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Just the Ticket for Expensive Traffic Fines

By Laura Impellizzeri | Aug. 2, 2015
News

Law Office Management

Aug. 2, 2015

Just the Ticket for Expensive Traffic Fines

A recent due-process clarification is just the ticket for citations.

By next month, all California courts must update their forms and websites to clarify that drivers do not have to pay a traffic fine before disputing the related ticket.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye of the state Supreme Court called for the change in May to help improve access to justice. Legal and civil rights groups reported the month before that traffic fines have soared in recent years and can be crippling for poor people.

Advocates say drivers often feel forced to plead guilty and pay the fine because they're unfamiliar with the legal process or have limited time and money; hiring a lawyer to dispute a ticket can cost more than paying it quickly.

But it turns out there's an app for that, called GetDismissed. For $79, GetDismissed promises to produce, within 48 hours, a defense statement for you to send the court to request a trial by declaration. The statement is based on photos of your license and ticket plus information you provide about what happened. The company said it doesn't know how often its declarations are successful. By July, there was only one online review of GetDismissed, but a similar service?TicketBust.com, from the same people?averaged 1.5 stars (out of 5) in 197 reviews on Yelp. At TicketBust.com, help fighting a minor violation costs $99; help with more serious violations is $249.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that you don't forfeit your right to attend traffic school?and erase violation "points" from your record?by contesting a ticket, as California Lawyer has reported ["Ask for Traffic School!" Practical Tips, April]. That right depends on your alleged offense, your record, and what type of vehicle you were driving. And it remains in force even if you're found guilty. Of course, none of this changes the fines that can be levied. It just may be a bit easier now to keep them in check.
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Laura Impellizzeri

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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