Berkeley Parents Network
Google Custom Search
Home Members Post a Msg Reviews Advice Subscribe Help/FAQ What's New

Advice about Traffic Tickets

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Parenting, Families, & the Community > Advice about Traffic Tickets


Questions about ... Related Pages

Cell Phone Tickets


Please help..how to Fight a Cell phone Ticket?

July 2013

I recently got pulled over for an alleged cell phone violation to the tune of $170 for my very FIRST violation. I am looking for advice on how to fight it through trial by declaration. I think it's important to state that I agree with that this law is helpful, but don't think that my circumstances violated said law. I had just dropped my son off at a friends house. He is very allergic to bees and had been stung several times this summer with bad symptoms. I noticed I had a missed call from his friend and called right away. I dialed when I was stopped at a stop light, put my phone on speaker and never held it up to my face at all. I never actually touched the phone while driving The call went to vmail and was less than 10 seconds long which I proved to him upom him asking. When I was pulled over the officer asked my story and to see my call log. Despite my story checking out he still gave me a ticket. He was extra aggressive, and seemed to have had his mind made up no matter what the situation was. It was a Lafayette motorcycle cop, pulling me over in Moraga. I was NEVER in Lafayette or anywhere close to it. I'm wondering if this would be one of my defenses or if this is allowed because Moraga is a town? Any advice is appreciated. Not only can our family truly not afford this, but it really hurts because I feel targeted and that I didnt violate any laws. I plan on fighting this trail by declaration as I cant afford a sitter for my 3 small children. Thanks! lily


I know this might sound harsh, but my suggestion would be to pay the ticket and pull over (stopping at a red light does not qualify) the next time you need to make a phone call. x
Studies are showing that it's the divided attention, not the use of your hands, that makes cell phone and driving a dangerous combination. People talking ''hands free'' have nearly the same elevated rates of accidents as people using their hand to hold the phone. So ''I never touched the phone while driving'' is not especially relevant to safety, and in any case, when did being in the road at an intersection with the engine running cease to be driving just because you were at a stop sign? Is an unlicensed, underage, or drunk driver off the hook just because they happened to be spotted by the cop while the car was stopped briefly at an intersection? No! That's still driving.

OK, so please just accept the penalty for doing something illegal and dangerous. That's the kind of responsibility we want to model for our kids, right? Pull over and turn off the engine, then use your cell phone


You're wasting your time trying to get out of a moving violation ticket in the Bay Area. Keep in mind that tickets are one of the major sources of revenue for this area, where most cities are broke. I was pulled over the day after I moved here from Texas, with a TX license plate and a TX driver's license, like you I was very briefly holding my phone and had an emergency. No chance to get out of the ticket. Good news is, a cell phone violation does not go on your driving record. Pay your $170 and move on in your life. using an earpiece now
You broke the law. Pay the fine and be thankful our police are actually enforcing this law. anon
I have no idea whether Lafayette police can write tickets in Moraga (my guess is that they can) and the moderators will not allow legal advice, but I can state as a fact that the California Court of Appeal has ruled that use of a hand-held telephone while stopped at a red light is a violation of Vehicle Code section 23123 so the fact that you were not moving when you dialed does not matter. See People v. Nelson (Nov. 14, 2011) volume 200 Official California Appellate Reports page 1083. Next time, pull over to the curb and stop. And, turn off your engine for good measure.
This is not complete advice but I just wanted to warn you about one thing. This happened to me once when a policeman said I did not stop at a stop sign and I actually had. The driver in front of me stopped out in front of the stop sign and rolled and stopped again way out in the intersection and I had stopped at the sign during his first stop. I felt this affected the perception of the policeman somehow. I earnestly explained all this to him just the way you did.

When I finally went to court months later, the judge heard the cop first and he essentially used my exact words and argument against me as though these were facts he thought of, a process he saw when he really hadn't, then twisted the details to support his argument. Do you get what I'm saying? There is no way he remembered the conversation so I think they take notes. Anyway, when I repeated what he had said and then said, but I did stop, I even sounded stupid, foolish and lying to my own ears and the judge didn't believe me!

This was Richmond and they were terrible and robotic, overstaffing and hovering around the school during drop off and pick up times. People are pretty responsible when they have young kids and none of the many many tickets all of us parents got were serious at all, and many others were reportedly unfair too or not true. They must have thought parents were a good source of city funds.

Moral: I will never tell a police anything at the scene except ''I didn't do that'' (if I didn't). Be prepared for this tactic in court and present whatever evidence you have. - my 2 cents


Sad to say I know exactly the cop of which you write as he gave me a ticket for the exact same offense. The road I am presuming you were on is one of Lafayette's biggest ticket traps. I see people pulled over EVERY DAY for some violation or another. Very similar situation for me- first offense with cell phone, was using the speaker and my ticket was the same cost. If you research, you'll find the actual violation is very minimal fee but Contra Costa tacks on court costs and other ''processing fees'' that bring this up to $170. It's a money maker for the county. And while I completely support the no text / talking while driving I wish they'd ticket the drivers that are actually offending not the ones it seems they randomly select and assume they are even with explanation.

I did a bit of research about fighting this type of ticket and the time to do it frankly wasn't worth it to me. The most common suggestion was to suggest a change of venue to make it less likely the ticketing officer will appear if the court is too far away, but hey it's Lafayette and I suspect the cops here make or easily find the time.

I know that was the last time I ever used my cell driving without my ear piece. I honestly very rarely talk on the phone in my car as it's too distracting and unless the conversation involves my kids, it can wait. Good luck. Lesson Learned


Why are you trying to fight this ticket ? The Chron recently reported that making a cell phone call while stopped, while the car is in drive and at a traffic light, is illegal and can be ticketed. The cops are sick of people trying to rationalize cell phone usage while driving. Pay up and pull into a parking spot next time. It's Dangerous !
According to the FAQs on the DMV website, your actions as you describe them are within the law. You are allowed to dial. You are allowed to use your phone as a speakerphone. The question is whether you will win your case. You've seen that the police are simply motivated to write tickets and collect revenue, not protect citizens from real crime. The courts take a similar stance. At least there is no traffic point assessed in the cell phone infraction. Lost my case
Lily, You said any insight would be welcome so I hope this post will be. Your cell phone belongs in the back seat or a purse where you can't see it, hear it, or be distracted by it. As pointed out recently by the CHP, your attention while operating a motor vehicle needs to be 100% on operating a motor vehicle. That means when the engine is running, the car is on the roadway, and you are at the controls, you are responsible for the lives in your vehicle and all the people around you. Dialing a cell phone at a red light is not an exception. I will add that I was appalled that you were asked to show your telephone log-huge violation of privacy. I assume it was a request and not an order so you could have declined which likely would have guaranteed a ticket no doubt. You may be able to use that to squeak out of this ticket but in the future please keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road even at red lights. The rest of us are counting on you to be paying attention. If you have any doubt ask yourself what would have happened at the DMV the day you took your driving test if you had whipped out a cell phone at a red light and made a call about bee stings. If you had you wouldn't have a license or a ticket. Bee safe. run out of my lane at 70 mph by texter
I'm sorry to tell you this, but if you TOUCHED your cell phone at any time while you are in the car, and the car is not stopped AT THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, then you can be pulled over and you'll get a ticket for $170. I have a friend who got one of these tickets, and I was listening to all the stories and excuses told to a judge while I was waiting in court to protest a ticket. The judge has NO patience for all the various excuses. Your backstory is irrelevant, except that usually there are work options to pay off a fine if you show financial need. The fact that your son had a bee sting is irrelevant. The fact that you dialed the phone while at a stop light shows that you violated the law, pure and simple (and you sure as heck irritated those of us who might have been behind you waiting for you to pay attention to the road). Give up the idea of getting rid of the fine because you can't afford it or don't think you deserved it because you simply needed to phone back for a missed call. If you really can't afford it, be prepared to show financial need and spend some serious time working off the fine.

And you may want to be more serious about not using your cell phone while driving. Not only does it violate the law, but many studies have shown thateven just talking on the phone while driving (even if you did it legally, which would be totally hands off), you're still so distracted that it's practically equivalent to drunk driving.


I hope I am not the only one who urges you to NOT fight this. I don't care what the circumstances. I put my phone away when driving. We have all survived this long and will continue to survive without having to answer the phone with such immediacy. If it was an emergency situation, pull over. Do the right thing and pay. They can put you on a payment plan if it is a hardship. put your phone down
PEOPLE v. NELSON CA #A131301

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1585404.html

''Defendant Carl Nelson appeals from a traffic court judgment of guilt for violating Vehicle Code section 23123,1 which states that persons shall not drive on public roadways using a wireless telephone unless the phone is configured for hands-free listening and talking, and used in that manner while driving. (§ 23123, subds.(a), (e).) Defendant was observed using his phone in his car as he paused at a red traffic light while driving in Richmond, California. He argues he was not ''driving'' because his car was stopped during his phone use, relying on our Supreme Court's determination in Mercer v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1991) 53 Cal.3d 753 (Mercer ) ...

