The most common traffic ticket is probably a citation for running a red light. These days, cops don't even have to be there to cite you. Instead, cameras capture the violation and officers use that evidence in court to convict you. Follow these instructions to beat them at their own game!
Once you've been issued a citation for running a red light, captured on a traffic camera (NOT cited by an officer) appear in court on the date you are notified of.
Rather than immediately paying the ticket when you get to the courthouse, request a trial. It will be a bench trial because running a red light is a traffic infraction. For all infractions, there is not right to a jury trial so it will be a "bench trial;" that is, it will be a trial decided by a judge not a jury of your peers.
Read More: How to Find Out if You Received a Ticket at a Photo Enforced Intersection
Avoid stipulation. The day you show up for your hearing, the officers who are appearing against you will likely be waiting outside the courtroom with their snazzy equipment offering to show you the video/picture images of you committing the violation. They'll explain how it all works and sheepishly apologize for your bad luck of getting caught. Then they usually tell you that to make everything go "smoothly" in front of the judge, when he asks if you want to "stipulate" to letting the video be seen by the court, just agree. Here is where you nod along with the officer and when you get into court you confidently say, "NO, thank you, your honor." By stipulating you give up your ONLY chance to beat this ticket. The officer knows he can't lay the foundation to get the video admitted into evidence unless you stipulate because the alternative would involve bringing the custodian of these videos, who are usually located in another state, along with him to the hearing.
You win! If the court doesn't get to see the video, because you didn't stipulate and there was no officer there to see you run the alleged red light, there is no evidence of your crime and you win! No fine, no traffic school, no increase in insurance rates.
Suzanne Ferguson was born in rural West Virginia and moved to California with her family at the age of nine. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from University of San Diego and she is currently practicing criminal defense.