Department of Motor Vehicles

How to Become a Safe Driver

Safe driving may seem to be common sense at first; but for whatever reason, once you’re behind the wheel of a car, you just can’t resist those dangerous driving behaviors.  Maybe you have a penchant for speeding, or perhaps your life is so busy that your long commute gives you the opportunity to multi-task.  Whatever the case may be, distracted and dangerous driving habits have made a mess of your driving history

And you’re ready to clean your act up.

Having a safe driving record (or DMV report) is critical for living a successful life.  Think about it this way: a sub-par driving record can prevent you from getting a job, getting cheaper premiums on your insurance, and even mess with your credit score (especially if you let any unpaid tickets linger).  When you have a clean driving record, there’s nothing but open road ahead of you.

If you want to learn how to become a safe driver, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Recognize the situations that tempt you into engaging in unsafe driving habits.  For example, if you continually speed more than twenty miles above the speed limit, recognize what behaviors propel you to this habit.  Do you tend to speed when you’re late for work or an event?  Or do you speed because you hate getting stuck behind slow drivers?  Recognize your reason and learn how to curtail those habits.  For example:
  • Make sure you leave enough time for you to get to work or an event.
  • If you’re stuck behind a slow driver, don’t get angry.  Instead, take a few deep breaths, put on a song you love, and enjoy having a few moments to yourself.
  1. Keep distracted driving tools out of reach, like your cell phone, as this will help you resist the urge to text.  With this in mind, keep all toll money, garage passes, and other related driving tools within easy reach.  This can prevent you from being distracted while driving, which can lower your chances for getting into an accident.
  1. If you’re prone to road rage – which can lead to accidents, speeding tickets, and other moving violations – find a way to work out your anger outside of the car.  Start hitting the gym more or pick up a hobby that makes you feel relaxed and fulfilled.  Road rage can often be symptomatic of deeper issues, so try to work them out before you get behind the wheel.

Use these tips to become a safer driver – and get your driving records clean again!

How the Recent Government Cuts Will Affect the DMV

While government officials and military personnel are busy hunkering down to prepare for the aftereffects of the recent government cuts, a major entity is discovering that it’s going to get hit hard – and it just might affect your everyday life.

The Department of Motor Vehicles, one of the largest government agencies in the United States, is expected to close hundreds of locations around the country to deal with the upcoming budget cuts.  In addition to these sudden changes, the DMV is looking to re-organize its core functions in order to continue providing the public with essential services.  This includes moving several services online, which means that many people might find it more difficult to obtain the information they need on their driving records and DMV reports.  Many DMV locations are closing altogether, leaving residents and businesses worried that they won’t be able to access the services they need.

This could prove to be a potential disaster for employers and job-seeking individuals, as driving records are a core component of extensive background checks within the hiring process.

“The budget cuts couldn’t have come at a worse time,” says Jeffrey Kellner, founder of  “With the economy still stagnating and jobs more scarce than ever, the information contained within driving records can make or break a person’s quest for the perfect career.”

Employers often look to driving records to determine if a person is responsibility and reliable.  If a potential employee has unpaid parking tickets, speeding offenses and even DUI arrests on their driving records, this could convince an employer to look elsewhere for a new hire.  Additionally, some job-seeking individuals have reported that driving record errors have prevented them from getting hired.

With so much at stake, the economy has made it more important than ever for people to access their driving records – but the recent budget cuts look to threaten hassle-free access to DMV reports.  This is why services like are stepping in to pick up where the Department of Motor Vehicles left off.  Online driving record searches take the burden off of the DMV, and also make it easier for people to find the information they need without going through the hassle of the DMV’s severely constrained services.

While the extent of the budget cuts have yet to be felt, businesses and individuals are looking to mitigate any potential setbacks by moving their needs to

Is Paying Your Traffic Ticket Necessary or is Traffic Court the Way to Go?