'' ... Here, defendant used his wireless telephone with his hands while driving on a public roadway at a time at which he paused momentarily at a red light. This situation is not addressed in Mercer or other relevant case law. We conclude, pursuant to our application of Mercer and black-letter rules of statutory interpretation, including our review of the language and legislative history of section 23123, subdivision (a), and our application of reason, practicality, and common sense to the language at hand (MacIsaac v. Waste Management Collection & Recycling, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1076, 1084 (MacIsaac )), that the Legislature intended section 23123, subdivision (a) to apply to persons driving on our public roadways who, like defendant, may pause momentarily while doing so in order to comply with the rules of the road. Therefore, we hold that defendant violated section 23123, subdivision (a) and affirm the judgment.''


Jaywalking Tickets


Jaywalking ticket in Albany

Feb 2009

I recently received a jaywalking ticket in Albany. I was crossing in a crosswalk but against the light. I thought the ticket would be around $40 or $50 but just found out that it is $158! Has anyone ever fought a jaywalking ticket and won? The clerk at the Oakland courthouse told me that I needed to show up at 6;30 AM in order to ensure being heard by a judge. Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences? Please share. This just seems like a LOT of money for what seemed like a minor infraction (i.e. no cars coming toward me, in cross walk etc) thanks! jaywalker


Oh I got one of those too, but In Berkeley. It was not Jaywalking, it was crossing against the light as I was in the crosswalk. It was about $130. Times are tough and those city managers are fighting for every measly quarter. I really couldn't fight the ticket because I was wrong, but I was just incensed at the cost. I MEAN COME ON. THAT BORDERS ON RACKETEERING. So I sent a Letter to Tom Bates telling him how outrageous the fee was for such a nominal infraction. Then I listed for him all of the charitable contributions I had given to Berkeley organizations for the last 5 years and I detailed my downtown Berkeley spending for the same period of time. He never answered me, so now I do not shop there or give any money to those organizations. And I don't feel a bit bad when I see those empty store fronts and boy, there are a lot these days. -watch your step and shop elsewhere
Honestly, my first thought reading your post was that I ought to print it out and deliver it to the Court, and alert that them that some bozo would be on his/her way to dispute a jaywalking charge, despite admitting to the infraction. Seriously. You know what you did was a violation... you're merely disputing whether or not the penalty really ought to apply to you? But some morning coffee, and having got my daughter safely off to school, observing traffic rules so that neither she nor I got run over (or ran over anyone else), stayed my hand (that and some coffee). Seriously... it's a stiff fine, but you earned it. (And don't be wasting my tax money by tying up the courts, please!) non-jaywalker in Albany
I have a magic wand that I can pass to you that will make this whole thing disappear, except for the traces left in memory. If you choose to not use this wand, you may end up obsessing over this situation for many weeks or months to come. In addition to obsessing over this matter, you may end up spending hours and hours of your time, burn a couple gallons of fossil fuel, run the risk of getting a parking ticket, and have many moments of a disquieting feeling in your belly as you try to anticipate your interactions and try to convince the world (or a judge) that you don't deserve this kind of thing. You may end up reaching out to others looking for advice or assistance or just someone to listen to how wronged you are. You may end up having this consume your attention for many, many days and have your mind go over and over what you are going to say and how you are going to say it and imagine what the judge is going to say and imagine how much you end up paying and blah, blah, blah. Now that you have the picture, here is the disappearing wand. PAY THE TICKET-NOW. The chose is up to you. attention is precious
Wow, that is expensive! But you broke the law. Write the check. If you don't agree with the law, legislation is the way to change it, not the courts. laws are not relative
I don't quite understand where you're coming from.

If you didn't do what they accused you of, then by all means fight the ticket.

But if you did it, and you seem to acknowledge that, just admit you were wrong, submit to the lawful penalty, and resolve not to break the law again.

This is a parent's forum, so let's think about what message you want to send to your kids --- (a) to be careful on the street and obey the traffic rules; (b) to acknowledge mistakes and pay the penalties honestly when you break the rules; (c) not to try to weasel out of consequences of your rule breaking.

If you honestly think the penalties are too harsh as a matter of public policy, then please do lobby the city council to lower the jaywalking penalty... AFTER you have paid your own penalty at the rate that was in effect when you broke the rules. Why after? Because that's the only way to be sure you're making an honest effort at shaping good public policy, rather than just saving your own skin. Live up to what you expect from your kids


Ticket for Jaywalking in Berkeley

April 2008

Until it happened to my partner recently, I didn't know that the police in berkeley ticketed pedestrians for jaywalking! Turns out the fine is $123! Has anybody out there successfully fought a pedestrian violation? We've just moved from the midwest and while it's sort of a funny story to tell at a dinner party, the fine is anything but funny. Cynthia


Did you or didn't you jaywalk? I will guess that you did since so many people do in Berkeley. In that case, I suggest you pay and be more careful in the future. I am both a pedestrian and a motorist in Berkeley. It is a very crowded and impacted place. Often traffic gets very backed up just because of jaywalking -- cars very often have to stop for green lights because pedestrians are crossing in front of them. Intersections like Shattuck with Center, Allston, and Addison can be particularly bad. Jaywalkers seriously impact traffic flow. One day they may decide to close these streets to traffic, but until they do, pedestrians should have to obey the rules just like motorists.

If you truly didn't jay walk, you should first bring it up with the officer who gave you the ticket as the facts are in front of both of you. You can always try going to court, but that is costly in terms of your time, and the judges know that the officers rarely make mistakes in these cases.

If any motorists are reading that are not often in Berkeley, do be very careful when you are there, particularly with crosswalks crossing streets adjacent to the University. Many of them do not have lights and pedestrians have full right of way there. Berkeley regular


Cynthia-- (This isn't what you want to hear and is in some ways very very Berkeley. Forgive me.) While I'm very sympathetic to being caught unawares by the citation, perhaps you haven't heard about the rash of pedestrian fatalities in Berkeley in just the last year. At least three of these took place in crosswalks, which are obviously the drivers' fault. Still, I am astonished, given the situation, by how often I see people put themselves in harm's way, crossing outside a crosswalk- I was just recently ranting about how I wished the cops gave these out. Not to punish people and suck them dry but to raise awareness. My kids' school is on a fairly busy street and there's no light at the crosswalk. But we have a guard and it's painted yellow. Still--I see parents pull their kids across the street just feet away from the crosswalk. I worry whenever I hear sirens that someone has gotten hit.

I think this town of ours--Berkeley--is excessive in many things. But on this one, I'm glad they're out there ticketing. One of the amazing things about California is the pedestrian right of way. If we want that protected, then we need to be good pedestrians.

Really, I am sorry for lecturing.

And by the way . . . my husband once got a HEFTY moving violation for making a right turn that took him through a crosswalk where a ped had just started walking. Not only was there no danger of his hitting the ped, the ped signalled to my husband that he wanted him to go ahead and take his turn. ''Don't wait for me. Go ahead . . .etc.'' Well. A cop saw this and cited my husband explaining that if a ped has even a foot in the crosswalk, you must stop. So they do enforce both sides. Which I'm in just as much support of.

Sorry to harangue. Welcome to Berkeley. nervous citizen


Welcome to Berkeley. It's a great city in so many ways, and extrememly tiresome in other ways. I'm sorry you got the ticket and if it's your first offense jaywalking, I would definitely protest it. Tickets are eagerly and willy nilly handed out here. This is encouraged by the city for the revenue. I received a ticket once (on Allston) by a meter maid who was seated in her vehicle behind me as I put money into the meter. She saw me put in the money, and saw the meter was broken. I went to the post office for 15 minutes (1 hour parking allowed by law when the meter is broken, came back, and found I had a ticket. I wrote the city a letter, citing the meter maid's name etc. The city never responded, but got rid of the ticket.

Another time, on Vine street, in front of a restaurant, a meter maid drove around each time a new car parked to ticket people who parked even briefly in front of a broken meter, fully knowing the meter was broken and each person had put in the first quarter. This happened twice in one hour!! When I told the meter maid about the broken meter, she said it was not her concern and people could contest the ticket, despite the law allowing people to park for one hour on a broken meter. I spoke with the restaurant owner who said cars had been systematically getting ticketed for several days.

