I’ll never forget that fateful Saturday this past March. I was making a turn on 6th Avenue on my way to an impromptu meeting with consulting client on top of my favorite hotel bar and restaurant, the Nolan in San Diego.
Admittedly, I was in a hurry and didn’t pay attention to the crosswalk light that was on. There were no pedestrians — at least according to me. The SDPD officer that pulled me over the minute I got off Market Street disagreed.
He, as all police officers are, was supremely confident I’d almost mowed down an entire hoard of tourists who were attempting to enter the crosswalk as I made my hasty turn. While I later found out the minimum fine for this atrocious disregard for pedestrian lives is $238, the officer kindly handed me a ticket for a whopping $850!
That’s a lot of cheddar!
I don’t care how well-to-do a person is, that’s a lot of cash to part with, for (what I felt was) a poor judgment call on the officer’s part. After all, I was sure there was no pedestrians anywhere near Market & 6th when I made the turn. That’s why I paid no attention to the crosswalk sign.
After some pleading on my part, and scolding from the officer, I was left driving to my meeting — late — and nearly a thousand dollars poorer than I was when I embarked on my journey 20 minutes earlier. Worse, this fine would add 3 points to my California driver’s license, and you can bet my insurance company wouldn’t skip a beat increasing my rates!
Next steps: Fight it myself or hire a lawyer?
The officer informed me that I could contest the ticket in traffic court before she left. I could go to traffic court and plead my case in front of the judge, asking to have the fine reduced or outright squashed — should they agreed with my side.
After some careful reading and asking around, I came to the realization that, much like a murder trial, the chances of fighting anything other than a parking violation on my own wasn’t likely to offer a positive result. Apparently, judges and law enforcement stick together.
Not to mention, I’d have to mark out time for the first hearing, which requires traveling to the court, waiting my turn, then saying “not guilty.” There, the real trail date would be set to determine my fate. That’s time I just didn’t have, regardless how badly I wanted to get out of the ticket, or at least have it reduced.
What I learned: Ways to get out of a traffic ticket in San Diego
Googling for “traffic ticket lawyer san diego” doesn’t offer much help, other than a bunch of firms offering services, but if you search a bit more carefully, you would find useful information. To save you from countless hours of online search, let me share you what I found.
1. Did the officer document everything correctly?
If the officer makes a single mistake on the ticket, it’s likely to get tossed out at the first hearing. I checked all the details of the ticket including the exact location, time of day, etc. Unfortunately, beyond the basic details on the ticket (which appeared correct), I’d have to file a “discovery of motion” to see the officer’s notes and determine if they made a mistake I could take advantage of. These are detail-oriented tasks best suited for a lawyer.
2. Reschedule court date
I could reschedule the court date in the hopes the officer who ticketed me didn’t show up. Apparently lots of people have luck with this, but I didn’t want to waste all that time relying on mere “hope.”
3. Meet with district attorney and as forgiveness
This seemed the less likely to work, as the ticket basically says I flagrantly disregarded human life. Now, I’m trying to “lie” my way out of it. They might lower the ticket somewhat, but again — time spent — and very unlikely to help me get out of the ticket or insurance increase.
Obviously, I’d rather have an experienced lawyer doing these things for me. They know what they’re doing, and can find details and loopholes I wouldn’t have a clue to look for.
Um… I’ve got better things to do with my time, thanks!
Considering the average cost to hire a ticket lawyer in San Diego averages around $155 start-to-finish, I decided to roll the dice. After asking around and finding a firm with a good track record, I decided to give TicketClinic.com a try.
They walked me through the ticket-fighting process, including what would be expected of me. I was excited to learn that the only thing I’d likely have to be involved with was paying their fee when the case was all said and done. The kindly lawyer assigned to my big case told me I didn’t have to go to court, and they’d check for any mistakes made by the officer that could result in dismissal.
I didn’t expect much, honestly. In the end, the attorney managed to get my case tossed out through some clever rescheduling tactics. They attended court on my behalf a few times and in the end the case was tossed out.
Even though it cost me $250 dollars for their fee, I didn’t pay for the ticket, or the insurance rate increases that could have amounted to thousands of dollars in the coming years.