What seems like the worst thing in the world happens. You are driving down the road,
see those flashing lights behind you, and moments later you are handed a citation. This
citation details your requirements for resolving the ticket, which include the option to pay
at the appropriate location or attend a court date that will determine whether you are
guilty or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Graduated Driver’s License Law Receiving Great Attention to Combat Recent Tragedy

When teen drivers are seeking their privilege to get on the road, they aren’t really thinking of the many dangers that they are taking on before them. Getting their license  is all they think about, and the laws and rules are often the last thing on their minds. However, there are laws that are imposed on teen drivers that are much stricter than those for adults, ensuring that the many factors of teen driving mistakes and irresponsibility are taken into account before they are permitted to drive.
In New Jersey, there is a law mandating that all teen drivers under the age of 18 are only permitted to drive when there is no more than one passenger within the vehicle. Why this law is important is because teen drivers are the greatest risk to the roads, and if they have many passengers, not only is their attention diverted, but they are also putting many more lives at risk.
Sadly, a 17 year old driver, Casey Brenner, with 7 passengers within the vehicle recently crashed an SUV causing the death of the driver as well as 3 other passengers. This sad tragedy has brought much attention to this significant law to prohibit driving under 18 with more than one passenger present in the vehicle.
When first obtaining a license in New Jersey, until the age of 18, a restricted license is obtained, which prohibits more than one passenger in the vehicle during operation. However, disregarding this law, the young driver became another statistic in teen driving, and another lesson as to why the Graduated Driver’s License Law is so important, and even bringing question to any gaps or issues with the law that could be allowing more and more teens to become and help create new fatalities on the roadways.
The Graduated Driver’s License Law is now getting some great attention, making sure that the story of these teens doesn’t continue, although it is becoming a struggle to maintain accordance with this law by new teens anxious to get on the road and transport their pals around.
One lesson, however, that is learned through the incident is that these laws are created for a reason, therefore should be a main consideration before getting a license and behind the wheel. For these teens, there are no second chances, but for other teens in New Jersey, and throughout the U.S. as well, the chance is now to make the right decision and ensure that they too do not become a statistic of the road.

Virginia Reckless Driving Laws Speeding over 80mph ??

Virginia has recently introduced a hefty speeding ticket fine of $3550 or more based on the amount over the limit that a driver is ticketed for. This creates a great challenge for those motorists in the state that are common to speeding tickets and gives a great reason for drivers to be a lot more careful in watching their speed.  This is a law that may seem a bit crude and outrageous, but it is creating safer streets, motivating drivers to slow down and follow the limits that are posted.

These fees are seen in hefty tax increases that are assessed to drivers of VA that are convicted of speeding in the state. This gives concern to these drivers, but the main method of avoiding such horrendous taxing on their yearly taxes is to avoid speeding, always follow the traffic laws, and maintain a quality driving record.

Even driving 15 MPH over the legal limit when driving on an interstate highway can bring 6 points on a license, with fines up to $2,500, with a year in jail possible and $1,050 assessed in taxes. This alone brings speeding over the limit by merely 15 MPH to a cost of $3,550 and a possible jail sentence. For drivers that are driving 20 miles or more over the speed limit, there is a charge of reckless driving, which is for all those motorists driving 80 MPH or more. While 80 may not seem to be a high speed, if you are in a zone that doesn’t permit 80, you are likely going to jail for reckless driving. You will also have to pay $350 for 3 years following with fees that can go well over $3000 in total.

This is a law that is gaining a great deal of attention as drivers are wondering whether it is even constitutional to gain such a great revenue from tickets alone. Why should motorists have to pay nearly $4,000 for going merely 15 MPH, with yearly assessed taxes as well? Well, the reason is to keep speeders off the roadways and keep those drivers that are following the rules safe. It is to encourage those who think they will get away with speeding to not even try as there can be great penalties for doing so – so much that it could affect your lifestyle for years afterwards. With the new fines and penalties imposed, drivers are thinking twice about putting the pedal to the metal.


The Basics On How Red Light Cameras Work (And how to avoid a ticket!)

