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Experience:  Over 20 yrs experience in prosecution and defense work
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I need help with Traffic law in FL regarding wearing seat belt.

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I need help with Traffic law in FL regarding wearing seat belt. I went to court this past Tuesday and thought I might get a fair hearing or at least the judge would listen. But she seems to want to show me who is in power and put me in my place. I went in with the intend to settle but she want me to pay. The ticket was $114.00 in GA is only $15. I knew in FL and GA this is fine only with no point. She told me either takes $114 and no point or hit the street. I was willing to pay half just to save time. Even as early as last week I want to fight and have a fair trial. I walk away from the court believe that the judge and officer just want to generate revenue for the city of Jacksonville FL. My court date is May 2 with the same female judge who I knew now would not be fair and side with the officer regardless of facts. How can I fight this? How would I get a fair trial? In the last 5 years I got 2 not wearing seatbelt ticket, and 1 speed ticket. And that would not look good. Since he beginning of 2012 I want to avoid no seatbelt ticket even is only $15.00 but it is a waste of money. And now this!!!



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I have unlimited plan but willing to pay bonus for extra service or good service, you name your bonus.

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Here is the background, some one please help.... On Jan 17, 2013, I had a minor car accident when I met Officer Brown around 8:15 AM. He helps write the accidental report. I went to work and felt dizziness, I asked my manager to leave so I can go home resting for the rest of the day. I left work around 11:30. I was driving very carefully, it was hard to focus but I manage my condition just fine. On the way home I met Officer Brown, he was driving he vehicle, he was in front of me on the other lane. He signal me to open my car window, I couldn’t because I had power-window problem, so I opened the door. He asked me if I was the same one that had car accident this morning that he helped; I confirmed then he waved his hand. Few minutes later I noticed him behind my car then turn on his official police flashing light, I pull over in a car dealer parking. He told me I was lucky early in the morning, but he must now give me a not seatbelt ticket, I told him I was wearing my seatbelt. But he did not listen and ask me for my driver license, then later give me the citation. Thanks Tam
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for using JustAnswer.com. It will be my pleasure to assist you today.

So, when you went to court, did you plead guilty to the seat belt ticket and pay 1/2 of the fine?

Or, did the officer who wrote you the ticket testify as to his side of the story and you testified as to your side of the story?

Thanks
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for taking my question :-)


 


Last Tuesday, I thought the officer would be there but he was not. The judge give me option of no constest plea but want full price with no point exactly as if I just pay to start with so the deal was not no deal. As first I plea not guilty and want my chance to face the officer and a hearing, which is May 2, 2013. But on the second thought facing the same judge who would not be fair. I decided to negotiate $60 with no point more than half of the $114 ticket. But the judge told me this is not the casino no deal, either pay $114 or she would see me on May 2!


 


I thought judge support to be fair and hearing both sides before forming an opinion. How would a get a fair judge with fair hearing.


 


Thanks,


Tam

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi Tam,

Sorry for the delay. I was finishing assisting another customer.

So, did you end up pleading "not guilty"? Am I correct that you didn't pay any fine and set the matter for May 2?

Thanks!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes ... Please help


As I believe the officer cited me unfairly all he want is my money and believe get an easy $114!!!


 


Just want a fair hearing with a fair judge

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi Tam,

Again, I am sorry for the delay. I had 2 other customers that I had to assist.

Unlike other states, civil traffic infractions in Florida are prosecuted by the ticketing officer and not the elected state attorney, through one of his or her assistant state attorneys. This means it is you against the ticketing officer.

If you are unable to raise and win a pre-trial motion that the judge is biased according to the Florida Court Rules, and have your case heard by another judge, then you can proceed to trial against the officer.

 

The officer testifies first. He must establish that the event occurred in the correct jurisdiction, that he made contact with you and established your identity by way of driver’s license or other form of identification, and then attempt to prove the infraction for which you were ticketed. Once the officer rests his case, then the you can cross-examine the police officer. You can ask how far he was away from you when he saw you and how he saw that you didn't have on a seat belt (especially if he was watching where he was driving), and any other questions that may bring his credibility into question.

