The Use of Documentary Evidence in Traffic Court

A traffic court may establish special rules under the Vehicle Code for the trial of Vehicle Code infractions such as speeding and lane violations.  These rules may provide for testimony and other relevant evidence to be introduced in the form of a notice to appear and a business record or receipt (notwithstanding the hearsay rules set forth in Evid C §§1200–1380).  The Judge hearing the particular matter must inform the defendant of the summary nature of a proceeding under the court’s rules and of his or her right to confront and cross examine witnesses such as the police officer or CHP officer, to subpoena witnesses, and to be represented by a Kern County attorney. The court must ascertain that the defendant knowingly  and voluntarily waives these rights before proceeding. In a jurisdiction having a non-English-speaking population exceeding 5 percent of the total population in any one language, such as Kern County for example,  a written explanation of the court’s summary procedures must be made available in that language.

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