Sara Schoonover


Imagine: It’s a rather common day and you’re running around town, knocking errands off your to-do list when all of a sudden, you see an array of bright, flashing lights as you stroll through one of the same intersections you drive through every day.

You think to yourself, “I don’t think we were expecting a lightening storm!” and then you realize that you probably set off the flashes at a red light camera. Paranoid, you go online to do some research about how long it takes for them to send you a ticket, and how much it’s going to cost you.

You wait and wait and about a week later, you get a fancy $500 notice in the mail with several pictures of you with the surprised “flash” face as you made your way into the intersection, only milliseconds after it had turned red. How can this be? You were sure you didn’t run that light!

Sound familiar? If you drive in one of the 70+ cities in California that operate red light camera systems, it’s very likely that you have experienced a similar situation, or know someone who has. Red light cameras bring millions of dollars in every year to the cities and camera companies. There are many different conspiracy theories on them, but we’ve got the inside scoop on exactly how they’re run, and how you can avoid the headache of a ticket.

A Brief History

The first red light camera systems began as early as the 1960’s and are said to have been introduced into the United States by the 1980’s. Currently, red light camera systems are run in 25 states across the US. Fines generated by citations differ from state to state, but are as high as $500 in California. Supporters of the systems uphold that the cameras are designed to reduce the number of accidents at selected intersections, but some studies contradict that claim. Opponents argue that the systems are run as a revenue generator and have little to no affect on accident reduction. It’s an on-going debate as to whether red light cameras violate constitutional laws protecting the public.

How They Work

If you haven’t already figured out, red light cameras are designed to capture photos of red light runners. More specifically, they’re installed at specified intersections to capture red light runners turning right without stopping completely (or making illegal right hand turns), turning left on red, or going straight through the intersection on a red. The cameras are placed on the corners of the intersection and are activated by induction loop sensors embedded under the road which create a magnetic field around the entrance to the intersection. When a vehicle enters the magnetic field at a speed in which it detects that you will run the light, it causes the camera systems to activate and begin recording the incident. Pictures are taken of the vehicle entering and leaving the intersection, and of the driver’s face and the vehicle’s license plate.

The photos are gathered by the police department and are then reviewed by an officer. If the officer determines that the driver did apparently commit a violation, they will send the ticket to the owner on the vehicle’s registration and file it with the courthouse to follow up. In California, the police department must issue the ticket within 15 days of the date of violation. The California court system allows defendants to contest the alleged violation in a court trial or trial by written declaration (trial by mail).

Legal Issues

Many argue that the officer who issues the ticket and testifies in court to a disputed case is not the proper person to present the photographic evidence, since he or she is not an expert in the camera systems.

The company that owns and operates the cameras contracts with the city to operate a ticket-based red light camera program. In California, cities are bound by a vast multitude of rules and regulations when operating a red light camera program.

For example, when installing a new red light camera at an intersection, the program must follow a 30 day warning period at that intersection before issuing actual citations to violators. The city must also make proper public announcements when installing cameras at new approaches and intersections. The law requires for there to be proper signs placed at each intersection’s approach, even if the intersection has a camera at only one approach, or for the city to have proper signs at each city entrance, indicating the use of red light camera systems within the city.
If the city is not in full compliance with each regulation, their red light camera program might be deemed illegal by the judge, as has been in the case of many cities, such as Napa in 2011 when the judge deemed that the “cost neutrality” clause in the cities’ contract with the camera company was unconstitutional.

How to Avoid Them

Undoubtedly, the best way to avoid a red light camera ticket is to come to a complete stop before the limit line before the light turns red.
It’s very common for drivers who are making a right on red (which is legal in California, unless otherwise noted) to slow down, look, and turn if no one else is coming.
California vehicle code 21453(a) stats that a driver “shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection.” Red light cameras are designed to capture drivers who turn right without completely stopping before the limit line.
A huge percentage of red light tickets that are issued are for this violation, and cost as much as if the driver blew straight through the light.

