FAQs (These FAQs are NOT legal advice)
Why should I choose “California Traffic Tickets” over one of your competitors?
California Traffic Tickets is the #1 company with the highest true success rate in the industry because we pioneered a two-step system at winning traffic infractions in California which DOUBLES your chances at winning. We normally fight most traffic infractions using a process called Trial By Written Declaration (TBWD) first. If we are unable to win the TBWD first time around, we can send one of our 300+ local Cali lawyers into court and try to dismiss or reduce your ticket at a New Trial (Trial De Novo)
Also, after several years of studying the traffic ticket fighting industry, we noticed the strengths of some companies but also some glaring weaknesses in the approach of those same companies in how they were fighting traffic tickets. Companies that fight traffic tickets can be boiled down to two types: those with lawyers and document only companies without lawyers. Our strategy is to combine the best of all approaches into one company that can handle all needs.
Companies with Lawyer(s) handling cases
Document Companies without Lawyers
CA Traffic Tickets
Trial by Written Declaration (TBD)?
Lawyer created TBD’s?
Lawyer that goes to court for you?
Can do Trial de Novos (2nd chance trials)?
Excellent customer service?
What is a ‘Trial by Written Declaration’?
A Trial by Written Declaration (TBWD) is simply that, a trial in written form rather than in person. A moving violation ticket is considered an “infraction” (as opposed to a misdemeanor). With an infraction, the accused does not have the right to a jury trial, but does have the right to face the allegations against him/her through a bench trial (i.e. no jury). In these cases, a judge will review all the evidence that we put forth and make a decision/verdict. A written declaration is a trial by way of written defense, rather than oral, and after the judge reaches a verdict, the court will mail it back to you. Our lawyers specialize in Trial By Written Declaration which is one of the most cost effective legal methods of fighting and winning our traffic tickets in California for most infractions.
Is a Trial by Written Declaration (TBD) really effective in fighting tickets?
Yes! We fight 95% of our tickets using the written declaration defense. Most traffic tickets are simple infractions and the written defense is totally sufficient to beat them. People still ask us though if it is not actually more effective to just have a lawyer go into court right off the bat and fight this in person. The short answer is, on some tickets yes, but for most tickets it’s usually not necessary. Both approaches have their own unique advantages.
Advantages of a Trial by Written Declaration:
- Convenience and Cost. The cost of a TBD is usually half the price of an attorney representing you in court; yet with the TBD you still get the benefit of a licensed attorney putting together your whole defense. And further, you never have to go to court or even go to a lawyer’s office.
- No Officer. In a written declaration defense, the officer that gave the ticket will not be there in court to fight against you. Officers get paid overtime to attend traffic court, which means that they almost always show up. With TBD, the officer is given a small window of time to send in his/her notes in response, and if they fail to do so or do so in time, you win automatically! Officers are not paid to fill out this extra paper work, so the incentive to do it is much lower than it is for them to actually show up in court. Furthermore, if the officer can’t see you in court, he will have a much more difficult time remembering the circumstances of the incident. Finally, there’s no worry about the officer intimidating you as happens at times in court.
- Your Case Fully Presented. Traffic court moves fast, and judges like to move people along quickly. The result is often that you are unable to fully lay out your case. A TBD is advantageous in that we can present a complete defense where the judge is assigned a time/date that he/she must review the whole case fairly and separate from the busy court. Our attorneys create very comprehensive and extensive defenses for our clients, each TBD usually being 8-12 pages! This way we can design our entire argument to get a full dismissal rather than accepting a plea bargain or a fine reduction.
- New Trial. One of the main advantages of beginning with a TBD is that if we happen to lose, we can actually set up a new trial, called a Trial De Novo, which gives you a clean slate and a second chance to fight your ticket. At that point we can send one of our attorneys into court for you and they will fight the ticket in person. There are several new advantages at this stage. First, if the officer fails to show up, you win! Second, you may get a new judge who is more careful than the first one. Third, since this will be a few month out from when you got the ticket, the officer will have a harder time remembering anything from the incident. Finally, the main advantage of having an attorney go into court for you, especially for more difficult cases, is that the attorney has face-to-face interaction with the citing officer and the judge, and can better negotiate. But there is nowhere else in the court system that you can have a new trial simply because you did not like the outcome of the first trial. It is only possible when you use a trial by written declaration.