So, living in Berkeley is truly a blessing in many ways, but there is a price that the city exacts with some very questionable, sometimes short-sighted, policies. Perhaps your jaywalking was dangerous, I don't know, but no doubt you have been deterred and it will not hurt to write a letter protesting the $123 ticket. Good Luck!! Sympathetic mom


If the jaywalking took place, you have to pay the ticket. I personally found jaywalkers highly annoying years ago when I was trying to train my daughter in street safety. ''Mom, why is this person crossing at a red light? Why can he do that? I thought we shouldn't.'' My reply always was ''No he shouldn't, it is not safe. He just decided to do it anyway, but if an officer were around, he would give him a ticket.'' So if you consider the $123 a fine for all the times you guys jaywalked without getting a ticket over the past few years, it is probably a good deal after all. Anonymous
A $123 ticket is cheaper than a casket. Think of it that way! Can't speak to jaywalking, but my husband has gotten a few driving violations recently (failure to signal when changing lanes and driving five miles over the speed limit) after not getting any in 15 or so years. He has successfully fought both -- got the failure to signal ticket reduced and the speeding ticket dropped. So, it never hurts to try. -anon
Dear Cynthia: Regardless of whether your husband wants to take the time to fight it or if he wants to pay it, it's something that you cannot ignore. I've worked in traffic court and I've seen these ''simple'' tickets grow into serious messes. In my experience, most people pay the fine because most of these tickets are infractions and you don't have to report infraction convictions on most employment applications. If your husband doesn't object to jaywalking but would like the fine reduced, he may ask the traffic judge/commissioner in person or in writing for a reduced fine. If the fine reduction is not granted but you have financial hardships, you may ask for community service in lieu of the fine or to have the fine split up into monthly payments. good luck
Wow, it's only $123? 12 years ago I got a ticket for walking against a don't walk sign in Walnut Creek. I was peeved. Went to court, and apparently WC doesn't have enough real crime to go after and this is a convenient way to get revenue. 12 years ago, my fine was just over $200, and at least half the people in court that day were in for the same reason as I. As for the judge caring or being lenient? Hah! *grumble*

Parking Tickets


Parking ticket notices in Richmond

Sept 2011

Does anyone know if the city of Richmond sends out parking ticket notices in the mail? We made the mistake of letting an elderly neighbor borrow our car to do some of her shopping in Richmond, and her sister who was with her tells us that when they got back to the car there was something on the windshield that looked like a parking ticket. We asked our neighbor and she tells us it's not true (''there was nothing on the windshield''). We called Richmond police but they refused to tell us over the phone if our license plate had a ticket issued. How do we find out? If we don't get a notice in the mail is it safe to assume there was no ticket? With a small child and time and money pressures the last thing we need is this kind of nonsense to deal with. Nellie


For parking ticket notices in Richmond, contact the Bay Municipal Court, Traffic Division, at 510-374-3174. This information was posted on the city of Richmond website in the Police Department section. Or call the Richmond Police Department Code Enforcement Division at 510-621-1282. DC

Parking ticket late fees - City of Berkeley

June 2011

Here's an interesting situation: last summer, I got a parking ticket from the City of Berkeley for expired registration (the DMV's fault, not mine, but whatever). I paid the ticket, $25. Turns out I paid it late. Berkeley cashed my $25 check, though, and never informed me that the late payment was in any way insufficient. Now that it's time for me to renew my car registration, they're telling me I owe $108 because the ticket was paid late. It strikes me as really shady that they let the late penalties accumulate without informing me at any point that this was going on. I can't refuse to pay now without endangering my chances of getting my car registered, so I'm thinking of paying under protest and filing some kind of complaint, but it's tough because my situation doesn't fit into the standard administrative remedies (I'm not challenging the underlying violation, just the late penalties). Has anyone encountered a similar situation? Thanks! Disappointed in City of Berkeley


Totally am facing the same situation, though even more egregious than yours - but basically the same: City of Berkeley, they cashed the original check, never warned me about a late fee, now DMV trying to railroad us for $104 in ''late fees'' - I am trying to fight it. Contact me if you want to brainstorm. So aggravating and wrong! Mari
I received a notice for my car registration renewal a few years ago, which said I owed hundreds of dollars in ticket fees, for two parking tickets I had never received, because when I get a ticket I always pay it immediately. When I went downtown to speak with to the City of Berkeley, the person ahead of me was in the same boat, had severe poverty issues and really stood her ground, but the person working at the window seemed trained to be completely unsympathetic; there's no way out of paying. I have had situations where I parked for 5 minutes in a two hour zone and received a ticket, and wrote a letter with a witness affadavit- I've always had to pay the ticket no matter what. jo

Contesting a UC Berkeley Parking ticket

July 2010

Hi -- Does anyone have advice on fighting UC campus parking tickets? In my case, I simply failed/forgot to hang the permit tag from the mirror. A $75 mistake! thanks, MC


Sorry to be a downer, but my DH has gotten several of these tix and never been able to successfully get one forgiven. Under the exact same circumstances as you. It really sucks. $300 poorer.
To appeal a parking ticket from a UC lot, just follow the instructions on the ticket envelope. You can appeal by email. Include all the information related to your permit (type of permit, permit number). If this is the first time you forgot to display your permit, they will probably cancel the ticket. If you've forgotten more than once, they will charge you for failing to display the permit rather than parking without it. The fine is a little less, but still pretty steep now! forgot my permit, too
I did that once, and wrote a polite letter to explain how forgetful I had been, and the fee was waived (their response said that the fee could be waived one time as a courtesy). This was about four years ago, so I don't know if the policy has changed. Ms Forgetful
Hi MC, I feel ya, having experienced this two or three times in the last decade (until the lesson was laser-inscribed on my brain!). But did you do basic research? See http://pt.berkeley.edu/pay/citation/appeal :

''Starting Novemeber 23rd 2009, holders of a valid long term permit are entitled to one citation dismissal per fiscal year in the case of a forgotten or improperly displayed permit. In order to receive this courtesy dismissal you must submit an appeal through our established appeal process.'' Good luck! SPM


Parking Ticket & Handicap Placard Display

Jan 2010

A friend & I ate on Solano & he got a ticket for overtime parking, despite my placard being on the dashboard above the steering wheel. When he disputed the ticket because the placard was displayed he was told that not hanging it from the mirror makes it illegal. Nowhere in the placard documents or on the placard is this information given. So far a second appeal is underway: any advice?


If I had a ''nickel'' for each time an over-zealous Berkeley parking officer has ticketed our car/truck with my PERMANENT HANDICAP PLACARD hanging from the mirror of our car/truck, I'd be rich. Berkeley parking-ticket writers seem to be blind when it comes to handicap placards. Keep pointing-out to Berkeley employees that your handicap placard was displayed until your ticket is dismissed, but, next time hang your handicap placard from your mirror just to give Berkeley parking-ticket writers a chance ! Grumble, grumble, grumble, ...
Hang it on the mirror next time and pay the ticket. anon

UC Parking tickets - what's the deal?

Nov 2008

My husband paid to park in a UC lot one evening last week. He apparently parked in a Zipcar spot (although he never saw the sign), resulting in an $85 fine. What's the deal with UC parking tickets? Are they similar to those issued by cities? Is there any hope of getting it reduced? Gayle


I also parked in an 'undesignated' area in a UC parking lot (I have a permit). It was my first day on the job, and honestly thought it was ok until I got the ticket. I contested it while pleading innocence/ignorance but I think their response of upholding the fine is automatic. I paid the fine and went to the next level that involved an interview with a neutral party (an ex-Berkeley policeman, I think). I admitted my error but asked for a break and they reversed the decision. I received a full refund of the fine a few weeks later. I think if you tell them you didn't see the sign and be very remorseful and are prepared to take the time and effort to meet with them at the next level, you may have a chance. more careful where I park
My ticket was for parking without paying the parking fee. I was able to reduce the ticket to a much lesser fee by writing to the UC parking dept. and explaining that it was the first time I parked in a certain area and I didn't see the sign. (I didn't make this up. It was true.) I don't imagine you can do this multiple times... but it's worth a try once. Guy
I think if you take your explanation to the parking office and conduct your business there politely and respectfully, they may reduce the fine. I appealed a ticket there a few years ago for my parents who were from out of town and were confused by the parking policies. They graciously waved the fine and explained the policies. So it's worth a try. Just be nice

Parking ticket from private operator of parking lot

March 2008

Hi, I was ticketed at the B of A lot on Center Street - it's a private ticket, not a City ticket. Has anyone gotten one of these and not paid? What happened? About 15 years ago I got a similar - private - ticket in a lot in Walnut Creek, and I just ignored it and nothing happened. I'd like to do the same here, but want to know if anyone knows why I shouldn't. (And yes, I parked and went to Games of Berkeley at 6:30 on a Sunday night instead of just to the ATM. It irked to pay for the lot at that hour for ten minutes, so I didn't.) Thanks, Scofflaw? Scoffrule? Scott-free?


