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Is It OK to Sign a Ticket after a California Car Crash?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017By Richard Alexander

You thought it would not get any worse—the sound of screeching tires and the lurch of the vehicles colliding. The sound of sirens and your loved ones being taken away strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance. Then—the officer who first responded to the accident walks up to you and hands you a ticket. Your mind races, your first instinct is to launch into protestation, “But I wasn’t speeding!”, “I didn’t run the red light—they did!”, but you take a deep breath and calmly sign and take the ticket from the officer.

At the Scene of the Car Crash

You did the right thing. In California, signing a ticket is never an admission of guilt; it is merely an acknowledgement of your responsibility to show up in court when ordered to. When you get to court, you will have the opportunity to address the situation that led to the crash. But before that date, there are other steps that you should take to ensure that the proper result is reached once there.

First, get help! If no one else is around and you do not have a cell phone, you can leave the scene to get someone who is qualified to help.

Once the scene is being handled by authorities, work with the officer who is investigating the accident. Remember, you need only share the facts. Do not add opinion to the information you provide to the investigating officer. Keep it simple and direct.

Next, gather as much information as you can yourself—the other people who were around or involved may be hard to find once the immediate moment has passed.

After the Car Crash

You finally leave the scene of the accident, you signed the ticket, you made sure that everyone who needed to be notified has been, you have gathered some information for yourself to follow up with after the accident, and you have not given unnecessary information.

Remember that ticket you signed at the time of the crash saying you agreed to appear in court as specified? Now is the time for you to decide how you want to handle the ticket. Your options vary depending on the type of ticket you were issued and how you plan on addressing the ticket.

If you choose not to contest the ticket, you can plead "guilty" and not appear as long as you do so before the scheduled date of your hearing on the ticket. If you choose to contest the ticket, you can plead "not guilty" and have the matter decided at trial. Either way, you must show up to court and enter your plea if you do not do address it prior to the scheduled hearing date on your ticket.

At every step, from the moment of the accident until resolution of the case, consider contacting an experienced attorney to get help and advice on how best to proceed.

The Alexander Law Group, LLP is a nationally-recognized and award-winning personal injury law firm with offices in San Jose and San Francisco. We are passionate about our clients and our community. We are advocates for our clients and we invite you to read what our clients have to say. If you or someone you know has been injured, contact us at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. All calls are free and confidential.

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