Our strategy at CATT is to take advantage of both approaches to ensure the greatest success. However, the TBD is usually sufficient to win most traffic tickets.
If I fight my ticket with a trial by written declaration, do I then lose the right to go to traffic school?
Generally No. As long as you are eligible for traffic school (i.e. have not attended in last 18 months), then we will always request for traffic school if your case is not dismissed and it’s almost always granted by the judge.* Commercial drivers who get tickets in their commercial vehicle are not eligible for traffic school. However, if a CDL driver gets a ticket in his personal vehicle, he may attend traffic school. Speeding tickets 25 mph over the limit are not eligible for traffic school. If you contest your ticket with a written declaration, and happen to lose, the court will inform you at that time about how to attend traffic school. In some very rare cases, a judge will withhold traffic school from someone who was previously eligible. This should not happen according to VC 42005 and California Rule of Court 4.104(c)(z). Also see People v. Wozniak. And even in these rare cases, we can almost always get traffic school re-granted in a trial de novo.
*Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Santa Monica, Kings County and Van Nuys are 4 courts where you may lose the traffic school option.
Doesn’t the court get mad if I try and fight the ticket, and thus punish me further?
No. Well, they are not supposed to. It is your legal right to contest your citation. One of the main reasons our courts exist is to protect us from being abused and unjustly treated. The courts and judges are supposed to be neutral and objective in each case, are sworn to uphold the law, and not to take sides or be retributive. So if you chose to fight your ticket, in most cases the only thing that will happen to you if you lose, is that you will have to pay for the ticket. In rare cases, the court does have the right to impose an additional fine. But from our experience this only happens in about 1 out of 1000 cases.
Are red light camera tickets still legal and enforced by the court?
Yes! We get this question a lot here. People have heard that these cameras are illegal, that the court will not enforce them, and that you can just ignore them. Wrong. Don’t ignore these tickets. They are very real and the consequences for ignoring them are severe. We speak with people all the time in this mess and it is time consuming and costly to get out of it. If you ignore the ticket, the court automatically hits you with a $300 fine—on top of the $500 ticket fine—and the ticket will eventually end up in collections (with more fines) with a suspension on your license. The only exception to this is if you happen to get a fake phishing ticket that the police send out. These tickets look like real tickets, have your photos on it, and threaten you with fines etc. if you do not take care of it. But they are not real tickets. You can determine if it is a phony ticket in several ways. First, it will say at the top: “This Is Not A Ticket”. Second, it will say not to contact the court on this. Third, there will be no “due date” and no court listed. All real tickets will say “Notice To Appear” on them. The police send out these fake tickets because they do not have enough evidence from the photos to issue a real ticket. Their goal is that you will get scared, go down to the police station, watch the video, and then identify (i.e. incriminate) yourself. It is at that point that they will issue you a real ticket! For more information on these phony phishing tickets, visit:
I got a red light camera ticket, but was not the driver. Do I have to tell who the driver was?
No. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to incriminate or “turn in” anyone. When you get a red light camera ticket in the mail, and you were not the driver, you have three options. (1) You can simply pay the ticket as it is. The problem though is that you will get stuck with the point on your driving record. (2) You can fill out the affidavit that comes with the ticket and basically turn-in the driver in which case the authorities will re-issue the ticket in that person’s name. The problem with this is that many people do not want to turn in the driver because they usually their spouse or child. (3) You can choose to fight the ticket as it is. This is by far the best option and what we specialize in. This also happens to be one of the best defenses in fighting and beating these tickets. It’s what we call an identity defense. You have to understand that the burden of proof in all of this is not you or us to prove that you are innocent, but rather, that the camera company has to prove that the person who got the ticket is the same person driving the car. In most cases, this is impossible to do, and the ticket is dismissed.
