How to Fight A Speeding Ticket: Top 6 Strategies
Believe it or not, most people who get a traffic ticket simply pay the fine. You might say, what’s wrong with that? Why fight the ticket or pay a lawyer? According to the website BeatTrafficTickets.com, the average speeding ticket in the United States is $150.
Unfortunately, if your ticket is one that will impact your insurance rates, then the “fines” will grow and grow via your insurance rate. Even a minor ticket on your record can impact your ability to get a “not so minor” ticket dropped further down the road.
Is a lawyer required? Not necessarily. After searching the web and reading article after article, here are the top 6 most recommended actions to take after receiving a ticket.
1. Prepare Your Case and Possibly Fight the Case in Court On Your Own.
Review the details on the ticket and look for any discrepancies. Any discrepancies, such as incorrect street name or incomplete license number, can mean immediate dismissal of the ticket. If you believe you are innocent, take pictures of the scene and make notes before leaving the scene, so that you don’t forget any details that may help your case in court.
When reviewing the details of your ticket, it is important to understand exactly what you have been charged with. There are different kinds of “speeding tickets” and you can read about these types of speeding tickets on this lawkick blog.
If you decide after preparing your case that you would like to fight the case in court on your own, Scott Desind, an LA Traffic Attorney, recommends that you remain calm and respectful in court, check in with the clerk, and make notes so that you can ask questions when it is your turn to cross-examine the police officer. Nolo.com, a legal website, describes in detail “five strategies for planning to contest your ticket in court.”:http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fighting-traffic-ticket-strategies-30091.html
2. Write your Police Officer or Meet with the Prosecutor.
Some folks recommend calling or writing your police officer to ask if your ticket might be reduced to ensure it will not impact your insurance. If you are polite, there is always a chance the police officer might comply. You can also request a meeting with the prosecutor prior to trial, and they may agree to drop the ticket to a lesser charge so that it will not impact your insurance.
3. Trial by Mail.
Some jurisdictions, such as California, will allow you to request a trial by mail. Traffic cops might show up to a trial in court, as it’s an opportunity for overtime, but they may not get around to the paperwork involved in a trial by mail. If they don’t respond, you will automatically win, and the case will be dropped. If you lose the trial by mail, you can still request a trial in court, and it’s as if the trial by mail never happened.
4. Request a Continuation of Your Hearing.
You have a right to request a continuation of your hearing, and in many cases, if you request a continuation of your hearing, the police officer will not show up when you do eventually have your court case. This means automatic dismissal. There have even been situations where the case was continued to a later date and the traffic officer no longer worked for that specific department, which means automatic case dismissal.
5. Traffic School.
In some jurisdictions, you can request traffic school to avoid having the ticket on your record. Traffic school is often offered in an online environment, meaning you can take the class from the comfort of your home. Traffic school works best for those with a first offense or those with a minor traffic infraction, according to Alice Bowman in I Got a Speeding Ticket. What Do I Do?
6. Get a Lawyer.
For most traffic tickets, a $200-$300 lawyer bill will deliver a dropped ticket and almost guarantee nothing on your record. Years of lower insurance rates will easily cover the cost of the lawyer bill. If you don’t have the time to take some of the other steps listed above, then this step is most definitely for you. For more serious offenses, such as passing a stopped school bus or DUI, lawyers will be more expensive, but in those more situations, they are always recommended. Most lawyers will offer a free “ticket evaluation” and they will let you know at the outset if they believe they can help you.
If you do get pulled over, here are some important reminders:
- Always be nice and respectful to the policeman who pulls you.
- Never admit to speeding. Say something like “I may have been exceeding the speed limit” but don’t admit to it. They can document your comments and are most likely required to give you a ticket if you admit to speeding.
- Don’t make the policeman nervous. If you need to reach into your back pocket, say something like “My license is in my wallet in my back pocket. Do you mind if I pull it out now?”. They have a dangerous job. Keep that in mind and keep your hands where they can see them. Don’t jump out of the car and rush towards them, either. Show respect and consideration.