Advice about Traffic Tickets
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Advice about Traffic Tickets
Please help..how to Fight a Cell phone Ticket?
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
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
because I feel targeted and that I didnt violate any laws. I plan on fighting
trail by declaration as I cant afford a sitter for my 3 small children.
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
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,
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.
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
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.
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
illegal and can be ticketed. The cops are sick of people trying to rationalize
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
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
is no traffic point assessed in the cell phone infraction.
Lost my case
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
''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. (Â§ 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
Jaywalking ticket in Albany
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)
Oh I got one of those too, but In Berkeley. It was not Jaywalking, it
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
THAT BORDERS ON RACKETEERING. So I sent a Letter to Tom Bates telling
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
He never answered me, so now I do not shop there or give any money to
organizations. And I don't feel a bit bad when I see those empty store
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
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.
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.
(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.
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
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!!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
Parking ticket notices in Richmond
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.
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.
Parking ticket late fees - City of Berkeley
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
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.
Contesting a UC Berkeley Parking ticket
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!
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.
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
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
''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.''
Parking Ticket & Handicap Placard Display
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.
UC Parking tickets - what's the deal?
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?
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.
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
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.)
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.
My advice is to pay the ticket. It is the only right thing to do.
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.
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.
Relief for parking tickets + late fees
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
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
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.
former parking ticket delinquent
Parking ticket at private facility
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?
--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
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
Ticket on failed meter in Oakland
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
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!
Parking ticket for meter that had not run out yet
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
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
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
bag over it. There were no other parking places around. Luckily (so I thought)
parking officer was walking nearby, so I asked him if it was okay if I parked
He said yes.
When I returned less than 2 hours later (it was a 2-hour meter), I discovered
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.
was granted, on the grounds that I do not have a history of getting parking
I encourage you to give it a try. It's frustrating, but sometimes it really does
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!)
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. . .
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?
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
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.
Unfair Late charges on Berkeley expired tags ticket
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.
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!
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
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
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 $.
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
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
- 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
Good luck to you all
Contesting a San Francisco ticket from out of town
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
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.
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
** 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
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
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
Thanks so much!
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.
Ticket for Not Wearing Seat Belt
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.
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
ticket. Or you can tell them that in your letter to contest-
she ALWAYS wears her seatbelt! And you can waste your 42 cent
stamp because that is the silliest reason to contest a ticket
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
We're concerned that our insurance will go up, etc.'' You're
kidding, right? Fight on what ground? Your partner committed
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.
She wasn't wearing her seatbelt, which is a ticketable offense.
What's to fight?
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.
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
Sorry, but being ''distracted'' is not a defense -- not a
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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
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!
BART cops and parking enforment people (meter readers) can also
sign off on tickets. I've always just gone to the police station,
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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...
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.
Applying for citizenship - worried about speeding tickets
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
Is a speeding ticket a citation? Do I have to recall details
for every one back 20 years?
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
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
This was in Berkeley, by the way.
Any info or past success/failure stories appreciated.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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