 

Then, it will be your turn to testify. You can offer your forms of evidence either in the form of testimony or other visual evidence. Keep in mind that it is not enough to testify that you had on your seat belt. The presumption of correctness lies with the ticketing officer. So, if possible, it is very helpful to have a witness testify on your behalf.

 

Then, the judge will determine whether the ticketing officer has met his burden of proof. If the judge believes the officer, then the judge will sentence you. If not, then the case against you is dismissed.

If you are found guilty of the offense, then it is important to ask the judge that adjudication be withheld. This means that you are not convicted of the offense (i.e. no points issued against your driver’s license). The judge will look at your driving record in determining whether to convict you of the offense. Also, the judge will determine the fine.

If you were in an accident on the same day that you received the seat belt ticket, it may be possible that you were in some type of pain (eg. a stiff neck, sore). If you were to go to the Dr. and s/he determined that it would be physically bad for you to wear the seat belt on that day, then that is evidence that could allow your case to be dismissed.

I understand that you think that "it's all about the money." But, I can assure you, there are MANY, MANY people all over the country that have the same feelings as you do. And, like you, there are MANY, MANY people who believe that they did nothing wrong and want to fight their tickets.

You just need to be prepared to cross examine the officer about what he saw or didn't see, whether he was distracted by anything (other traffic or vehicles or trees, traffic lights, buildings) and therefore didn't see that you actually had on your seat belt, make sure that the ticket was properly written, and that you had your seat belt on until the officer stopped you. You may have taken it off so as to get access to your license, insurance, etc.

And, make sure that when you testify, you stay calm and tell the judge the legal reasons as to why you should not be found guilty. Again, you may wish to get a letter from your doctor as to your condition as a result of the accident.

I hope you find this information useful.

If you are satisfied with my answer PLEASE RATE MY ANSWER AS EXCELLENT OR ANOTHER POSITIVE RATING. If you have follow up questions, please ask. My goal is to give you excellent service.

Thanks for your business.

xavierjd
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

 


Thank you for your times and helping. The info you have provided seem to be helpful. But I have 2 specific questions.


 


First, how am I getting a fair trail if I have the same unfair judge?


Second, Should the burden fall in the officer to prove that I in fact not wearing seatbelt not that he believe or thought but concrete fact.


Third, in FL, this should be on fine with no point right? If I go to trial, can a judge asses point just to punish me by wasting the court time + his or her time?


 


I also have some question about your answer too


 


Regarding the following statement:


 


If you are unable to raise and win a pre-trial motion that the judge is biased according to the Florida Court Rules, and have your case heard by another judge, then you can proceed to trial against the officer.


 


I did not get a chance to say much, the judge reviewing my ticket and my driving record then proceed with her offer of the same $114 with no point, I would ask for $60.00 since It is no point + it is hard to fight against city hall and I must take time off from work which will cost me money too. So it would be easier to pay $60 and move on. But I felt that my rights were violated so I now will fight the ticket!!


 


Just like any argument, there is his side, her side and the right side. Since he give me a citation he would just stated that he saw me not wearing seatbelt, how would I challenge that, I can say I did in fact wear my seatbelt, he has no fact to support his saying, and I have no fact, because I was alone. The only the judge can do is exam my driving ticket to form a decision which is not fair and have no place in this ticket!


 


Why did he stop me and ask if I was the one involve in the accident early? Why did he follow me for 10 minute before decide to give me the ticket. What went in his head from the time he stop asking me to the time he decides to give me that ticket.


 


Regarding the following statement:


 


If you are found guilty of the offense, then it is important to ask the judge that adjudication be withheld. This means that you are not convicted of the offense (i.e. no points issued against your driver’s license). The judge will look at your driving record in determining whether to convict you of the offense. Also, the judge will determine the fine.


I thought this is no point offense and the state assesses $114.00; the judge can now assess point and changing the fine too?

