Q: This is my first ever speeding ticket, so I am nervous about it. I decided to do a Trial By Written Declaration. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Please and Thank you.
So here it is;
Your Honor, I respectfully request this citation be dismissed based on the statement that will be provided. This correspondence can be considered my formal plea of not guilty. So I submit this Trial By Written Declaration and plead not guilty to violating California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22350
On April 13, 2021, I was driving northbound on Railroad Avenue. I was pulled over by Officer Griffy and cited for violating CVC 22350. Allegedly, I was driving over the posted speed limit. I do believe I was driving at an appropriate speed following the flow of traffic in safe conditions.
CVC 22350 states; “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
The road was dry with clear visibility, the only issue was that there was a train on the tracks, so it made it a little hard to hear at that time. There was light traffic with cars ahead of me seemingly driving at a faster speed than I was and a few cars behind me were catching up to me. So I believe my speed at the time was adequate since going any faster would be speeding and slowing down may put the cars behind me in an unsafe position. So, I do believe my driving was not a danger to anyone’s safety and/or property.
If however this case is not dismissed, even though I believe I am not guilty of this violation, I believe there are alternatives;
– If possible I would like this case to be dismissed since this would be my first offense and would greatly affect my financial situation. Or pay a reduced fine or make payments for the fine. As long as this does not go on my driving record.
– If possible, I would attend a court-approved traffic school. So this conviction can not be in my DMV record.
– If none of these alternatives are possible I would like to request a Trial De Novo.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Your declaration seems to be resting on a “flow of traffic” arguments. Judges HATE flow of traffic arguments. The flow of traffic is not an excuse for exceeding the speed limit. When you say you were keeping up with the flow of traffic (or some other wording that means the same thing, like, cars ahead of me seemingly driving at a faster speed than I was and a few cars behind me were catching up to me) you are admitting guilt, which is bad, and using an excuse judges never accept, which is even worse. Don’t do it.
There are better strategies for fighting a 22350. Did the officer use radar, laser, or pacing to record your alleged speed? Start there. Don’t know? File discovery. Filing for discovery for a traffic ticket is explained here.
If you find out the officer used radar, you can attack his radar evidence. After all, there were cars ahead of you and behind you. Same thing with laser. It doesn’t sound like he paced you, but if he did, there are defenses for that, as well. I’d start here for recent winning examples.
– If possible I would like this case to be dismissed since this would be my first offense and would greatly affect my financial situation. Or pay a reduced fine or make payments for the fine. As long as this does not go on my driving record.- If possible, I would attend a court-approved traffic school. So this conviction can not be in my DMV record.
I believe it is RISKY to request traffic school in a Trial by Written Declaration defense. At minimum, a traffic school request weakens your defense somewhat. At maximum, it could get you sent to traffic school even if the cop does not respond (which would otherwise lead to a dismissal).
Asking for traffic school in your declaration is often interpreted as making a No Contest plea. Without admitting guilt, you accept traffic school (and the admin fee) in exchange for a dismissal.
By contesting, you are pleading NOT GUILTY, not NO CONTEST. Asking for traffic school in your defense contradicts your NOT GUILTY plea and pushes your declaration into NO CONTEST territory. A lazy judge could see the traffic school request and simply direct you to traffic school without considering your defense or even issuing a verdict.
Even if you don’t request traffic school, the judge will sometimes offer it when you lose. Also, you can always request traffic school post-TBD if you lose your Trial by Written Declaration. So, there’s no need to weaken your declaration with a meek beg for traffic school.
I believe the best possible ending to your Trial by Written Declaration is this:
“I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the above is true. If the court does not find in my favor in this case, I request a trial de novo. I have included a completed TR-220 Trial de Novo form to be used in the event the court does not find in my favor in this case.”