Don't pay it! I got one of these at Safeway on College about 6 months ago, didn't pay it, and haven't heard a word since. Non-payer
My advice is to pay the ticket. It is the only right thing to do. Anon Hi! I've gotten one of those at the BofA in the gourmet ghetto. I was actually banking at the ATM, but stopped for longer than the allowed time (5min. I think?) and chatted with the florist, for no more than 15 min. Anyways, got a ticket on a Sat. late afternoon...long story short, never paid it, seemed wrong to, never heard anything again. It's been over a year, it was from a private agency in SF. anon
Parking citations don't affect your driving record at the DMV but be aware that parking citations can affect your auto registration. Any agency authorized to issue parking citations can forward your parking citation to the DMV-auto registration unit and a hold can be placed on the vehicle registration. Additional (late) fees can be tacked on for a failure to pay. The registered owner of the vehicle will have this notation on their registration and any fees will be assessed to them... sometimes, there's a ''behind-the-scenes'' notation placed on the vehicle's registered owners drivers license as well. I'm not a gambling person, so I would just pay the parking ticket (or appeal if justified) rather than see what happens. Paying the ticket will not incur a point on the driving record, so it will not affect your insurance rate...if that's a concern. traffic court employee
I received a ticket in the BofA lot inBerkeley (across the street from Games of Berkeley) and I did not pay it, it was over 2 years ago and I haven't heard from them since. The ticket is issued from a private company not the city. anonymous

Relief for parking tickets + late fees

Nov 2007

Help! I received three parking tickets in a row immediately after my daughter was born, (did not move car for street cleaning), and then spaced for a number of months. Now they are sent to collection owing $500 on original 3 x $36 tickets. Collection agency tells me that only city has ability to provide some relief. Parking enforcement person told me on phone that there is no way to receive any relief, (and was very rude and dismissive). I wonder if anyone has any experience / suggestions. I am seeking to pay original ticket, and a penalty of some sort, just not over $100 on each ticket. Thanks for any suggestions. Rebecca


I just went through this. The city of berkeley imposes a HUGE fine on every little parking ticket - disgusting. I couldn't find any way around it and paid up. I hate those meter maids with all my heart.
Welcome to Berkeley. I've paid thousands of dollars for parking tickets. Why should you get off? you park, you pay, just like everyone else
I think you can still do community service to pay for parking tickets. You have to go to court and present your case to the judge. He/She will decide what the penalty is...sometimes they excuse it alltogether. Sometimes they insist you pay...but in the middle is communitiy service...picking up litter is one of the jobs...I did this YEARS ago. You have to decide if community service is worth your time ($10.00 per hour maybe?) orif you'd rather just pay the ticket...but it's worth going to court cuase it's very likely the tickets will be reduced. Good luck. former parking ticket delinquent

Parking ticket at private facility

March 2006

I recently got a parking ticket for an expired meter while shopping at Bay Street (the ticket was undeserved, but that's beside the point). I notice that the ticket was issued by a private company called Regional Parking, Inc. and not by the city - this is the first time I've ever heard of such a thing. My brother, who was with me at the time, said I should just ignore it, since it's a private company/private property and they have no enforcement ability (i.e., policy versus law). Does anyone have any experience or insight into this kind of thing? Thanks! --one more reason I hate Bay Street


I too got a private facility ticket, in Walnut Creek. I was pissed. I also didn't feel it was fair. Keep in mind, the cost to enforce (by harassing or getting collections) is not worth the $20 or so they're asking. These people basically work on shame - shaming you into not parking there, and shaming you into paying fees they arbitrarily decide to charge. So ignore it, just like your bro suggested. In my sitch, they had zero way to enforce it, and they couldn't put it on my credit report (I had entered into no agreement with them). They could, however, tow my car, so I used it as a warning to myself to not park there again, to avoid my car being towed. I never paid them a cent! No pay
I don't know the legal ins and outs of this issue, but I got a parking ticket at a private facility in Walnut Creek a couple years ago, issued by a private security company, and just ignored it and nothing ever came of it. Unless someone else here has a different experience, I'd say ignore it. What a scam
I recieved a ticket like that for parking in the Bank of America lot accross from the grand lake farmers market. I also figured that since it was a private company they wouldn't enforce so I never paid it and never had a problem, that was about three years ago. Alisa

Ticket on failed meter in Oakland

Jan 2006

I recieved a parking ticket in June of 2005 in Oakland, for which I requested an administrative review. I have now recieved notice that I must pay the ticket, along with a reason that does not apply to my situation. I parked at a meter behind the Oakland YMCA in a 2 hour zone. The meter took my coines and registered ''failed.'' I placed a note on the meter explaining that the coins did not register and returned to my car in just under one hour to find the meter reset to expired and a parking ticket for failing to have deposited coines. ( I did deposit coins. ) I went to the parking assistance center the same day and requested an administrative review for which I have just received a ''verdict.'' Basically, they said that it's illegal to park at a meter without depositing a sufficient amount of money. I have always been under the impression that parking at an out of order meter is okay for the time period allowed. Am I wrong? I feel like I'm being ripped off. Anyone have a positive outcome in the same situation? I can request a hearing by mail or in person, or simply pay the ticket. Ripped off in Oakland


I just had a similar situation, except that the meter didn't reset to expired--that part seems weird. I requested an administrative review, was told I had to pay, and requested an in-person hearing. At the time I requested the in-person hearing, I also made a Public Information request to get the repair record for the meter. They never sent me the info, and when I went to the review, the very nice man who does these things took less than 30 seconds to decide in my favor. I would say it was well well worth it to request the in-person hearing. Loves the Hearing Process
The same thing happened to me. My understanding of the law is the same as yours. . . that you don't have to feed a broken meter, but can not park for longer than the stated time period. I was told this by a parking ''enforcer.'' (meter maid??). Anyway, when I lost on administrative review, I opted for the hearing ''by mail.'' I figured I was right, but it wasn't worth my time to actually attend a hearing. I eventually won, with no explanation by the City. I say ''go for it.'' Why should they keep your $35? (or whatever it was).
I don't know if this will help because it's not exactly the same experience, but here's my story: I got a ticket Bancroft in Berkeley, which borders UC campus, even though the meter read ''failed'' and I returned in under the one-hour limit. I went to the office to appeal and met with a very caring, attentive woman at the traffic office. She asked me a lot of questions and believed me when I said I would be willing to pay any deserved ticket but that this ticket was not fair. She asked me to take pictures or ask around to the shopkeepers if they knew of any pattern of having trouble with that particular meter. (Of course I'm rolling my eyes privately at this point.) But I did go back and look & ask around. One of the questions she asked was to go back to the meter and check the meter number against the meter number that was written on the ticket. It turned out that the two didn't match! I was given a ticket number for a meter that was on the other side of the street almost a block down from where I parked. When I wrote in what I had found, the ticket was excused. Don't know if this helps you, but I'm glad I appealed. Wrongly ticketed
I forgot to mention two things when telling my story about being wrongly ticketed on Bancroft in Berkeley: (1) The woman at the traffic office said that they have a database that showed all of the broken meters and the time/date and could verify or disprove my claims, which may be how they knew I was telling the truth about the meter I had actually parked my car in front of. (2) When I returned to my car after making my appeal at the ticketing office, I had a legitimate parking ticket on my car! (There's a lesson here: Decide how much this really means to you, how much your time is worth, whether to cut your losses, etc.) Good luck! Wrongly ticketed
This happened to me in Oakland and in Berkeley and I fought the tickets and won. Parking tickets are a major source of revenue for the cities, and they don't make it easy to refute a ticket, but we cannot let the city get away with this. The more they do, the more it will happen to those of us who don't deserve it. Fight the Man
I've had this same problem in Oakland (e.g., I put money in the meter and it doesn't register) but if you read the meter it says that you can still receive a ticket when the meter is broken so I've never tested it and just moved my car. It's more of a pain to contest the ticket. It's a crazy policy and I'd be interested to hear if anyone has ever challenged it. annoyed parker
I wouldn't pay the ticket yet. I had a similar experience in Oakland (parked in a one hour zone, ticketed for insufficient deposit to park two hours). It took months for them to respond to my request for an administrative review but eventually the ticket/fine was waived. They are understaffed and it takes alot of time, but you will get a response, and I'll bet it will be waived. Lori
It occured to me in reading the story of the person whose meter number did not match the location of their car, that the problem might not have been the parking officer getting it wrong but that some other driver put their ticket on your car. Definitely check all the details of the ticket (car licenses etc.) before you pay it! anon

Parking ticket for meter that had not run out yet

Sept 2005

I got a parking ticket for an expired meter on College in Oakland a couple of days ago. I was actually at my van, with the sliding door open but bent down untangling the dog's leash on the sidewalk side. I suppose the meter man didn't see me. When I stood up, there he was writing me a ticket. I said ''Hey, I'm right here!''. He said ''It's too late I already started the ticket''. I glanced at the meter just then and it clicked to 0 minutes-just then! The officer completed the ticket handed it to me (as I stood there with my mouth hanging open) and drove off. I got into my car still in shock, looked at the meter, and as I was looking at it, it started flashing red!

