Archive for April, 2010

By Gary Richards

grichards@mercurynews.com

When Sgt. Eddie Chan makes traffic stops, the San Jose officer makes it a point never to tell propicia drivers how much their ticket will cost. He’s afraid they’ll go ballistic.

Fines on traffic tickets have surged in the past five years as the state has added fees and penalties that can raise the cost of most infractions into the hundreds of dollars. Running a red light: $446. Driving solo in the car-pool lane: $445. Speeding at 81 mph on most freeways: at least $331. Ignoring a “don’t walk” sign: $173.

Why Pay All This?

And for moving violations, tack on an extra $50 if you go to traffic school to keep your record clean.

Even fix-it tickets that once cost nothing to resolve, like a broken headlight, now run $25.

Why the fine inflation? Lawmakers are seeing traffic tickets as a relatively easy source of revenue in tough times, and add-on fees are being used to fund services that may have nothing to do with traffic violations, like collecting criminals’ DNA.

Chan says when drivers ask him how much their fines will be, he avoids answering, saying he doesn’t want to give them incorrect information.

“They aren’t too happy,” he said, “but I’ve never had anyone go off the deep end with that explanation.”

The Legislature approves fees that make tickets so expensive, and the motivation behind those costs are many, said Chris Cochran, a spokesman with the state Office of Traffic Safety.

“The courts need more money, the counties need more money,” he said, and legislators have taken the view “that people breaking the law should be paying for administration of the system that takes care of these things.”

There’s also the deterrence factor. “And if you are going to pay more,” Cochran said, “then maybe you won’t engage in bad behavior in the first place.”

The proliferation of red-light cameras in the Bay Area and the steep fine for running red lights has drawn attention to how expensive tickets have become. But surprise doesn’t begin to describe the feelings of motorists who get notice of a hefty fine. More like flabbergasted and fuming.

“Ridiculous — it’s just not fair,” said Denise Matlock of San Carlos, who failed to make a complete stop on a right turn and got a $447 ticket.

“I had heard some horror stories,” said Ed Burling, a retired De Anza College biology teacher who was nailed for going 71 mph on Highway 1 between Fort Bragg and Mendocino. He expected a $300 fine, not the $458 he was billed.

Melissa Currier of Hayward was ticketed for driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a city street. Her fine: $385. “I was shocked,” said her husband, Jason.

What jacks these tickets up so high are the dozen or so fees and penalties that are tacked onto the base fine.

Take a ticket with a $100 base fine. There’s a state penalty of 100 percent — another $100. A county penalty of 70 percent — $70 more. A state criminal surcharge of 20 percent — $20 more. Add on fees for DNA testing, emergency medical services, court construction and security costs, and the final amount is several hundred dollars.

What does DNA have to do with driving badly? Nothing, but the 2004 initiative Proposition 69, which authorized the state to collect DNA samples from criminals, imposed a surcharge on all fines to help fund the program. Emergency medical and other services are funded the same way.

“The fine structure is a bit bizarre,” said former Palo Alto Police Chief Lynne Johnson.

Violators of the state’s hands-free cell phone law may be next in line for a shock. On Tuesday, the state will begin hearings on a proposal by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, to increase the base fine to $50 for holding a phone and $100 for texting — with fees running those fines up to $255 and $445.

What irritates city officials is that most people think the money goes to the local agency that writes the ticket. Most of it, in fact, is headed to Sacramento.

If a San Jose officer issues a ticket with a base fine of $100, $83 goes to Santa Clara County, $87 to the city and most of the remaining $300-plus in fees and penalties goes to the state, according to the city of San Jose.

The impact is being felt in traffic courtrooms across California, as more drivers fight to get their tickets dismissed or their fines reduced.

“There are no empty seats,” said attorney Matt Geisick. “I’ve been to court sessions in San Mateo where 130 people are in a courtroom designed for 70. San Francisco had to add an entirely new courtroom to handle all of the trials.

