Beating a stop sign ticket in California is difficult, requiring diligence and leg work. However, if your job depends on a clean driving record or if you’re in danger of having your license suspended because of multiple infractions, it may be worth the effort.
Ask for the County Seat and Don’t Admit Guilt
When the police officer stops you and gives you a ticket, write the words “County Seat please,” before signing your name. You’ll make the same request later at your arraignment. Should the officer ask you if you know why you were stopped, always respond with, “I don’t know.” Further, if the police ask if you rolled through a stop sign, just say, “I was driving safely.” With these answers you are refusing to admit guilt.
The Discovery Letter
Write a straightforward letter to the police department and the district attorney. By law, you are permitted to “discovery” related to your case. In your letter, you’ll request copies of the ticketing officer’s notes and ask precisely where the officer was positioned. Both letters should be sent certified mail and include a return receipt. You’ll need to get a friend or family member to send it, as you cannot legally serve these documents yourself. If the police or DA fail to respond, they have violated your rights, and the ticket can be thrown out.
You can also request a Trial by Written Declaration. The form can be downloaded from the Internet or obtained from the court. You’ll provide written evidence for why the officer could not have seen the stop sign from his vantage point. Back up your evidence with pictures from the scene. Again, if the officer does not respond, the ticket may be thrown out.
If your case has not yet been sent to the county seat, you may need to attend the arraignment. Inform the judge that you have filed form TR-205, and also ask that your case be assigned to the county seat.
Losing the Trial by Written Declaration and the Trial de Novo
Should you lose your request for Trial by Written Declaration, you can request a Trial de Novo, which happens at the county seat. Frequently, the officer doesn’t bother to show up at the Trial de Novo. It’s inconvenient and means having to put in a lot of extra effort. This means an automatic dismissal of your case.