I immediately called the number on the ticket and explained what had happened and asked what I could do. I was told I could appeal the ticket, but it would be my word against the officer's and they would believe him! I asked to talk to a supervisor of meter maids because this person obviously started the ticket before my meter even ran out thinking that there was no one around and I would not make it back. This officer knows what he did. He finished the ticket in a hurry, would not look at me when I talked to him and left in a rush. The supervisor said the officer has been on the force for 5 years and has never been complained about, and why would he have stopped if the meter wasn't flashing. I don't know! He stopped for another car? My car was really really dirty? Am I supposed to know that?

Bottom line, does he just get away with this? Do they all just get away with this because we are told clearly that we aren't going to win if we contest it?

Are there other people out there with this kind of experience? Is there anything I can do? Is there any chance I can win if I contest this ticket? Is there a way to make sure there is at least one complaint associated with this officer so if he does it again and gets caught it will be available to the supervisor and the next person might stand a chance? Any advice would be very appreciated. I am churning a lot of stomach acid over this one. made it to the meter before the meter maid


A similar thing happened to me in Berkeley, where I parked at a one hour zone, checked into my daughter's pediatrician office across the street and returned in 55 minutes to find the meter maid writing a ticket. When I confronted her, she was unpleasant, but she did say I could write a letter to the address on the ticket. That's what I did (using neutral, non-confrontational language) with all the evidence that I had actually parked for less than one hour, and the traffic department replied saying they excused the fine. Good luck anon
I received a parking ticket in Oakland that I also thought was unfair, and successfully appealed it. In my case, I parked at a meter that was broken and had a bag over it. There were no other parking places around. Luckily (so I thought) a parking officer was walking nearby, so I asked him if it was okay if I parked there. He said yes. When I returned less than 2 hours later (it was a 2-hour meter), I discovered that I had a ticket! I was just as upset as you are now. Here is what I did. I wrote a very simple ''Just the facts'' letter of appeal. I did not accuse the officer of wrongdoing or wonder about his competence or motivations. My first appeal was denied, but I sent the same letter for my second appeal. This was granted, on the grounds that I do not have a history of getting parking tickets. I encourage you to give it a try. It's frustrating, but sometimes it really does work Victorious
Same thing happened to me - officer was Pinkney (or something like that) I appealed it and am waiting for a decision but was not given much hope. This was on Shattuck in Berkeley across from Cafe Gratitude. Let me know what you find out. (apologies if this is a double post - I don't think I did it right last time so I had to do it again...I guess we'll find out!) Alyson
You asked if anyone had had this experience: I got a parking ticket on Lakeshore Ave while putting my two very young children in their carseats. The meter had not run out until we were actively getting into the car to leave the space. I was SHOCKED. I fumed and fumed. And then I paid the ticket. Now I put EXTRA money in my meter, even if it's just a nickel while I put the kids in the car. Heading the burbs to shop- Free parking
My husband wrote the parking authority a really whiny letter once about a broken meter, and they sent a letter back exempting us from paying the fine. May as well write to them and tell your story. Couldn't hurt. Otherwise I don't think you have much recourse now that they don't let you fight parking tickets in court. Appealing is just a stall to a guilty-by-mail verdict. If it makes you feel any better, I have a friend who encountered an unreasonable parking meter guy and while he wasn't looking threw the keys to his meter truck in the gutter thus ruining his day too. Ha ha. What goes around sometimes comes around. In any case, don't let this ruin your life -Whining worked once
It is frustrating, isn't it? I have had that happen to me too. Don't waste your time and go to court because if the cop shows up ,you lose. That is simply the way it is and that's part of the dues we pay for living in a city. One way to think about it is to realize how many times your meter did expire and you got away with it! I am sure, like all of us, you have been that lucky too. Just pay it and be thankful it is not a moving violation. anonymous
I've had a couple of ''their word against yours'' ticket incidents in Berkeley, too. I also met with the same lack of concern from people on the other end of the phone. In the end, I always decided to fight the ticket, and this is why: I bet you are not the first person, or the last, who has been prematurely ticketed by this person. So, if he has been on the force for 5 years and not had a complaint, it's probably because people figure they can't win so they don't fight. Just because his supervisor says there aren't any complaints against him doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to have any filed. If you can fight the ticket without causing yourself or your family extra hardship, I encourage you to go for it. And the next time someone calls with a similar complaint against this meter person, the supervisor won't be able to say there are no complaints against him. And since I know you want to know, I didn't win my (2) expired meter cases; the facts were similar to yours. But losing a fight feels so much better to me than giving up. Jay
I have gotten a few parking tickets that I've thought were unfair (not your situation though) and I've just paid them, considering them a donation to the city and a relief for me to have it behind me. I don't give them another thought - it's not worth the stress. In the grand scheme of things they are minor. Hopefully others will have advice about what to do to get justice if my ''save your mental health and just pay it'' approach isn't to your liking. anonymous

Berkeley is billing me for a parking ticket I never got

Dec 2004

I recently received a notice from the city of Berkeley claiming that I had a parking ticket in June that I had never paid and that I owed $110 now. I never recalled getting a ticket or receiving anything in the mail reminding me to pay a ticket, but they claim that I got a ticket at an expired meter, and read me the address. I realized that I did almost get a ticket back in June at that address, but made it to the meter in time, and the meter maid drove off without handing me anything (the policy in Berkeley is to tear up tickets under such circumstances, I thought). Now it looks like that ticket somehow made it into the computer system, but I never received it. I'm puzzled why I never received a postcard in the mail about it, especially since they claim they mailed postcards to me. I know I would have paid it right away if I had gotten a ticket--I'm really scrupulous about things like this. Do I have any choice but to pay this $110? It seems incredibly unfair, but it seems like a hopeless case if I try to contest this. Any words of advice would be very much appreciated. unfairly accused


I think you should pay it. A few months ago I got a ticket in Berkeley on Shattuck after putting a quarter in a broken meter. I called and wrote a letter (I, too, am fastidious about these things) and they still said I had to pay. The waiting period was also stressful. My advice is to pay and get it over with. Nancy
Why don't you send that very letter to the City of Berkeley Parking Citations department? I'm sure that you can find the address on the City of Berkleley website. I once wrote them when I got a ticket in error (non-functioning meter) and they wrote back telling me that the ticket was dismissed. Good luck. berkeley resident
I'll tell you now, the same thing happened to my husband last year---also Berkeley. No ticket, no postcards, and then all of a sudden, you owe us $250 dollars. (They claimed he parked in a bus zone). He fought it, but the long and the short of it was that they insisted he still pay the original ticket amount, but they waived some of the late fees. So, decide now how much time and *frustration* you're willing to deal with---you'll probably still pay the $30 or so that was the original ticket. Sorry. Jennifer
Contest the ticket. I've successfully contested 3 out of my last 4 tickets (all in Oakland). Basically you'll write a letter telling your side. Someone from the city parking division reads it and probably will deny your claim. Then you request a hearing. In the hearing, tell them what you wrote in your posting. You might not get off the hook for the full $110, but it might get reduced to the original ticket amount. So it can't hurt to contest the ticket. anon

Ticket for parking in the same spot twice - contest it?

Sept 2004

Could someone please advise me if I could contest my parking ticket. The situation is as follows: I was parked on a 2-hr-time-limit spot during a business conference. I had a short break in my schedule at the end of the first 2 hrs, and I ran a short errand with my car. I came back about 5 min later and the only parking spot available was the one I recently freed. I did not think twice and parked there - for another less than 2 hrs. When I came back, I had a parking ticket for $40. Could I contest this ticket or am I out of luck? I could refer them to the security camera of the conference center showing me coming out and back in. . . maria


When you left to run an errand, did you go anywhere that you got a receipt? Or interact with someone who would remember you and be willing to sign an affidavit that you were there? Good luck! anon.
Protest it! The law is on your side. The appeal-deciders tend to be fair and reasonable people. You may well not need camera proof, just details of what you did (and possibly a supporting letter from someone at your session). Nolo has quite a good book on fighting tickets. Public library has it, and Nolo sells its own books at a big discount at their company store on Parker in Berkeley.

--John, who got a $271 for stopping for 15 seconds near (not in) a handicapped zone at a BART station to let an elderly person out. My written appeal was rejected, but when I went to the in-person appeal in Martinez, the friendly judge just laughed and said, ''They did *that* to you!'' and threw it out.