“I’ve represented clients in every traffic court in the Bay Area for almost every driving infraction you can think of. Fines are too high. In these times, people just cannot pay.”

Do more expensive traffic tickets lead to better behavior behind the wheel? Contact Gary Richards at mrroadshow@mercuynews.com or at 408-920-5335.

With the amount of the cost of a ticket climbing and climbing I decided to start studying and learned some traffic ticket defense.  There has got to be a way to help people with these crazy fines. 

Your Advocate

Ronald Cupp PhD

Categories : Traffic Ticket Info
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Went again to open Traffic Court this morning. Up at 6, leave home at 7, hit Starbucks for coffee, then off the open traffic court to start the process to Beat my Stop Sign Ticket. Last month was the circus, had 200 people show up to try and get into court, only about 70 got in and 130 had to leave to come again another day to fight their Traffic Tickets. They had told me I was past all of my extensions for court, but gave me another one anyway to April 27, 2010 (today’s appearance) as it was not our fault the court is too busy to take us in like sheep to the slaughter. Armed with another extension to get to today, I am in line at 7:18, 42 minutes before they open the door. I am already 46th in line and know at least today I will get in to the Commissioner to hear my case regarding my stop sign ticket.

Get in, told to go to Department (that’s court talk for room) 14 by 8:30. Got there and waited with everybody else to get in. I have now heard everybody’s tale of woe; “how it was not their fault, they did not do it, I did it but need leniency, I brought the cigarette butt to show I did not throw it out the car”, and on and on. I love to hear the ‘professional’ goers, who tell everybody what to expect, what to say, and how they know (by several trips there of course!).

Anyway, today was a jewel. I had Commissioner Carla Bonilla, who tried to retire in January (I think). She is someone who cares, someone who listened to the people and their propecia online buy tales of woe, whether they were unemployed, what happened, etc. It was one of the longest court sessions (with a mandatory 15 minute break) I had had for about 30 people.  I was there from 7:18 on, but the court ran me from 8:30 to 11:18.

Commissioner Bonilla explained everything in detail, what the options were, and what she could do for people. And more importantly, she did. Out of my many court appearances (I go for friends and clients and just to watch and learn), who dismissed a couple ‘in the interest of justice’, she constantly gave less fines and penalties when she could within her discrepancy. It was one of the most pleasant experiences I have ever had.

When it was my turn, I handed my written request for a Verified Complaint as I learned from Caticketbusters to the bailff (Sheriff) and it was ignored unless the Commissioner wanted to see it or unless I demand she read it and take it under consideration. I turned on my recorder and she was explaining what my situation was, what the ticket was for, how many points I had on my record and when they could come off, what she could do for me, then what my options were.  It was so good I almost wanted to take it (whatever it was as she is so nice and caring).

But alas, NO, I did my legal stuff. Objected to the Notice to Appear, Requested additional time to plea, and requested a Verified Complaint. She went thru the understandings and misunderstandings of time and that my NTA (notice to appear) is the Verified Complaint, etc., etc.

We obviously have a difference of opinion and I believe her understanding of the Verified Complaint and some of the Time Limites are off, but did not care. (I had just studied the Judges Bench Guide and the Court Procedures, and  the Penal Codes that apply-supplied by CaTicketBusters.com, so I felt ready. I got what I wanted, my three items were on the record and I was set to return May 17, 8:30 am and I don’t have to wait in line for all the schedules. Whew! In any event, its like a chess game, only I know the next possible moves and my counter moves to their moves! (are you dizzy yet).

Long story short, got my legal chess game on the board in 2 1/2 hours, and set for hopeful dismissal on May 17th.

Ronald Cupp PhD

Your Advocate

The following article was taken from the MercuryNews.com and we want to insure that if you get a RED LIGHT TICKET you know how to fight and beat it.

