I live in Santa Clara, CA, and was riving to work as usual. A block from my house, I have to turn onto an expressway (3 lane major street) - it has a carpool lane along the right side so you have to go through it to get to the other lanes. This particular day, the traffic was very heavy and I wasn't able to switch into the other lane until crossing the next intersection but that's where a policeman was waiting to pull me over and give me a ticket. I had traveled less than half a block (around 0.3 miles). It's also difficult to get over close to the intersection because the second lane splits into two and people keep rushing to pass each other and get in what they think is the better of the two lanes (so it's difficult to tell where people are going to end up).
He didn't ask any questions at first or give me a chance to explain; he simply wrote the ticket. After doing so, I mentioned the short distance and that I was trying to get into the other lane. He seemed to realize that I had just got into that lane and wasn't trying to use it to get ahead but he'd already written the ticket and officers don't seem to change their mind after that point. So I'm trying to fight it in traffic court (trial by written declaration) - they didn't give me much time (around 2 weeks from the time they put it in the mail and I was out of town last week so it's due this Tuesday). Any info / help / suggestions / advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!