How do you determine your success rate?
We determine our success rate by the amount of cases we lose for the year. We handle thousands of cases each year. We do not have success statistics for certain tickets or courts or intersections. This would be nearly impossible since we serve all of California. When a case goes to the trial de novo stage, our success rate usually goes up to about 90%+ success at a dismissal or removal of the point to a non-point violation which doesn’t cause insurances rates to go up. An average amount of $750 is the increased insurance premium rate for most simple traffic infractions over 3 years.
Do I have to go to court or make any court appearances?
No. When you use our services, you will never have to go to court or waste your time in dealing with the courts. In fact, you never have to leave your house!
Do you actually go into court for me?
Yes and No. We fight 95% of our tickets using a Trial by Written Declaration, which is a defense in written form that is mailed into the court. Therefore, the attorney does not need to go to court—no one does—but you still have the advantage and benefit of a professional defense by a fully licensed lawyer who is experienced in California traffic law. On the other hand, we can and do go to court when such is needed. We work with a large network of some of the best traffic attorneys all throughout California.
How does the whole process actually work if I choose to use your company?
People often ask how the whole process works, how they go about getting started, and how long does it all take. This is the exciting part. Technology has allowed us to greatly simplify the whole process so that the least amount of time and effort is required on your part. We can boil it down to a five simple steps.
- To get started we set up payment right over the phone. Your case manager then sets up your account and will email you a receipt. Attached to that email are two documents: (1) an Agreement form, and (2) a Defense Form. You simply print them out, fill them out, and send them back to us. It will take no more than 15 minutes to fill out the two forms. You can fax them back or scan/email them back, along with a copy of your ticket. And that’s it! You are done! You can even take pictures of the documents with your cell phone and email them back if you don’t have access to a fax machine or scanner.
- Once we receive your forms, one of our attorneys will be given your case and will go to work on your customized defense package. Our normal turnaround time is 10-14 days. However, we do have rush services available.
- Once the attorney finishes your defense, he/she will email it to you. You then simply print it out, sign it, and mail it off to the court listed on the ticket. That’s it! We have created clear and simple instructions on how to go about mailing your defense package in.
- Once the court receives your defense package, they will set a trial date for the judge to review all the evidence that we have created. The citing officer is notified and given a small window of opportunity to send in his/her notes. If the officer fails to do so or do so within that window of time, you win! After the judge reviews the evidence and makes a decision, the court will mail you a verdict back in the mail. Depending on the particular court, this can take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks. If the verdict is “Not Guilty,” it means that the ticket has been dismissed and it’s as though the ticket never existed. No point goes on your record, and your insurance carrier will never even know that you got a ticket!
- If, you happen to fall into that 20% of our clients who do not win, and you get a guilty verdict, we can then move to set up a new trial (trial de novo) where we at that point will send one of our attorneys into the court to fight your ticket in person. This gives you essentially two opportunities to win your case. Most tickets don’t even need this step, but if it is needed, we can take care of this as well and you never have to go to court.
Why do I have to mail in the written declaration?
You have to mail in your written declaration defense because it requires your signature on the last page and it’s Pro Per. This is beneficial, however, because it allows you to see and review the finished product. This way you can let us know if you want anything added or corrected. Most document companies you find online do not allow this feature. Instead they charge an additional $15-25 mailing fee and they send it off for you, and you have no idea about the type or quality of defense you have received.
What is a “Trial De Novo” and do you handle those as well?
