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Saturday, Sep 30, 2023

Letting Phone Take The Wheel

It may seem counterintuitive, but a Westlake Village company that helps drivers avoid moving violations wants you to use a cell phone while driving. Ticketbust.com offers a free app that will locate driving hazards, including speed traps and red light cameras. It also calculates points for violations on a driving record. The company released the app, which works on Apple and Android phones, as an extension of an earlier version that let drivers upload citations to start the process of fighting a ticket. Ticketbust is among several local companies that have made a lucrative business out of helping drivers beat traffic cops in court. The company charges $249, including filing fees, to guide drivers through a “trial by written declaration,” a method in which drivers forgo appearing in person to contest a citation and instead request a court review of written documents. The company said it has helped more than 75,000 California drivers get out of a ticket, sometimes on technicalities and often because traffic cops don’t want to file the extensive paperwork the process requires. “Business has been good,” said Steven Miller, Ticketbust co-founder and president. “In this down economy, people don’t want to pay their tickets. And for commercial drivers, this could affect their livelihood.” So what about the legality of using an app on a cell phone to find a speed trap while driving? Miller says there’s a loophole for that. “The law states that it’s illegal to communicate with another person. When you’re looking up directions, you’re not. So as the law currently stands, it’s legal to do so,” he said. But what to do if an officer can’t tell the difference? “You shouldn’t argue. In fact, you should keep your mouth shut,” he said. “We’ve gotten thousands of those dismissed.” – Kelly Goff

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