Other Violations


Unfair Late charges on Berkeley expired tags ticket

June 2010

Hi, Last year my parked vehicle was issued a parking ticket for having expired tags. I live in Oakland and was visiting a park in Berkeley. I did everything properly on my end (sent in registration and payment to DMV prior to deadline). Naturally the DMV didn't send my registration and stickers until a few days after the expiration. The original ticket was for $25. I went down to the Center St. parking office with my current registration, the ticket, and the postmarked DMV envelope and waited in line w/ my newborn and toddler. I was determined to get this resolved in person to avoid any complications. HA! After my 45minute wait; I was told nothing could be done in person. I was given a form and sent on my merry way. I filled out the form properly, followed all instructions to a ''T'' and sent it in w/ supporting documents. A few weeks later I receive a letter from Berkeley saying my claim was denied. My husband submitted another claim. This one was also denied and they proceeded to raise the ticket amount to over $100, since it was considered past due. Finally we just decided to pay it and my husband sent them a cahier's check. Problem solved. Right? 6 months or so later: We get our DMV renewal notice and what is that we have to pay in addition to our registration? You guessed it! A berkeley parking ticket! After contacting the bank we figured out that Berkeley never cashed the the check and instead sent it to the creditors. My husband has been calling the Berk. parking office daily to try and resolve this and all we get is, ''so and so will call you back'' or ''sorry sir, it's out of our hands''. This feels like a scam! I did everything I could do on my end to be on the correct side of the law and it's still not enough. Does anyone have some insight or suggestions? Who can actually help me? The DMV and parking office that issued the ticket can't. We're not a wealthy family and $136 seems like a hefty price tag for the DMV mailing our registration late. What is the correct course of action? I can't believe I'm the first victim of these unfair practices. Thank you in advance BPN! just another victim of unfair ticketing practices...


The vehicle code says you must DISPLAY a current registration sticker. The fact that the DMV sent it late means you sent it to the DMV too close to the expiration date. (I get my renewals about 2 months early and process them online right away.) Because Berkeley has the parking permit system and the officers look at every car, they are cognizant of the expired tags. I see 2-3 cars every week get tix for expired tags, usually from the 1st to the 5th of the new month. I bet you got your ticket in the first week of the month after it expired, and I bet you were at the park near Alta Bates, which has restricted parking. Mos

When you get a ticket for expired tags, you have to 1. get the current registration card, 2. put the sticker on the car, 3. Find a cop or meter maid to verify the card is current and the sticker is on the car and then sign off the back of the ticket. Then you send it in with $15-$20 and you're done. So, what to do?

There are probably instructions with your renewal notice on how to proceed. The easiest, though most unfair, is to just pay the fine (again) and be done with it.

If you kept records, copies and notes of all of your interactions with Berkeley, I'd go down there in person and see what they'll do for you. My experience there is they are willing to help, provided you are reasonable and respectful in your attitude and requests. It may be, though, that given the amount of time that has elapsed, their ability to help you is limited. Check on the status of the check again, take a copy of the check if you have it, and be prepared with a lot of patience. Peter


Welcome to Berkeley, land of endless unresolvable tickets, mad hatter teaparty-like Permit and Zoning issues, and the Berkeley Department of Tautology. There seems to be strange blackholes in every Dept of C.O.B. and there doesn't seem to be anyone, anywhere that has solutions, only endless bureaucracy. Go to the City Attorney's and/or the City Council offices and see if they can help you. Perhaps moving higher up the chain will get you somewhere. I live here, and I have gone through hell trying to get anything done according the City's own rules! Aggro-Berkeley dweller
I had a similar type problem last year with the City (LOVE that finance department office, don't you? Never a wait shorter than however much money you put into the parking meter.) I mailed a payment for my trash bill and when they got the check they just decided to apply it to somebody else's parking ticket for some reason. I know this because when they sent me a past due bill, I printed a copy of the check and saw that somebody had crossed out my account number on my check and written something else in its place. So, after months of calling, faxing, emailing and yes, waiting in line at Center street, they kept threatening to put a lien on my house (!!) so I called 7 on your Side, Michael Finney, the ABC News show (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/feature?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=5814629) who told me to make ''one last phone call'' and say ''I've contacted 7 on your side and before they go ahead with their process, please look into this one last time...'' Amazingly, my account is now properly credited and no more threatened liens! Jill
I fought the law and... the law won. I had a similar situation last year with renewing my registration last year. Both a ticket and wasted time and energy contesting it and lost anyway. Of course you're not the first. It irks me when cities try to scam their own residents out of legitimate $, but there it is. Good luck to you, but at some point, you might just want to let it go (i hate to say it!) and pay the $. been there
i did not see the original post... just the bashing replies. i get my share of tickets, i also work within the system to keep the process honest. so, if you corrected the expired tag issue, get the ticket ''signed off'' and pay the smaller fine. this goes for any correctable motor vehicle issue (broken tail light or expired tags). i have had mixed success in fighting what i thought were unfair tickets... but i am about 50/50 on that success. of course every municipality wants to increase tax revenue, but there are laws about this. and REMEMBER: you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar - Citizen at Large
Defeating the evil empire of the Berkeley Parking Enforcement goons. We've once again come out victorious against these evil doers, and it feels good, released again today. As I was reading your post I thought that your story could be ours. Anyway for all good citizens of Berkeley, if you have been wrongfully issued a citation in Berkeley, there is a number to call when you are at your wits end. But first let me say that if you do feel wronged, I urge you, I plead with you to fight them. Yes go through the system, and do as requested/required and document all your efforts. Next, write your council person and call the chief of police. The person that will probably call you back,if you do not get the chief, is Mrs. Marla Clark 510-981-5893. Good luck and if your right, fight it, we've been vindicated four times. Good luck to you all Tim A

Contesting a San Francisco ticket from out of town

Jan 2010

I am an East Bay'er currently living out of the area temporarily. When I went back to visit we were taking a leisurely drive on a Sunday afternoon in downtown San Francisco. We turned right during a yellow light and a cop pulled us over telling us we had run a red light. His words were 'You yielded but did not make a complete stop at that red light before you turned.'' We both definitely saw that the light was yellow, and he even admitted that we yielded (lots of traffic and pedestrians). I asked him if it was posted 'no right on red' but he said that wasn't the point...we didn't make a complete stop. However, instead of giving us a failure to yield or anything he decided to give us the more expensive ticket (he told us that he chose this because we put the public in danger even though the oncoming traffic was only starting to pull out from their red light once we had turned and pulled over). Thus, he gave us a ticket for running a red light...almost $400 (I swear the light was yellow). My husband tried to go talk to city hall to get a discount or anything because we moved out of the Bay Area and into my parent's basement in a small town in the midwest because we are so broke. We are not buying my kids Christmas presents and I haven't even bought a winter coat yet. I'm in the end of my Ph.D. and my funding is ending so we are doing whatever possible to get through until I can finish and we can make a better life for our family. However, now if we want to contest the ticket we have to show up in court. If we could afford to fly back and go to court etc. we would have the money to pay the ticket. Does anybody know if we can get a public defender to show up in our position to the court date or any other options that we can do to get the ticket minimized or anything?! If we had really run a red light, it would be easier to swallow because we are both very much up for paying consequences, but for once, we were completely obeying traffic signals. Oh, and to top if off, when I asked him how much the ticket was and he told me, I burst out crying and he walked away and said Merry Christmas while laughing! Also, we were near the corner of 5th and howard...wouldn't it have taken our picture if we had really run a red light? Advice anyone? I can't even imagine where we can get this money to pay for a ticket that we don't even deserve. Fined for nothing.


Use trial by written declaration. This website has an excellent tutorial for how to go about it. www.helpigotaticket.com Kate
On 3 occasions, two of them as outrageous as yours**, I found good advice (and ultimate success) in the Nolo Press book, Fight Your Ticket & Win in California by: Attorney David Brown, brand new 13th ed. as of 7/09, 432 pages, ISBN9781413310306.

** Stopped in the BART parking lot, El Cerrito, to let a (blind) passenger out. Blocked an unused handicap parking space for about 30 seconds. Given a $400 ticket (Contra Costa Sheriff, not El Cerrito police). Canceled after I responded by mail, complete with a few photos of the situation (no stars and arrows, however). John


I just got a ticket for the same infraction and I am prepared to contest it because the fine is $450 and I don't believe I was driving unsafely. I found this site: TicketAssassins.com and they make it clear that you can go to court virtually to contest a ticket, to at least get the fine down somewhat: http://www.ticketassassin.com/fight.html You have to know how to get the forms and procedure to contest by mail, but it can be done -- without showing up in person. I plan to do this. At a minimum, you can get the fine dropped down. Unfortunately, the state now pays cops to go to court to defend a ticket, so it's harder than it used to be to get the ticket dropped for lack of proof (or prover). Alison
I'm the one who wrote the original post. And as an update, I was told by the people in the SF office that they are not coordinated with the people who send out camera tickets so if I ran the red light, theoretically, we (or rather my FIL, the registered owner of the vehicle we were driving) should receive a ticket in the mail. There ARE cameras there, so since we never got a ticket from the camera (should have arrived within 2-3 weeks and the ticket was in the beginning of December), hopefully this will help me with fighting the ticket, but again, any advice or experience is helpful. I have heard from some that right now that no one is winning their appeals and sometimes even get charged more for court fees whereas others have told me that if you go through the work to contest the ticket you usually get a reduction, so I'm having a hard time know whether it is worth it, but my feeling is that at $446, it is worth it! Anyone in the city offices have any insight? Thanks so much! Falsely fined.
I received a parking ticket in the mail from Arizona. My husband was driving, but the car is registered to me. I responded to the ticket by saying ''that's not me'' (one of the boxes you could tick), and providing a copy of my driver's license. They sent another letter asking me who was driving, which I ignored. Your FIL is under no obligation to ''rat you out,'' and there's nothing they can do about it. anon

