I’m glad you did!

    ~ Sierra

    • Does Accidentally Help Police Officers?


      Ha. Technically, you are an unauthorized user. Our user agreement excludes permission for government agents. That’s why up until yesterday did not work with Microsoft IE. We knew that is what you people ere likely to use. Hippies use Firefox, not IE. But whatever. Looks like I am too late. It all works out. I hope it helps.

      If you see something you do not like, the best way to exit is to click on one of the flashing colored boxes. If you see something you do like, share it with your friends.

      Thanks for the new ad space. Your comments are welcome too.

  26. Jeff says:

    First off, I am a retired police lieutenant and at the time I retired a Traffic Commander. It sounds like you didn’t stop at all, you merely slowed down and saw the other cars had not gotten their green light so you went, slowed down again and then turned. You must come to a “complete” stop prior to the limit line which is the first line of the cross walk , if there is one, if not the imaginary line between the curbs. Basically you’re screwed. I’d say go to court and maybe the officer won’t show up. Continue your court date until it’s around a holiday weekend, cops are big on going on vacation and don’t listen to some inflated public defender. I’ve been in front of them so many times it crazy. Their experience in court is sitting on prelims…. the real truth comes from cops. We know what really happens and yes we are arrogant but we are there start to finish. Tell the truth…

    • Jeff,

      I have to say your statement that:

      “don’t listen to some inflated public defender. I’ve been in front of them so many times it crazy. Their experience in court is sitting on prelims…. ”

      is completely wrong. You obviously have no idea what public defenders actually do. Most start their day prepping for arraignments, then on to afternoon motions, then to meetings with private investigators and expert witnesses, then to site inspection where the stabbing happened, then on to the jail to visit that SVP again . ..

      And we have to add . . .Public Defenders went to law school and passed a state bar exam. Cops have not.

  27. Brandon says:

    Full stop on red citation reads ” traffic control signal violation (red light violation)”

    What happened was as i came up to the light i stopped by apling pressure to the break and when i looked left and saw that the cars were still sitting at there red light i let off the break and continues thru basically my light had just turned red my stop was a bit before the line and my only mistake thinking back was not making a second stop in the cops line of sight as i was closer to the line. After my earlier stop I may have been back to far for the cop to have seen my full stop and for him it appeared i just turned right without stooping at all . Does it matter that the turn was done only because it was safe to proceed as they group of cars to my left also had a red light when i did once i was about 2 blocks down after turning the cop who was at his red light was finally able to drive thru the intersection fliping on his lights i could barely see him to pull me over. When i pulled over he was far enough away i had to have waited for at least 10 seconds for the cop to catch up to me and i wasn’t speeding. My question is i felt i had made a full stop and the police officer did not. When he asked why he thought i was pulled over i said did i foreget to use my blinker? cuz wasn’t sure , should i supeana the video to see if it may show me stopping before the line then proceeding to turn? or because its my word against his there is nothing i can do? in my teachings of driving I remembered stopping and most importantly making sure safe to proceed was more important than how long or how close to the line you stopped before proceeding ,but i could be mistaken. I was getting the vibe that i was just a convenient pull over since he was behind me and was kind of stretching to make a case that i hadn’t made a full stop i remember him saying he only saw me turning so i don’t think he even paid any attention to what i did before the turn. Any thoughts would be appreciated you seem to know your stuff also whats the case if the cop doesn’t show i’m sure in low priority cases it happens all the time not to rely on it or anything just curious all my options as almost the principal of the thing i felt gypt you seem to be strate shooter appreciate your work and any help Thanks *B*

  28. Dee says:

    Here is my question. I was pulled over after passing a car on an almost deserted highway. The car was driving erratically and I wanted to get around it (my car is very small). Out of a hidden side street came an officer who pulled me over. Of course he asked if I knew why he was pulling me over and I said, I know I shouldn’t have done that, meaning pass the other car. I did not realize it was over a double yellow line (I know ignorance is no excuse). Thing is I got a ticket just 3 month before and then…two days later anther one!!! that one for driving on the shoulder of an off ramp (the CHP was on the shoulder linking up 5 cars that were all driving on the shoulder.
    My question is this, for the first ticket I did traffic school. For the next two I do not know if I should try to go to court and hope it gets demised or if its a lost cause.
    I have since learned my lesson and drive like an old lady and will forever. I get that I need to ALWAYS follow the law.
    Any advice is appreciated!

    • DortLaw says:


      My advice is this: Life is short. Dont waste it in traffic court if you are guilty. Unless you are sick like me, and like to go to traffic courts to work for free.

  29. Jon says:

    Thanks for the info! I’m preparing to fight a speeding ticket. The officer said he got me on radar at 75 in a 45 “end of freeway zone”. He wrote me for doing 75 in a 65 zone saying that he’s giving me a break. I was just wondering, if I do fight the ticket through trial by declaration, or in court, could the officer tell the judge that it was in a 45 zone and my fine could be increased? Or if I post bail then lose the case, the bail amount can’t be increased since I already paid it? Thanks for your expertise

  30. Don says:

    Hello Mr. Dort,

    I am having some difficulty with a traffic ticket(s) here in Canada.

    The relevant laws and jurisdiction is of no difficulty, rather I am wondering how to divide and conquer two officers that were involved in the issuance of two tickets.

    One ticket was for a red light and the other a pedestrian crossing fail to yield. Both violations happened within two minutes of each other.

    The prosecutor does not have in its possession a copy of the video from the dash-cam and now all I am left with is copies of the two tickets and some brief notes on the tickets made by the officers after the issuance of the same.

    There are some constitutional issues that may be raised with respect to disclosure and the effect of the same being injurious to my ability to obtain copies of the dash-cam tape as a period of time may have elapsed and the tape or files may have been deleted. This said I am not pinning much in the way of hope on defeating this matter on arguments related to the failure of prosecution to disclose.

    One officer wrote one ticket and the other officer wrote the other ticket. The one officer remained in the vehicle while the other questioned me and obtained my particulars, returning later with the two tickets.

    I understand that this will allow one officer to testify in place of the other should either one not be able to attend trial.

    I am wondering if you have any advice or can point me to any resources that can help me in this situation where I am faced with what appears to be the impossible task of pitting myself against the word of two police officers.

    Thank you in advance.

    Don from Canuckville.

    • DortLaw says:


      !!!! My first Canada question. Woo Hoo.

      Wow. Do you have a constitution up there? Probably.

      Hey, I got a question for you. Why is that terrorists seem to have no interest in Canada at all? I dont get it. Are you all just leaving people in the middle east alone, or is it some kind of secret vibration you send out around the world? What is it? Can we get some down here? You are obviously not trying to control the world enough.

      I dont know anything about canadian law, but happy to approve comments from a canadian lawyer who wants free marketing exposure to our 75k unique monthly readers.


      You have a fundemental fairness problem here. There was evidence that may tend to show your innocence, and it’s gone through no fault of your own. The prosecuting witnesses have “unclean hands”. They have “prejudiced” your ability to defend yourself by preventing access to and cross examination in court of the best evidence there is – a visual record of what happened.

      I would quoth some sort of Motion to Dismiss based upon the idea that you have been denied fundemental fairness – best the best evidence is gone. It was there for all to see. It was never produced to you. Then it was gone. What did it show? We will never know. All we have now are faded memories from officers that contact dozens of people every day.

      Something like that – is my best general idea for a guy in a country where I have no understanding of how things work, or why terrorists leave them alone.

      • Don says:

        Hello Dort,

        actually the terrorists don’t leave us alone. We spent some time a couple of years ago dealing with the “Toronto 18″, a group of 18 community minded, sport loving, religious sophisticates who were caught with hundreds of pounds of explosives and were in the midst of executing plans to blow up our Parliament Buildings, Intelligence Headquarters and behead our Prime Minister.

        Now we have a woman, who paraded around calling herself the Islamic Ambassador who was recently arrested on weapons and explosives charges and other terror related knee-slappers….

        We are now also dealing with the Iranian regime and its very public call to Iranian fifth columnists in Canada to start collecting intelligence about infrastructure of strategic value like power plants, nuclear stations, bridges, petro chemical facilities etc……aand of of this is just for starters….

        We definitely have our share of terrorist related issues….guaranteed..

        We do have constitutional protections that relate to disclosure but I am more interested in the art of defeating two officers who were riding in the same car…….any ideas on the subject would be welcome..

        Don from Canuckville

        Oh, by the way….you should get the little boxes at the bottom of a comment that can be checked off by the commenter which will send email alerts for any future comments on this particular post or emails regarding any other posts onn this blog……its very helpful to the commenter and those who want to follow your blog…..

        As an example, go to this blog, select one of the posts and scroll down to the bottom of the post and look at the boxes that can be checked….

  31. Mo says:

    Hello there… great site…

    My wife got a speeding ticket for doing 50mph in a 40mph zone but we believe that the motorcycle officer incorrectly clocked us for the vehicle in the middle lane that was actually doing 50mph. My wife and I were driving SE on a newly paved 7-lane road (three lanes on each side and a turning lane) with our three kids… we were on the far right lane when we both noticed the motorcycle officers on the sidewalk near an apartment complex. I actually made eye contact with the officer that eventually pulled us over. Traffic was medium to light but as I noted, there was another vehicle driving faster than us in the middle lane… I went back to the “scene” and tried to take video of the officers possibly doing the same thing again (wrongfully ticketing folks) but they were parked blocking the sidewalk and also partially blocking the entrance to an apartment complex. I read your posts where we could request the calibration records but what other options do we have for getting the ticket dismissed here in San Antonio Tx? Thank You!

  32. sara says:

    This post is EXACTLY what I needed,thank u! But I was hoping u could help me with my citation. I received a fine of $500+ in CA for running a red light and a camera not a cop caught me. I was going 19mph in a 35 mph zone and made a right turn, with no other cars in the intersection or pedestrians in crosswalk. While the video may show me going through, I knew I wouldn’t be able to safely stop when the lights went from yellow to red because I had bad brakes at the time (I was cited on March 2, but didn’t receive a ticket until April 27). Is there anything i can do about my case, or should i just pay the fine?

    • Don says:

      Bad brakes????

      Bad brakes????

      Try using that as a defence and you’ll not only be convicted on the red light but probably receive a whopping fine for knowingly operating a vehicle with bad brakes….

      Pay the fine….


  33. Megan says:

    Is a police officer allowed to call you names with profanity in Tennessee

    • DortLaw says:


      I dont know for sure, but it is probably not illegal. And the fact that an officer may have been rude or profane generally is not a defense to anything. But at a trial, evidence like that may tend to show the officer was unprofessional and may not have been doing his job correctly.

      Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

      Free Attorney Case Review

  34. taylor says:

    In California, is a peace officer required to witness an infraction violation to be able to write a citation to an adult. I plan on fighting a citation I was given after I crossed a street in what I believed was an unmarked crosswalk, or prolongation of the curb line. I was detained by a security guard working for the local transit district who called one of their peace officers. We were detained for 15-20 before the officer arrived. He did not see the violation and issued the cite on the information he got from the security guard.
    I was cited for jaywalking, or crossing between two controlled intersections. However I crossed at corner but they say it was mid-block.
    I would like to know if there is settled law on the requirement for an officer to actually see a violation he is citing an adult for. If there is, I would like to cite the case in court.
    Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

    • DortLaw says:


      Part of me wants to say this is a good question. But if you think about it this way – it’s pretty simple:

      Does a police officer have to see a murder victim die to arrest someone for murder? No. How about domestic violence? How about a DUI arrest after an accident where officer does not see accident? No.

      OK – some you might say that is not a good answer, because felonies are different than misdemeanors and infractions. That’s true. Good point.

      Generally, a police officer can write a citation for a misdemeanor crime that they do not witness, but for which there is evidence to support a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. But in general, an officer must witness the crime to arrest a person, unless there is specific statutory authority in the law to make an arrest without eye witness viewing.

      There is no problem with an officer issuing a citation for a petty theft that they do not witness. There is also generally no problem with the officer having a citizen witness sign the citation instead of him/her and to start a court case based upon that citizen signature.

      Maybe the security guard signed your citation? Probably doesnt matter much legally. In a trial it might matter. But that is a more expensive story that this blog cannot afford.

      Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

      Free Attorney Case Review

      • taylor says:

        You’re on point about felonies and misdemeanors…but specifically, as far as I can tell infractions are “crimes” but, again as far as I been able to research this, infractions are NOT a crime you can be arrested for. Since a physical arrest cannot be make, it follows that the officer must witness the violation of an infraction to issue a citation. And, a private citizen, has no authority to detain anyone for a infraction.
        In my case, I thought it was wiser to not to try and leave which may have escalated the actions of the guard, so I remained their, nearly 20 minutes until the transit officer arrived.
        Next, and this is goes into trial tactics… I have a trial date set in August…I believe after we are sworn the officer who signed and issued the citation but did not witness the infraction, will begin to testify. I want to immediately object, as you mentioned, shows some balls, and explain to the court my reasons regarding his not seeing anything… What do you think? I really appreciate your willingness in helping us lay folks navigate the justice system even with these minor offences.

        • DortLaw says:


          You are right about infractions.

          But petty theft is not an infraction. It is a real crime in CA, with a max penalty of 1 year in county jail. It is also a “crime involving moral turpitude” for immigration purposes.

          Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

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          • taylor says:

            There was no theft. Just crossing the street between, what they claimed were two controlled intersections. Clearly an infraction under the penal code.
            I am beginning to believe the transit authority uses this technique as a revenue tool, not a safety one. Additionally, I wondering if the security guard who originally, stop me, detained me, demanded my drivers license and them moved me to another location and force me to sit for 20 minutes made a false arrest. Do Security guards, in full uniform, have the authority to stop people in the public right-of-way for infractions. Not misdemeanors, infractions like a pedestrian violation.

          • DortLaw says:

            Sorry, got 2 comments confused. Too many words . .

            OK I got it. Do private security guards have the right to detain a private citizen for an infraction on a pubic street? No way. That is kidnapping.

            If you were kidnapped – which is a real thing that can happen very fast – you can sue for damages.

            Trespassing is a misdemeanor. What section were you cited for if any?

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          • taylor says:

            There was no “reply” on your last comment so I hope this does confuse the question..
            You asked: “What section were you cited for if any?”
            I and a number of others were cited for same violation, 21955 Cal Vehicle Code. “Crossing between adjacent intersections”
            To summarize the Security Guard, working under a contract for the Metropolitan Transit District stopped me and others for crossing the street. He detained, demanded my drivers license, made me move about thirty yards and forced me to sit down for about 20 minutes. During the time others tried to leave and he said he call the cops…but he had already called the transit police officer, who arrived after I was waiting for 20 minutes and then he, the officer, wrote the citation. The officer did not see the violation.
            Was this a false arrest, or as you suggest a kidnapping? Do I have recourse other than to fight this ticket?

          • DortLaw says:


            I dont really have any recommendations for you. I’d bet that the person you think was a private citizen security guard was actually an authorized agent of the transit police.

            But I wish you luck.

            Demand a trial. Try to win. If the person who detained you does not show up – object to everything on the grounds it is inadmissible hearsay.

            Browse Our Attorney Drafted CA Self Help Forms

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          • taylor says:

            thanks for your assistance! Trial set for 8/16

  35. Taylor Davis says:

    In California, does a peace officer have to witness an infraction to issue a citation? More specifically, a pedrestrian crossing between two controlled intersection and no collision was involved. I was stopped by a private security guard, for a transit district, who radioed for a peace officer. He came 15-20 minutes later and wrote a jaywalking ticket. He did not see the act. I want to fight this citation in court and need to know if there is settle law on unwitnessed infractions, and crossing at an unmarked crosswalk, or prolongation of the curb line.
    Thanks for yor assist.

  36. Sergius Martin-George says:

    I understand the principle behind not asking the officer why he did or did not do something. But in my case, I have reason to suspect that a truthful answer to my “why” question could help my case. I was pulled over by a cop on a rural, state road in Alabama within an hour of sunrise. What I thought was peculiar was that his car was coming in my direction, after which he did a U-turn and pulled me over. Now, why didn’t he just wait until I passed whatever point at which he was waiting and then pull me over? Something about that doesn’t pass the smell test. According to the office, I was doing 60 in a 45 zone, and I am highly skeptical that his “reading” is anywhere near accurate. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  37. sarda says:

    i need help i got pulled over today in atlanta ga when a cop pulled me over i was speeding i agree to that she told me i was doing 50mph in a 40mph which is true but on my ticket she wrote i was doing 57mph which is not what she told me when i pulled over and which also make the ticket 50 dollars higher when i told her this she told me to just tell them when i go to court and tell them im not quilty im not saying im quilty i know i was speeding but i know i was not doing over 10mph anyway she gave me another ticket because she said when she came to the car i didnt have my arm all the way in the seat belt but the seat belt was on im from florida i told her i took my arm out of the seat belt to reach in the glove box to get my insurance card like they ask for in florida but when i was driving i had my arm in right she still gave me the selt belt ticket can i fight this

    • Lori says:

      You’re being accused of going 57 – that’s what your alleged crime is. I would plead NOT GUILTY of course because you “may” have been going 50, but that is NOT what you are charged with, get it?

      I hope you go to court- and do NOT admit to going 50- they will just change the charge to that amount and find you guilty on the spot. Unless you testify for yourself they can’t ask you how fast you were going.

      I’d focus on getting the officer to admit that she told you you were going 50. Then ask to have the charge dismissed because there is no evidence to suggest you were doing 57.

      This officer sounds like she’s trumping up the tickets in order to make you have to pay more money- counting on the 90% chance that you WON’T try to fight it and just cough up the extra dough.

  38. Anna says:

    Any advice please! I just told the DA this morning that I would rather have a 6 juror trial rather than take the offer she had presented me with. I was at a traffic light at 6 in the morning, pouring rain, the road had construction cones up and the sidewalk was dug up from obvious work that had been done. I sat at this light while it was red as well as the other lights at this 4 way were red. I waited several minutes and had come to the conclusion that this light wasn’t working due to the storm and the construction road work.. I was the only person at this light. I had intended to treat this as a 4 way stop since it obviously wasn’t working but hesitated another minute. An officer pulled behind me and I decided that if anything, this would be the perfect time to pull through the light to justify that the light wasn’t working. Well I get a ticket anyway. So i go to court and the judge just so happened to be a lawyer that I had used for my divorce.. I had no idea she was a judge but she informs me that she can’t hear my case because she has represented me as an attorney so tells me that I’ll have to be rescheduled for superior court. So today I go to superior court and the DA says that I can be on ” pre probation” for 3 months, and that it was $90 to do this program, plus $35 a month for the three months that I’m on it and then the cost of the ticket. I of course said hell no! That’s crazy over a malfunctioning traffic light! I talked to the public defender and I have decided to do a jury trial. I’m in need of any advice at all. I live in a small small town in Georgia and the law here is crooked and about who u are and what ur last name is and I’m not up to par with having the “elite” last name. I truly believe I am 110% innocent please help!

  39. Danny says:

    Hi ! Can u guys help me! I’m 18 years old, live in texas and I got pulled over on a Sunday at 1:35 when I was on my way home from work. I got pulled of by an officer that was driving towards me. The speed limit was 35 but she told me I was going 45. Then she gave me a ticket. This is my first time I received a ticket. The court date is July 3rd, but I have to go back to Sweden on June 23rd where I wad raised. How can I beat it, you all seems like expert at this. Thanks

    • Anna says:

      Are you coming back to Texas? If not, don’t worry about it, they will not extradite but if you come back and get stopped again you will probably get arrested on the warrant. If you are coming back, call and get it reset, you can probably do that a couple of times but not too many without an attorney, or hire an attorney and he will take care of it for you.

  40. Charlie says:

    I was pulled over in SF for making an illegal left hand turn in San Francisco. They towed the vehicle because I was driving w/ a suspended liscense. The vehicle owner was present and had all proof of insurance and up to date tags, &valid DL. They said it was mandatory to tow the vehicle. I am requesting a tow hearing this afternoon. I am told as long as the registered owner of the vehicle was present the car should have been released to him. Is this true. Whatever the correct answer is, any advice on how to handle this matter would be greatly appreciated. The costs to get the vehicle back seem to be far beyond reasonable. I first must pay an administrative fee of $194.00 for an administrative release form in cash before going to the SFPD’s contracted tow service which is Auto Return. There I will have to $445.75 in tow and storage fees. My car was towed no more than 5 blocks, and was dropped off yesterday afternoon. How could the fees possibly be fair?? And further more, if the owner of the vehicle was present, why was the car not released to him on the scene? Clearly he met all the requirements needed to have his car released. What’s the purpose of towing it??? Your help is sincerely appreciated.

    • DortLaw says:


      This is a good question.

      If you are caught driving a vehicle with a suspended drivers license in CA, the police can impound the vehicle for 30 days – NO MATTER WHO OWNS IT, and NO MATTER WHO IS PRESENT AT THE SCENE.

      Simply put, that is one of the punishments for driving on a suspended drivers license. Car goes to the government.

      It can actually be worse than that depending on why the license was suspended. In some cases, the government can just keep and sell the car.

