Traffic Violations

Traffic Violation Defenses in Riverside and Los Angeles

Riverside Traffic Violation Attorney

Stephen Sweigarttraffic violation can easily be more than an irritation. Depending upon the offense, consequences can escalate very quickly, resulting in possible jail time, hefty fines, higher insurance rates and loss of your driving privileges.

There are a host of California traffic violations, from hit-and-run, speeding and reckless driving, to driving under the influence, failure to stop at a stop sign, and driving without a license or insurance. Each charge comes with its own set of penalties and the potential to affect your continued eligibility to legally drive in California.

If you’ve been charged with a traffic violation, you are definitely in the right place. The traffic defense attorneys here at Sharp Criminal Lawyers have a well-earned reputation for successfully defending against such charges. The odds are good that we’ve seen and handled cases like yours before, and know how to prevail in court.

Why should I bother fighting a traffic violation?
You should ALWAYS make the effort to fight any traffic violation. Such charges can be either misdemeanors (fines, one year or less in jail, or both) or felonies (huge fines, multiple years in state prison, or both). While a misdemeanor is certainly less serious than a felony, it can easily threaten your driving rights in California.

Each traffic violation results in a point being added to your driving record under the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) Point System. As the points accumulate, so do your problems, which can be significant fines, steep insurance increases, suspended license and possible jail time.

If you decide not to fight the charges, you’ll need only to send in the payment for your fine along with the violation citation. Once the DMV receives your payment, your case is closed and the points are added to your driving record for three (3) years if its a misdemeanor (failing to come to a complete stop, speeding, etc.) and ten (10) years if the offense is more serious (DUI, hit-and-run, etc.).

The smart move is to always fight any traffic violations. Even if the citation isn’t dropped completely, the worst case scenario is lesser penalties.

How does the California DMV point system work?
Each time you’re ticketed by law enforcement, you’re at risk for getting a point – possibly more – added to your record. Each violation is assigned a different point.

For example, exceeding the posted speed limit will result in one (1) point; operating your vehicle in a reckless manner will cost you two (2) points. If you’re a commercial driver, your penalty will be one-and-a-half (1 1/2) times the point count normally assessed.

If you accumulate four (4) points within twelve (12) months, six (6) points within twenty-four (24) months or eight (8) points within thirty-six (36) months, your driver’s license will be suspended.

If you’re a minor (under the age of 18), you’ll likely be facing a thirty-day (30) restriction for two (2) points in twelve (12) months, or be suspended for three (3) points in twelve (12) months.

How can traffic violations make my insurance rates go up?
Your insurance rate is based upon a number of factors. While there are a few you have no control over (your age and gender), the standing of your driving record is completely in your control.

If you have a host of moving violations, your insurance company will most likely look at you as someone more likely to get into an accident. The price hikes aren’t for just a couple of months either; most insurance companies will keep your rates high for at least three (3) years. With the average cost of car insurance in California being over $1,900 that can get real expensive real quick.

The violations almost guaranteed to make your insurance rates go up include:

  • speeding (more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit);
  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • hit-and-run (leaving the scene of an accident);
  • driving while trying to avoid being caught by police; and
  • driving without a license or letting another unlicensed driver behind the wheel of your vehicle.

What should I do if I’m pulled over by police?
The top priority is to remain calm and not panic.

  • Turn on your hazard lights and look for a safe place to pull over.
  • Remain in your vehicle.
  • Never give permission to the officer for a search of your vehicle – even if you have nothing to hide.
  • Keep you answers short and on point. (“Yes” or “No” answers are perfectly acceptable.)
  • Make note of the date listed on your citation by the officer; failure to appear in court on that date without paying the associated fine could result in a bench warrant for your arrest.

What are the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol?

This is a serious charge, and one that you definitely need legal representation for if you’ve been ticketed.
The law addressing driving under the influence of alcohol is found in Vehicle Code section 23152.