Opponents use this information to support their claim that red light cameras are simply revenue generators, arguing that making a right on red without stopping completely is not as dangerous as blowing straight through the light. Legislators in the past have tried to pass laws that separate the two incidences into two separate violations, with right on reds being less expensive than runners driving straight through the light. As it stands, the two incidences result in the same fine, and the same violation.

If You Get a Ticket

Although California’s red light camera ticket fines are debatably expensive, the California court system does make it fairly easy to contest a ticket through a trial by written declaration. This option allows drivers to contest their case through the mail, and gives drivers who are found guilty a second option to fight it in court through a trial de novo.

Many people who have received red light camera tickets have decided to contest their ticket, not because they didn’t think they ran the light, but because they simply couldn’t afford the high fines and insurance hikes from the potential point placed on their record.

Many feel that the cameras are unconstitutional and violate their rights as citizens with being recorded on camera. Until the vast majority of lawmakers and government authorities can agree that this is the case, red light camera systems will continue to be a multi-million dollar revenue source for cities.

Sara Schoonover is Vice President of Ticket Kick a California company that helps drivers get  red light camera tickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly. You should also get a copy of your DMV driving record at

How CA Drivers Are Affected by New Traffic School Laws

Sara Schoonover


September 21, 2011

  Got a traffic ticket? Thinking about just paying it and taking traffic school? Think again. In July, California Assembly Bill 2499 went into affect, changing the scene in the courtroom of who may be able to attend traffic school to keep their driving record clean. Lets start with the basics, and go into how this new law can affect you as a driver.


What is traffic school?

Traffic school is a government regulated program designed to teach people how to become safer drivers. When you get a traffic ticket, the court might make a deal with you: take a traffic school course and they’ll keep a point off of your record. The point system is a way for the DMV and insurance companies to determine how risky you are on the road. Three points in 3 years on your record could mean suspension of your driver’s license, and insurance hikes of 20% or more, not to mention unhappy letters from the DMV.


What is the new law all about?

Before AB 2499 went into effect, the judges were allowed to grant traffic school to just about anyone at their discretion. The new law prohibits judges to approve traffic school unless the driver meets specific eligibility requirements outlined in the law as follows: Only non commercial drivers who have not previously attended traffic school in the last 18 months may be allowed to attend. Once you take traffic school, you will not be granted it again if you get another ticket within 18 months. Period.


This rule goes for drivers who get more than one ticket in more than one county or courthouse. The California court system now has a more solid way of communicating with each-other on who has or hasn’t attended. You simply cannot fall through the cracks of the court anymore. Fighting it may seem more appealing now.


The term “clean driving record” no longer applies with traffic school

It used to be that when you attended traffic school, you obtained a ticket dismissal on your driving record as if it never existed. Now, a violation will still appear on your record as “confidential,” but not as a point. The only way to actually keep your record clean if you get a ticket is to try to fight it and have it completely dismissed within the court’s records.


A comparison analysis of what a ticket could cost you

Lets look at a few options you have when you get a traffic ticket and what could be the related costs in terms of traffic school:



Plead guilty, pay the fine, accept the point.

California imparts some of the highest fines associated with traffic tickets. The average speeding ticket fines in California can be anywhere from $250-$400. The all-too popular redlight cameratickets cost about $500. Then there’s the insurance rates. One insurance company said that they automatically raise rates 20% if they see two tickets within three years or for a suspension due to any unresolved tickets. That’s hundreds of dollars more per year in insurance hikes. Yikes!


Plead guilty, pay the fine, attend traffic school.

If you choose to request traffic school and are approved, you’d be looking at paying your ticket fine, paying the court’s traffic school fee (generally another $60), and then paying the actual traffic school. You’d be saving money in any future insurance hikes but you’d be looking at initially forking out close to $1,000 depending on your violation, and using up your traffic school option for the next year and a half.


Plead not guilty, fight the ticket

The California court system makes it fairly easy to contest a traffic ticket through a trial by written declaration (trial by mail). If you fight your ticket and win, not only do you save on the ticket fines, but you eliminate the need to attend traffic school therefore saving those related costs. If you fight your ticket and lose, you’re back to square one and can then resort to traffic school.