      But one thing I find very strange is that people in this situation often get suck on the car, and the costs of the car, and the towing yard, and all of that crap. And in the process, they completely forget about the criminal case they are facing in court that can lead to jail and about $2000 in fines.

      I often tell people in this position: “Forget about the car. Use all of your money to hire a quality, licensed attorney to limit the damage to your future.”

      If you are charged with a crime- dont waste your money trying to save a car. The car is the thing that got into that mess anyway.

      But if your girlfriend has given 3 days to get her car back or she is going to be an ex girlfriend . . . you’ve got 99 problems and a b…..

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  41. Adly says:

    Hello, and thanks for this great page. I was stopped by an officer for allegedly speeding. He says he clocked me doing 50 in a 35 speed limit zone. I responded with ” this is 40 not 35″ or something similar to that. To get to the point, he cited me, he reduced the ticket from 50 to 44 in 35, 2 points on my licence instead of 4. During our conversations I never admitted to speeding or came up with an excuse. He asked me if I had any questions and I asked, where does the speed change to 35? He answered, somewhere around here, pointing with his pen,not specifying any one place. The next day I checked and there is no posting for speed limit 35, its 40. I plan first to send a written request for discovery by certified mail. I plan to take video/pictures of the speed limit signs. Also, I plan to argue my case. Some points plan to mention are: The officer did not have proper knowledge of the area, therefore cited me incorrectly, There was a large construction sign blocking one lane, and I plan to take a driver defensive course. I was thinking about mentioning that I am a full time student, homeless, and unemployed. I also read to postpone the traffic ticket date, as the officer may not show up. What are the chances I can have this ticket dismissed? What do you suggest I do? Thank you in advance!

    • Adly says:

      After researching I have learned that Request for Discovery here in South Carolina is not allowed, I will put in a request for freedom of information.

      • Gary says:

        Check out the MUTCD online. This is a federal law that defines signs for all states. Under Warning Signs section 2, it states that there SHALL be a “Reduce Speed Ahead” sign where the speed is reduced. Under section 1 it states that signs Shall be free from obstructions. Your state and/or local ordinance laws for speed limits should state that there must be appropiate signs in place or speed laws can not be enforced. Don’t bother with the homeless, jobless stuff. It will hurt more than help. The ONLY thing that will help is to point out where they broke or didn’t follow the letter of the law.

  42. Jason says:

    Recently I was pulled over in Phoenix arizona and was issued several tickets. I did notice that the cop wrote down the wrong liscense plate for my truck. the ViN is correct but the liscense plate is incorrect. How can I use this to my advantage? should this be dismissed because of this error? he didnt just mistake one letter or one number, but it is a completely wrong liscense plate.

    I got issued the following tickets. Driving in HOV lane with less than 2 passengers, speeding-going 82 in a 65, following too closely, violation of rear fender splash guards (aka mudflaps) as my truck is lifted.

    I plan to install mudflaps before my trial date to get that one thrown out. I plan to ask the officer questions like “did you use any tools to measure the distance between my truck and the vehicle in front of me?” and “Do you have the expert credentials to determine what is a safe distance?” “Can you present these credentials for me to view?”

    I was in a group of cars going down the freeway, behind a cab, and i really see now way I (or the group of us as it would have to be) going 82 miles an hour. The ticket said i was clocked using VASCAR and i plan to ask questions about calibration, who exactly clocked me, if not him, is he present today? did you recieve proper training, did the person training you have the proper training, etc

    after the cop asked for my information and returned to his cop car i got out and approached the cop car to ask if I could see my clocked speed, he stopped me, did not allow me to ask him anything, and told me to get back in my truck. Does not letting me ask him the question to see the “vascar” allow for “reasonable doubt”? or provide me with a defense?

    how can i fight the carpool lane violation? any better way to fight the “following too closely” and speeding violation?

    thank you!

    • Jason says:

      in addition, when he was behind me with his lights and sirens, i could barely see the top of his car and the light bar he was following me so closly. I seriously thought the hood of his car was under my rear bumper he was so close. I plan to use this as my defense as well. if he was that close and it was safe, then it would have to make my following distance even safer as it was much greater than when he was following me. any other way to use this as my defense?

  43. Matt says:

    Great advice. Thank you for posting this. I have a question about a recent seat belt citation. I was sitting in the back passenger seat behind the driver, my father, and the officer gave me a ticket for $124 for not wearing a seat belt. I was feeling ill and we were less than a block from the restaurant we were going to.
    What should I do? Should I appeal it and how should I approach it?
    Thank you!

  44. William says:

    Thank you for this article. I recieved a ticket yesterday for allegedly doing 71 in a 55. Well, I never drive more than sixty there because I recieved a warning and a ticket on a similar road two years ago. I set my cruise and drive the uneventful, two lane, Farm to Market road for 20 miles. There is a fairly sharp curve that is not banked where you have to slow down to at least 55 to avoid skidding, and this where the highway patrolman supposedly clocked me at 71. Now, he was following a large dump truck very closely, maybe two car lengths, and was facing downhill away from me when he supposedly clocked me. He wasn’t even in my line of sight until we passed each other. I found some information on a radar detection errors, and one is called “Shadowing” “The radar locks onto a large moving object in front of the patrol car instead of the passing terrain and computes the difference in speeds between the two vehicles as lower than the actual patrol speed.Consequently, the radar adds the remainder of the patrol speed to the target’s speed, producing an erroneously high reading.” I suspect that his pointing downhill away from me, following the truck closely, and the big curve that obscured us from each other until the last second, is grounds for a suspected malfunction. Should I ask for the judge to see the dash video proving he was following the truck closely, and the other elements of obstruction and curves, to help my case? I really appreciate this article!

  45. Dee says:

    In March of 2011, I received a citation for going 55 in a 35 mph. I just received a trial date, which is in July. Is this a fair hearing, due to the one year time lapse? How does the judge handle the smallest amount of doubt by either party? Any suggestions for specific questions? (Officer was on a motorcycle.) Thanks.

    • DortLaw says:


      You have a right to a speedy trial. If there is a delay that is so long that is PREJUDICES your case, then you have a great argument that your right to due process and fundamental fairness has been denied.

      Types of legitimate prejudice include: so much time has passed that memories of the witnesses have faded. Or witnesses are no longer available, etc.

      But in most traffic court cases, the defendant waives their right to a speedy trial at the arraignment. Rarely does a defendant understand what it means to waive a right to a speedy trial, but the court secures that waiver on some form or in some statement during that torrent of information that pours over you during the arraignment process.

      You can definitely make that argument, demonstrate prejudice, and ask for dismissal on that ground right before your trial starts.

      How does a judge deal with the “smallest” amount of doubt? He/she probably ignores it. The defendant is presumed innocent. The government has the burden to prove up all the required elements of an alleged violation. All things in human experience are subject to the smallest amount of doubt. Do we all experience the passage of time the same way? Is there some human like being in the sky controlling all of our actions and preventing the exercise of free will? Is there any such thing as evil in nature? Are we really here? Is my copy of the Vehicle Code a fake published with special corrections by the Chinese government? Are we really here? Did I already ask that? Have I been here before doing this exact same thing in the past? etc.

      Because of this philosophical problem revolving around the idea of “doubt” – a “doubt” must be “reasonable” to a “reasonable person in the same situation” to have a legal significance. Generally. Except in some rare cases. That may or may not exist yet.

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  46. Nathan J. None says:

    Great Information and I’ve studied this page several times,

    I have a question I was hopeing you could shed some light to. I was involved in a auto accident where another car merged into my lane and cliped the front quarter panel of my car with the side passenger door of thier car. I was sure the other car was at fault, becuase she drove directly into my car. However, the cop showed up several minutes after the accident and cited me for the accident and used “WA 46.61.400 Speed to fast for conditions” which is absurd because we were both doing about 6 mph when the crash occured. I don’t see how this has anything to do with the accident. Also, the cop made his decission to cite me after calling (witness had left some time ago) and talking to a witness over the phone. No offical statement was taken from myself, the car that ran into me, or the witness. I’m not sure how he had grounds to blame me for the accident, any advice before I step into the court room?

  47. Blake says:


    The advice above is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Now to the “I need help part”. I was cited for running a red light. The officer was coming from my left. It was late I had just got off work. He said he seen me go through the intersection when the turning signals for the traffic to my left and right were green but he even admitted he could not see the red light I allegedly failed to stop for he even admitted that to me after the citation was written and reveiwed his car camera for 15 minutes. I asked to see the footage but he denied me. My question is, can I request that video footage before trial? I read your questions to ask like 100 times and even have prepared my yes or no only questions(I like the chain of yes questions then the whopper) but the footage would be great. Simply because he admitted that in front of his own camera. I took pictures of his vantage point and the white line that designates the vehicle stopping point. I’m just afraid that the footage may disappear. I didn’t run red light but I want to be able to prove it. Just in case he doesn’t remeber that he admitted to me he could not see the red light pertaining to the operation of my vehicle.

    • rlindsay says:


      You can subpeona the video and thereby force the officer to bring it to your trial. I wrote an article on how to subpoena things in traffic court here somewhere.

      The officer is not required to show you any evidence at the scene.

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      • Blake says:

        Thanks for the quick reply RLindsay,

        Is there a way to get the video evidence earlier. I would like to get an idea of what the officer’s perspective was to better cross examine him and when i survey the scene provide additional info during the time it happened(nighttime perspective photos, distances, etc). I’ve read about filing for a “discovery”. I’ve also discovered a big brother cam(City Police Camera) at the intersection. Is there a way to obtain that footage as well.

        • DortLaw says:

          Opps. That was me in rely – C. Dort. Forgot to log out last editor. For red light cameras – you are probably going to have to subpoena that evidence from Caltrans.

  48. frank says:

    What if i happened to record him sayingave came up with a better answer he will cut me some slack and say i was going 65 instead of 80??? you could have gave me a better answer imo

  49. frank says:

    I wasn’t going to say that in court, but isn’t there some type of technicality here? legally the cop cannot lie about how fast i was going according to the gun…? theres no type of technicallity here? To me is reaks for dismissing the case??!!

  50. frank says:

    Chris, i have recieved a speeding ticket for doing i believe 65mph in a 55…when i was pulled over i honestly had no idea why as i believe i was doing MAYBE 60 in a i didnt make the rookie mistake of admitting to speeding simply bc i didnt believe i was! that thats out the way, like i sed he apparently clocked me at 88mph but sed he would do me a favor by stating on the ticket i was doing 65 or 70, (i dnt really remember) howcould i cross examine him in court? is it simply my word against his? Cant i say he’s under oath and he declared under penalty of perjury to uphold the laws as police officers are sworn to do? If he told me i was doing 88 but he would “do me a favor” and cite me for a speed far less, doesnt that make him an uncredible witness and i motion for dismissal based on him being an uncredible witness?shouldn’t he get in trouble for “doing people favors” like this? I hope i didnt lose you….