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
License suspension Immediate and lasting for 6 months (but can be reduced w/ participation in DUI education program) Up to 2 years (but can be reduced to about 1 year w/ participation in DUI education program) Up to 3 years (but can be reduced to about 2 years w/ participation in DUI education program)
Possible Jail Time 6 months 1 year 1 year
Fines $1,000 $1,800 $1,800
Interlock Ignition Device Possible Yes Yes

If you’re under 21, know that California has a strict Zero Tolerance Law. This means that any alcohol you have in the vehicle must be “sealed and unopened.” You are also required to be with a parent or legal guardian or someone who has an off-site liquor license.

Potential punishment for violating the Zero Tolerance Law includes loss of license for one (1) year, fines up to $1,000 and vehicle impoundment for 30 days.

How is influence of alcohol measured?

Here in California, it is against the law to drive a vehicle if you have “0.08% or more, by weight, of alcohol” in your blood. Law enforcement measure this in terms of your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).

Your BAC is measured by dividing grams of alcohol by 100 milliliters of blood and then converted into a percentage. The .08% legal limit means that for every 100 milliliters of blood, there are eight (8) grams of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Here is a breakdown of the effects, according to law enforcement, that alcohol has on your ability to drive:

.02% Loss of judgmentAltered mood


Slight body warmth

Decline in visual functions, such as ability to rapidly track a moving objectWeakened ability to perform 2 tasks at the same time
.05% Impaired judgmentLowered alertness and inhibition

Exaggerated behavior

Declining coordinationDifficulty steering
.08% Muscle coordination becomes poor (problems with balance, speech, vision and reaction time)Self-control, reasoning and memory become impaired Ability to process information (recognizing traffic signals, etc.) is reduced significantlyAbility to concentrate is reduced

Short-term memory is affected

.10% Speech become slurredIncreasingly poor coordination Difficult to stay in proper traffic laneCan’t brake appropriately
.15% Significant loss of balanceVomiting

Much less muscle control

Serious lack of ability to control vehicle or to maintain attention to drivingSubstantial impairment in processing visual and audio cues.

Can I refuse to be tested for driving under the influence?

Yes and no. For your BAC, law enforcement can test your breath or blood. They may also ask you to participate in a field sobriety test. Be aware that both tests are not equal.

According to California law (Cal. Veh. Code 23612), if you’re driving a vehicle, you have provided law officers with “implied consent” to testing of your breath or blood. If such a test is not possible at the time, police can test your urine. In most cases, you’ll have the option of deciding between either a blood or breath test.

If you refuse to have your breath, blood or urine tested, There are immediate penalties for refusing a DUI breath test or chemical test for drugs. For example, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended for at least a year and you may receive additional time in jail.

If your license is suspended, however, you can request a hearing at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of your arrest to challenge the suspension.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety roadside tests in California are strictly voluntary and should never be taken. The main reason police officers ask you to participate in a field sobriety test is to  gather incriminating information about you. More importantly, the tests are often geared to work against you.

Because they are so subjective, there’s absolutely no good reason to submit to a field sobriety test.

What are examples of successful defenses for traffic violations in California?

Each case is unique but there are various defenses that will likely either result in your violation being dropped or the penalties (fines and points) being significantly reduced.

  • The officer’s observations can be challenged.
  • If you’re charged with speeding, it’s important to note how the officer came to that conclusion.

If the officer was pacing or following behind you and making a judgment based upon his/her odometer, it can be argued that the officer was actually too far behind or that hills and curves in the road prevented the officer from  following for a period long enough to gauge your speed.

If radar was used, we could make the case that certain weather conditions (rain, wind, clouds) prevented the radar’s radio waves from being used correctly.

Charges of making an unsafe left turn can be challenged by making the case that   the prevailing traffic conditions necessitated the turn.

  • Certain conditions resulted in you making an honest mistake.

If you were charged with driving through a crosswalk without stopping, for example, it can be argued that lines marking the crosswalk were difficult to see because of fading or some other effect.

Pointing out that signs and traffic signals at the scene were hidden by trees resulted in an honest mistake is also an effective defense.

If you’ve facing charges for traffic violations in Riverside or the Los Angeles area, call Sharp Criminal Lawyers.

Charges for traffic violations, even seemingly minor ones, pose a threat to your driving privileges. By hiring an attorney skilled in defending such charges, you’re in a much better position of having the violations either dismissed completely or the associated penalties being significantly reduced.

Call Sharp Criminal Lawyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 951-777-1111.

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