Automated Enforcement Citations: Statement of Identification

Unusual Practice Used by Sacramento Superior Court for Those Wanting to Contest a Red Light Camera Ticket in Writing

In California, anyone who receives a ticket for a traffic infraction can have the option to fight the ticket without going to court through a process called a Trial by Written Declaration. This is authorized by the California Vehicle Code, under section 40902 (a) (1). For those who receive a red light camera ticket, contesting the ticket through the mail is a lot more appealing than showing up in person in court where there is an officer with a binder from the camera company who will testify on the workings of the red light camera.

When a person contacts a court to request a Trial by Declaration, the court will send you the necessary state-approved forms for a Trial by Written Declaration (TR-205) and instructions. However if your red light camera ticket is filed with the Superior Court of Sacramento, this court tries to make it more difficult for you to contest your red light ticket with a Trial by Declaration.

The Sacramento Superior Court has a local form called a “Red Light Camera Statement of Identification” which states that “Without admitting guilt, I stipulate that I was the driver of the vehicle pictured in the automated enforcement photograph”. The form itself does not state anywhere that it is mandatory it is filled out, and in fact, the court website even only states, “...please complete the Red Light Camera Statement of Identification” (notice the use of the word please instead of must). However, if you don’t complete this you could receive a notice of non-compliance or ineligibility after filing your Trial by Declaration paperwork and be dropped from the courts Trial by Declaration Calendar.

If you are not allowed to proceed with a Trial by Declaration then your only option is a court trial (outside of just paying the fine and accepting the points going on your record). But what if it is not convenient for you to appear in court because of your work schedule or the distance you live from the court? What if you were not the driver, but do not know who the driver is or you do know who the driver is but don’t want to turn them in? Should you be prevented from using a Trial by Declaration simply because you cannot state under penalty of perjury that you were the driver?

With this unusual practice, the court is essentially saying that in order to avoid being dropped from the Trial by Declaration calendar, you must at least stipulate to one of the elements of the crime (identity – being the driver) which is an element that is supposed to be proved by the police department issuing the ticket, or your case will not be adjudicated (at least not by Trial by Declaration to which you have a right to contest your ticket by under 40902 (a) (1)). This unusual (dare say unfair or unjust) practice has been in use for some time and those who are concerned about the matter might consider writing to or calling the head judge in Sacramento or the head office for all California courts in San Francisco.

Contributed by, helping drivers contest and dismiss their traffic tickets.