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

First, you can try to file a Motion to Disqualify the judge because she is biased. However, I can tell you that this motion will most likely be denied. She will indicate, on the record, that she is not biased. Below is the Florida Court Rule that deals with disqualification of judges.

http://www.joffelaw.com/state-
rules/2-330.html

If she denies your motion, although she is sworn by law to be fair and impartial, she may not be happy with such a motion.

Actually, the fine for a seat belt violation is only $30.00 Below is a link to the Florida DMV updated as of today. The rest of the "fine" may be classified as court costs. Courts are allowed by statute to collect "costs." You are within your rights to ask the judge and/or the court Clerk what the costs are, and what they go to.

http://www.dmvflorida.org/seat-belt-laws.shtml


Finally, while a conviction for a seat belt violation will appear on your driving record, THERE ARE NO POINTS that are assessed. If you are convicted, the court can assess the fine plus court costs.

If you ask for the adjudication to be withheld (so that it doesn't appear on your record at all), the judge can still order you to pay court costs and/or attend a class, etc. Whether a seat belt violation will affect your insurance is between you and the insurance company. If your incenses will go up because of a seat belt conviction, then you may wish to ask for an adjudication to be withheld. If your insurance won't go up, then withholding an adjudication won't matter. And remember, it is totally within the discretion of the judge as to whether she will allow an adjudication to be withheld.

It is unlikely the judge will "bargain" the cost of the ticket. The fine by statute is $30. There may be costs that are assessed against every civil infraction (or seat belt) that equal the balance of the $114. Again, you have the right to know what the costs are and what they are going for.


In most states, the burden does fall on the officer to prove that you violated the law by not wearing a seat belt. But, that is NOT the case in Florida. No prosecutor is involved, and there is a rebutable presumption that the officer was correct in issuing the ticket.

Your job is to rebut the presumption. You can do that by asking questions of the officer to show that he had NO way of seeing that you without a seatbelt. You can ask the questions that I suggested and the questions that you posed in your response to me. Those are great questions!

The worst that can happen is that you are found guilty and have to pay the fine and cost. You can ask for time to pay. But, if the fine/cost goes unpaid after the date that the judge allows, your license will be suspend until it is paid. Then, you will have to go to the DMV and pay a reinstatement fee. YUCK!

The best thing that can happen is that either the officer doesn't show up (in which case you can ask for a dismissal) or that you are able to show the judge through the questions that you ask the officer and the answers he provides, that you did NOT commit the offense. Then, she will dismiss the case.

Again, if you can provide a doctor's note that you were not able to wear a seat belt because of any injuries that you obtained as a result of the accident, the case may be dismissed.

So, your options are to 1) pay the $114 and call it a day; 2) Have your hearing and hope that the officer doesn't appear, or that you show (through your question and answer) that you did not commit the offense; 3) Get a Dr. note so that the case can be dismissed; 4) If you are convicted, ask for a withholding of an adjudication (if that will keep your insurance rates down) or 5) Have your hearing and if you don't like the result, appeal the decision.

The choice is yours.

I hope you find this information useful.

If you are satisfied with my answer PLEASE RATE MY ANSWER AS EXCELLENT OR ANOTHER POSITIVE RATING. If you have follow up questions, please ask. My goal is to give you excellent service.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

 


Thank you for great info. I read the whole thread. And believe I understood you recommendation. Let's me summarize it for you to see if I got it right.


 


You believe I have 5 options but out of the 5 I believe fighting for it should be my best choice as I get tired of get pushing around, so I go with 2nd option. First option is not acceptable. Third option is not possible since I have no doctor here locally plus doctor would not be willing to write me a note after the fact. Fourth option, with this judge 100% it would be denied, so it would not be logical. The fifth is not likely as the appeal process is suck. And would be costly.


 


One last thing I want to confirm is in the worst case they fine me fine + court fee with no point and jail time.


 


I will ask him me following questions


- Do you have any picture or concrete facts to support what you saw that I did not wearing my seatbelt


- Why didn’t you cite me for not wearing seatbelt when you first approached me, instead you were asking about the accident early of that day? What was your motive or reason? Is there any coordination between 2 events?


Why did you drove away then decide to turn back and cite me for not wearing seatbelt? Did you notice additional fact that make you decide to punish me?


