by Richard D. Freiman on Oct. 28, 2018

Motor Vehicle Traffic Criminal  Misdemeanor 

Summary: California traffic ticket defense

You’re driving on the freeway, listening to your favorite music, keeping your eye on the road, when you look in the rear view mirror and suddenly see those dreaded flashing lights. The CHP officer waves you to the side of the freeway.

You pull over. You shut off the engine. The CHP officer walks over to your car. 

A few minutes later, you are looking at your traffic ticket (citation) which you have signed in the presence of the officer. It contains the citation number; alleged violation; the level of the alleged offense (infraction or misdemeanor); the issuing law enforcement agency; the date and location of the alleged violation; the location of the court; the date and the time you have to appear in the court; and instructions.

Your day is ruined.

This article will deal with traffic infractions (generally minor moving and other violations), not misdemeanors (such as reckless driving; DUI; driving with a suspended license).

For traffic infractions, in addition to fines and other financial penalties, if you plead or are found guilty, generally one point will be placed against your driving record. The DMV keeps a record of points and the DMV has the right to suspend or revoke your driver’s license if you get four points within a twelve month period; six points within a twenty-four month period; or eight points within a thirty-six month period.

The number of points on your driving record can lead to an increase your automobile insurance premium. 

Approximately 21 days after you get your traffic ticket, you will receive a notice which will provide general information and your options for taking care of the situation. It will contain the amount of the fine and other important information such as any mandatory court appearance requirements, traffic school eligibility requirements, and the due date.

Now you have to make a decision. How are you going to deal with your traffic ticket? 

So what are your options?

You can pay the fine and request traffic school. If you meet the eligibility requirements for attending traffic school and you complete your attendance, the violation will not appear on your record.

You can pay the fine and not fight the ticket and not go to traffic school (either by choice or because you didn’t meet the requirements). The violation will appear on your record (increasing the risk of the future suspension or revocation of your driver’s license) and your automobile insurance premium may rise.

You can plead “not guilty” and have a trial. You are entitled to a speedy and public trial. Both you and the officer who issued the traffic ticket are required to appear at the trial. You can have an attorney appear for you (so that your attendance is not required) and represent you at the trial. If the officer does not appear, the court can dismiss your case. 

At the trial, the officer is required to testify. You or your attorney can cross-examine the officer. You do not have to testify unless you choose to do so. You can present witnesses as can the prosecution. After the witnesses have testified, there will be closing arguments by the prosecutor (if one is present) and by you or your attorney (arguing that the prosecution has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt). 

Then the court will render its decision. 

Depending on the court and the circumstances, even if you are found guilty, you may still be able to attend traffic school (providing you meet the eligibility requirements).

Another option is the “Trial By Written Declaration.” Using this procedure, you plead “not guilty” and submit your written statement (declaration) in which you explain the facts of your case and why you are not guilty of the alleged offense. The officer who issued the traffic ticket will be given the chance to submit a written statement as well. Then the court will read both the statements and you will be notified of the court’s decision.

If you are not satisfied with the court’s decision, you can ask for a new trial in court, by filing a “Request for New Trial (Trial de Novo)” within twenty days after the date the court’s decision was mailed to you.

Most importantly, you must appear in the case by any of the methods stated above or on your traffic ticket. If you don’t, you can be charged with a “Failure To Appear” which is a misdemeanor. This will be an additional charge to the infraction you were originally charged with..

The information is this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute nor is it intended to constitute legal advice. 

For a free consultation:

Contact Richard D. Freiman at (310-917-1021) or






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