If you’ve ever received a traffic ticket in California, you know how expensive it can be.
You can pay the fine, go to traffic school, or fight the ticket in court.
But one website is helping traffic violators beat their tickets without ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
And what may seem like a minor ticket could cost you quite a bit more than you think.
Take running a red light for example, once you add in all the court fees, it could cost you $500 to $600, plus a possible jump in your insurance.
But the website ticketbust.com says you have more options than you may think to fight the ticket if you know where to look.
Speeding up to beat a red light…
"I got a speeding ticket of going over 25 miles an hour in a school zone,” said Mayern Diaz.
That cost was a $300 fine.
And how about not wearing a seatbelt properly?
"A cop pulled me over becuase he said one of my kids wasn't wearing a seatbelt and I have tinted windows all throughout my car and I thought that was odd. And I looked back and my son was wearing it across his arm, just not up here," said Amber Smithinson
That one carried a $750 fine.
"When I saw that amount I thought, oh my gosh, I can't even believe this,” Smithinson said.
But whether you were caught red handed or think you were unfairly ticketed, you have more options than you may think if you want to contest the ticket.
All you have to do is read the fine print.
"If you turn over the back of any ticket, it lists your options. You can go to court, you can request traffic school, or you can file a trial by declaration,” said Steve Miller, CEO of ticketbust.com
Miller says that third option, a trial by written declaration, is a little known but highly useful way to fight your ticket. And you don’t have to go to court.
You can instead argue your case in writing.
"You can put together your statement, you can think through it, put all the relevant facts, relevant information in a written statement, submit it to the court, the court then submits it to the officer, the officer responds and the court renders its decision,” Miller said.
Every year, nearly 18 million traffic tickets are given out in California.
But less than 5% are contested in court.
Of that 5%, about 10% are contested through a written declaration.
Ticketbust.com helps traffic violators file a written declaration to argue your case.
"It's usually around 10 to 15 pages long of support to why, exactly why that ticket should be dismissed and making sure we put in all the relevant case law and information that the judge will understand,” Miller said.
While there’s no guarantee it’ll work, Miller says if you lose, you can still request a new trial and plead your case in traffic court.
"If you're found guily, you're right back where you started,” Miller said.
Trafficbust.com charges $250 for its service and Miller says if you lose, they’ll refund you $100, and you still have to pay the ticket.
Also, you cannot file a written declaration if you’re charged with a DUI or misdemeanor.