FIGHT MY SPEEDING TICKET - OR NOT?
Should I fight my speeding ticket - or not?
It depends on:
1. How much time you have
2. What kind of chance you have to prove your case for innocence.
Courts are highly individualized in that respect. Some prosecutors and/or judges will listen to your story with a more open mind than others will. Some will barely give you the time of day.
If you get wrapped up in proving a point with your case, the emotional cost may not be worth it. Take a look at this page on requesting a speeding ticket amendment and decide which route is best for you.
Skip down to Resources to Fight My Speeding Ticket
If you decide that yes, I will fight my speeding ticket; here are a few points that may help:
Preparing your case starts when you see those flashing lights in your rear view mirror. Be polite and cooperative when you get pulled over. Being belligerent or indignant may make you feel better but it might cost you more. By being polite and cooperative, the officer may just write your ticket for a less costly offense instead of what was actually committed and with luck, you get away with only a warning.
On the other hand, if you are nasty or rude, the officer may note this and the prosecutors will be less likely to cut you a deal if this went to court. For example, Johnson County Court will not even amend speeding tickets where the officer has noted that the driver was "rude".
Avoid admissions of guilt and never make excuses or create outlandish stories. When you are asked if you know why you were pulled over, just respond with a simple and polite, "No officer, I do not,".
Keep in mind that honesty is the best policy especially when you prefer to get off with merely a warning. On the otherhand, if you do get the ticket and decide to contest it, remember that any admissions you make now, can be used against you later.
There two theories regarding how you question the officer.
Gather as many specifics as possible, including the serial number of the device. If, however the officer estimated your speed by following you, then find out what the location was when he began to follow you. Make sure you write down the patrol car's license plate number and his badge number.
If you were cited for an offense other than speeding, make sure you understand exactly why you were pulled over, especially if you were cited for something that could not have been easily seen. The officer does not have to actually give this information related to the device used at the time of stop but you can request the information by filing a motion of Discovery.
Check your ticket for accuracy by reviewing it immediately upon receipt.
There are two considerations here:
If you find that the officer is not accommodating, do not argue but record the actual circumstances in your mind, and after he leaves, jot it down.
Begin preparing your defense immediately. After the police officer has given you your ticket and left the scene, record relevant details such as traffic and road conditions, weather, time of day, and any extenuating circumstances.
If you have a camera or cell phone camera take pictures - especially if your defense depends on something like an obscured speed limit sign or a huge pothole that you had to swerve to miss. Also check for any obstructions that might have caused them to have a poor view of the alleged offense or that might have caused the radar to malfunction.
Make a diagram of the road showing where the officer was positioned, which direction you were traveling, where you eventually stopped, and other important details.
Read the fine print on the ticket after you get home. There is useful information there that might help you. Make sure you understand all of it, as it will give you instructions on how to proceed to the next step. Decide whether to fight the ticket by the circumstances involved, and the information on the ticket, or both. Weigh the costs and benefits of contesting the citation.
Request a trial. Your ticket may include a court date, or you may need to request a trial. For most minor violations, your ticket will also give you the option to pay the fine. In almost all jurisdictions, paying the fine is an admission of guilt, so do not remit payment. Instead, follow the required steps to get your day in court.
Get as much information as you can. Well before your court date, send a written request for discovery.
Always consider thoroughly any deal offered to you and make sure you understand the implications on both your driving history and your insurance costs.
Consider traffic school. Many jurisdictions offer an option to attend traffic school. In return, your charges will be dismissed or reduced. Explore this option by researching the law in your state. If you find that traffic school is a good option, request it from the prosecutor or judge.
Request a continuation of your hearing. In most jurisdictions, the police officer who gave you the ticket must show up for the court hearing. If he or she fails to show, your case will be dismissed.
Many times officers will schedule many court hearings on a certain day so that they can appear for all of them at once. Requesting a date near holidays may lessen the chance that the officer will appear on the court date.
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