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Old 11-25-2008, 08:35 PM
 
41 posts, read 137,023 times
Reputation: 16

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so...i am new to austin and need some advice regarding contesting a traffic citation. i am at the point that i am set for a trial by jury, to contest a ticket i received for supposedly running a stop sign. the details of the scenario are as such- it was nearly 2am and i was driving down a dark street in a residential area (by the house i was staying at at the time) when i saw a car was tailgating me. this naturally worried me a bit for my safety as I am a. female and b. not familiar with the area c. just moved here from a city (chicago) where if someone is tailing you like that and no one else is around you don't want to be hanging around at the stop sign to see what will happen next.
anyway, it turned out to be a police car and i think he was hoping i was drunk so he could issue me a heftier fine, but alas i do not drive intoxicated (hell, i dont really even get drunk any more) and he seemed irritated that he couldn't bust a drunk driver so he told me i ran the sign.

anyhow to cut to the chase, i don't know how to proceed with preparing for this trial. the judge at the docket said she recommended getting an attorney if you contest the ticket but a. i don't know if i can afford one and b. if the officer doesnt show then the case will be thrown out in which case paying for an attorney and all the work they have to do would be in vain.

also i am wondering if i am going to be charged court costs for the trial. it doesnt say anything about that on my ticket or any other documentation regarding the case (nor did the judge state that) but i know in Illinois they do make you pay for the costs (like to pay the jury etc...).

things seem to work a lot differently out here than where i am from. i do not know what to do next so any advice (from those who have been there or know others who have) would be great.

thanks.
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Austin TX
1,589 posts, read 4,242,462 times
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Can you not get a Texas License and take the ticket dismissal class????
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:13 PM
 
324 posts, read 1,219,488 times
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that patrol car has a video cam. is it going to show you running the stop sign? if it is, no matter the circumstances, you lose.
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:34 PM
 
Location: Austin TX
1,589 posts, read 4,242,462 times
Reputation: 458
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenfry View Post
that patrol car has a video cam. is it going to show you running the stop sign? if it is, no matter the circumstances, you lose.
Can she not take the class and have it removed I thought there was a once every 12 month opportunity to do this?
"where-am-i" why contest something you did? Go to court and say yes I did it and THIS IS WHY and see what happens!
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:31 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
8,722 posts, read 17,385,930 times
Reputation: 4816
I've sat on a jury for someone contesting a ticket, and you will most likely lose without an attorney. The jury does ultimately decide the fine, too... so if you get their sympathy they might make it low, but it will still go on your insurance. And if they have no clue what the fine should be.. it could be really high or low (although the judge can change that). An attorney will probably start at $250 for contesting a ticket and go up from there.

The best case scenario would be to have it dismissed by either being allowed to take defensive driving or getting deferred adjudication (where the judge allows it to be dismissed if you get no other citations within a certain period of time). I don't recall exactly the procedure, but it seems like when I had to contest tickets I had the option of going before a judge prior to a jury trial. There also may have been an informal hearing even before that. If you've been to the informal hearing, but still have the option of going before a judge I would suggest the judge option. I think the judge can allow you to take defensive driving, even if you are an out-of-state or it has been fewer than 12 months (but it's at their discretion). They can also allow deferred adjudication. Here too, a lawyer would help, but your odds are better on your own in front of the judge rather than a jury...

However, I am no lawyer. Perhaps one can chime in on this thread. But I have fought many tickets over the years, and maybe this info will give you some starting point to look up strategies. Best of luck, and sorry this happened to you so soon after you got to town!
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:51 PM
 
Location: NW Austin
1,133 posts, read 3,865,607 times
Reputation: 173
I feel your pain. I got a ticket for not being able to clear an intersection downtown when they had Congress blocked off for the Veterans Day parade. The cop was an ass too. Had the nerve to say welcome to Texas! I'm on the fence about fighting it or doing the class.
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Old 11-26-2008, 03:31 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
59 posts, read 224,882 times
Reputation: 37
Sorry to hear about this experience! When I was new to Austin and driving back home from Houston, I was caught on the Radar gun going 81 in a 65 zone. I didn't want the ticket on my record, so I hired an attorney for $500 to represent me. The attorney told me that he would go to court on my behalf and get "deferrment", which means that if I am a good little boy for the next 3 months then they will wipe the ticket off my records. The reason they do deferrment is because they do not want to waste the time of the court by doing a trial by jury. The case happened, and they charged me $271 in court fees, a $200 fine, plus the $500 to the lawyer. So $1000 later I don't have a ticket, but hell now I would have done traffic school.

