Bigger & Harman, APC - February 2020




DRIVER Attorneys Defending Your Right to the Road



While my team’s Super Bowl hopes may have been dashed this year, and March Madness is still on the horizon, I do have one source of sports bliss to tide me over this month. Spring Training is here, and you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye on the Red Sox as they prepare for another season. Beyond just the Sox, I’m always interested to watch the way each manager builds and structures his team. With the recent departure of Alex Cora, I’m hoping the Red Sox finalize the position soon. Without getting too “inside baseball,” I’m an admirer of the work MLB managers do. Not only are they in uniform and in the dugout with the players, but they are also deep in the inner workings of the game. So much of managing a team revolves around learning all the resources they have at their disposal and using them to the best of your ability. Honestly, their job is a lot like being a lawyer. Now, I’m not saying Mark and I are the same as legends like Walter Alston or Joe McCarthy, but there are parallels in both professions. In fact, I’d argue that the qualities a team owner looks for in a new manager are the same people seek out when they need a lawyer. It all starts with understanding the game. Ultimately, baseball games and legal cases come down to knowing the odds. If you’ve ever seen “Moneyball,” you know this is true for baseball: Knowing every player’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your opponent, is critical for leveraging game-winning decisions. Likewise, lawyers have to do their best to leverage the factors that go into a case. Just like managers, lawyers have very little control of the factors they have to work with. Just as a manager has little or no control over the players

the team hires, the umpires assigned to a game, or the team they get to play, a lawyer has to work with the evidence they are given, the judges put on their case, and the prosecutors assigned against them. Success in both scenarios hinges on accounting for all these facts and charting the best course of action.


Essentially, a great attorney has to know when to bunt and when to swing for the

fences. Fighting for a case to be dropped regardless of circumstances will only result in strikeout after strikeout. Sometimes it’s better to push for a reduced sentence that preserves what’s most important to a client rather than risk everything on a one-in-a-million shot. Mark and I may not have our version of Spring Training — though a trip to Florida sounds nice — but we still take our jobs as seriously as those in the big leagues do, if not more so. After all, much more than a game is on the line when we go to court. We know livelihoods are at stake, and you can rest assured we’ll look for every opportunity to knock it out of the park for you.

Here’s to a great season,

– Paul Harman

(661) 859-1177 | 1

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“The sign up ahead says 55 mph. Why am I being pulled over?” It’s a common enough mistake. Many drivers jump the gun on accelerating to match the speed limit posted on an upcoming sign, only to wind up with a hefty traffic ticket. With this in mind, here are the details on this and other misconceptions that get even experienced drivers in trouble. WHEN SIGNS MATTER Speed limit signs must be posted at the place where the limit changes. That leaves no room for interpretation: You can’t speed up the moment you see the 55-mph sign. Until you pass it, you are still operating under whatever the last posted limit was. This

are bad enough, an officer may determine you are going faster than “is prudent” given the hazards on the road. For example, going 45 in a 55 might get you a speeding ticket if thick fog is obscuring the road. THE SPEED OF (YELLOW) LIGHT Last, but not least, drivers can find themselves on the wrong end of a traffic ticket if they misjudge the length of a yellow light. Many drivers don’t know the amount of time between lights is actually regulated by the state, with the duration determined by the speed limit. For example, in most situations in a 25-mph zone, the light should stay yellow for three seconds, but in most

rule also has an asymmetrical effect: While you can’t speed up to match an upcoming zone, you’ll have to slow down to match one that has a lower limit. The moment you pass a 35-mph sign while doing 45, you’re breaking the law. WHEN THEY DON’T As stringent as these rules are, there are situations when going even slightly under the posted speed limit could land you a ticket. When conditions

45-mph zones, it must stay yellow for 4.3 seconds statewide. Longtime drivers can internalize these subtle variations and wind up making a mistake if they misjudge the speed limit. In all these situations, awareness is your best friend. Follow the signs, adjust for conditions, and don’t take a chance on a stale yellow light. If you do wind up in trouble with the law, a skilled traffic attorney can help you understand your options going forward.