    • DortLaw says:


      You didn’t lose me, but I hate questions like this because you are obviously guilty. If the speed limit is 55 – GOING 56 MPH IS ILLEGAL!!!!!!!! Even though it seems like everyone is technically breaking the law – you got caught. And you appear to be 100% guilty. Saying that you were going 60 in a 55 mph is not a defense.

      My advice? Life is short. Don’t waste your time. Move on.

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  51. Lori says:

    Great website- I don’t know if you need backstory for my question but here is a probably-not-very-short version- I was following my husband home from work (I met him there and then we both drove home separately) on a rural highway (Live in Iowa). Officer in incoming traffic flipped a bitch as we passed. flipped on lights. I started pulling over and he went around me but then motioned emphatically for me to pull over as well. Told me we were both radar’d for speeding. Husband does not have Iowa license (he has a CURRENT license from another state) and officer detained him in the police vehicle for questioning. I was in parent’s car but no current registration or proof of insurance (recently expired insurance info, current tags on vehicle). He called my stepdad to verify he knew I had the vehicle. Ran our licenses which came back clean. Then he sat in the car interrogating my husband (I see it as while we were related, our being pulled over was not for this reason, but I was being detained while he questioned my husband) for twenty minutes. The traffic stop lasted 40 minutes. He kept telling my husband “there’s something suspicious about that (my) vehicle”. I was cited for speeding (Iowa code 321.285) and husband was cited for Driving without a license (321.174). Both given two warnings for other circumstances. I asked, upon his return, why he had taken so long to process our stop. I questioned his method for determining our speed and asked to see the radar readout. He lied about road conditions at the time (should’ve just kept my mouth shut, I know). Finally I mentioned something about we’ll get to the bottom of it in court. He then asked “you’re taking this to court?” I said I’m thinking about it. He then very defensively said that if I chose to fight the ticket that he would go ahead and change my two warnings (AS WELL AS HUSBAND’S TWO WARNINGS) to citations. I said “Is that a threat?”. Then he backpedaled. I was free to go and drive off before husband. Cop walked husband to car and was assuring my husband that he was not threatening me with retaliation for exercising my right to trial (my words).

    Bottom line: I’m already fighting the ticket on other grounds (don’t see how he could’ve radar’d me accurately), but HOW can I work into cross-examination this officer’s threat? Can anything be done about the threat? Can it show bias or anything, or am I just wasting my time even bringing it up? (relevance).

    also, is there any distinguishing between “driving without a valid licence” and “not having switched your license to Iowa” Because from what I can tell the code he listed for my husband, he might as well not have had a license at all.

    Thanks for your blog, it’s great reading :)

    • DortLaw says:


      90% of what you wrote is completely useless, irrelevant info for your problem.

      The question is: Are you guilty of the alleged violations.

      The question is not: did the police officer treat me fairly or commit a crime? should the police officer be fired? Should the FBI investigate the police officer? – ALL TOTALLY IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS.

      The threats as you called them are not relevant at all to the question of whether or not you were speeding. Duh. What difference would it make – even if the police officer admitted it. And of course, his story is going to be a lot different than yours.

      Have the whole incident recorded on video? Make a complaint to the police agency Internal Affairs people (or local community police watch dog group if you have one).

      Don’t waste any brain power on that. Focus on trying to beat the speeding allegation – or whichever alleged violation you think you have a defense to.

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      • Lori says:

        thanks for the prompt reply and for confirming what I already suspected. My interest in bringing up the “threat” would be if I can catch the officer lying, then produce evidence to prove it, discrediting his testimony and casting doubt on his recollection for everything else. (“if he’s wrong about *this*, what else is he wrong about?” reasonable DOUBT).

        I am focusing on the speeding violation so thank you for your advice on the rest.
        Wish me luck. Ha.

  52. May says:

    I just received a overdue fee for a citation of failing to stop. I have no idea what happened b/c I was never pulled over or stopped and I never received any citation in the mail. I went to the RMV and they printed up a copy of the citation and stated that I failed to stop at a stop sign and that the ticket was mailed to me. I am so upset b/c I remember the day clearly and I saw 2 police officers out of there cars in plain site. I made a full stop and then continued to take a right turn on the busy road. I drove slowly past the police officers and comented to my passenger how I wonder if they were looking for speeders. How can I argue this at a hearing?

  53. Lucia says:

    today I was pulled over by an officer and got a citation for using my iphone while driving. the thing is I was not using it. I have a blue tooth in the car and when the police officer pulled me over the car phone was actually ringing because I was attempting to call my husband – whose number is recorded in the car phone too. I had the iphone in my lap and while stopped at a red light I touched – literally touched it – to hand it over to my kids who wanted to play games after the call was over. I tried to explain that to the officer – I showed him that I have a bluetooth – but he laughed at me – just laughed at me. I repeated I was not using the phone – i attempted to give it to him so he could verify it and HE DID NOT TAKE IT. I can certainly prove it – I think – that at that exact time I did not send or receive a text, and I did/could/need make a phone call. “usining” means operating – touching or giving the phone to passengers so that they can play with it – is not what the law meant when it reads ” using”. but what if the officer does not show up? should I require a cross examination? what are the steps? thanks

    • DortLaw says:


      This is a great question. If you want to fight it, you need to demand a trial. You can start with a trial by declaration (in CA) first, and if you lose, demand a court trial.

      If you have an IPHONE, you should right now take a screen shot of your call list (all calls) for that time. Do you know how to do that? Get the screen on your phone up. Then press and hold the round button and the sleep button on top at the same time. That will save a picture of your screen for evidence.

      Then, take a look at the exact citation you were cited for. Read it. In CA, I think the statute excludes touching the phone TO DIAL a NUMBER!!!!!

      Maybe. Read it. Vehicle Code Section 23123 – Hand Held Wireless Telephone Prohibited Use –

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  54. Mady says:

    I recently got a parking ticket in Utah. I was parked at my school for three hours and when I came out I had a ticket on my windshield. On the ticket it says I was within 20 feet of a public entrance, which I was. The officer also filled in the code which states the law. This code was illegible and I called about 5 people to figure out what the code was since I found nothing online. I finally got a hold of an officer who gave me the correct code, and it was in fact for parking within 20 feet of a public entrance. While trying to figure this out though, this officer got a hold of the officer who ticketed me and asked him about it. The one who ticketed me stated that the rear of my car was obstructing part of the entrance to the parking lot. This was not true though. I was parked at least a foot and a half from the entrance.
    Now even though I did break a law, I feel I have a few arguments that can be used. First, the writing of the code, and the officers name on the ticket were illegible, which from what I’ve heard, this could easily dismiss the ticket right off the bat. But if not, I also feel I could argue the fact of ambiguous laws. Not only did the City Hall have no idea what this law was, but I was also transferred from person to person, until I reached an officer, until I figured out what this was. My third argument could be that the officer stated I was blocking the entrance, when in fact I actually wasn’t. I can’t prove this because I did not take pictures, but I do believe the officers have video tapes in their vehicles, and say that he can’t prove I was blocking the entrance, does this mean the case will be dismissed? Or does the fact that I was still within 20 feet of the entrance make it so that this is a battle that can’t be won. -Also, there were multiple other cars around me within 20 feet from the entrance (say 6) and I was the only one with a ticket. How does the officer justify that. Thanks.

    • Mady,

      Good ideas, but who’s going to listen to you? You dont have a right to trial on a parking ticket.

      • Mady says:

        In Utah you either pay your fine or you go before a judge – for traffic tickets. The actual tickets don’t even give you another choice other than court, but when you call in, they allow you to just pay if you want. But even though I broke the law can I bring other points up? I know a parking ticket isn’t a big deal but I really feel like I did’t deserve this one.

  55. Birdy says:

    I believe that a tragic stop webcam was altered. Is there any way to find out if it was? I’m being charged 500 for an improper left turn! PLEASE HELP!

    • Birdy,

      This is actually a great question.

      If you want to challenge the authenticity of a red light photo image or video, you need to do 2 things: 1) subpoena the images, and every person who had access to it; and 2) hire an expert witness to study the images and testify at your trial.

      How do you figure out who to subpoena? Who are the people who had access to that image? Well, if it were my case, and you were paying me by the hour, I would hire my favorite private investigator (Paul Drake) to get me a list.

      I would demand a continuance of the trial until I completed my investigation and got a report from the expert. I would get that continuance by filing one or more declarations as necessary stating the basis for the continuance request and a very limited out line of the evidence I was searching for.

      That is what you do in a big time case. If you work for a big time firm, and a big time insurance company is paying the bill, and your boss tells you that you now have a 190 billable hours minimum this month to keep your job, you might just hire 3 different kids of experts, and subpoena all the dudes who made the camera as well. Get them all in there. And maybe an expert from youtube.

      Estimated cost? $20,000-40,000.

      Without an expert witness, there is no way for you to prove it was altered. Unless you get someone to confess to altering it.

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  56. Octavio says:

    Awesome post, thanks for all the advice!

    I’ve got a question about how to establish that a maneuver was reasonably safe. I’m accused of an unsafe lane change [21658(a)], which indicates that you cannot move your car from one lane into another “until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.” As far as I can tell, the law never defines any objective standards for ‘reasonable safety,’ so my assumption is that I just need to prove that an average person in my situation would have thought it was reasonably safe. I signaled and checked my blind spot (and the officer doesn’t allege otherwise). The standard he seems to be using is whether my lane change required a car that had the right of way to brake or take some other evasive maneuver — I thought the car was letting me over, but either he wasn’t and was just not paying attention, or he was but he really didn’t want to let in the guy behind me, and so as I started to change lanes he accelerated so that the gap was barely large enough for my car, and after accelerating he had to break in order to avoid a collision.

    So, my question is this — how can I set up my argument that despite what the cop observed, the typical reasonable citizen would have made the same assumption that I did, namely that it was safe to change lanes when I did?

  57. Chris Green says:


    I was cited 16 months ago for driving while suspended and speeding. I had to appear in court (14 months ago)At which time I pleaded no contest to the speeding ticket and paid the fine. The court did not have any information about the DWS violation, or I would have pleaded no contest and paid it. I would normally fight both of these but the judge in question is literally 100 years old and runs a kangaroo court, as per many articles in the local news. Now almost a year and a half later I am being summoned to a different court (5 days notice) to answer for the DWS. Can the speeding ticket be used against me? I think I may have an argument to dismiss the case on the grounds that the state denied my right to a speedy trial, as I tried to resolve the issue on the date listed on the citation. What do you think? I really wish I could just pay a fine but apparently I am facing 1 year in jail. Thanks in advance.

