In the last six or seven years, I have managed to be a very good boy and have gotten no traffic tickets, none. And by bragging about that to a few people instead of clamming up, I knew I was asking for it. Last April I got it, riding up the 110 freeway in L.A. on my way to Corsa Motoclassica on a shiny new FJR1300.
I’ve always thought the best defense in traffic is a strong offense, and usually travel slightly faster than most of the automobiles, which are of course always travelling faster than the speed limit whenever they’re able to. That’s what I was doing in the middle of about five lanes of surprisingly heavyish traffic for a Sunday morning, when an LAPD cruiser burst into my mirrors, lights blazing: 87 mph, he said. Who was I to argue?
When the bill arrived in the mail a while later, though, $367 seemed a bit exorbitant. I think the last speeding ticket I had was about half that. I applaud Gov. Brown’s getting the state back in the black, but really… One estimate I read says California rakes in around $500 million a year from traffic fines.
I have to admit to having more than my share of tickets over the years, sort of an occupational hazard for a motojournalist, a cost of doing business and oftentimes, in my case, a cost of just being not so bright: I once got ticketed on consecutive weekends on the same Roche Replica Ducati 888 in the same spot by the same officer.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t always tried to minimize the costs, usually with minimal success. I’ve tried postponing trial dates as long as possible in the hope that the officer wouldn’t show up; none of my officers have ever failed to appear, and all of them recall me fondly. I’ve tried arguing my case in court with charts and pictures while wearing a suit. Even though I’ve worked with radar guns a bunch and know for a fact they’ll always pick out the biggest object even if it’s farther away, and come armed with expert testimony to prove it, I have been found guilty anyway. Pay the bailiff.
To keep the points off your license, you can of course do traffic school. In the old days, that was an entire Saturday wasted. You kids have it far easier today with the www, but even online traffic school remains a slight PITA, making sure everybody gets their paperwork, etc. Speaking of interwebs, fighting this latest ticket would require travelling to LA Superior Court, on Hill Street in the belly of the beast, and hanging around for the better part of a depressing day among LA’s least fortunate. Who needs it? A friend had mentioned California Traffic Tickets. I got on the Google.
Hmmm, the site claims an 80-percent success rate in getting perps off the hook, and I was told speeding tickets under 100 mph are among the easiest cases to win. What sold me was the 50-percent misleading money-back guarantee: If CATT doesn’t win your case, you get half of your $298 back—and you should still be able to go ahead and do traffic school to keep the point(s) off your record even if you lose. Traffic school was going to be at least another $60, so I was basically gambling $298 to keep from having to shell out $427, and hoping CATT was telling the truth about its success rate.
CATT charged my VISA and sent me a five-page questionnaire to get all the particulars of the alleged crime. Meanwhile, I’d replied to the court with a request for Trial by Declaration – meaning we will do this through the mail. I have played this game before when dealing with distant jurisdictions – again with the charts and photos and expert testimony – and have always lost.
A week or so later, CATT e-mailed me my case to print out, sign, and snail-mail off to the court. The law is not concerned with big principles, like whether radar or lidar or whatever can pick a motorcycle out of a sea of cars and trucks. The law is concerned with whether the officer was in full uniform that day and within his jurisdiction, whether the radar or lidar he used to pop me had been calibrated within the proper time frame, whether he’d been properly trained in its use, whether the delicate tuning fork used to calibrate it had been properly stored, whether or not my FJR was dirty or dusty that day, which could throw off the reading, whether he had aimed the thing at me through his windshield—and about ten other arcane details, all of which I demanded proof of before I could be found guilty.
Rather than prove all those, I guess, the court just stamped my papers Case Dismissed about two months later and moved onto the next poor sap. I got a check for my $367 bail a couple weeks after that. I’m enough of a cynic to think that as long as somebody with JD behind their name is making a few hundred bucks, the legal system is happy. In this instance, so am I.
California Traffic Tickets has been in business since 2008 and claims to be one of the first and only companies to have licensed lawyers on staff. There are over 25 of them throughout California. They do claim an 80-percent success rate in getting people off the hook, and tell me that speeding tickets under 100 mph and red-light camera tickets are among the easiest to have dismissed. Thomas Young, CATT’s Irvine office manager, says one tough case he won involved a guy cited for drag racing at 112 in a 65 mph zone.
So, $298 ain’t hay, but it is at least $120 less than paying the ticket and traffic school would’ve been – and last time I checked, you can only do traffic school every 18 months. For me, these things tend to happen in threes, so I’m happy to have my squeaky-clean record intact, and my squeaky-clean self far removed from Hill Street Superior Court. Money well spent.
California Traffic Tickets