Fighting a Traffic Ticket: Challenging an Officer's Personal Judgment
Many people at one time or another will receive a traffic ticket because of a violation of a state's traffic laws. What you may not know is that it is possible to challenge the ticket and have it removed from your record. One way to fight a traffic ticket is to challenge an officer's personal judgment.
How the Officer Made the Stop
An officer must be able to articulate the reason she asked you to pull over. An officer cannot stop you because you look suspicious or because of your gender or race. If the officer did not have a reason to pull you over, this can be a violation of the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution that protects all citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.
If the stop is a violation of the 4th Amendment, all evidence produced because of the stop will be excluded from introduction by the prosecution at trial.
Disputing an Officer's Judgment of Speed
Speeding is a common violation of traffic laws. However, police use several methods to gauge whether you were speeding or not, some based on the officer's personal judgment. For example, every road has a posted speed limit, and violating that speed limit creates a presumption that you have violated the state's traffic laws. However, an exception can be made if the flow of traffic would make obeying the speed limit nearly impossible. If the speed limit is 65 miles per hour, but all other drivers are going at least 80 miles per hour, it could be dangerous to obey the posted speed limit.
In addition, you may be able to argue that the officer was not in a good position to determine your speed. For example, there may be heavy traffic and the officer may not have been able to use his radar gun to pinpoint your speed.
Disputing an Officer's Visual Judgment
Many traffic law violations depend on the proper visual judgment of the police officer. For example, running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign or making an illegal turn all rely on the officer's visual observations. To challenge an officer's visual judgment, you need to show that the officer was distracted or the officer's view was obstructed.
To show the officer had a poor view of your vehicle, you could create a diagram reenacting the scene or ask witnesses to testify on your behalf. It may also be beneficial to provide photographs of the scene, including where your vehicle and the officer's vehicle were at the time of the alleged traffic law violation.
Getting Legal Help
If you were stopped because of a violation of your state's traffic laws, contact an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will evaluate your case and help you challenge an officer's personal judgment.