    • Chris,

      This is actually a great question.

      Well, speeding is an infraction, and driving with a suspended drivers license is a real crime. The suspended drivers license charge, in CA (you did not tell us where this was) can be sent to the real criminal division, but the speeding violation (the entire citation) should have gone with it if the violations were the product of the same police contact.

      If this were my case, and these were all of the important fact (probably not) I would be thinking there is a Res Judicata problem here, and a Collateral Estopple defense. And a double jeopardy defense.

      And that’s what I got for my $100,000.

      The bad news is that I cannot explain explain how to deal with those defense for free. Too complicated. But I gave you enough there to do some more research.

      But my best advice is: If they have charged you with a criminal offense that may lead to jail time, hire a defense attorney to handle the case correctly.

      • Chris Green says:

        Mr. Dort,

        Thank you for the great advice! I did some research based on the two terms you mentioned and decided to defend myself with a double jeopardy argument. The prosecutor asked the judge for a continuance and I objected stating that they had 16 months to prepare their case. Since I could prove that I was in court for the other citation and that I have always in fact had insurance (the original reason for the suspension was a claimed lack of insurance) and that I did not know I was suspended, the judge dismissed the case with prejudice and ordered my license reinstated with no fees and no fines. The krux of my argument was that both offenses took place at the same time and should have been handled together, which I would not have known without your advice on what to research! Thank you.

  58. Mari says:

    Hello Chris,

    Thank you for the very informative blog about cross-examination! It will surely help in my case, if I decide to pursue it.
    I was pulled over on a rainy Saturday night around 11PM in a downtown area. I was paying close attention to the road as my right turn was about to come up. I had a green light and was following a few cars through the intersection, when on my right side, an undercover police officer almost t-bones me. He then proceeds to pull me over.
    Me, being a believer in the good of people, thought he was pulling over to make sure everything was okay and to apologize, but I was wrong, so wrong. He approached me in a flustered, angry manor and asked what I was doing and asking for my license. I replied that I was driving home until he almost hit me and asked if he did not see the cars in front of me who had clearly went through the intersection just seconds before. He then proceeded to say the same thing back to me, using my defense as his. He gave me a ticket for failure to obey the traffic signals.
    I’m unsure if I should just take a plea bargain, or if there may be any possibility of winning a case against him. There are cameras at that intersection, but I do not know if they record. So, I have no way of proving that I am correct. Thoughts?

    • Mari,

      Thoughts = you can subpeona the video (probably from Caltrans) but it’s probably not worth the effort.

      Sounds to me like the score is 1 to 1. Cops says you broke law, you say you did not. Cop is a sworn officer, so he gets an extra point in some places. 1 to 2. But you are presumed innocent. 2 to 2. Cop gets paid to go to court. 2 to 3. You have to miss work and pay money out of your pocket to get to court. 2 to 4.

      I dont know. The math is not working out right here.

      If you have the time and the determination, and the necessary tolerance for standing in line, horrible repetitive videos about your rights, the dirty court bathrooms and unhappy people surrounding you, demand a trial and try to win.

      But if this is your only moving violation in a while, and you qualify for traffic school, that is a great option to end the case effectively and efficiently, even if you are innocent.

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  59. Lauren says:

    I was exiting from a major freeway and was stopped at a red light. I put on my sunglasses and took a moment to wipe a smudge. Since I was the last car of a big group of cars ahead of me,
    I slowly made a left turn from the exit going, at the most, 20mph. I was pulled over. He asked me what I was doing and if I was using my cell phone. He asked to to hand him my phone. He realized I was not on the phone. He gave me a ticket for unsafe speed. He wrote I was going 45 in a 50 mile zone. He circled that the road was dry and crossed it out and circled that the road was wet. He also circled that the day was cloudy. After my ticket, I went back and took pictures immediately, which shows that the streets were dry and there was nothing unsafe about removing a smudge from sunglasses, stopped at a red light. Should I fight this ticket? What should I say to win?

  60. Marc says:

    Mr. Dort,
    Thank you for your wonderful advice to all these folks. I have already learned quite a bit just from what you have told others.

    I’ll give you the short version here as much as possible.
    I was cited for speeding 75 in a 65 on a 4 lane highway (2 on each side). The officer told me that he’d clocked me at 76 mph and then at 72 as he approached me from behind. When he told me 76 mph, the only thing I said was, 76? Other than that I said nothing to him through the rest of the incident.

    I pleaded Not Guilty and requested a trial by jury. I then received a letter from the Court offering to “settle this matter through Deferred Adjudication.” Whereby I would have to change my plea to No Contest and pay a “special fee of $100.00.” I would then be put on probation for 90 days.

    I am choosing to fight this all the way through, mainly because I do not believe I was driving at the speed I was accused of. Here are the steps I am taking, and I would greatly appreciate your input.

    1. I am sending them a letter rejecting their plea deal.
    2. I am asking for a continuance so they have to change the date and hopefully the officer doesn’t show up.
    3. I am requesting the following information be provided to me, by whatever means necessary, prior to my rescheduled court date. I request that this information be delivered to me no later than two weeks prior to the rescheduled court date.

    I would like a written statement from the officer who issued the citation with the following information:
    1. What kind of car – make, model and color – was I driving?
    2. How did the officer measure my speed? Was it a visual estimation, a mechanical device (laser or radar) or both? If laser or radar was used, how does the officer know it was working? Were there tests performed, are there repair/test logs kept by the police department?

    If laser or radar was used:
    3. What are the officer’s qualifications to run the equipment used to determine the speed of my vehicle?
    4. When was the equipment used, to determine the speed of my vehicle, last calibrated before said incident?
    5. How long has the officer been using the equipment that was used to determine my speed?
    6. When was the officer trained and who trained him? Was the trainer certified to train the officer?
    7. Where was the officer located when he first determined that I was speeding? Was he stationary or traveling on the highway? If traveling, what was his speed at the time? Were there any obstructions (i.e. trees, other vehicles, power lines) between the officer’s vehicle and mine?
    8. What was the distance between my vehicle and the officer’s vehicle when he first determined that I was speeding?
    9. Does the officer remember what other vehicles were around when he determined that I was speeding?

    These are just a few of the questions I have for the officer. Part of what I’m wondering is whether or not I should ask for all or any of this in advance, or wait until the trial itself to ask these questions.

    Again, thank you for your time and your expertise. It’s quite nice to see that a lawyer can have a pretty good sense of humor too!

    • Marc,

      You’re on the right track, but you are not going to get a written statement from the officer. You have to ask the questions you want answered in person during the trial.

      • Michael DuPont says:

        I am a criminal research paralegal who was asked by a trial lawyer five mitutes ago to find himsupport to cross-examine a police officer in Federal District Court (D. Mass. Boston Judge William Young who is usually a tough by the rules defense motions denied Judge) about this Cop being sued in the same Federal Court for violating citizens civil rights (areas of police impropriety totally unrelated to this criminal trial) for the purpose of allowing Jurors to make bias and absence of police testimony truthfulness issues ? My gut instinct tells me that a fair Judge would allow the cop to be cross-examined on this because it may affect jurors views on his lack of truthfulness and for basic impeachment under a Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause assertion by defense counsel at sidebar, pursuant to the defendant’s trial right , “on cross-examination,” extrinsic evidence, “if probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness” may be inquired into. Fed. R. Evid. 608(b)(1). What is your gut instinct opinion ? Thank you very much and because we are not before a fundamentally fair unbiased trial Judge if you have any support for your opinion please be kind enough to cite it. Mike DuPont

        • Michael,

          So you want to introduce evidence of the fact that the police officer was sued previously for a civil rights cause of action?

          Well, that is character evidence.

          Was there a judgment in that prior case? That is important. Were there any factual findings in that case that you can ask for judicial notice of?

          Assuming no judgment, you really just want to introduce evidence of unproven citizen complaints.

          I’d say with that kind of evidence, the best way to try to get it in is by using it as impeachment evidence. Use it to contradict other testimony the officer gives.

          For example, if you can get the officer to say that he always treats everyone the same, then evidence of contradictory behavior documented in a legal filing may be relevant to prove a lack of veracity.

          You have to set the witness up, and see if you can get them to say something contradictory.

          Study the cross examination of Former LAPD Officer Mark Fuhrman in the OJ case. In that instance, the defense had evidence on tape that officer Fuhrman had made specific racial comments and jokes. The Defense could not get the tape or the statements in the tape into evidence directly, because they were inadmissible character evidence, hearsay, and not relevant to any kind of murder issues.

          But then – live in court – the defense very craftily tricked the officer into testifying that he had NEVER USED the word “N….”. Once the officer said that, suddenly the non admissible tape is admissible to contradict his in court testimony. Classic IMPEACHMENT, demonstration of extreme skill in setting it up.

  61. Matthew says:

    Great post! thank you!

    Wondering if you have any advice for this..
    I was pulled over and given a citation for “fail to drive in lane”. I was in the right lane of a two lane blvd and an officer was behind me in the left. cruising about 35 I then see a huge 10-15′ long pot hole in my lane (drivers side), so I safely decide to veer slightly to the right to avoid it. The shoulder of the road only has about 2-3′ of space between my white line and a curb, so I know it is hardly possible that I left my lane at all. when he approached me he told me I was swerving and I explained that I was safely avoiding the damage in the road. which he replied with “NO, there was NO POT HOLE” handed me a ticket and left. of course he didnt see the pot hole…. he wasnt in my lane until he seen my swerve and decided to pull me over. I went back and took pictures. Do I have a case against this ticket?? any advice is appreciated.

    …Also, Is there a chance he had a dash cam that could possibly prove that he wasnt able to see the pot hole nor see for certain that I left my lane to the curb side as he cited me for?

    • Matthew,

      Great question!

      Sounds like you have a complete defense. You are allowed to make a sudden lane change to avoid a fatal accident caused by a road hazard.

      Do you have a case against the ticket? Do you mean “Do I have a defense against this unproven allegation? Am I presumed innocent? Do I have the right to a trial? Do I have the right to ask an attorney if I have the right to a trial?”

      Do they eat fried oysters in Oklahoma? Does a bear pee in the mountain stream? Do cheap vacuums suck? Of course!

      Live testimony in a court trial or in a declaration on a trial by declaration from you is real evidence.

      You can subpoena the cop’s dash cam images if any (see my article on subpoenas in traffic court) but I really, really, really, really, doubt you would get or find anything of value.