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California Vehicle Code allows for certain traffic infraction citations to be challenged in writing rather than necessitate you appear in court. On the surface, this seems like a fantastic deal for commercial drivers — they can defend their driving record without taking the time off work to appear in court. However, the trial by written declaration (TBD) process can be less like a shortcut and more like a blind alley: If you drive a big rig, you may find yourself boxed in. It’s not always the best choice. A MISLEADING OFFER Some “mail-order” lawyers have built their whole practice around the TBD process. They offer to send in the letter without any court appearance needed on your part. They may even advertise that if your case isn’t dismissed by the court, you can just attend traffic violators school (TVS) to keep your record clean. While this can be the case for your average driver, this isn’t true for CDL drivers. If you were driving a commercial vehicle when you received a ticket, you aren’t eligible for TVS. A LACK OF OPTIONS By automatically choosing the TBD process, you may be eliminating better options on your case. Each court handles tickets a little differently. Sometimes, it’s better to contest the matter in court. That’s why it’s important to hire a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of each option. When your driving record is on the chopping block — and by extension your future employment — you probably don’t want a defense that is literally paper-thin. The TBD can leave you forgoing other options that probably would have worked out better in your particular case. YOUR ROUTE PLAN Rather than always taking the short cut, you deserve to know every legal path you have open to you. Traffic attorneys who regularly defend CDL holders, like Mark Bigger and Paul Harman, can help you plan the best possible route out of your difficult situation. That could mean fighting a ticket outright, arguing for lighter charges, pursuing other tactics fit for your specific situation, or perhaps the TBD process. However, don’t roll the dice on an inflexible TBD process without considering your other options. If your future as a CDL holder is on the line, give us a call at 661-859-1177. Se habla español.





(661) 859-1177 | 3


Toll-Free (661) 859-1177 Se Habla Español


1701 Westwind Drive Suite 203 Bakersfield, CA 93301


Could a Lawyer Manage a Baseball Team? .......................................... PAGE 1

Products for Better Pictures ................... PAGE 2

Mistakes That Lead to Tickets ................ PAGE 2

The Written Declaration: A CDL Trap ... PAGE 3

Give the Gift of Life .................................. PAGE 4

Have a ticket in California? Give us a call, and we’ll help you out! Regardless of the location, we can point you in the right direction free of charge!

With all the cards, chocolates, and expensive dinners, it’s easy to get cynical about Valentine’s Day. However, National Donor Day also falls on Feb. 14, and it can refocus our attention back on the real meaning of the day: love. In the U.S., 20 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant. Losing loved ones is one of the most painful aspects of the human experience, and while it is unavoidable, organ donation offers a pathway to help prevent that loss and keep more love in the world. GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE FEB. 14 IS NATIONAL DONOR DAY

JOIN A DONOR DASH. Donor Dash fundraising events pop up all over the country on National Donor Day. These noncompetitive 5K running and walking events are designed to bring donors and recipients together and keep hope alive for those who are currently waiting for a donation. To learn more, or to register for an event, check out PARTICIPATE IN #STARTTHECONVERSATION. Donor Alliance, a nonprofit that works to promote organ donation, began the #StartTheConversation campaign as a way to help spread awareness about organ and tissue donation. Starting the conversation can be as simple as sharing that you registered with your friends and family or as personal as sharing a story about how organ donation has touched your life or the lives of your loved ones.

In the spirit of that love, here are a few ways you can get involved with National Donor Day this Feb. 14.

REGISTER AS AN ORGAN DONOR. Signing yourself up is easy and can be done either online or in person at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. You’ll need official identification to register. Registration is not permanent and you will always have the option to change your mind. Once registered, you will not need to carry your donor card with you, as your status exists in the registry.

Don’t let another Valentine’s Day come and go in a tide of cellophane, candy hearts, and cheesy cards. This year, get involved in National Donor Day. After all, what better way is there to express the value of love than giving the gift of life?

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