Articles Posted in Traffic Ticket Defense

Local traffic Attorney John Stanko beats tickets in Marin, Sonoma and San Mateo Counties in September 2011.

Marin County.
Speeding ticket, violation of Vehicle Code section 22350 on Lucas Valley Rd. in San Rafael is dismissed at court trial.

San Mateo County.
Violations of Vehicle Code sections 22348(a) speeding over 100 mph and 22349 violating the maximum speed limit. Attorney filed demurrers in both cases which were granted after prosecution failed to file amended verified complaints. Both cases dismissed.

Somoma County.
Speeding ticket on Highway 101 dismissed when demurrer is granted!
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On Tuesday, August 12, 2011, a speeding ticket in violation of California Vehicle Code section 22349(b), exceeding the posted 55 mph limit was dismissed out of the Pleasanton Courthouse in Alameda County. The client from Oakley California hired an attorney to represent in him connection with his traffic ticket. His traffic defense lawyer submitted a trial by written declaration on his behalf and the Alameda County Judicial Officer made his ruling based on it.

A trial be written declaration must be filed prior to the original due date on a traffic ticket in California and the defendant must post any associated bail in order to have the matter heard. The citing officer must then submit a declaration to the court in order for a trial to be held on the written declarations. If the officer fails to respond or does not provide evidence sufficient for a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt the matter will be dismissed and the bail amount refunded. If the court renders a finding of guilt the defendant then as a right to request a new trial in front of a judicial officer.

A conviction for a violation of Vehicle Code section 22349(b), would have resulted in one point on the client’s driving record and increased insurance costs.
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In a traffic court trial on August 3, 2011, in Marin County, the Court Commissioner agreed with Attorney John Stanko’s argument that a speeding ticket issued on Northbound Nicasio Blvd. in West Marin was illegal. The CHP had cited the driver for allegedly going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone just North of Nicasio Elementary School. The Highway Patrol Officer had used a Radar gun to determine the driver’s speed.

In California the use of Radar on most surface streets must be justified by a valid traffic and engineering survey. California Vehicle Code sections 627 and 40802 et sec. discuss the use of radar to detect the speed of a moving vehicle. Absent the proper introduction of evidence, including a valid certified traffic and engineering survey a peace officer’s use of radar is an illegal speed trap. When the court finds that the use of radar was illegal the officer is incompetent to give testimony and the court is without jurisdiction to render a finding of guilt.

The California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the Vehicle Code require that the speed limit be set within the nearest 5 mph of the 85 percentile of drivers in a traffic and engineering survey. Absent proper justification based on factors not readily apparent to drivers, the speed limit may not be reduced lower than the nearest 5 mph of the 85 percentile. In this case the 85 percentile speed was 45 mph but the speed limit had been set at 35 mph without proper justification and the Court had to dismiss the case.
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Four traffic court trials result in four victories in Oakland, San Rafael and South Lake Tahoe.

On Tuesday, June 1, 2011, a speeding ticket on the Oakland Bay Bridge, an alleged violation of Vehicle Code section 23336, was dismissed at trial in the Alameda County Superior Court, Wiley Manual Courthouse. The client had been charged with violating the posted speed limit signs on the Oakland Bay Bridge and was alleged to have been driving 60 MPH. A conviction for California Vehicle Code section 23336 would have resulted in one point on the client’s driving record and increased insurance costs.

In the Marin County Superior Court in San Rafael two cases were resolved at court trial on June 1, 2011. A speeding ticket for allegedly violating Vehicle Code section 22350, the basic speed law, was reduced to a Novato Municipal Code violation and an alleged violation for making a u turn in a San Rafael business district, Vehicle Code section 22102, was also reduced to a municipal code violation. Neither client will receive a point on their record but both must still pay fines.

On June 2, 2011, a ticket for violating California Vehicle Code section 22400(a), issued when a client allegedly stopped on a highway to take pictures in South Lake Tahoe, was resolved a court trial by a plea to a lesser offense. As such, the client will not receive a point on his California DMV record.

Points are assessed on a driver’s record in California as a result of convictions for Vehicle Code moving violations. In most cases those points remain a a driver’s record and can affect their insurance rates for a period of three years. Further, a driver that gets too many points can have her license suspended by the DMV for being a negligent operator.
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Last Friday the San Rafael Department deployed an eight officer strike team from 4p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, to look for Drunk Drivers. At the conclusion of their DUI saturation patrol, after making 30 traffic enforcement stops, San Rafael Police Officers made only one arrest for driving under the influence. However, nearly half, 14, of the drivers pulled over were given field sobriety tests. Officers issued an additional sixteen moving safety citations, three citations to unlicensed drivers and arrested one person on an outstanding warrant.

The driver arrested for DUI was stopped for a loud music violation and subsequently found to have an alleged blood alcohol concentration of .10%. In California the per se legal limit for drunk driving is .08% or greater. As such, it is illegal for any driver with a blood alcohol level of more than .079% to drive a motor vehicle. Further, drivers under the age of 21 and drivers on probation for driving under the influence are prohibited from driving with any alcohol in their blood.