Ticket for Not Wearing Seat Belt

May 2008

I am stunned that my partner just got a ticket for not wearing her seat belt. In 10 years I have not once seen her not wear it and she is adamant about everyone wearing theirs and won't drive anyone who doesn't wear it. Since having kids we are both very cautious with our driving and seat-belt wearing. I don't think she's ever gotten a moving violation. She was distracted this morning and pulled out of her parking space on College Ave in Berkeley without putting it on. Within a block a cop spotted her and pulled her over. Does anyone have any success in fighting this kind of ticket in Berkeley or elsewhere? We're concerned that our insurance will go up, etc. Thanks.


oh please. why are you shocked? come on! she wasn't wearing her seat belt! she got a ticket! there is a clear cause and effect. no, my friend, it doesn't matter that she ALWAYS wears her seatbelt. She clearly doesn't ALWAYS wear her seatbelt because she was um, yeah, not wearing her seatbelt. Just pay the ticket. Or you can tell them that in your letter to contest- but she ALWAYS wears her seatbelt! And you can waste your 42 cent stamp because that is the silliest reason to contest a ticket she deserved to get. if you dont want a seatbelt ticket, put it on
You ask, ''Does anyone have any success in fighting this kind of ticket [for failure to wear a seatbelt] in Berkeley or elsewhere? We're concerned that our insurance will go up, etc.'' You're kidding, right? Fight on what ground? Your partner committed an infraction, and she should accept the consequences; that's at least as responsible as talking the talk while occasionally failing to walk the walk. (I'll certainly think the better of her for being a good citizen.) According to wiki.answers.com there'll be no point on her driving record for it. Anon
She wasn't wearing her seatbelt, which is a ticketable offense. What's to fight? Sarah
Two words: traffic school. This will keep your insurance rates from going up, and your wife can do it online quite quickly. Don't bother trying to fight it; she'll lose and then it will count against your insurance. anon
According to your post, your partner got a ticket for something she is actually guilty of. I think it would be dishonest to fight the ticket. She should take responsibility for her mistake... even though it is extremely unfortunate. -
Sorry, but being ''distracted'' is not a defense -- not a defense to going through a stop sign without stopping, not a defense to failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and not a defense to failing to put on your seatbelt. Your partner can probably keep the ticket off her record by going to traffic school. Check the court website for information.
To add to my previous, keep in mind that every minute Berkeley deals with your partner fighting her deserved ticket is time lost to providing services to someone else. We are responsible for our laws and government, and given that we've used those to establish a sensible policy to encourage and enforce seatbelt use, let's not start throwing sand in the gears when it bites us personally. Anon
Your partner got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt because she wasn't wearing her seat belt and now you want to know how to fight the ticket? She has no basis for fighting the ticket. She should accept responsibility for her actions. Isn't this what we teach our children? Hopefully, anyway. Pay up and consider it a lesson learned. Consider it a wake up call about her driving, she's obviously not as attentive and careful as you claim. My teenage son rides his bike down College to get to school, I hope he's not riding by when she's 'distracted' and pulls out of the parking spot. no sympathy here
I doubt whether you will be able to beat 'this' violation, and it's a hefty fine, however, if I recall correctly you can plea no contest and go to driving school and though you will have to also pay for this, it stops the violation from showing up for insurance purposes. Been there
I'm usually a very careful driver, too. But when my daughter (now 7) was 5 weeks old, I was driving to the grocery store after a night of infant care and food poisoning. In my tired, nauseated, and generally befuddled state, I missed a red light and hit another car. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But what if the driver of the other car had been your partner? Be glad it was just a ticket. The seatbelt law is there for a reason

Need a police officer to sign off on ticket

Oct 2006

we got a parking ticket that is correctable, so if we get an officer to sign it the fee is less. Where is a good place to find an officer, other than going downtown to the station? I have a hard time getting out. thanks! signing off


My husband got a ''fix-it'' ticket a few months ago for a broken taillight. He replaced the light and then flagged down an officer to sign it off. He did try to go into the police station, but they told him to go get an officer on the street. It was no big deal. The only issue is finding someone at the right time and place! Good luck Laurel
I drove to the Berkeley Police station and parked directly in front, in the white zone and ran in and told them at the window what I was there for. They took the ticket from me and returned a moment later w/ the ticket signed. No officier even came out to the car to see if I had truely fixed the car! Very quick and easy and worth a try. There is always an officier or two at the station, so that would be your bet bet I think Ticketed too
You could run a red light! Only kidding! I got a fix-it ticket and also found it very hard to find an officer to sign off on it. I live close to the station downtown too. I drove by as often as I could and finally at 10pm I saw an officer outside in their parking lot and asked him to sign my ticket. It certainly would be good to know if there is another way to do this! fixed it!
BART cops and parking enforment people (meter readers) can also sign off on tickets. I've always just gone to the police station, though. Katy

Can't find out amount to pay for Berkeley traffic ticket

Oct 2004

On September 9th I received a traffic ticket in Berkeley. There was no amount on the ticket & the officer said to wait a month before calling to get the amount because it could take that long for it to be entered into the computer. So I called after a month & it wasn't recorded. I called a week later & again a week after that, still not in the computer. I started to get worried because there is a 11/2 deadline on the ticket, after which some dire things happen if I haven't paid. Finally I reached a human being in the Berkeley Traffic Division who told me it could take a year (yes, a year!) for the citation to be entered. She recommended that I call once a month to check on it and she said not to worry about the 11/2 deadline. Can this really be the way it works? It seems outrageous to me. And I can't help worrying about the deadline. What if I call on 11/15 and am not in the computer, but it goes in on 11/16 & since I'm only calling once a month I don't find out until 12/15. Am I delinquent? Or do they have to give me a certain amount of time after it goes into the computer to pay? I'm willing to pay the stupid ticket, not happy but willing, so it seems absurd for it to be so difficult. Any suggestions?
Frustrated (but basically law-abiding) driver.


I went through the same thing last year. And yes, the written instructions on the ticket do not make sense and are in contrast to what the people on the phone say. But what the traffic staff say on the phone is correct--the officer has up to a year to file the paperwork and until then, you don't have to do anything because you are not in the system. But not to fear--the officer WILL eventually file that paperwork. Call once a month and you'll be okay. Mine took about 2.5 months to get filed. And my ticket was a horrifying $370! Driving cautiously in Berkeley now
You are right on track for months of angst and confusion! My ticket (for an illegal left turn 2 minutes within the prohibited time -- wealthy neighborhoods in Berkeley do not like those pesky 'car' thingies) was ''processed'' 6 months after the event. In the meantime I missed numerous work meetings to line up for 1.5 hours, on 3 occassions, to get pieces of paper stamped that ''I was indeed in line for many hours trying to pay this ticket''. By the end of it you want to start a class action suit for harassment! Avoid Driving in Berkeley
Yeah, it really is this bad. It took my husband close to 6 months to get one resolved recently, and there have been a series of articles in the East Bay Express during the last year about how crappy the Berkeley ticketing process is. Needless to say, I have become absolutely religious about coming to a complete stop at every stopsign on Cedar (sigh). Sara
This is not the way that traffic tickets work. I ended up in the same situation once. Despite repeated calls, they didn't have my docket number on file. I didn't have the amount to pay. So I didn't pay it. 6 months later, I was nailed a $200 civil assessment fee for failure to appear in court (this is what automatically happens when you don't pay) so I had to take unpaid time out of my day to go to court (Traffic Court refused to let me just get an amount so I had no choice but to go to court). I used as my defense 1) 6 months later I still didn't know what the amount was to pay and even by the time I got to court I still didn't know and 2) If they look up my history of parking and street cleaning tickets (I used to live in SF), they'd find that I paid every single one on time and so this one would have been no different. I ended up having the civil assessment fee waived and *finally* getting the amount to pay for the traffic ticket.