  62. Latasha C. says:

    Thank you for this blog post! My question is, I was pulled over and when the officer approached she said she pulled me over for speeding and failing to slow down at a flashing yellow light. I asked her how fast was I going and she responded, “you know how fast you were going, at least 40 mph.” However she only gave me a ticket for failing to observe a traffic signal and wrote in flashing red/yellow. Now the intersection is as follows: traffic in my direction has a flashing yellow and opposing traffic has a flashing red and stop sign. The officer was sitting about 10-15 feet from the corner facing the stop sign. At the time I went through the intersection I was stepping on my brakes and was going no more than 30 mph. I believe the officer wanted to give me a speeding ticket but for whatever reason could not, so she gave me this ticket. I intend on fighting it but have a few questions. Do you have any tips on how to cross the officer under these circumstances? Also, there was a passenger in the car, should I call them as a witness? And finally, if I testify can I be cross examined with my driving record (it isn’t bad but one prior moving violation), is it admissible w/o my testimony? Also, if I represent myself how does my direct testimony work? Do I get on the stand and give a monologue?

    • Latasha,

      Too many questions for your free 30 seconds this am. What you really need to do is buy one of my 1 hour attorney conferences. But have to raise the price for 2012 first, so I am not going to give you a link to a buy now button.

      Let’s see, which of these questions is the best?

      Should you call the passenger as a witness?

      Yes, but only if you believe you will get favorable testimony. They have to be there in person.

      Forget about your idea of what the officer wanted to do. That is unfounded speculation on your part (unless you are a mind reader and can prove it in court) and aside from that, it is completely useless info.

      It will not help you prove that you are innocent of the alleged violation when the officer gets up there and testifies “I saw her drive through a flashing yellow light at a speed that I know from my training and experience was unsafe for the conditions.

      Bing! Bing!

      Holly crap. I just realized if you are going to have a trial, the officer’s only evidence is probably going to be OPINION EVIDENCE on SAFETY that DRAWS A LEGAL CONCLUSION.

      That is an expert opinion on 2 different levels: Highway engineering and legal opinion. The officer is not qualified to offer an expert opinion on those topics. He/she does not have the proper education.

      You need a Motion in Limine to exclude expert testimony of the officer without foundation. You need a hearing to determine if the officer is qualified to offer an expert opinion on the safety of a speed. I do have a self help set of Motions in Limine for CA traffic court trials. you should get the set.
      For example:

  63. michael says:

    citations without making an appearance thereto will lose personal jurisdiction after the statute of limits expires, usually 30 days from the alleged offense. the thing is “traffic tickets” are ineffective to attach the person or show subject matter: NO AFFIDAVIT OF PROBABLE CAUSE.

    on the back of a traffic citation here in Philadelphia there are listed the many ways one could appear to the charge- post bond or collateral, plead guilty or not guilty by mail, appear in front of a judge… what happens when “none of the above”? I sent my citations back to the Traffic Court ‘refused for cause’; there was not enough info to form a response (no affidavit of cause). I never appeared or plead but the judge convicted me anyway in absentia. impossible right?

    they have to either get or voluntary appearance or compel the same by issuing a warrant; and proper jurisdiction must be retained within the legal time limits. the prime example are parking tickets- they dont even name any defendant. ever see “Parking Wars” on TV? that’s the Philadelphia Parking Authority (“PPA”). They NEVER even file the citation, much less obtain real process. The PA Code says that “parking tickets are a device of convenience between the government and the defendant” and are no substitute for real process. People are getting these things dismissed just on that basis- the 30 day S.O.L. expires without filing a citation.

    Don’t think that stops any towing though! All they care about is the registration plate- if comes up “hot” its a goner… and they send all kinds of bills and collection agencies over all these old tickets- they have to know this is illegal.

    There are so many things wrong with the way vehicle laws are applied and enforced; not an argument on the merits but a fatal defect to jurisdiction from the beginning.

    • Michael,

      Im only approving this comment to show the rest of the world what kind of wacked, sideways, unintelligible, poorly written crap I have to wade through in order to answer some good questions for free. Some day, I am going to get sick of it. But for now, I’ll stick with insulting people who piss me off.

  64. Dee Kay says:

    I want to cast doubt on the reading put out by the radar gun. I have a soft top convertible. Have you ever heard of a radar gun having trouble getting accurate readings on a sport type car with a cloth top? It was up at the time,not folded away.

    • Dee,

      This is a great question. There is too much to write here. And I am already busy writing a blog article right now at the same time about that SF Sheriff who had to turn in his guns to the court because he is accused of beating up his wife. And sadly, that is way more interesting to me.

      But I will try to provide a quality answer anyway.

      Forget about the drop top. Even if you found some study from MIT on the subject that supported your point of view, you’d never be able to use it in court, unless you hired a real expert witness to testify about the effects of the radar when TESTED ON YOUR CAR.

      If you want to fight a radar reading: 1) subpeona the radar unit to your house prior to trial or to court just before trial; 2) subpeona the person responsible for calibrating and testing the machine to be cross examined; 3) subpeona all of the training manuals on the device so that you can properly cross examine the officer to see if he knows how to use it; 4) subpeona all of that machine’s maintenance records to be viewed in court at trial;

      Then, when they try to introduce the radar reading, object to it as hearsay. Do your best to win the hearsay objection.

      Then, if you lose on that, ask for a continuance of the trial from there to exam all of the evidence that you subpoenaed. When you lose that, object to the loss, tell the judge it is reverseable error, and that you want the court recorder to mark that spot in the record as “RE#1″.

      Then move on to cross examine the person who tested and calibrated the machine. Was it working that day? Has it ever needed repair? When was it bought? How long is their life span? Can any old meat-head work the machine? Can you show us how it works? How do you know if it is not operating properly? When was the last time you tested this machine? How does temperature affect it?

      If any of your subpeonaed evidence does not appear on time, ask for dismissal on due process grounds: You have the right to cross examine every piece of evidence against you and all witnesses. A statement by a machine is hearsay, unless you get to cross examine that machine and its maintenance records for reliability. We cannot just assume that the machine works right. We must assume that I am innocent, and that the machine does not work, unless it is here to verify its testimony in court, under my questions. And I ask for a specific ruling on that point. “Recorder – please mark “RE#2″ here.”

      And so on. Until dark, or until the judge forces you to shut up. When in doubt, keep talking.

      But if you do it correctly, chances are they will not produce any of the evidence you demand, and you will have a great argument for dismissal.

  65. Molly says:

    Chris – many thanks for this blog. Not only informative but also quite entertaining to read your posts and responses to people’s inquiries. Happy 2012!

  66. Dave M says:

    MY dilemma…While traveling the ohio turnpike a few saterday nights ago, I was in the far LEFT lane of the 3 lane west bound traffic flow. I noticed a car approaching VERY fast in my rear view and quickly started thinking I have a bozo driver that I will have to deal with shortly and began to plan an evasive action if this was some drunk out for a late night ride.
    Before I had to make that decision I became aware that the IDIOT on my tail was nonother than a OHIO HIGHWAY PATROL and at THIS POINT I AM MAD AS HELL !! (IT IS BAD enough to have to deal with bozo speeders on the turnpike and PAY for the priveledge but to be approched by the patrol in that fasion is in my opinoin INESCUSABLE !)
    OH YA you can BE T I GAVE him attitude…HE thought HE had himself a drunk driver and when he came up holdin his weenie in the wind, HE decided to write me a “revenge” ticket for a “marked lane ” violation…
    says I “crossed” the yellow line and was speeding and all over the road …WRONG BOZO !!
    So When I asked officed goofball how fast he THOGHT is was going… HE SAID “I’m NOT gonna tell you how fast you were going” so I SAID then write me a ticket so I can see how fast you THINK I was going ( he didn’t bcause he would purger himself IF I contested)…THEN he said I crossed the yellow line that devides the two ways of the turnpike ( I DID NOT BTW ) and at THAT point I KNOW he was doing the ol’ general violation thing…
    fyi at the arraingment, the “courtroom helper” to the judge was ( are you ready ? ) a OHio Highway patrol officer !!.
    Another fyi…I have been DRIVING longer that this peeon has been alive…I HAVE NEVER had a collision and have a crystal clear driving record…THIS DOUCHBAG wrote a revenge ticket and I want to make SURE he and the prosecutor WORK THEIR ASS OFF “trying” to prove this case.
    btw I WILL APPEAL if I AM NOT TOTALLY VICTORIOUS and I have NO DOUBT that at appeal will win…I ALSO PLAN to file a offical complaint on the FALSE ARREST and MALICIOUS PROCUTUION if I prevail…THIS WILL NOT die and YOU will LOVE the outcome…I would LOVE to be able to make a 5 star IDIOT out of the douchbag patrol in a way that will make him tink twice that he may have picked the WRONG profession or at the VERY least, THIS SMART ASS WILL REMEMBER TO HAVE A CASE before he screws up again and NOT ALL people that he pulls over will ROLL OVER and PLAY DEAD !!
    Help me send one in for the gipper !!

    • Dave M,

      Well, I’d say you gave it a good effort, but this barely cracks the top ten on the wackiest comments ever.

      My advice? Two chill pills, email me in the morning. Remember to say you were complying with the law the best you could.

      Skip the malicious prosecution. It wont work.

  67. Jonathan Rehm says:

    Your info here has helped me a lot more than anything else I found, looking around the internet here today. Thanks very much!

    My case is just nuts, so I’m not going to bother detailing it here. Ideally the officers won’t show up tomorrow. If it weren’t for your site though, I would’ve asked a few stupid questions in my cross-examination.

    Thanks again,
    Jonathan R.

  68. Faith says:

    Hi Chris,

    While I was driving to work one morning, a motorcycle officer pulled me over and accused me of driving on the carpool lane.

    I was driving on the second lane which was next to the carpool lane. He was parked on the right shoulder when he said he saw me. I’m not sure what kind of questions to ask him.

    Thanks for creating a great blog.

  69. John says:

    Great post Chris!

    I actually was traveling in a 2 mile radius 4-5 times today applying for jobs. I saw undercover police pulling vehicles over all day as i was passing back in forth. Well i pull out of a parking lot get a 100 feet i start to buckle my seat belt and a undercover pulls me over like 300 feet afterword in the same parking lot they been running traps all day. The cops gives me a ticket for a “Safety Belt Violation” The fee is 116 dollars i live in the state of Florida. I want to fight this ticket it feels so unfair. I was wondering what you would suggest? Would a trial by declaration be the right route to take? I spoke to an attorney and They state that they are 100% that they can get this removed from my record for 69.99. (less then the cost of the ticket?) How is this possible? I feel if they can do it i must be able to do it.

    • John,

      This is a great question!

      First I have to say is that no real, licensed attorney would do even 10 minutes of work on this case for $69. I call bullshit. Ask to see the license. Make sure you are not being scammed by someone pretending to be an attorney and filling out legal forms for you. Bullshit. That is what I think. And there is no legitimate attorney out there who will guarantee an outcome on a court case. We are not allowed (by law) to make promises. Why? Because you cannot predict what will happen in court. Anyone telling you they can guarantee an out come are lying to you. Ask to see the law license. When did they pass the bar exam? Probably never.

