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[whitespace] Get Out Of Jail Free

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

The easiest way to beat a traffic ticket is, of course, luck. If the officer who wrote the ticket misses the trial date, you may be off the hook without ever uttering a word to the judge. But if you want to hold out hope for this option, there is one important step to take in advance. When you set the date for your appearance before a traffic court judge, the clerk will ask you if you want to "waive time." Don't. The time you are waiving is your right to have your trial within 45 days of your arraignment. If you do not "waive time" (that is, you demand that you be tried within 45 days), and the police officer doesn't show up at the trial, it's highly likely that the judge will dismiss the charges against you.

Before you go to trial, sit in on a traffic court session with the judge who is going to try your case. You will quickly find out what the judge will tolerate and what he or she won't, and it will keep you from bringing up many of the not-so-bright defenses you'd been planning.

At trial, never, ever, ever call the police officer a liar, or accuse the officer of being out to get you. Remember, the trial judge sees the police officers several times a month; he or she hopefully only sees you once. When you contradict the officer, always say the officer is reasonable but mistaken. That way the judge can take your side without completely dissing their lunch buddy.

Oh, and pick up David Brown's "Fight Your Ticket ... and Win!" from NOLO Press (www.nolo.com). That's where the best advice is located.


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From the March 16-22, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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