So I was nabbed today by a California CHP officer after briefly veering into the carpool lane to avoid an abrupt braking situation in Santa Clara traffic. As I was looking for my entry back into the non-HOV lanes (I was a single occupant), I ran right across a CHP officer that pulled me over. He was professional about it but wasn't particularly interested in hearing my situation. He wrote up the ticket, he had me sign it, off he went.
Now I understand that these are hefty fines (something like $340 or so in the Bay Area) but that they don't count as moving violations. How do I know this? Well, I was 'purposely' driving in the HOV lane about 15 months ago because I was late to pickup some family members at the airport. That time I was in the lane fully aware of the risks, so when I was caught, I paid the fine and had no issue with it. This second time around, it seems like I'm cursed since I hadn't been in the HOV lane since that last violation knowing the financial penalty that would be incurred. Just my luck I guess.....
So because of this, I have a few questions:
1. If I plead 'not guilty' to this ticket, can I opt for a trial by written declaration?
2. Is there a further penalty if I am found guilty beyond the normal HOV fine since I have a previous HOV violation within a specific timeframe?
3. Are there any reputable legal services that have shown success in defeating this type of violation?
Thanks in advance.............
Actually, a bit more information here. I happened to check my calendar and found that my 1st HOV violation was actually in Nov/Dec of 2004 so it looks like I have about 23 months between violations (the 1st violation was received in late Nov but paid in early Feb). Which also brings up a good question. Is it time from the ticket was received or the time from when a guilty judgement was rendered?
Anyhow, the timeframe between these tickets was larger that I originally thought. Comments?