By Gary Richards
grichards@mercurynews.com

Q I often have a problem getting stuck at red lights with my motorcycle, especially at left-turn-only lights. My motorcycle weighs approximately 437 pounds, but it is apparently not heavy enough to trigger many lights to change from red to green. What do you suggest I do? Run the red light when traffic clears the intersection and risk getting a ticket? Pull back into the through lanes and risk getting into an accident? Or should I wait until the cows jump over the moon?

Rob Collins

A The cow option wins. The answer to this is simple, said Bruce-the-Ex-Traffic-Cop: “Do not go through the red light. If anything should happen, the motorcycle rider is messed up for life. I would wait for the through green light, make a safe lane change and go through the intersection and then make some turns to get to where I’m going. Yes, some smart reader might respond that this, too, is illegal (you can’t really pull out of a left turn lane after you enter it), but the chances of getting into an accident by changing lanes is less than going through the red and completing the left turn. The only legal answer is to dismount and walk your motorcycle out of the intersection, but everyone, even Mrs. Roadshow, will boo that answer. Ask motorcycle riders what they do. Every rider has encountered this problem and I would like to see some of their answers.”

Other motorcycle cops say they wait for a larger vehicle to come up from behind to trip the light. And others say they seldom have this problem at intersections with overhead camera sensors. Wire loops in the streets often don’t trip because there is not enough metal mass in the motorcycle to trip the circuit.

The above scenario is the safest, and I always look to the legal section of the articles. What happens if there is an accident, who is at fault? I personally have had this happen to me when my motorcycle did not set off the red light sensor and I had to wait several light turns and still no red light change for me to get the heck out of there. I normally make the illegal left turn thru the red light to move on (when safe of course).

Q I have a new economical Smart car that weighs less than 1,800 pounds and a lot of it is not steel. I have found that it does not trigger the traffic signals a lot of the time and on lightly traveled streets and at odd hours, I find myself sitting through several changes of the light, with me at a red. Eventually, I proceed through the light when there is no traffic or any possibility of me causing an accident. At what buy online propecia point may I legally proceed through the red light (carefully, of course)?

Frank King Morgan Hill

A You can’t. Other Smart car owners report the same problem. Call the city where this occurs, and see if the problem gets fixed.

See, it’s not just the motorcycles that have problems with the red light sensors or from people getting red light tickets for moving violations. It’s amazing that cars don’t always set off the sensors with the weight and metal mass, but if you turn left you will get a red light ticket and if you pull out to the lane on the right to go straight, you still violate the law and will get a red light ticket. Both are red light ticket moving violations that will add points to your driving record, incur large fines, and your insurance will go up. If you want to learn to fight and beat your red light ticket, go to www.fightandbeatredlightticket.com.

Q What is the best way to remove old registration stickers from my license plates? I have tried peeling, scraping, hitting, scratching — but ended up removing fluorescent paint all around it. How have you done it on your good old van?

John Kurian Milpitas

A I’m a bad boy. I just slapped the new stickers on top of the old ones, which is what everyone says not to do, as they can easily be peeled off and stolen. I bet readers have some good ideas.

I’ve had stickers removed from my license plate and got pulled over several times. Had to go to DMV for replacement stickers, too way too much time and money, time off work, etc. I’m just glad I did not get a fix it ticket or registration violation ticket before I got it fixed. If you want to learn to fight and beat your fix it ticket, go to www.caticketbusters.com

I constantly read Gary’s articles in his blog as he is always straight forward and normally on the spot with his data and opinions!.

