Trial for Solo in Carpool Lane or
Crossing Double-Yellow Lines
Carpool lane tickets are extremely common in Los Angeles, and throughout California. CHP patrol the freeways. So a traffic citation for a carpool lane violation is usually issued by a California Highway Patrol police officer. However, if you were in Torrance, for example, on the 405 freeway, then a Torrance police officer could pull you over and cite you for 21655.5 or 21655.8 of the California Vehicle Code for a carpool lane violation. Same goes for being on the 710 freeway in Long Beach, where an LAPD or Long Beach Police, or Los Angeles Port Authority Police or California Highway Patrol could cite you for any alleged California Vehicle Code section on the freeway. Despite popular belief, any California sworn police officer can cite for violations in California outside of their assigned city.
However, the ticket must be written into the court with the correct jurisdiction. It is not uncommon for a Seal Beach case, for example, to be accidentally written into Long Beach Traffic Court, formally called: Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, in Los Angeles County; or, for example, a Long Beach Courthouse case may be cited into the West Justice Center in Westminster in Orange County. Although both Long Beach and West are both traffic courts in California, and are both a Superior Court of California, they are in different jurisdications. Traffic tickets are separated between counties.
Some courts have more freeway tickets than other courts. In particular, Compton Courthouse has a lot of tickets written on the busy 91 freeway and 110 freeway. Whereas, other courts rarely have carpool tickets, like Torrance Traffic Court, where most tickets are local roads or highways.
Either way, you are better off fighting your ticket with an attorney, to help you present the facts and argue your case. There are many issues to consider beyond the freeway, like constitutional issues such as speedy trial rights.
There are two common carpool violations that you might see on your ticket. It could be for being solo in the carpool lane and it could also be for crossing double yellow lines out of carpool lane. It is common for officers to cite people for both, or one or the other. Both charges are $100 base fines, plus penalty assessments, totaling about $490 each. However, only crossing the double yellows is subject to one negligent operator point, i.e., a DMV point.
There are several potential issues most clients have, some in their favor and some not. The court cannot consider whether you intended to violate the law, only whether a violation occurred. Nevertheless, the court may dismiss a case if the signage and markings were confusing or unclear to the reasonable person in the general situation. There are other ways the case could get dismissed, such as if the prosecution does not establish all of the parts of the law that need to be presented.
At trial, the police officer will testify first. His perspective of what happened, will be different than yours. Then, you can question him. Then, you can testify or not as to what happened. Finally, you can argue your case.
With an attorney, you will better know what issues to focus on, what to argue, and how to prepare you case. For example, in the past when I have won carpool trials, one way was to have video of the carpool lane where the alleged violation occurred. This showed the court that the lane was not properly marked—case dismissed. (Obvious Disclaimer: You should not drive and video, it is dangerous. Maybe driver the route while a passenger is videoing the route.)
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