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Advice needed on LA traffic citation

sly_vtsly_vt 759 replies15 threads Member
edited September 2007 in Parent Cafe
My daughter, 18, was in Los Angeles, crossed a street against the light, and got a traffic citation.

In her defense: It was her second day of her first visit to California and she didn’t know the law; we live in small town with few traffic lights, where pedestrians have the right of way and people cross against lights all the time; she followed other people who had crossed the light (who didn't get tickets), and was with a group of even more people who were crossing when she was (who all got tickets).

Should she:

1. ignore the ticket
2. pay up ($100+) -- (she is guilty)
3. explain all of the above by letter and hope the court rescinds the ticket
4. another option??

Thoughts? Especially from people familiar with California traffic citations.
edited September 2007
37 replies
Post edited by sly_vt on
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Replies to: Advice needed on LA traffic citation

  • simbasimba 5783 replies309 threads Senior Member
    are you saying that she got ticket for running a red light while walking?
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  • sly_vtsly_vt 759 replies15 threads Member
    Yes. She was crossing a street, the light was red, and a cop was waiting.
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  • maritemarite 21343 replies243 threads Senior Member
    Send her to MA, where jaywalking is the norm and you're thought weird if you wait for the light to change.

    Ah, upon re-reading, I see she comes from my general area.
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  • BassDadBassDad 5330 replies51 threads Senior Member
    I am not familiar with California in particular, but ignoring it is probably not such a smart thing to do. I rather doubt that a letter will do much good either; you generally have to show up in person to get anything done through the court system. If she has the time, she could contest the ticket and hope that the officer does not show up, she could ask the judge for leniency presenting the information you mentioned above, or she could talk to the prosecutor in hopes of pleading guilty to some offense with a smaller fine. Otherwise, she will probably have to pay up.
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  • sly_vtsly_vt 759 replies15 threads Member
    I should add that she's not in California now -- she was just visiting for a few days -- so she is unable to go to court in person to contest the ticket.
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  • soozievtsoozievt 31412 replies372 threads! Senior Member
    I don't have a lot of advice but I can totally see how this happened. As you know, here in Vermont, when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, the traffic yields to the pedestrian. There are also few traffic lights. It would be harder to get used to another system elsewehre, particularly if whole groups of people crossed at one time ignoring the "walk" and "don't walk" signs. In fact, when my D moved to NYC, I was like, "pay attention to the lights because in NYC, nobody stops for you like they do here in VT!" By the way, when I am in NYC, I notice people ignore the "Don't walk" signs as long as no traffic is coming.

    Perhaps your D can write such a note saying she now realizes it was wrong but she is not from the area and where she lives traffic yields to the pedestrian and also when she saw the whole crowd crossing, she went with the flow. Can it hurt to try?

    Also, I am not sure how they can go after her as she doesn't live in that state.
    Susan
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  • BassDadBassDad 5330 replies51 threads Senior Member
    There is no harm in trying a letter, but I would not expect it to work. I do not know how far LA would go in prosecuting a jaywalking scofflaw for a $100 ticket, but it might be awkward if she were ever pulled over while driving in California at some future date.
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  • TheDadTheDad 9905 replies323 threads! Senior Member
    BassDad pretty much covers it. Bad luck for her to be picked out of the crowd.

    Fwiw, pedestrians here have the absolute right of way, cross-walk or no, but they can still be ticketed for jaywalking. "Right of way" does not mean "always legal." It means "illegal if a driver infringes upon." Think of it as a double foul.

    Another difference between LA and the parts of Massachusetts I have a slight familiarity with: here the funny little white lines on the road are not decorative.
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  • soozievtsoozievt 31412 replies372 threads! Senior Member
    My guess is that your D will not be driving anytime soon in CA, given that she is from VT, rarely visits CA, and is about to start college on the East Coast. I think she could ignore this ticket but that is up to what you feel about that.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26934 replies175 threads Senior Member
    The denizens of SoCal take jaywalking seriously (don't ask why), altho I didn't realize that the fine was now $100. It used to be $25.