PS: Who do you think the judge is going to believe in court, the police officer or a non represented citizen? I don't think many people win in a you vs. me trial by jury.



Quote:
Originally Posted by where_am_i View Post
so...i am new to austin and need some advice regarding contesting a traffic citation. i am at the point that i am set for a trial by jury, to contest a ticket i received for supposedly running a stop sign. the details of the scenario are as such- it was nearly 2am and i was driving down a dark street in a residential area (by the house i was staying at at the time) when i saw a car was tailgating me. this naturally worried me a bit for my safety as I am a. female and b. not familiar with the area c. just moved here from a city (chicago) where if someone is tailing you like that and no one else is around you don't want to be hanging around at the stop sign to see what will happen next.
anyway, it turned out to be a police car and i think he was hoping i was drunk so he could issue me a heftier fine, but alas i do not drive intoxicated (hell, i dont really even get drunk any more) and he seemed irritated that he couldn't bust a drunk driver so he told me i ran the sign.

anyhow to cut to the chase, i don't know how to proceed with preparing for this trial. the judge at the docket said she recommended getting an attorney if you contest the ticket but a. i don't know if i can afford one and b. if the officer doesnt show then the case will be thrown out in which case paying for an attorney and all the work they have to do would be in vain.

also i am wondering if i am going to be charged court costs for the trial. it doesnt say anything about that on my ticket or any other documentation regarding the case (nor did the judge state that) but i know in Illinois they do make you pay for the costs (like to pay the jury etc...).

things seem to work a lot differently out here than where i am from. i do not know what to do next so any advice (from those who have been there or know others who have) would be great.

thanks.
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Old 11-26-2008, 05:23 PM
 
59 posts, read 158,198 times
Reputation: 13
I got a ticket my first day in Texas, I called the courthouse and was told if I lose I had to pay the court costs which was around $100 for judge and about $5 more if I chose a jury trial. I was also told that the fine for the actual citiation was the same whether by judge or jury so I chose a jury trial and sent in the paperwork. Its been a couple of weeks since and I still havent gotten my court date or any other info in the mail. I will also defend myself, I have been doing research online and have found some good resources to assist me. Probably the best advice I read was to stall the trial as long as possible so the cop will forget and also to subpeona any and everything from the prosecutor's office (including any video they have to tell you if they have it) they will not appreciate the extra paperwork.

If you have questions about your citation you can always call the court house, they dont ask who you are so its not like they will note the account that you called in and asked questions. Also if you just want to pay and get it over with, call your insurance agent (if you dont buy direct) and they should be able to tell you how much it will impact your premium.
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:07 PM
 
41 posts, read 137,023 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by S6Sputnik View Post
Can you not get a Texas License and take the ticket dismissal class????
I already have a TX license, but I chose not to do the class because that would basically be enabling these type of things to keep happening. I decided I wanted to fight it because I felt it was unjust- that officer tailed me in order to try to get me to run the sign I feel, why else would be right on my a** at 2am on a quiet residential street?
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:09 PM
 
41 posts, read 137,023 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenfry View Post
that patrol car has a video cam. is it going to show you running the stop sign? if it is, no matter the circumstances, you lose.
I don't know what the video shows. I would like to get ahold of it though and see...but as far as I know I didnt run it. i made a brief stop, yes, and it may not have been as long as he would have liked but i was being followed and concerned for my safety so i wasnt going to sit there much longer than i needed to to make sure no cars were coming in the opposite direction
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