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Contesting a Traffic Ticket in the State of California: Key Strategies That Could Help You Win Your Case 

Simply receiving a traffic ticket in the State of California does not always mean it is justified. Fighting a traffic ticket can be quite complex and difficult but in some situations, the effort to challenge the ticket can be successful. If you or someone you know plans to challenge a traffic ticket, the following five elements may help. California’s traffic laws are subject to change, consider speaking to a qualified traffic law attorney who can provide accurate legal advice.

Contest the Police Officer’s Subjective Decision

Depending on the region in which the incident took place, the accused may be able to challenge the police officer’s view of what transpired. Some jurisdictions will allow officers to make a subjective decision as to whether the driver violated a law. For instance, if a police office has given a driver a traffic ticket for making an “unsafe” left turn, the accused can challenge that judgment and argue that the turn was made in a safe and responsible manner. For example: It could be useful to demonstrate that the officer was not in a place that could allow him or her to accurately make that judgment or have witnessed all relevant factors.

Contest the Police Officer’s Observations

In the event that the accused was cited for a failure to stop, the accused may be able to raise question with respect to what the officer actually saw. While this may be a difficult case to win, there are several steps an accused driver may take in an effort to challenge the officer. In most cases, providing the following evidence can help convince a judge the accused’s point of view:

  • Providing statements of witnesses who can testify to the accused’s version of events
    • This could be passengers or other bystanders
    • Providing the court with a clear diagram demonstrating the location of the vehicle in relation to the officer’s location.
    • Key elements to include may include, but are not limited to: traffic signals, other vehicles, and other intersection details.
  • Providing pictures of the location where the incident took place.
    • Significant pictures will include those that demonstrate a clear indication that the officer’s sight could have been obstructed.
    • Important elements to include are roadway conditions, stop signs, and intersections.

Demonstrating a Mistake of Fact

A judge is allowed to make a decision on the case considering circumstances that were not in the driver’s control. For example, the accused can demonstrate that there was an honest and reasonable error with regard to the infraction. The judge will then rule that the driver made a mistake of fact and the ticket could be dismissed.

This argument can be useful if the driver was not given fair notice of the conduct that was expected of him or her. For instance, the judge would dismiss a ticket if the driver ran a stop sign that was brand new.

Obtain the Support of an Expert Attorney

Commuting is a norm in the State of California and all licensed motorists are responsible for ensuring that they are driving in a safe and responsible manner. All licensed drivers are therefore susceptible to traffic tickets. All ticketed drivers have the legal right to contest the infraction and speaking to a qualified attorney can help.

The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP., are dedicated to protecting the rights of California drivers. They have extensive experience in traffic ticket cases. If you have been ticketed, seek the legal support and guidance of an attorney with the right experience.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.