Nearly every American will inevitably have to handle a matter in traffic court at least once during their lifetime. For most people, this will be the only time they will ever have to appear in court for anything and their idea about how the justice system works is only based on their experience in traffic court. Traffic court is where you go after you have been issued a traffic citation. In traffic court, several dozens of people have the chance to exercise their rights in a very limited time frame. Everyone there is already unhappy because they have been issued a citation for allegedly violating some part of the California Vehicle Code and they are likely facing several hundreds of dollars worth of fines. The courtroom is packed and the process works much the same as an assembly line. The truth is that a day spent in traffic court is simply an unpleasant experience.
(1) TICKET: You are issued a citation with a date to appear in court.
(2) ARRAIGNMENT: You must appear in court on the date written on your citation to enter your plea (either "Guilty" or "Not Guilty").
- If you plead guilty, you will go to the clerk's window and pay your fine.
- If you plead not guilty, you will have to post bail & come back on your trial date.
(3) TRIAL: You must appear in court again on your trial date and face the citing officer and present evidence of your innocence.
(4) POST-TRIAL: If you win at trial, your bail will be refunded to you by mail within 6 to 8 weeks. If you lose, you forfeit your bail and points (if any) will be assessed against your license.
Remember that going to court is not unlike going to the airport: you have to arrive early, go through metal detectors, deal with a myriad of security officers, and turn off your cell phone. Moreover, you can expect to spend at least three hours at court during each appearance. Again, it is not pleasant.
WHAT CAN A TRAFFIC ATTORNEY DO?
First and foremost - and for most people: most importantly - hiring a traffic attorney keeps you out of court! Often times, the attorney fee is worth it not only to stay out of court but to use that valuable time to spend at work, school, or even play. The reason you really hire an attorney, though, is to defend your rights and prevent a conviction that will cost you in the short term (fines & penalties) and the long-term (blemished driving record & increased insurance premiums). An unintended consequence of retaining private counsel is the great feeling of saying "My lawyer is handling that!"
If you're issued a traffic citation, you should be aware that it may be a misdemeanor. This slight fact may allude you because you are not arrested but if your citation is alleging a misdemeanor violation, you could be facing jail time if you are convicted. It is important that you look at the section of the citation that says something along the lines of "TYPE OF CITATION: circle one M/I" - if the "M" is circled, it is a misdemeanor citation and you should absolutely hire private counsel because, although you're appearing in traffic court, you're facing a criminal charge. Misdemeanor convictions, no matter how slight the underlying violation, has serious consequences and impacts your criminal record.
The Law Office of M. Ali Salimi has successfully prevented convictions on all of the following citations and saved our clients tens of thousands of dollars as well as keeping their driving record clean and citation free. If you have received a citation and must appear in traffic court, we recommend contacting our office and retaining us to handle all of your traffic citations for you!
RED LIGHT CAMERA TICKET
There is a plethora of misinformation regarding "red light camera" tickets received by mail. This is due, in part, to a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times highlighting the fact that the City of Los Angeles is no longer prosecuting red light camera tickets. There is a lot of nuance in that sentence...
(1) This applies only to the "City" of "Los Angeles"....only! This means that if you run a red light in Beverly Hills or Culver City, for example, you will be prosecuted and you are responsible for the fine if you are convicted. This also applies to intersections (i.e. at Busway in the Valley) where the Metropolitan Transit Authority ("MTA") has jurisdiction. The MTA strictly enforces their red light camera violations.
(2) The City is "no longer prosecuting" the tickets. This doesn't mean that the tickets are not still being issued. The City of L.A. did not renew it's contracts with the (mostly) out-of-state companies that are operating the cameras so they have decided not to prosecute the tickets. However, the companies may still be attempting to collect revenue by mailing out these citations. Although they are not permitted to, the companies may even refer unpaid tickets to collection agencies. Therefore, it's important to make sure that you find out if your citation is valid or not and be sure to handle it appropriately thus preventing anyone from taking an un-permitted action against you.
The Law Office of M. Ali Salimi has been successful defending even 'validly' issued red light camera tickets by using favorable pertinent facts, the vehicle code, and case law. Submit your red light camera ticket to our office for the best possible defense of your rights.
A little known fact about the California 'speeding laws' is that the posted speed limits are presumed to be the prudent and reasonable speed. What does this mean? This means that the speed limit you see posted on the side of the highway is not a bright line limit.
If the posted speed is 65, for example, you are not automatically guilty for going 70. Although you can be cited for speeding if you are going 70mph in a 65mph zone, you will be found not guilty if you can rebut the presumption that 70 is a safe speed for traveling on a particular stretch of road at a particular time of day (i.e. clear, dry, high visibility, no traffic, etc.). Since the law in this area is not black & white, however, it cuts both ways. This means that you could be convicted for driving at the speed limit if the driving conditions are poor (i.e. heavy rainstorm or heavy fog, etc.).