Some estimates say that over 16 million traffic tickets are given out in California every year. Many people still choose the route of paying their ticket and attending traffic school. For many, it may seem like the easiest way, but now with stricter restrictions on traffic school eligibility, and with the high ticket fines that most people simply cannot afford in today’s economy, many are re-thinking pleading guilty and actually trying to beat traffic tickets.


Sara Schoonover is Vice President of of Ticket Kick, a California company that helps drivers get red light cameratickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly.



How to Save the Most Gas Today

Saving gas is one of the most sought after practices that exist today, but not many people can tell you how to really get the most for the money you spend in gas. A lot of people will blame their vehicles for loss of gas too fast or low MPG’s, but in many cases it is actually the fault of the driver more so than anything else. So, how can you make sure that $20 gets you where you are planning to go efficiently?

Take Your Time

You don’t have to drive like your grandmother who is scared to approach other drivers, but you should be taking a bit of time when driving, as mashing down the gas can suck every drop out of the gas tank before you get halfway there. So many people forget that patience is a virtue, and proceed to rush everywhere they go, often looking at the gas hand wondering why it is going much quicker than it should. However, if you take your time driving and follow a speed that is less gas heavy, you can be sure that you will save a great deal more gas.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Maintaining your vehicle is not only wise, it is necessary to keep your vehicle’s MPG’s higher. If you aren’t changing the oil, checking the other fluids, maintaining proper tire tread and balance, and performing other maintenance tasks, you will find that your vehicle burns through gas much quicker. In most cases, the higher consumption of gas can be attributed to some sort of issue with the vehicle that could have been caught with simple maintenance and prevented from causing great costs to you.

Keep a More Economic Vehicle

Driving those big engine vehicles just doesn’t work with gas anymore and can be a definite way to watch your pockets slim down for gas. Getting an economical vehicle today is a must if you want to save the most gas – even if you just have a small vehicle for big runs and keep the vehicle you really want for fun. It is the practice of today and most drivers are finding out how important it is to give in and get a vehicle that can achieve more MPG’s much easier.

Keeping your eye on the fuel is only natural these days as gas reaches $5 and more in some states. As people are seeking a way to cut down their gas prices, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure the vehicle you do have is burning gas more efficiently, and the vehicle that you are looking for is able to offer the MPG’s that you want. After all, why should you be spending all your hard earned money from work trying to pay for gas to get to work, when you could easily put some of that money aside and still keep the trip you always have? Short of getting on a bike or trusting your feet for the trip, getting ahold of wiser gas saving tips is necessary.

Current Change in New York Renewal Driver License Requirements

No less than three New York senators are debating the New York Department of Motor Vehicles decision to ban vision tests, when drivers renew their licenses.  This change went into effect at New York DMVs across the state this past Wednesday.

In New York State, driver’s licenses must be renewed every 10 years or so, depending on the circumstances.  With DMV currently planning to drop the need for an eye test during a driver’s license renewal, Senator James L. Seward, R-Oneonta, states DMV is being reckless.  Obviously, during the years between renewing the license, there is plenty of time for the driver’s vision to change.

Spokesperson for DMV, Jackie McGinnis, disagrees.  According to McGinnis, DMV has carefully researched the issue and considered the potential outcomes that could result.

During the years between 1993 to 2000 drivers were not required to be tested for vision.  According to McGinnis, there were no negative outcomes regarding traffic safety.

The Senators that expressed concern over the issue have come out against the change.  However, neither of the two Onondaga County senators has yet taken a stand.

A solution to find a medium between the customer convenience offered by  DMV and public safety is currently being researched by Senator David Valesky, D-Oneida.

In the past, each New York State driver was required to take a vision examine at the DMV when renewing their license.  The driver also had the option of submitting the results of their vision exams that were performed by their physicians.