      What was the question?

      Dude, you are guilty. You admit to driving with no seat belt on. You did not claim to be innocent. Dude, you are guilty.

      Save your money and time. Dude, you are guilty.

      Ask for traffic school if you qualify, pay the fine, dude you are guilty, and end the case completely ASAP.

      Limit possibility of getting screwed by everyone, cause dude you are guilty, and if you keep this case rollin, you are going to get screwed by someone, cuz dude you are guilty.

      And because you are guilty, keep copies of everything. Pay in person. Get proof you paid on time.

      Do not trust or give any money to a person without a law license claiming they can help you with a court case. Unless you are stupid, and have Brewster’s Millions.

  70. Ryan says:

    First off I wanted to thank you Christopher for providing this useful knowledge. I was going into this court date blind but now I have some tools to help me.

    I was pulled over in my home neighborhood for not stopping at a stop sign. The night I approached the stop sign and slowed down to what I thought was a stop, but I had to inch beyond the line to see if it was safe to turn because the fence to the left of the turn had a lot of shrubbery on it which made it difficult to see around. The cop that pulled me over was in an undercover cop car and was park right at the intersection next to the shrubbery, so I also had to inch further to see around what I thought was a parked car. There is a speed bump right at the intersection where the cop was sitting, and I saw no one coming my way and not wanting to stay with the nose of my car sitting in the intersection I felt it was safe to turn right. My fiance who was also in the car with me felt I was not in violation of the law.

    He rights me up a ticket saying I did not stop or even yield at the stop sign. The thing is I did slow down before the intersection, and there were no oncoming cars to yield to. He also wrote me a warning because the car was registered in Illinois but I still had my Kentucky license. Something I wasn’t able to tell the cop was that my permanent address was still in that neighborhood in Kentucky, that I was up in Illinois for an internship. My fiance had just received the car as a gift and we had to change the registration to get insurance. She wanted me on the title, and the people working at the DMV did not have an issue with it. Since then though I have gotten it changed because my internship is about to become a full-time job. I’m just wondering if they could use that against me because I didn’t change it right after going back to Illinois.

    I’m just wondering how I should go about this with this evidence to come out with a not guilty. I have my fiance as a witness to my defense, I’m now planning on getting a picture of the shrubbery from my view, a car being parked at the intersection, and the cops view. Is there anything I should do in court or anything else I need that will really help me?

  71. Sam says:

    Many thanks. I agree with what you wrote. But can I use his violent behavior as an explanation why he wrote two tickets for such a minor thing? He has to use some basic logic in applying the law, which he did not, since he had an anger management problem.
    He did not even maker sure if the light bulb was out or I was not really giving a turn signal. Can I point out this fact in my favor?

  72. Sam says:

    Excellent web site!

    I would need an advice about the traffic ticket that I recently got in NY state. I was stopped by an officer because my break light did not work and for not giving a signal when turning. I was given two tickets
    1) equipment violation
    2) Unsafe turning without a signal . The first ticket was reparable within 24 hours, so I went to Firestone where they found out that both the break light and turn signal light bulbs were out. I replaced them properly immediately.

    I pleaded not guilty and talked to the prosecutor. He said he would dismiss the first ticket but I would need to pay for the second. I told him that this defies any logic since the first ticket was repairable anyway and he HAS to dismiss it since I fixed it within 24 hours. And the second ticket is without a basis since it was also a light bulb that went out, not that I did not give a turn signal. And the policemen anyway did not even check if the bulb was out, he wrote two tickets straight up without making sure why he is writing them. It would have taken him 30 seconds to figure out whether it was the light bulb or I was really not giving the signal.

    I rejected the “deal” and have a court date in a few days. Having already two very unreasonable actions (from the officer and prosecutor), how should I present my case in front of the judge? Can they really charge me with two tickets (potential value of over $500) for two light bulbs that went out!

    Besides when the officer stopped me I rolled down the window and asked “What Happened”. The officer went berserk on me, yelled at me for 5 minutes and said he would give me trouble for this (for asking what happened). Can I sue him for abuse of power, and would this help me if I bring this up during the trial? Thank you very much.

    I really appreciate your time and help.

    • Sam, sorry to hear about your trouble – but unfortunately, the fact that an officer was rude to you, or lied to you, or insulted you, or yelled at you, or made you feel bad is not a defense to anything. Cops are allowed to be rude and to lie to you. No joke. It’s totally legal.

      Now, if he/she hit and injured you for no reason, then you may have something.

      No you cannot sue a police officer for abuse of power. Even if you could – you have no damages – right? How much were your medical bills? How much property damage did the officer cause? Nothing.

  73. Lindsey says:

    Hi there, thank you for the very helpful post. I am certainly going to use your tips when cross-examining the officer. I was recently given a ticket that says I was going 84 in a 60. It was estimated and radared. I know you said to ask ONLY “yes/no” questions, and only as relevant questions. The officer who pulled me over wrote “OSS – over 60mph” on my ticket (operator stated speed). This is completely NOT true. I never stated my speed. Of course, it is his word against mine. Should I bring that up in court? I was thinking of asking, “Is it true that you asked me what my speed was at the time you pulled me over?” “What was my response?” — I never revealed my speed to him. Do you think this point will help me in court? Thank you!

    • Lindsay, Absolutely not! If you ask a question like that, what do you think the officer is going to say? And once he/she says it – how in the world are you going to prove it did not happen? DONT BRING OUT BAD FACTS IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TO. Bring out good facts that help you only. And if he had radar – does it matter at all what you said at the site? NO! Of course not. What you said has no bearing on whether or not the officer measured your speed at an illegal level. You need to focus on how you are going to prove you were not speeding. Not on what the cop thinks you said.

  74. Andy C says:

    First, Thanks for the tips on cross examining an officer.

    Second, I was stopped at 11:30 PM, in Mill Valley and the cop followed me for about 10 minutes before pulling me over. I had Texas plates, he was bored and had nothing else to do. So he followed me while calling in my plates and found the car was not currently registered.

    So, lights and action. I pull over slowly, hands on wheel, window down. and when he asked for license and registration I showed him my last registration from 2007 and the last insurance from years before.

    He gave me a Fixit ticket and said he didn’t want to deal with all the paperwork for impounding the car so let me go.

    Now, here are some details:
    Original ticket dated 4-13-11 11:20 PM, then down below on the date next to the Officer’s name it was left blank,
    Date and time to appear at bottom of ticket is 5-6-11 8:00 AM.

    Then I received the COURTESY NOTICE (how courteous!)

    and it says:
    Citation Date: April 12, 2011 (notice different day)
    Appearance Date May 09, 2011 (again different day)

    Total Bail-No proof of corrections: $1,158
    Total Bail-If all proofs submitted: $504.

    So the officer called it a fixit ticket and still I would pay $504, Well I best not respond.

    So I would prefer to pay nothing and get off without any marks.
    I wasn’t cited for speeding or any moving violation besides not registered and I am wondering are the technical mistakes enough to get out of it.

    If not what do you suggest.

    Many thanks and why didn’t they pay you a liveable wage as a public defender?
    I guess they wanted you to really feel your clients, huh?

    Thanks for any help.

    • Andy, first let me say that Public Defenders have a horrible job. Depressing people, depressing facts, jail visits, people crying, people lying, people dying, horrible horrible work. But the people who do it should be honored because they do it to protect people’s rights from the oppressive push of sometimes over aggressive prosecutors, despite horrible conditions. And there is no “living wage” for a public defender. 1 mil a year is not enough for that work.

      Anyway, this is a well written question, but a little wacky.

      If the officer did not sign the citation, you have a complete defense to the charges.

      But nothing on the Courtesy Notice is important. A Courtesy Notice is not evidence used against you. Nothing in it makes a difference, except the change in appearance date. You have to go at the new date and time.

      The “Citation date” on the Courtesy Notice is the date the court processed the officer’s citation. It does not help you at all. Forget about that.

      It does not matter what the officer called the citation a “fix it” ticket. If he called it a “fix it” ticket, it does not matter at all. That is not important, it will not affect anything. Only the court decides if a violation is correctable – not the officer.

      If you were not displaying current California Registration stickers, the stop of your vehicle was legal.

      If your vehicle was not properly registered, and you did not have proof of insurance with you, you ARE GUILTY!!!!!!!

      So, here is the part where I try and help – the best solution to this problem is getting out of it fast. Either get the car registered, or get rid of it before your court date. Go to court in person, and show proof that you got rid of it or registered it to the judge.

      Get auto insurance. Take proof of it to court with you.

      Ask the judge to dismiss both cases “in the interests of justice”, because you have made a good faith effort to correct everything. Then get out of there with a smaller fine (hopefully) and pay if off on time.

      If you schedule a trial here, you are probably wasting your time completely – because you have no defense at all on these facts.

      And by the way, how did you know the cop was bored? Doesnt everyone have Angry Birds by now?

  75. B en says:

    Dear Chris I commend you for your Blog It is certainly useful and I intend on using it in court against my own speeding ticket. Over the last 4 weeks I have been hit multiple times with tickets that are for tints. I am thinking of taking them off now but I need some defense against my tickets and I was hoping you or any other fellow citizens can give me some pointers.

    Ticket 1 = NY state trooper on the 29′th of last month finds me driving and felt I was the perfect candidate to fill his end of the month quota I think and pulls me over. Issues me a ticket stating that I have violated NY state traffic & vehicle law for tints on cars and issues me a ticket. He did not use a tinto meter or any mechanism but told me I have a metalic glare on my tint and that is not allowed. Vehicle and Traffic Law § 375 (12-a)New York State does not ban any tint color; however, the tint cannot reflective light or appear metallic or mirrored. It is true I do have a tint that appears mirrored from certain angle. How would I question this witness to prove his statements non credible. Also I have been reading up on not entering a plea and questioning the courts jurisdiction based on the lack of a Verified complaint. I have seen this to be the case in California where I was able to locate it in the Vehicle & Traffic Law but nothing in NY. Do you or any of my fellow readers have any knowledge of this? I appreciate your comments and suggestions. Also I am going to help you earn a bit of money through your google adds for this great work you are doing =)

    • Ben,

      Thank you for the kind words. I am not licensed to practice anywhere by CA and federal court – so I cannot give you legal advice on your exact case. But I can give this general info:

      First – the whole “Not a verified complaint” idea is illusory crap regurgitated by people who have no idea how courts work. The citation an officer gives to you on the side of the road is signed by the officer under penalty of perjury. (READ IT PEOPLE!) And it alone can be used as a charging document. That is a verified complaint. No problem.