Did you take times to listen to my explanation?


How many tickets have you issued on that particular day?


Was there a quota that you must meet?


What condition was I when you stop me the first time and the second time when you give me the citation? Was I tired and sweating?


 


I need to be calm thru out the process.


 


Any additional questions I should ask? What is my chance base on what you knew?

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Your proposed questions sound great! However, you may think of changing and/or asking the following questions.

1. When you ask if the officer has any pictures, also ask if he has a video in his car. If so, was the video working? Does the officer have a copy of the video of your stop? If his car has a video, but it wasn't on or working when you were pulled over, why wasn't it on and/or why wasn't it working?

2. Regarding your question about the officer turning around and then citing you, you may wish to ask whether what additional facts caused him to stop you? DO NOT ask about "punishing" you. That will only make the officer have a bad attitude! You may ask what facts caused him to turn around and stop you, If he didn't see you not wearing your seat belt (he could see your shoulder harness was on/off when he was behind you). So, if he REALLY saw that you didn't have your seat belt on, why didn't he pull you over when he was behind you? Why did it take 10 minutes to stop you?

3. You may NOT wish to ask about "quotas." Believe it or not, police officers do NOT have quotas. However, that is a common misconception. Again, asking about quotas may only make the officer have a bad attitude.

4. You CAN ask if the officer was on any "seat belt enforcement" detail, such that he was "looking" to cite people for driving w/o a seatbelt. If so, how many seat belt tickets did he write that day?

5. In any case, how many seat belt tickets did he write on the day you got the ticket?

6. Be careful if you want to ask the officer about the difference in your "health" between the first and second time he saw you. You don't want to elicit the officer's testimony that if you were not well, you shouldn't have been driving!

7. Was there any other traffic that obstructed his view so that he didn't see you wearing your seatbelt?

8. Depending on his testimony, and the answers to your questions, you may find that you want to ask questions based on his testimony and follow up questions based on his answers to your questions.

I certainly can't guarantee that these are ALL of the questions that should be asked. I wasn't there during the stop, and I can only give you information. I am prohibited from giving legal advice.

But, I think that you are on the right track. You are certainly entitled to be heard. And the worst thing that can happen is that you are found responsible and have to pay the $114.

I hope you find this information useful.

If you are satisfied with my answer PLEASE RATE MY ANSWER AS EXCELLENT OR ANOTHER POSITIVE RATING. If you have follow up questions, please ask. My goal is to give you excellent service.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you very much for helping. Please answer this last question before we close out this case. The worst thing I would pay is $114 and no point plus no jail time, right?


Thanks,


Tam

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

1. There is NO jail time if you are convicted of a seat belt ticket (unless you don't pay the ticket and you are show caused for not paying the ticket, didn't appear, etc.)

2. If the fines/costs for the violation in the jurisdiction are $114, then the worst that can happen is that you have to pay that amount. I do NOT believe that you can be charged extra because you have asked for a hearing. However, to make sure, you can ask the Court Clerk (or Court Administrator).

I hope you find this information useful.

If you are satisfied with my answer PLEASE RATE MY ANSWER AS EXCELLENT OR ANOTHER POSITIVE RATING. If you have follow up questions, please ask. My goal is to give you excellent service.

xavierjd, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 3388
Experience: Over 20 yrs experience in prosecution and defense work
xavierjd and 10 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX time and just rated your service as GOOD. You seem to avoid answer about the point, let me try it one last time, in Florida, even going to the trial, could the judge assess point for seatbelt citation? Base on what you sent me, this ticket has zero point but I am concern if the judge has the power to ad point as she pleased.


Thanks,


Tam

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi Tam,

The answer to your question is NO. The judge CANNOT assess points for a seat belt violation in Florida. It doesn't matter if you go to trial. The law does NOT allow for the assessment of points for a seat belt violation.
Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi Tam,

Thank you very much for the "good service" rating and the generous bonus! Both are GREATLY APPRECIATED.

If you have any other questions, you can request me specifically as the expert.