    Don't write a letter since it will only waste a postage stamp. Either pay the fine, or let it go and hope that she doesn't get stopped for anything sometime in the future (while visiting).
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  • mattmommattmom 1747 replies16 threads Senior Member
    As a point of safety, and "yield-to-pedestrian" laws notwithstanding, it's a bad idea to cross against the light in a place you are not familiar with. Even if other people are doing it, you really don't know if they are aware of a window of opportunity that you might miss. Also, I don't know teh law in California or most other places, but it seems to me unwise to ignore a ticket; it's just the kind of seemingly benign thing that can trip you up some day when references are being checked. Petty maybe, but not a risk worth taking, IMO.
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  • bullwinklebullwinkle 675 replies27 threads Member
    well if you don't plan on returning to Ca. and won't need a calif driver's license, you could ignore it I suppose . It will build up penalties and interest and that good stuff. To "fight" it, you have to obtain a court date and appear i believe. Don't think you can just write in.

    Best bet, the ticket will have a phone number for the court/court clerk. Call up and find out what your options are. And yes, jaywalking is taken seriously here. Traffic violations are, in general, taken seriously here. Police have a very militaristic bent.
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  • momof2incamomof2inca 3419 replies65 threads Senior Member
    I think it sends a bad message to our kids to encourage them to "just forget the ticket." Your D did something wrong, she got caught. She should pay the ticket. It's a bummer. It could even be called unfair (since the cop didn't ticket everyone else), but it's the law. To disregard the law in these circumstances will only suggest to her to consider disregarding it in other circumstances. To me, that's a slippery road.
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  • doubleplaydoubleplay 3433 replies117 threads Senior Member
    It's possible that if you ignore the ticket, eventually she will receive a letter from a collection agency.
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  • PrimetimeMomPrimetimeMom 420 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I wouldn't ignore it. I'd try and call/write the letter and see what happens. If they insist, I'd pay the fine. Who knows, she could end up working in California.
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  • PA MomPA Mom 936 replies39 threads Member
    Good point doubleplay - I hadn't thought of that scenario, but I would pay it just because I would be afraid of it catching up to me later one way or another. Don't know how , don't know where... but it would. LOL
    I don't think they would cut her any slack - it seems like the cities really count on income from stuff like this and have little to no incentive to rescind the ticket. Sorry it put a damper on her trip. : (
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  • mikemacmikemac 10366 replies151 threads Senior Member
    ignoring it is NOT a good idea. Then a bench warrant is issued for failure to appear. Your D is ever stopped again in CA, they run her name, they slap on handcuffs and she goes to jail. I'd pay $100 to avoid that!
    Failure to comply with the appearance date on the citation or to complete payments by the due date may result in the court issuing a warrant or placing a DMV hold on your driver's license and/or vehicle registration. Your case may also be referred to a collection agency, and additional fees may be added.
    http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/traffic/delinquent.htm
    What I suggest you have your D do is go online ask for a "written trial by declaration" which she can do online. Have her explain what you put earlier (small town, not a CA resident, followed the other people across, etc). Have her explain her age (only 18), that she doesn't have a job, her first offense, mortified by the ticket, won't do it again, etc. She'll still be found guilty, I'll bet, but the hearing commissioner DOES have the power to lower the fine. I've been in traffic court in CA (don't ask why!) and I've seen judges lower the fine. You'll still have to send in the $100 bail to request the written trial, but they'll refund the difference if they decide to lower it.

    And I agree it's unfair and the cop should have given a warning. I got a ticket on my bicycle riding to school in 8th grade for riding on the sidewalk. So, yeah, LA cops, no mercy or charity from them...
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  • BassDadBassDad 5330 replies51 threads Senior Member
    Check this out: http://web.ku.edu/~edit/jaywalk.htm

    Perhaps a letter would help.
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  • soozievtsoozievt 31412 replies372 threads! Senior Member
    The easiest thing to do is to pay it. It is obviously the RIGHT thing, in any case. But if there is a trial by mail where she can write in an explanation with a chance to refund/lower the fine, it is worth a try.
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  • mikemacmikemac 10366 replies151 threads Senior Member
    Edit: the website for the LA Superior Court (it's the lowest level court in CA, go figure) is http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/traffic Loof for "online citation services" Note that sometimes their server doesn't work. You can also find it by typing "LA Superior Court" into your favorite search engine.

    Also, if she goes the written trial route, ask in the letter to be found not guilty (guilt requires intent, right?) but if that is not possible if the fine could be lowered due to her financial circumstances.
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