Learn How to Fight a Cell Phone Ticket in California

According to California law, you are not allowed to make phone calls or send text messages when driving car. Moreover no hands-free calls for drivers under 18. But there are some options you can consider if you receive a ticket for using a handset. There are a few useful tips you can try to fight a cell phone ticket in California. First of all you must know how to develop a defense strategy and then the court trial or trial by mail.

Defense Strategy

1. You need to convince the officer that you were using the phone while driving for an authorized purpose. California law allows you to use cell phone while driving if

  • You are using your cell phone to call 9-1-1.

  • You are on private property.

  • You are driving an emergency vehicle as law permits emergency vehicles to break conventional road rules.

2. You need to tell the court that you were not using cell phone to make call or send text message. Cell phones are used for a number of purposes such as driving direction, music, weather updated, news etc.

3. You are liable for the ticket only when you are driving the car. So when your car is parked there is nothing wrong in using the cell phone to make calls or send text messages.

4. Copies of your phone records can help you beat the ticket. Your chances of fighting the cell phone ticket are improved significantly if you are able to present copies of your phone records in the court. Phone records are often used to show that no calls were made at the time of the ticket.

5. Let your witnesses know that you are going to court. Witnesses may be called to testify.

Fight Your Ticket in Court


1.  Stalling for time can be an effective strategy. Tickets are dismissed if the issuing officer does not come to your court trial. There are ways to do so.

  • Requesting a change of venue is possible if you want to. When the venue is changed, the issuing officer often fails to attend the trial.

  • Keep extending your court date. In this way the issuing officer is less likely to remember the incident well.

  • Prosecutor is liable to provide evidence upon your request. You just need to file a discovery request for this purpose. In your cover letter you need to clearly mention that if the prosecutor fails to respond to your request in a timely manner, your case will be dismissed. Mail the letter certified mail, return receipt.

2. Don’t forget the date and time given by the traffic court. Get dressed properly before going to the court.

  • Your ticket will be dismissed, if the issuing officer is not present in the court.

  • If the issuing officer is present in the court, he or she will explain the event in the court. When the issuing officer is done, you too will be given a chance to speak. This is the time when you need witnesses if there are any.

3. Verdict

  • The ticket will be dismissed, if the traffic court does not find you guilty.

  • Request to attend the traffic school, if the traffic court finds you guilty. To attend the traffic school, you will have up to ninety days.  

  • Your ticket may not be expunged, if you have driving points on your record.

Fighting Ticket via Trial by Mail

1. It is also possible to request a trial by written declaration from the court. You will start the process by submitting a request using registered mail with return receipt. The form is also available online you just need to print out the form and take it to the courthouse.

2. Before your appearance date comes, make sure you submit your cell phone ticket defense and bail money (if any) to the court.

3. Wait for a Decision

  • The decision letter will be sent to your mailing address within one to three months.
  • You will receive a refund of your bail money, if you succeed in contesting the ticket. There is no need to take any further steps.
  • But losing a challenge means you need to file a form requesting a new court trial. You will be appearing in person for the new court trial.