Ronald Cupp PhD

Your Advocate

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Maybe you ran that red light. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe there was a sign back there when you made your U-turn. Or maybe there was a stop sign that you accidently

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

drove right through. No matter what happened, you have a cop car behind you with its lights on, and the first thing you think of is, “how much is this going to cost me?”   Next thought should be,  “Can I fight and beat  this traffic ticket?”

propecia buy online class=”MsoNormal”>Everyone makes mistakes, and if you learn how to graciously accept a traffic ticket in the state of California, you can help increase your chances of fighting–and beating–the traffic ticket outside, or inside, of court. But when you’re getting pulled over, there are a few things to consider and do in order to remain calm and decrease the level of stress of the situation. Getting a traffic ticket in California might be stressful, let alone embarrassing, but by staying calm and being respectful of the police officer, you can help defuse the situation, create a calming conversation with the officer, and can help you stay focused on the incident in order to recall it later.

First, when the officer asks you why you are being pulled over, it is proper to answer politely that you do not know. You don’t want to admit any guilt over the situation, and you want be polite, calm and rational with the officer at all times during the interaction.

When the officer hands you your traffic ticket, don’t just set it on your passenger seat and drive off on your merry little way. Instead, make sure to take a moment to look it over. Make sure that the information on the traffic ticket is accurate. If there is a mistake, it’s a good idea to ask–politely–for the officer to make the proper corrections. By making these changes now, it can only help you later on down the road in court, not hurt you.

Look closely at your ticket

When you get home, it’s important to read the information in detail on the traffic ticket, research online any terms that you do not understand or find more information about the offense you were charged for, and get all your information together in one spot so it is easy to find when you start pursuing the traffic ticket in court.

If you are prepared with your information before, during, and after the incident and receipt of the traffic ticket, you will find that fighting and beating the traffic ticket will be easier and in some cases, a lot less stressful than you initially think it may be.

Ronald Cupp PhD

Your Advocate

Categories : Traffic Ticket Info
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Click It or Ticket It Seat Belt Campaign

Whether you do it or not when you get into the car, studies have shown that wearing your seatbelt can increase your chances of surviving a car crash. Especially when it comes to children who need booster seats or car seats while the vehicle is in motion. But understanding the Click It or Ticket law in California, and understanding its importance, may just make you more aware of driving off with your seat belt on.  Wearing your seat belt will keep you from getting  a seat belt ticket.

In the state of California, you can receive a seat belt ticket strictly for not wearing one, or for not properly buckling in any children in the vehicle under the age of 16. The fines for not wearing a seat belt in the state of California will run you almost $90 for the first offense, and over $200 for the second. If you are pulled over and you have children under the age of 16 that are not properly secured with a safety belt, you will be fined almost $350 for the first offense and over $800 for your second. The state of California strictly encourages everyone in a moving vehicle to be wearing a seatbelt, not just to avoid receiving a seat belt ticket and fine, but for the safety for everyone on the road.

The Click It or Ticket campaign has proven to be an effective campaign used nationally to create a better awareness of seat belt use. The driver of the moving vehicle is responsible for the seat belt use of everyone in their car, so it is important to know that you could be fined for your passengers not wearing THEIR seat belts while the car is in motion. So it is very important that everyone is wearing their seat belt, or their failure to comply will be your responsibility when you receive a ticket for everyone in the car.

California’s Mandatory Seat Belt Law involves any passenger vehicle, truck tractor, motor truck or farm labor vehicle. The law, however, buy propecia online does not apply to motorcycles. There are specific rules for limo drivers and taxicabs in regards to the security of their passengers, and can be further investigated under California’s Mandatory Seat Belt Law, Section 27315.

Whether you like them or not, seat belts are there for your own personal safety. If you’re not a fan of wearing it, you may not only be facing a hefty fine from a police

Seat Belt

officer, but you can also lose your life due to failure to comply with California’s Seat Belt Law. If you have a child that needs to use a car seat or booster seat but you are unable to afford one (they can be pricey!), you can contact the California county health department to obtain an infant car seat or booster seat for your child if you fall within the low-income range. Even so, there is no excuse not to have your child–and yourself–secured with a seat belt while your car is moving. Buckling up is simply good common sense.  If not, you can fight and beat that seat belt ticket!

Ronald Cupp PhD

Your Advocate

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