With the change, vision exams are no longer necessary, and the only requirement is for the driver renewing their license to certify that they are not suffering from any vision problems.  The driver also self-certifies that they are not suffering from heart ailments, hearing problems and other medical conditions that could impair their driving ability.

The change does not apply to those that hold their commercial license, and they will still need to take the medical and vision exams each two years when renewing their license.

Spokesperson for DMV, Jackie McGinnis, claims that the agency decided upon the change in order to offer drivers the availability of renewing their licenses online.

In the United States, there are currently 14 states that do not require vision

How to Get a Ticket Dismissed (Almost) Every Time with TicketKick

How to Get a Ticket Dismissed (Almost) Every Time
Sara Schoonover

Have you ever known someone who received a traffic ticket? Chances are, you’ve heard your friend complain about the speeding ticket he got last week. He was only doing 80 with the flow of traffic, how could the cop write him a ticket! Or, how about your aunt who received one of those red light camera tickets in the mail claiming she didn’t stop completely before making a right on a red. She was sure she stopped that day, but now she faces a $500 ticket fine that she can’t afford since her husband was recently laid off, and she really doesn’t want to deal with fighting it in court.

These circumstances make us really start to appreciate living in California (or the few other states with a similar court system). Our courts make it fairly easy for drivers to fight their traffic ticket…and win! Most people think that their only option to fight their ticket is to go to court, wait in line, and plead their case in front of an intimidating judge only to be found guilty and left with few options but to just pay it off and drive really carefully for the next three years. But there is another option that most people seem to overlook-it’s called the trial by written declaration and it allows drivers to contest their ticket through the mail without ever having to appear in court. In fact, you will find information for the trial by written declaration right on the back of your ticket.

What kind of tickets are eligible for a trial by written declaration?

Just about every traffic infraction with a California vehicle code that is not past-due is eligible for a trial by written declaration, i.e. speeding tickets, stop sign tickets, red light tickets, red light camera tickets, cell phone tickets, tail-gaiting, etc. The trial by written declaration forms can be downloaded from most court websites. Some courthouses have their own policies for filing a trial by written declaration, so be sure to check your court’s website or contact them for specific instructions.

For those who doubt, there are several benefits to pursuing a trial by written declaration.

● It’s convenient. No long trips to the courthouse. No waiting in lines.

● It allows for a comprehensive written argument based on well prepared legal research.

● It’s a great place to start, assuring that if you are found guilty, you would then have the option for a trial de novo (retrial) or the opportunity to request traffic school. It’s a no-brainer to give it a shot.

1. It’s effective.The officers are required to write in their statement but they don’t get paid to do so, so generally they don’t have a huge incentive to write a lengthy statement against you.

So what do you write in your trial by written declaration, anyhow?

Here’s an insider look at how one of the top legal companies in California formulates defenses for their drivers. Greg Muender, president and founder of TicketKick shares his tips:
● Become fully aware of what you’re dealing with. Research what the law says about your violation, break it down, and find the loopholes that apply to your case. For example, red light camera law establishes lengthy requirements that cities must abide by in operating the camera systems. Use public resources to determine if all requirements have been met.
● Research similar published cases (case precedent) and cite them when applicable.
● Stick to the facts about your case. Do not formulate any excuses about why you did whatever you did. Do not admit guilt.
● Remember, the trial by written declaration is a legal document which leaves no room for spelling or grammatical errors. If your statement includes legal jargon, including cited case precedent, be sure to use it properly and authoritatively.
● Identify the ways that you are not guilty, and use that as a foundation to convince the judge why he should dismiss the case.

With ticket fines higher than ever, and the average speeding ticket costing between $250-$400 and everyone’s favorite red light camera tickets about $500 a pop, the trial by written declaration has proven to millions of drivers to be an effective way to beat traffic tickets, saving drivers hundreds of dollars in ticket fines, adding no points to their record or raising insurance rates, and saving the time and hassle it takes in going to the courthouse or taking traffic school.

Recent Posts

Find by Category

Blog Search

Browse by Page title


May 2016
« Nov