To Pay or Not to Pay

Thursday, October 1, 2015 | 7:44 pm

We have all been there: you are just driving along minding your own business and suddenly you hear the sirens go off. You look behind you and see the red and blue flashing lights and your heart sinks. Busted.

Sometimes, you realize you’ve been caught red-handed, but other times you can be left wondering, “Did I really do something wrong?” Do you defend yourself in traffic court or do you hire a lawyer?

Before hiring a lawyer there are some things to remember. Don’t hire a lawyer in a hurry. You may be able to defend yourself with a little research or it might not be cost effective to fight the ticket at all. Take into consideration whether you are eligible for traffic school (you can only go once every 18 months and the courts have eliminated second offender traffic school), and whether it is a good idea to use up your one traffic school without putting up a fight. Insurance companies will still be able to see that you were convicted, but had the DMV Point Count “masked” by having gone to traffic school.

If you decide to hire an attorney, make sure you hire an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of your particular traffic court. Stay in the loop with your attorney. The two of you are a team and the final decisions should always be yours. Also, a good lawyer will always take the time to explain to you what everything means so you fully understand all the implications.

Donald J. Matson, a Pasadena lawyer, specializes in traffic and DUI offenses.

“I handpick my clients, so I have never taken a case that involves a client I wouldn’t want to zealously represent,” says Matson, explaining how he maintains an excellent attorney-client relationship.

One of the best ways to defend yourself is to know the details of the offense you are being charged with. For example, when it comes to speeding there are three types of speed limits, absolute, presumed and basic. California is a state with presumed speeding laws.

If Kelly from Pasadena gets pulled over going 65 in a 55 MPH zone then yes she is “presumed” to be speeding. However, if the weather is clear, the road is wide, and there are very few people out Kelly may be able to get out of this ticket.

If you are in an accident, never plead “guilty” to the offense. Even if you plan to just pay the fine it is better to enter no contest. A guilty plea could later be used against you in a civil case relating to that particular traffic accident.

Look for a local attorney. Local attorneys know the other players involved. They will have worked with the police officers, the judge, the court staff, and know the courtroom procedures. Also being local means they will be there when you need them to be.

Matson feels that, “By being local I’m definitely always available for my clients because I live a mile from the office, a mile from the courthouse, and my office is walking distance to Pasadena Superior Court.”

You know an attorney from the neighborhood will always be in your corner.

The next time you see those flashing lights in your rear view mirror, take a deep breath and remember you have options.

Law Offices of Donald J. Matson, PC is located at 301 E. Colorado Boulevard, Suite 325, Pasadena. For more information, please call (626) 773-6965 or visit



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