A “Trial De Novo” is a “New Trial,” and yes we handle those. One of the main advantages of beginning with a TBD is that if we happen to lose, we can then set up a Trial De Novo, which gives you a clean slate and a second chance to fight your ticket. At that point we can send one of our attorneys into court for you and they will fight the ticket in person. There are several new advantages at this stage. First, if the officer fails to show up, you win! Second, you may get a new judge who is more careful than the first one. Third, since this will be a few month out from when you got the ticket, the officer will have a harder time remembering anything from the incident. Finally, the main advantage of having an attorney go into court for you, especially for more difficult cases, is that the attorney has face-to-face interaction with the citing officer and the judge, and can better negotiate. But there is nowhere else in the court system that you can have a new trial simply because you did not like the outcome of the first trial. It is only possible when you use a trial by written declaration.
Can you help out of state drivers?
Yes. Many of our clients are out of state drivers who happened to get a ticket while in California. This includes people who are visiting, CDL drivers, and students who have residents in other states. We also help many residents from other countries as well.
Can you help Commercial Class A Licensed (CDL) drivers?
Yes. Speeding tickets are the most common type of ticket given to commercial drivers. Tickets for CDL drivers usually have higher than average fines and carry 1 ½ points that go on your DMV record. Commercial drivers are not allowed to take traffic school for tickets (unless they got the ticket in their personal vehicle). Furthermore, it is important to know that California is a part of an Interstate Driver’s License Compact (DLC), meaning that any traffic ticket you receive are automatically reported from one state to another. Many of our clients are CDL drivers and we take their cases very seriously because we know what is at stake for them. Often times, getting one more ticket (of any kind) can lead to the loss of their job. If you are a CDL driver with any kind of ticket, we will do everything in our legal power to beat that ticket and keep those points off your record.
Is fighting a ticket by “mail” really effective way to fight tickets?
Yes. Sometimes people get hung-up on the idea that you are fighting your ticket “by mail.” It seems to carry a negative connotation. To begin with, it is the court legal system who set up this whole process and they EXPECT that the majority of people using a trial by written declaration are going to mail it in, for whatever reason. Further, the judge who reviews the written defense has no idea whether or not it was mailed in or hand delivered to a clerk (which is another option). What really matters is the quality of the defense. At California Traffic Tickets, our attorneys create extremely professional legal defenses for each of our clients.
Why can’t you guarantee that I will win my case?
To begin with, legally no one can guarantee any future outcome, let alone a win. If any company or lawyer guarantees any particular outcome, you should be very wary. In fact, run. However, it is reasonable, based on hundreds or thousands of past cases, for a company or lawyer to communicate strong confidence about the outcome of a case, provided that there is no promise or guarantee of any particular result.
If I happen to lose the case, how do I get my refund back, and how long does it take?
We issue a refund right back to the credit card you used to sign up with us. All that is required is for the client to send us a copy of the losing verdict. Our Agreement form says that we can take no longer than 30 days to do this, and we normally have it done in 3-5 business days, if not that same day. Beware of some online companies that offer to refund your money if you lose the case but actually make you jump through all sorts of hoops in order to actually get your refund, which as it turns out, is really no refund at all since most people are unable to fulfill these hidden conditions. Read the companies Terms and Conditions (i.e. the fine print) carefully. At California Traffic Tickets, we have no such hoops, tricks, hidden fees, or tacked on costs.
Do you have lawyers that actually handle the cases or are you just “attorney approved”?
Yes! California Traffic Tickets works with many independently contracted traffic ticket lawyers who handle all the legal work for our clients.
What about your claim that you will beat any other competitors’ prices? What if I find a cheaper price than you offer?
We will beat any other competitor’s price under two conditions: (1) if the company has licensed lawyers who do all the work for you, and (2) if that company also has a refund policy. As far as we know, there is no other company in California that has both features at the same time…except us. We also offer repeat customer discounts. Even if you find another competitors price that seems to beat ours, give one of our representatives a call to discuss how we can beat that price and service.
I’m skeptical of using or giving my money to online companies. How can I trust you?
There are a number of companies online claiming to fight traffic tickets. People are often skeptical about online companies, and rightly so. So why should you trust us?
