Speed Trap Laws: Fighting Your Ticket

Nobody likes to get a speeding ticket, and it can be even more frustrating when the ticket doesn't seem exactly fair. Sure, you were speeding, but maybe it wasn't clear what the speed limit was in the area, or maybe the speed limit changed really suddenly and you didn't have time to slow down. If you find yourself feeling a little indignant over your ticket, you may very well have been caught in a speed trap and, if so, you need to know the speed trap laws and how to fight against your unfair ticket.

Speed Trap Laws: the Good and the Bad

First of all, you have to understand that there's nothing illegal about speed traps provided they're carried out according to the books. The patrol officers who hand out speeding tickets, even the ones that do so based on a speed trap, are out there trying to protect the public – and that includes you. So it's no use getting too hot under the collar if you know for a fact that you deserved the ticket.

However, what if it seems to you that there was something unfair, or not quite "right," about the speed trap and the resulting ticket? The fact is, that while the vast majority of speed traps are well within the rules, there are illegal speed traps and tricks sometimes used by patrol officers, and if you're a victim of one, you have a perfect right to fight your speeding ticket in court and have it dismissed.

Red Flags

The following are some speed trap set-ups that may not be legal, depending on the laws in the area in which you live.

  • Use of radar in states/ areas/ locations where it is outlawed. Specifically, some laws prohibit police from using radar to track your speed in certain stretches of road where speeds change dramatically or drivers cannot be expected to reasonably be within the limit.
  • Unreadable or missing speed limit signs. You've probably experienced it before – a long stretch of highway with no speed limit signs in site. If you've just entered the highway or if the speed recently changed, there's no way to know how fast you should be going. Using this type of set-up as a speed trap to give you a ticket is not legal.
  • Incognito ticketing. Depending on which state you live in, officers in unmarked vehicles cannot hand out tickets, whether or not the violation takes place at a speed trap.

Every time a person gets a speeding ticket, it's a pretty natural reaction for them to look for a way to fight it. Most people are indignant at being fined and typically have a reason (sometimes a good one) for why they were driving above the legal speed. However, the fact remains that if you were, in fact, driving above the legal speed, then speed trap or not, you likely won't be able to fight the ticket. That is, of course, unless the speed trap itself, or the ticketing action by the officer, violates a law.

Getting Legal Help

If you're unsure about your particular situation, your best bet is to talk to a local lawyer who is familiar with your area's statutes; He or she can advise you of your rights and how best to proceed.

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