Thanks again, and good luck.

xavierjd
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Question for you please, I have heard from another attorney that

“If you appear in court, you waive your right to paying the civil penalty amount. The Judge can fine you up to $1,000.00.”

 

 

Plus the judge can decide even without the present of the officer and find me guilty just base on my previous driving record!!!

 

I recalled you have said, “The answer to your question is NO. The judge CANNOT assess points for a seat belt violation in Florida. It doesn't matter if you go to trial. The law does NOT allow for the assessment of points for a seat belt violation.”

 

I am lost, would it be possible that because the county I have received the ticket is Duval county in JacksonvilleFL, that the judge can do whatever the judge pleased.

 

updated

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

I am sorry for the delay.

I am going to do some further digging....I will be back with you asap. It may take some time.

Thanks
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

 


There is no apology needed. Just need to gather all my input for May 2, 2013 hearing. And thank you for your help and times.


 


Take care,


Tam

Expert:  xavierjd replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

First, the Florida statute sets the fine for a seat belt violation at $30.00 There can be court costs assessed (which may account for the $114.00 amount that you were given.) However, courts cannot set costs that are outrageous! A judge only has so much discretion! S/he cannot set costs so high (eg. $1,000) just because a person requests a hearing an may be found guilty. If that were to happen to you, you should file a complaint against the judge with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. Below is a link to a Complaint form.

http://floridajqc.com/images/JQCComplaintForm.pdf


However, it is true that he burden does fall on YOU to prove that you DID NOT violate the law by not wearing a seat belt. No prosecutor is involved, and there is a rebutable presumption that the officer was correct in issuing the ticket. Again, that means that you can "rebut" that presumption by asking the officer (if s/he is there) by asking questions of the officer to show that s/he had NO way of seeing that you without a seatbelt. You can ask the questions that I suggested in my previous answer to you and the questions that you posed in your response to me. Those are great questions!

If the officer is NOT there, you should still ask for a dismissal. If the judge denies it, at least you have asked. Who knows? Your dismissal may be granted.

If your motion to dismiss is NOT granted, then you can tell your story to the judge and incorporate as many of the issues (questions) as to why the officer didn't see you without your seat belt, as possible.

Please remember that it is VERY important to BE PROFESSIONAL in presenting your story to the judge. Don't be argumentative or question the professionalism of the officer. Just stick to the facts in a very professional manner and put them in order from beginning to end. If the judge asks you questions, do NOT be argumentative. Always address the judge as "Judge" or "Your Honor," and directly answer her question. Don't add additional facts that may get you into a "hornet's nest!"

If the judge finds you guilty, just say "Thank you for listening, your honor." Ask how much the fine is and how much the costs are. Make sure that you ask her to separate the fine amount from the cost amount. If the fine and cost exceed the $114, politely ask why, and how the fine and cost amount are different from the $114. All of these things are important, because if you decide to appeal, or to file a complaint against the judge, you are "creating a record." You will most likely have to provide a copy of the written record either to the complaint, or to an appeal.

I hope you find this information useful.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business!

xavierjd

***Answers given are for informational purposes only and are not meant to replace the advice or assistance of an attorney licensed to practice law in your state. If you need any more information, please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

 


What is the purpose of file a complaint if the judge still able to do whatever she pleased!!!


 


Why the burden is fall on me not the officer, he accuse me of violate the law, should he submit facts (picture or video).


 


And yes I agreed that I must be respectful and professional even I have no respect for that judge at all if she made her decision base from thin air, that show her character, what in it to respect!!!


 


As always thank you for your knowledge and expertise.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.


I need your help again ... how can I post question to only you? I tried via your profile but the system want to post my questions to others since you are offline!!! And I only want you.

 

Few weeks ago I went home to visit my wife and my daughter, on the way back, I got speed ticket (91 in 70 MPH Zone) and not wearing seatbelt ticket. I called 2 days ago and was told my speed ticket will cost me $600. I know for sure I was much less than that, maybe 75 MPH not 91 MPH and it is my word against his! And for the seatbelt I did not wear it but when I saw him on the side I did put it on and he saw me have it on when he ticket me. Please give me an option. ================================Where are you? I missed you!

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