Definitely follow up to save yourself this grief. I can't believe that Berkeley would take this long. If you don't know, I would probably pay some approximate amount by the 11/2 deadline and make them figure out how to handle that and keep a copy of your check and tell them to pay you the difference once they enter it into their system. Or call them on 11/2 and ask who you talked to and record their name in case if you need to go to court. And on that traffic ticket is a date you have to appear if you dont' get the amount of the traffic ticket; I think it's unreasonable to expect people to go to court if they don't get the amount b/c it can take hours of waiting just to get into Traffic Court - that's hours of frustrating unpaid time. lenore


This is an entirely common situation with both traffic and parking tickets. There has still been no decision on a parking ticket I received in JANUARY of this year in Oakland, and protested due to a broken meter. My husband got a traffic ticket in another state, had the same sort of situation, was supposed to call about once a week, and after several weeks just forgot about it. A month or so ago he recieved a letter stating that there was a warrant out for his arrest, and in order to clear it he had to pay a large sum of money. Although we tried to negotiate (due to the long wait), there apparently was no option to the greatly increased fine. So it's probably a good idea to just keep calling. Extremely annoying. Karen
i had a similar problem with a ticket in SF 2 years ago. i kept calling and not getting any record. i just kept a log of my calls ''in case.'' finally, i talked to a person who told me the same thing-- ''we're really backed up,'' and ''don't worry.'' it finally did get recorded about 2 months later. i almost went to complain about the process, but decided it wasn't worth my effort. ticket payor
Here's what I learned after having a frustrating run in with the DMV: create a paper trail. Write them a letter describing the situation, your willingness to settle the matter as soon as possible, and asking what steps to take. Be very specific with your questions. Make yourself a photocopy of the letter. Mail it out with a return reciept (so you have proof that they received it). Continue to do this with every correspondance and keep it in a file. If you keep a copy of the letters and proof that they received them, that puts you in a pretty good position. heather
I got a ticket in September in El CErrito. The date for court appearance was Oct. 18th. I called the court to find out how much I owed to pay the ticket and got a recording saying that they were really backed up and if I didn't receive a notice in the mail within 6 weeeks AFTER my court date then I should call back. There was no info about who else to call or what else to do. It's frustrating cause we want to pay the darn ticket and get on with life and not have this thing hanging on that we have to remember to take care of....but I guess this is not a unique situation. Hang in there... anon
I'm in a similar situation with the City of Oakland on a parking ticket. I have the amount but appealed it and have been told to ''ignore the late notices'' while they review the appeal which will take an unknown amount of time. It's very disconcerting, but you may another option at this point.

My experience in Berkeley traffic court is that they generally have their act together (though it doesn't always appear to be so on the surface), so maybe there's something unusual going on with their system. Did they get a new system? I'd go down to the office on MLK and ask at the window what the problem is and see if you can get something in writing. Lori


Applying for citizenship - worried about speeding tickets

Sept 2004

I'm applying for US citizenship after living here on a green card for 20 years. There's a question that asks ''have you EVER been arrested, cited, or detained by any law enforcement officer?''. Is a speeding ticket a citation? Do I have to recall details for every one back 20 years? anon


I suggest you run a background check on yourself through the California State Police and the FBI. Citizens can request this for themselves for a modest fee. You will need to get fingerprinted (available at many passport/photo types of places, there are several around Berkeley campus) on the forms these agencies will provide. The results will show any arrests or convictions. Am not sure about traffic violations -- I doubt speeding tickets will count, as long as you did not go through court and had your license suspended, DUI convictions, &c. I suspect the gov't wants you to 'fess up to them anything that is on a permanent record. anonymous

Contesting a moving violation

Feb 2003

The police officer says I rolled a stop. I'm sure I didn't as a) I had just pulled out from in front of my house and the brakes had moisture on them still which makes them squeak until a full stop is achieved. Mine weren't squeaking. b) I had just witnessed three people roll the stop at my corner which always raises my self-righteous ire and I become SUPER-STOPPER, SAVIOUR OF THE 4-WAY INTERSECTION!

So, my questions is, is it ever worthwhile to contest a moving violation? I've always been willing to take responsibility for previous infractions because I have indeed been guilty. But this time, I'm sure I'm not. Unfortunately, the only evidence I have is my good word. I hate to go to all the trouble if I'm just going to lose.

Also, if I contest the ticket and I lose, can I still go to traffic school, or do I forfeit my right to do so by going to court?

This was in Berkeley, by the way.

Any info or past success/failure stories appreciated. signed, Guilty until proven innocent


Nolo Press has a good book, ''Fight Your Ticket in California,'' which I found useful when I was trying to decide whether to contest my ticket. Gives summaries of process but also of what makes for ''good'' cases, what doesn't work, etc. for the range of possible violations. So you may want to look into it. I think you always have to option of going to traffic school, even if you lose in court. suzanne
You can go to traffic court in Berkeley and you will be given a chance to explain your situation. Depending on the judge and his/her mood you may be let off or given an option of paying or going to traffic school. Contesing the ticket doesn't disqualify you from traffic school. Sometimes you are given the option of paying less for the ticket. I think if you pay at all the ticket goes on your record but not if you go to traffic school. I once was given the option of doing community service or paying for a number of parking tickets....long time ago. Good luck. anon
From what I have heard, officers don't always show up for the hearing. If he/she does not show up, the case should be dismissed. Also, you might feel better trying to fight it, even if you are not successful in the end. If you don't fight it, you will never know. Would love to hear the outcome! Ariel
I tried going to the traffic court in Berkeley and pleading ''no contest'' to a ticket which I felt sure was issued unfairly, and explaining my position to the judge, who then has the option to waive the fine. The judge was extremely condescending, and hardly looked like he listened to what I said before he told me to pay the ticket. I later heard from a friend that the only time she had heard of someone having a fine overturned this way was in a case of identity theft (i.e., someone showed a stolen driver's license after being pulled over, and the license owner was sent a ticket). I regretted having wasted the time standing in line early in the morning and sitting for hours in the courtroom. Lara
Someone once gave me a tip, which proved very beneficial in a very similar situation. I decided to go to court so made an appointment, as late as they would possible allow it. A couple days before the appointment, I called and cancelled. They will let you reschedule once. Again, I took the latest possible appointment. By the time I finally appeared in court, it was a couple of months after the fact and the officer did not show up, in which case the case was dismissed. The person who gave me the tip said (and I do not know if this is true) that officers do not get paid for appearing in these kinds op cases but they have to. When the case is a couple of months old, they often decide not to show up. In my case it worked. anonymous
My husband and I were once stopped for a moving violation (using the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge outside commute hours), which we felt was an innocent mistake because (at that time) the signage was so poor that it was nearly impossible to tell that you were not allowed to use the carpool lanes off commute hours. There were four of us in the car, on the way to our wedding shower, of all things. The ticket was huge, so we decided to go to traffic court (Oakland) to contest it. After quite a bit of hassle (you have to get there before the court opens to sign up for a court appearance b/c people line up outside in order to make it on that day's docket), and sitting around for four hours listening to a large number of very poor people explaining, not very well, to the magistrate why they had caused a ruckus on BART, spit on the sidewalk, etcetera (things it seems only poor folk are ever given citations for), we noticed that except in the most ludicrous instances or for the most combattive individuals, there seemed to be a reduction of the fine just for going to the trouble of showing up. You probably can't prove that you really stopped: it's your word against that of the officer who stopped you. But if Berkeley's traffic court is anything like Oakland's, then you may end up paying a much smaller fine. Ours was reduced from over $200 to just under $100. Good luck! Anonymous
Contest the ticket! I have contested many citations, one with many of the same circumstances you describe. You will be judged on your delivery of the facts biased on what the Judge believes, and mostly the manner in which the Judge is able to sum up your character in the short time you present your case. I was truthful and willing to accept the decision of the Judge, which I made clear prior to stating the facts. If you pled ''No Contest'', my experience has been that attending traffic is an option. In addition, if the officer issuing the citation is not present, the ticket/citation was dismissed. I am a beliver of exercising one's rights and as such I have contested many tickets/citations. Results varied. Some citations were dismissed, others were not. (I am not necessarily proud to state that I have earned a Ph.D. from traffic school)! The experiences renewed my faith in a system which I viewed as bureaucratic, unresponsive and for the most part, against ME. Good luck! One who believes in the system
I don't know directly about traffic violations, but I can tell you that once I got a parking ticket that wasn't justified, and all I had to do was go to City Hall or someplace of that sort, and swear to my story on tape. Since I had nothing else on my record, the person in charge dismissed the ticket. This was in Berkeley several years ago. elise
No, you cannot go to traffic school if you go to court. You ''waive your right'' for traffic school, which is then up to the court's ''discretion.'' I found out the hard way that the court rarely grants traffic school -- and it took three court appearances (i.e., three days of missed work) to find this out. So I now have a point on my record when I could have just gone to traffic school. I think this is unjust but you can learn from my bad experience. Don't fight the ticket if you can go to traffic school. Ann
Home   |   Post a Message  |   Subscribe  |   Help   |   Search  |   Contact Us    

this page was last updated: Nov 9, 2013


BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website! Read more, and see how you can help: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org

The opinions and statements expressed on this website are those of parents who subscribe to the Berkeley Parents Network.
Please see Disclaimer & Usage for information about using content on this website.    Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network