      “Verified” means signed under penalty of perjury in this context. A citations is a “signed promise to appear”, a “Verified” witness statement, and a Complaint once filed with their court all at once. It can be superseded by a Complaint filed by the prosecutor (and I am talking generally here – may vary in your area) – but the citation itself, when sitting in a court file with a case number, is a Complaint.

      Now if the citation is missing, and not in the court file – there is a problem. But its always there. And even if it were not, that is a correctable problem. THe officer or prosecutor can file a new citation or complaint at any time before trial.


      Sounds like that Statute is unconstitutionally vague as a matter of law, because it fails to distinguish legal from illegal actions in a manner that would allow a reasonable person to know when or when not they are in compliance with the law. You can ride that argument a long way through state and federal court if you want to waste government money defending your right to have laws that are understandable, and not subject to varied interpretations by angry government officials looking for cash to save their per diem job.

      I didnt really say that. Its just an idea that I will keep to myself.

      If you actually want to challenge the officer’s perception of what they saw on that day, and that time, you are going to lose.

      But I have had cases where we hired a professional glare expert from Stanford to provide expert witness testimony on glare from sunlight, view disturbances, and the effect of SUNGLASSES on perception. How’s that for HINT.

      I wouldnt do it, but if you are going to do it – you should bring the window into court.

      Next best option: Get a different person to take photos of the window and bring it to court.

      You are better off arguing the law here – questioning the officer is not going to help you.

      At least that would be my opinion if this were a CA case.

  76. Elliot says:

    How does one reach you to speak about a ticket?

  77. Jack says:

    First off, really great post. I have a few questions concerning radar evidence pertaining to my case. Was caught via radar on a local street going 51 in a 35. The bike officer was obviously hiding in a bushes waiting to stalk his prey and caught me. No other cars even close by and the officer even showed me the radar gun. What exact questions would be favorable to me when doing a cross-examination against the cop?

    • Jack, thank you for the real question.

      I could write a book about this, and maybe one day I will. But here are some advance tips:

      1) the radar reading is Hearsay (out of court statement by a machine that cannot be cross examined). Because that, it is inadmissible unless (and I am simplifying this) there are foundational facts to establish that it was in fact an accurate reading. Who trained the officer to use it? Who is responsible for the maintainable? Does the officer have personal knowledge about whether or not it was maintained correctly? How does the officer know which car the machine was reporting on?

      If the foundational facts do not come through – OBJECTION! Lacks foundation. And its hearsay. It is unreliable hearsay. An out of court statement by a machine than cannot be cross examined. “I Have a right to question that machine’s statement (5th, 14th Amendment).

      2) you always want to attack the BIAS of a witness. Here, the bias may be his line of sight that prevented him from being sure which car the machine was talking about.

      OK. That all there is for free. If you want more, you have to send money to my paypal account. It cost me a lot of money to get this knowledge. I lost money in my days as a public defender – I did not get paid a living wage.

      Maybe 1 more bonus question: “Officer, Isn’t it true that you have no personal knowledge of which car the machine was speaking about?”

      “Isn’t it true you were not present the last time the machine was tested for accuracy?” “Isnt it true that you have no physical evidence to demonstrate the machine was talking about my car?” “Isnt it true that you do not have the device that you used here in court today?” “Isnt it true that you cannot show us the reading of the machine today here in court?” “Isnt it true that . . . . . .

      3) You need to bring out the good facts:

      “Isnt it true that I did not cause any accident or collision?” Isnt it true that I was not driving recklessly, and that you did not cite me for driving recklessly?” “Isnt it true that I pulled over in a safe and efficient manner?” “Isnt it true that I was not endangering people’s lives at the time you saw me?”


      Then here is one last bonus tip from my days selling cars. Bring your heavy question in last. If you want a “YES” answer to your heavy question, ask 5 softball “YES” questions first. Get a string of Yeses in before the whopper – and somehow, YES will just fly out of his/her mouth effortlessly.

      I dont mind publishing that trick, because it still works even when they know it is coming. Weird. Jedi Mind Trick I guess. Thank Mr. Tom Crans for that one. (long live LOVE CHEVROLET!)

      • JOHN P says:

        I was pulledover JAN 25 at 7;56 am for a SUPPOSED SPEEDING TICKET.
        I was leaving early due to scholl traffic and ice for an 8-45 appt 4 miles from my house.AS I approached the place I had to run LEFT at there’s a funeral home that was setting up for a rather large procession as they had cones on both sidesof the road were directing traffic, back up hearse, flower cars etc…. This is called S BELL AVE.
        AS I turned LEFT and went about 10 moh as I navigated my way through the funeral ongoings I remember my wife asking me to stop n look at a house 4 sale and get the phone number since it was not being shown by a realator. I was traveling about 20 as my car though a 2005 has but 15 K on it and I needed it to warm up fully before I could turn on heat , radio was NOT on either.,
        I traveled about 200 yeards to the houseon the right putonmy 4ways looked in my rear view mirror to make sure I did not need to get outof someone;s way… ther was no one so I grabbed a pencil write down the number and moved fwd to the top sing about 50 feet. I FLASHED my bright lights to the car to my left at thie 4 way STOP to go FIRST. I then proceeded foward and was about to stop to get mouse trps and a cup of tea and the coffee house but the spot there was small and thisia a Cadillac STS SUV given tome by my mom when my Dad passed and is not easy to park not in that spot
        Even with NOBODY behind me except a WHITE LEXUS I could not park there and would not park in the yellow n runin an out as I am disabled and walk witha cen wear a brace and well it just was NOT worth it….so I roled foward about 15 feet to the red light at MAIN st. I turnedon the heater at this point and then the backheater and looked back to notice i hit the rear windshield wiper so I know NOBODY was behind me.
        WHen the light turned GREEEn I proceeded foward slowly as a RED PICK UP TRUCK has just ran the liight and turned right and was now in front of me. This now N BELL AVE…. a VERY THIN street with potholes allover , cars parkedon both sides INCLUDING CAB of an 18 wheeler and even more important there are at least 5 BUS STOPS and possibly 50 children and ther parents waiting on busses. It is also common to those of us who live here that the police are always nearby this rd at this time and actually this rd is in such bad condition usually one avoids it due to the pot holes and safety of driving on this rd. About 100 yards down the RED PU TRUCK turned right to get to the 7-11….as he turned I was happy I could see as behind him I was blind to anything in front of him so I was back a good 75 feet.
        As I proceeded down this rd I could see the parents with there paper n pencils ready to write down anyone speeding as they have petitioned to do something about the problem for their childrens safety. I was coming up to my part were I need to trun RIGHT when I noticed a cop behind me…. having been hitin the rear and damn near killed about 30 years ago I always look when slowing down to ensure the person behind me is slowing down. I notice a cop and his lights on to not knowing if it is for me or not I put on my 4 ways and pulled over to the right and the cop pulled behind me.He walked up asked for my info I said NOTHING EXCEPT GOOD MORNING SIR and then asked did I do something wrong? He pointed at my seatbelt and asked where is your seatbelt…I told him I am not to where a harness as I have a pacemaker/defibulator and if I ever have to hit the brakes that hard it could damage or break it causing internal injuries and told him I have a letter if you need to see it, he said no need but I still showed him my pacemaker byu pulling down my shirt.
        HE then said then I’ll just give you a speeding ticket???????.
        I knew NOT to say anything but knowing my DR:S appt was coming up to get ready to have a mass that was taken out of my stomach in DECEMBER, I had a 2nd procedure to see if it had returned and if it was cancerous…so being on edge and stressed from the 12 heart surgeries, losing both parents to cancer and my mother in law last year and having my wife diagnosed with MS I was at my breaking point and KNEW TO SHUT UP.
        WHen he came back he hands me a ticket that
        1…I am supposed to sign for totally illegable and things crossed out, looked like a 3 yo wrote it
        SO I decided to CALM DOWN n read it when I get home and thats that…..But in NO WAY was I about to make it worse by shooting my mouth off to the officer.

        WHen I get home I notice that it says the place of the infraction was on S BELL AVE and that he followed me at 45 in a 25…. this is a total LIE.
        IF it was true why didn;t he hit his siren or use his PA to pull me over at
        1…when I was first speeding
        2…when I stopped at the house 4 sale ( yet I looked t see if I was holding up traffic so I know he was NOT behind me there
        3….at the 4 way stop sign
        4….When I stopped to attempt to park for a cup of tea
        5 ….at a 3 minute red light

        6…Then I notice is says place if infraction was on 300 block of S BELL AVE
        ( impossible unless he was invisible)
        7….Under thepart where it says SPEED the SPEED I was traveling was ILLEGIBLE it is either 40, 41, 45, or 47 or 49….
        8…Where it says METHOD used to track my speed unde rmiles followed, minutes timed and seconds timed NOTHING IS ENTERED.
        9….BUT where it says where INFRACTION OCCURED HE WROTE S BELL AVE
        10….Under remarks he puts down a whole new story that he followed me on N BELL AVE AT 45 in a 25…..

        THAT Sir is a 100% falseification of the truth….. NO way was I speeding, I has looked at my speedo when that pu truck turned right n front of me and at that time i was doing 21mph……then there was a bus stop to pick up kids.
        After that I had less than 200 feet before I turned right to noptice the officer behind me.

        I am stresed out of my mind with worry about my heart, do I have cancer, will my wifes MS blind her again soon or worse and that MY step mom now also has less than 6 months to live with stage 4 cancer……
        I can barely sleep and till this time other than an accident where someone ran a red light and hit me I have had a clean record for nearly 30 years
        I AM PROUD of MY WIFE and MY ability to be so safe n keep our rates low being retired at 56 is a financial disaster and the worry of my rates going up aling with points and close to 200.00 fine I am dumbfounded n so aggrivated that this can be done and one can either pay a lawyer 500 + to go to court and maybe get it lowered, but I AM INNOCENT
        But as we know it is basically a POLICE OFFICER word against mine.
        I do not wish to discredit or make a fool of the officer but also do not feel pleading guilty to something I KNOW I did NOT do is eating at me.
        Your advice to people is very helpfull and I wish I could hure you to help me beat this, but even then having to pay a lawyer to prove innocense seem totally opposite the fact that we are SUPPOSEDLY INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.
        So I am asking you and thanking you for the advice you have given some…. you replies are straight foward and real.
        I know given the right way to handle this I can do this…..but where to start I have no idea…and as I said I want to get ridof the ticket NOT discredit a cop with 30 yearson the force nor waste the judges times droning on and on.

        Thank you kindly for you help in this matter

        • This is way too long to understand. I am sorry, I tried. Can you possibly re write it without the information about the funeral or the sick relatives? Include only the info I need to understand what happened when you got the ticket.