Police officers in Marin County and throughout California are trained to detect impaired drivers pursuant to standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). The first phase of DUI detection involves the Police Officer’s observations of the vehicle in motion. NHTSA lists 24 visual cues for DUI detection and among them would be inappropriate or unusual behavior. Arguably, driving with amplified or loud music could be considered inappropriate behavior and could provide cause for an officer to make a traffic stop.
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The San Rafael police department will be running a state funded drunk driving and driver’s license checkpoint tonight beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 2:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. The DUI Checkpoint will be conducted in connection the Marin Avoid the 13 DUI campaign.

San Rafael police officers said that the checkpoint will start on A Street and Andersen Drive and may later move to Irwin Street and Fifth Avenue. DUI Checkpoints have been a common sight in Marin County during 2010 as officers throughout California seek to crack down on drunk driving and to get unlicensed driver’s off the roads.

Driver’s suspected of being under the influence will be asked to pull over for further investigation and may be asked to submit to field sobriety testing. Submission to field sobriety testing and/or a PAS breath testing device is voluntary and not required under California Law. However, if a police officer has cause to arrest a person for DUI they must submit to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol concentration. Refusal to take a chemical test can result in a drivers license suspension for one year on a first offense or a two or three year license revocation on a second or third offense.
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Using funds from a grant provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the Santa Rosa Police Department will be buying new equipment and instituting special traffic enforcement measures in and effort to save lives and prevent traffic related injuries.

The Santa Rosa Police Department will use funds from the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant to assist in efforts to deal with traffic safety problems and to purchase LIDAR (laser speed monitoring devices), Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) devices, educational materials and to pay for Police Officer overtime for officers working special enforcement activities like DUI Checkpoints. DUI offenders and drivers with suspended or revoked licenses will be targeted through the use of DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, Drunk Driving saturation patrols, and court stings where driver’s with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses who drive away from the Sonoma County Courthouse are immediately pulled over.

The use of LIDAR devices has become commonplace in California, replacing the use of Radar guns by many police officers including most CHP officers. However, the use of LIDAR has not been generally accepted in the scientific community as a valid method for detecting the speed of moving vehicles. Further, although most traffic court commissioners and judges routinely allow LIDAR evidence to be introduced by police officers at traffic court trials, there is not a single California Court case approving of LIDAR devices. It would appear that most courts allow LIDAR evidence because most people do not fight traffic tickets with an attorney who would object and attempt to exclude the LIDAR readings.
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Last weekend the San Rafael Police Department conducted two DUI/driver’s license checkpoints in the city.

Both San Rafael driving under the influence checkpoints were set up on Friday May 7, 2010. The first suspended license checkpoint was located on North San Pedro Road in the early evening and the second DUI and driver’s license checkpoint was done at the intersection of 5th and Irwin in downtown San Rafael.

San Rafael Police Sergeant Christopher Coale said that approximately 1,200 cars passed through both checkpoints. When all was said and done police officers arrested only two people for driving under the influence. Eighteen additional people were cited for driving on a suspended license or driving without a license in their possession. The San Rafael Police Department issued an additional eight traffic tickets for moving violations and safety violations.

Anyone charged with a traffic ticket for a moving violation faces a fine if convicted and would receive one or more points on their DMV driving record. Further, their insurance rates could go up for at least three years.
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26 year old Clinton Mark Dahms of Sonoma was arrested on Monday after driving his van through front yards and hitting a house in a Novato neighborhood.

Novato Police Officers said that Mr. Dahms drove his 1994 Pontiac through multiple lawns hitting shrubs, a tree, a parked car and retaining wall before smashing into a home on Rowland Blvd. Mr. Dahms ran from his Pontiac Van after hitting the parked car an pushing it into the residence.

It took three Novato Police officers to arrest Mr. Dahms after he ran through another home. He apparently did not cooperate with the officers and was booked into the Marin County Jail on a charge of resisting arrest. He was also booked for DUI, hit and run, being under the influence of a controlled substance, battery on a police officer and trespassing.

The case will now be reviewed by the Marin County District Attorney’s Office for a formal charging determination. The charges for which Mr. Dahm’s was arrested are mix of misdemeanors and felonies and if convicted he could be placed on probation with county jail time or he could be sent to the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, prison. Being under the influence of a controlled substance in violation of Health and Safety Code section 11550(a) carries a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. If convicted in this case Mr. Dahms may be required to attend a driving under the influence program, make restitution for the damages he caused, and attend drug treatment.
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44 year old Adrian Pasdar, star of the popular television series “Heroes”, was arrested early Wednesday morning by CHP officers in Los Angeles. Police officers stopped Mr. Pasdar for speeding and straddling two lanes, around 3:00 a.m. on the 405 freeway. He arrested and booked on suspicion of driving under the influence and released later Wednesday morning on $15,000.00 bail.

The police reports of Mr. Pasdar’s case will be sent to local prosecutors for review. Should they elect to file a formal complaint he will likely be charged with violations of Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and (b). A conviction for DUI, 23152(a), or driving with a prohibited blood alcohol level, 23152(b), could result in the imposition of probation, fines, attendance at a DUI school, a driver’s license suspension and possible jail time.
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