What is a moving violation as opposed to a non-moving violation?
A moving violation occurs whenever your vehicle is in motion. Some examples of moving violations are
speeding, running a stop sign or red light, drunk driving, and making a left turn from the right hand lane.
A non-moving violation is either a generally a parking ticket or a fix-it ticket. Some examples are parking
in front of a fire hydrant, excessive muffler noise, and no proof of insurance in your vehicle. This last
one is often tacked on to a moving violation.
What's the deal with courtesy notices?
The courtesy notice is the courts way of allowing you to appease your guilty conscience by paying the highest
possible fine the easiest way, by simply mailing in a check. It is also their way of trying to convince
you that you must waste two days of your life by having to appear in court twice. The first time to plead not
guilty, and the second to stand trial. Our recommendation is that you plead not guilty by mail and request a
Trial by Written Declaration. You have very little to lose and tons to gain. It worked for O.J. Simpson.
Here's how it works: Under section 40519(b) of the Vehicle Code, a defendant is entitled to enter a not guilty
plea in writing in lieu of appearing in person in front of a judge. This option allows you to mail a letter
to the court pleading not guilty to the charge against you. In this letter, you can request a Trial by Written
Declaration, allowing you to contest your citation entirely by mail.
Submitting a Written Not Guilty plea is your legal right (under 40519b), but there is no state approved form
for this plea. You can get the forms and advice you need (available by means of other concerned citizens)
from this page.
What happens if I just ignore the courtesy notice?
Probably nothing immediately If you ignore a ticket long enough then life will get more interesting then you
probably would care for. You may have noticed threats on your courtesy notice like "Arrest warrant",
"license suspension", $250 civil assessment": these are the mostly the courts way of trying to convince
you to not fight the ticket and just pay up. You can be fined up to $500, and even face jail time (up to six
months). You can also have an arrest warrant issued against you for failing to appear before the
court (called an FTA). This is also the same for failing to do the repairs requested by the fix-it ticket.
Why not just pay the ticket and plead guilty if you are guilty?
If you plead guilty, the court will typically require you to pay the maximum fine allowed by law and will
record a conviction on your public DMV record for five years. A conviction on your record will increase
your insurance by an average of $250 per year for three to five years. You must agree, this probably
shouldn't be your first choice.
Sadly though, this is what most ticketed motorists do. They get out their check books, and fork over the cash.
This is why traffic fines have become a major revenue source for state, county and local governments, netting
over a billion dollars a year in revenue. Every time you get a ticket, your insurance company should be sending
you a thank you card. One ticket generates $1,000 in insurance surcharges that guilty parties have to
submit to. Current estimates are that more than 100,000 tickets are written each day. So besides the $271 fine,
that the government gets, your insurance company gets even more when you just roll over and plead guilty.
How does the DMV point system work.
Each state has it's own version of a point system used by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to keep track
of your driving record. This is often referred to as the "negligent operator violation point count."
Once you are licensed to drive in a particular state, it is important that you continue to follow all the
laws and practice safe driving habits. If you start accumulating tickets for moving violations, which count
as either 1 or 2 points. You may be considered a negligent operator and may lose your privilege to drive if
you accumulate too many points in a certain length of time.
Most driving offenses, such as hit and run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence, are designated
as 2 points and will remain on your record for 7 years from the violation date. Most other offenses are designated
as 1 point and will remain on your record for 3 years from the violation date. Any "at fault" accident is normally
counted as 1 point.
Generally, you will be considered a negligent operator if your driving record shows any of the following point
4 points in 12 months, or
6 points in 24 months, or
8 points in 36 months
The insurance companies also have access to this information and use this information to raise your insurance premiums.