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Old March 8 2013, 03:11 AM   #16
WalkerBait
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

As said above it's going to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but where I live this is how it goes:

You show up at traffic court on the date on the ticket, this more or less serves as an arraignment where you either plea guilty/no contest and pay the fine. If you plea not guilty you get a court date and show up then, (usually a week or two away). There when it's your turn you offer your case against a DA and the ticketing officer and the judge will then determine what to do. When making your case you're welcome to bring in any "witnesses" or anything like that. Only you are serving as your own lawyer so only you can ask questions of witnesses/the officer.

Afterwards the judge will make a ruling. From all of the traffic court cases I've seen the judge is usually not one to give much leniency to the defense. You broke a law, you were caught. The cop is going to say he witnessed you stopped over the railroad tracks and violation of traffic laws. You're going to say... "Well, umm...."

You could argue that you weren't expecting to get stopped there due to traffic moving along at one point and then coming to a stop (some up ahead stopped short on a yellow light causing everyone behind him to stop forcing you onto the tracks) or whatever your claim is, but the deck is heavily going to be stacked against you. You're better off saving yourself the time and trouble and just paying the ticket. If its a moving violation and you're worried about points on your license/increased insurance then when you go in on the date on the ticket ask to "amend" the ticket. It'll double the fine but makes the ticket, basically, a parking ticket meaning no points go on your license and it doesn't count against you for insurance purposes.

(Though I doubt the ticket you got was a moving violation.)

If you're going to fight this it's going to suck two nights or afternoons out of your life and in both cases you're more than likely going to pay the fine anyway. Consider it lesson learned and pay it. You can pay it now by mailing it in or just going down to the courthouse and paying it in person. Unless you've got a REALLY good excuse and even witnesses to back it up you're not going to have a prayer in traffic court.
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Old March 8 2013, 03:28 AM   #17
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
If its a moving violation and you're worried about points on your license/increased insurance then when you go in on the date on the ticket ask to "amend" the ticket. It'll double the fine but makes the ticket, basically, a parking ticket meaning no points go on your license and it doesn't count against you for insurance purposes.
We don't have this option in California. If we have the option for traffic school, it's an additional fee + the class (can be online) + cost of the class. Traffic school avoids the points and insurance hit (doesn't show up on your record) but you can only do it once every 18 months.
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Old March 8 2013, 05:03 AM   #18
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

If there is an option to "plead down" to a lesser charge, do it. If not, pay the ticket and thank God you were not in the path of an oncoming train.

The "I had no choice" claim is not true. Unless the car behind you physically pushed you onto the train tracks (in which case they would have been ticketed, or even arrested, by the observing officer), you had a choice not to move onto the tracks.

Take your punishment like a man. If you are a moral person, do the right thing: admit your guilt and pay your fine.
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Old March 8 2013, 06:47 AM   #19
Great Pumpkin
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

Count your lucky stars, pay the fine (or do traffic school), and don't ever do it again.

Did the officer explain to you that, even if the engineer did see you, that it takes him more than a mile to stop?
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Old March 8 2013, 06:53 AM   #20
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

Captain Ice wrote: View Post

Did the officer explain to you that, even if the engineer did see you, that it takes him more than a mile to stop?
I'd rather say " it takes a locomotive 10 seconds to go through a grade crossing whether your car is in it or not".
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Old March 8 2013, 07:15 AM   #21
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

I drive through areas with train tracks five times a week and have never gotten stuck on them. There's no excuse to do so as it puts your own life at risk as well as those on the train.
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Old March 8 2013, 07:16 AM   #22
Great Pumpkin
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

That works too.

Perhaps this video puts it best....

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Old March 8 2013, 08:40 AM   #23
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

Gryffindorian wrote: View Post
This afternoon I was driving on my way home, and traffic was at a standstill, so I was stuck on a railroad track. I couldn't back up; there was no space for me to go forward.
I have no sympathy for you. We have too many terrible, terrible accidents in my country involving just this scenario. Oh Noes, I drove out onto the tracks and then I couldn't move! Jesus christ, just STOP before you drive onto them. Wait until you know that when you go forward you will have clear space for your car to get past the tracks.
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Old March 8 2013, 09:16 AM   #24
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

Sorry, been busy all day ... Lots of helpful advice. Thanks for the feedback. Am going to bed now and answer question/s later.
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Old March 8 2013, 01:39 PM   #25
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

Captain Ice wrote: View Post
That works too.

Perhaps this video puts it best....

This one is five minutes but great fun.

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Old March 8 2013, 01:43 PM   #26
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

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Old March 8 2013, 01:53 PM   #27
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

RevDMV wrote: View Post
Your only hope by showing up is that the citing officer isn't there. If they don't show up you win by default. Although that doesn't happen too often now as the police are paid for their time in court.
Not only that, but officer court appearances are usually all scheduled on the same day. The officer won't just have to show up for one ticket, but five or six tickets. So he's not likely to miss.

I can tell you how it works in Virginia, but I can't really tell you California without more information. It's still technically a criminal charge, so one would think a court date is required. Look at the summons/citation and see if it lists a court date.

According to this website, you can show up, have the charges read to you, and enter a plea in person. It sounds like you want to plead guilty but give an explanation so you can see if the Judge will let you do that. Alternatively, you could plead not guilty, let the officer present the evidence of guilt, testify on your behalf on your side of the story, and let the Judge convict you with the hope that he reduces the fine. You can also talk to the prosecutor before trial (explain that you are unrepresented by counsel) and see if they offer anything less than what the officer offers.

You also have an option of Trial by Written Declaration. That means you can argue your case in writing instead of orally. It doesn't sound like this would be beneficial to you.

All this being said, I'm not sensing any mitigation. It sounds like you did exactly what the statute prohibits. It sounds like the statute is designed to encourage a full stop before the railroad crossing unless traffic is light enough for you to move across it completely before you stop.
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Old March 8 2013, 05:56 PM   #28
Opus
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

If you can prove you were wrongly charged, fight it. If not, is it worth your time off work to head to court, and most likely have to pay for parking as well, to ultimately pay the same fine? Or even a reduced fine?

I fought a ticket a couple of years back and got it reduced. But it wasn't worth the time off work.
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Old March 8 2013, 06:55 PM   #29
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

If you can plead the charge down, do it. I have a friend who's been successful pleading not guilty with an explanation but I'd feel silly doing that.

It helps, obviously, to have an otherwise good record. Ft. The court's more likely to cut you some slack on a single lapse, at least as far as points are concerned.
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Old March 8 2013, 07:59 PM   #30
RoJoHen
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Re: Traffic Violations & Court Appearance

tighr wrote: View Post
Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
If its a moving violation and you're worried about points on your license/increased insurance then when you go in on the date on the ticket ask to "amend" the ticket. It'll double the fine but makes the ticket, basically, a parking ticket meaning no points go on your license and it doesn't count against you for insurance purposes.
We don't have this option in California. If we have the option for traffic school, it's an additional fee + the class (can be online) + cost of the class. Traffic school avoids the points and insurance hit (doesn't show up on your record) but you can only do it once every 18 months.
I don't even know if they have a traffic school option in my state after the age of 18. Between 16-18, you get a "grace period" where they just assume you're a dumb kid and can go to traffic school to get the infraction removed from your record. Once you're an adult, though, I'm pretty sure you're fucked.

I went to traffic school after my first ticket when I was 16. It as an 8-hour class on a Saturday. Fucking terrible.
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