Something else to consider is that there are several speeding laws that you can be cited for violating in the California Vehicle Code. Each of the laws has it's own particular set of defenses and a lawyer well-versed in the law can provide you with the best possible defense. If you have been cited for speeding in California, you should submit your citation to the Law Office of M. Ali Salimi to defend your rights and make sure your insurance premiums are not increased.
Violations involving cell phones are based on manually communicating with others - this means, for all intents and purposes, talking on the phone, texting, or sending an e-mail from your phone. All the violations stem from, basically, holding a cell phone in your hand. Although it's best to not have your phone in your hand, there are other reasons - other than manually communicating with others - that your cell phone would be in your hand. Contact the Law Office of M. Ali Salimi to provide you with the best defense.
If you drive for a living, your livelihood is at stake every time you are issued a traffic citation Anything from improper lane changes, to following a vehicle too closely, count as "serious" traffic violations and will have a negative impact on your commercial driver's license ("CDL") and also give you anything from 1/2 point to 2 points on your driving record. A conviction for driving 15 mph over the posted speed limit is misdemeanor criminal conviction that will always remain on your record. Most importantly, traffic citations for commercial drivers cannot be worked off through traffic school like other California drivers. For these reasons, it is imperative that if you have a CDL, you retain private counsel to help avoid these and other harsh consequences. If you are a professional driver, the Law Office of M. Ali Salimi is ready to defend your rights and protect your financial future. Submit your citation to our office today for private representation.
Improper or "unsafe" lane change violation citations are a particular favorite among the California Highway Patrol's ("CHP") quota-hounds. Typically, CHP is the issuing agency for this violation and it is usually issued when a driver moves quickly into an adjacent lane in traffic.
In the same realm are violations for tailgating, impeding traffic, improper passing, and improper turning. All of these citations have specific defenses that can be used to be certain that the issuing agency has issued the citation appropriately and, if not, to prevent conviction of any of the underlying charges. If you have received a traffic citation, we recommend that you retain the services of the Law Office of M. Ali Salimi.
FAILURE TO OBEY SIGNS
Traffic signs are everywhere and they direct us to do or not do various things at various points on the road; where to stop, where to slow down, where to turn, where to park, and what hours/times we can or cannot do certain things. Everyone has seen these traffic signs even if they have not paid attention to them. Most of the time, most drivers know what to do based on common sense and not relying on posted traffic signs but sometimes the driver just doesn't see a sign and unknowingly violates whatever rule the sign is setting forth. Often times, the violation is slight but the consequence can be quite harsh. Therefore, if you have received a citation for a sign violation, you should contact the Law Office of M. Ali Salimi for an affordable defense to keep your driving record clean.
Although most fix-it tickets can be easily handled, there are some clients that just prefer not to deal with the courts in any capacity. For that reason, the Law Office of M. Ali Salimi is able to provide private counsel so that even minor citations are handled professionally, efficiently, and quickly.
MISDEMEANOR vs INFRACTION
You should always check your citation to see if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or an infraction. To check, just look to see whether the "I" or the "M" has been circled on your citation.
The letter "I" designates an infraction: a crime (violation of law) that can be punished by a fine, traffic school, or some form of community service but not punishable by imprisonment. Generally, the fines do not exceed $100 for violations of the vehicle code or $250 for violations of other codes.
The letter "M" designates a misdemeanor: a crime punishable, at the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of no longer than 6 months or by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by both.
EXPLANATION OF FINES
The most common citations issued for an infraction are punishable by a fine not to exceed $100. However, most people issued an infraction citation face fines that are several hundreds of dollars. So if the fine is "not to exceed $100," how is it that your amount due is $490? Two words: Penalty Assessments. If you ever attend traffic court, you will hear the judge mention "fine plus penalty assessments" as the conviction is read into the record.
These penalty assessments are non-negotiable and they are quite hefty. There are (1) State penalty assessments, (2) County penalty assessments, (3) Court penalty assessments, (4) a DNA penalty assessment, (5) an EMS penalty assessment, and other surcharges. Here's an example:
***Base Fine = $100****
+ State Penalty = $100
+ County Penalty = $70
+ Court Penalty = $50
+ DNA Penalty = $50
+ EMS Penalty = $20
+ EMAT Penalty = $4
+ Surcharge = $20
+ Court OPS = $40
+ Conv Assess = $35
+ Night Court = $1
TOTAL = $490.00