To Whom It May Concern,
“I have been a peace officer in the State of California for approximately 10 years. I am currently employed by the Los Angeles Police Department as a police officer. In my years with LAPD, I have testified in traffic court on numerous occasions (ranging from infractions to DUI cases). I have observed attorneys from California Traffic Tickets appearing on behalf, and also with your clients on many occasions. My impression is that your attorneys are very professional and provide the service that clients deserve. I find that the convenience of having an attorney appear on behalf of your traffic ticket is definitely worth the retainer. I would highly recommend California Traffic Tickets for anyone attempting to get a ticket dismissed or for those who just don’t have the time to take out of their busy schedule to make court appearance.”
Officer C. Lee – LAPD
Do you have any other hidden charges or fees that may be added on later?
No. Our Agreement form is straight forward and simple to understand. We charge several flat rate fees and everything is included in that flat rate.
Why do I have to pay the bail/fine amount of the ticket in order to fight the ticket?
California requires that in order to fight your ticket by way of written declaration, you must “post the bail” up front. This is usually the case also if you go to the clerk and request a trial date to fight this in person. This is standard for anyone wanting to contest their citation. It is sort of like insurance for the court. Posting bail up front is supposed to ensure that you will show up in court on the day of your trial. A Trial by Written Declaration IS a Trial, and thus the same rules apply. It is important to remember, that once you win the case, the court will mail you a check back for the full bail amount.
What does it mean that I will get a “point” on my driving record?
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses a “point” system to rate driving records. If you get a ticket for any moving violation, you will receive 1 point on your record. Some tickets carry 2 points. If you accumulate too many points within a set period of time, the DMV will suspend your license. A point will stay on you record for 3 years, and 5 years if you Failed To Appear (or Pay) on your ticket. You will lose your license if you get:
- Four points within a 12-month period
- Six points in a 24-month period
- Eight points in a 36 month period
The DMV automatically reports any points and convictions (i.e. tickets) to your insurance carrier. If you are shopping for new insurance, that company will check your DMV record. Points will, in most cases, cause your insurance rates to increase.
I never got my Courtesy Notice in the mail. How do I find out what my bail amount is?
There are several ways to find your bail/fine amount. You can try to call the court and ask a clerk. However, many courts, “due to budget cuts,” have no live people to talk to anymore and the phones are all automated. The other way is that you can go on the courts website and look up your case. You can also pretend like you are going to pay for your ticket online and then cancel out right before you give them your credit card info, because that screen will tell you how much the ticket fine is. You can find your court online here:
I tried to look up my case online but it says that they have no record of it. What does that mean?
It most likely means that your ticket has not even been entered into their system yet, and so they have no record of your existence. There is nothing you can do but wait. If the ticket is not in the courts system by the time of your due date, in most cases, they will give you an automatic extension.
What if I have missed my due date and got a Failure to Appear?
If you miss the due date listed on your ticket, you will automatically get a Failure to Appear (FTA – Vehicle Code section 40508 or 40509(A), and usually be hit with an automatic $300 civil assessment fee on top of your ticket fine. If you continue to ignore it, your ticket will end up with a collection agency and your license will get suspended, and a hold could be placed on your registration. Some people think that they can be excused because they never received a “Courtesy Notice” in the mail from the court. But this is not the case. Many courts do not even mail out Courtesy Notices anymore. The “real” ticket is what you received from the officer that cited you (or the photo citation you got in the mail) and it is legally binding. When you sign a copy of the ticket, you are promising to appear in court on a certain day/time. It is not an admission of guilt, just a promise to appear (or handle the ticket by the date listed on it).
How do I get an extension on my due date?
The court will automatically grant you a 30 extension on your due date if you request one. Some courts will grant 60 day extensions. You can call the court listed on your ticket and try to speak with a clerk or follow their automated phone system. Or you can go on the courts website and most courts will have a link for extension requests. You can find your court here:
How long does this whole process take?
Our normal turnaround time is 10-14 days. Rush service is available. Once you mail in your declaration defense to the court, it can take the court anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks to get your verdict back in the mail.