Should I Fight My Ticket?

If you are comfortable presenting your own explanation for the violation, you should fight speeding ticket. Even if you don't necessarily disagree with the ticket, you can still show up and court and ask for the violation to not go on your record. Fighting a traffic ticket will take time and energy and you need to weigh the possible benefits and disadvantages.

When to Plead No Contest

Many states offer a bargain for people who plead "not guilty" and actually show up in court. Before the judge asks everyone to come into the courtroom, a court administrator offers a deal. She may suggest that if driver pleads "guilty" and pays his fine immediately (and give up his appearance before the judge), the court will agree to remove the violation from the driver's record if the driver does not have another violation during a probationary period of time. Sometimes the probation is only 6 months, and sometimes it is a year or longer. This arrangement allows the court to spend its time on more serious offenses. The deal is not offered to all drivers. Usually it is offered to drivers who have clear records or for drivers who have minor offenses.

Time Limit for Requesting a Hearing

Some states require that a hearing be requested within thirty days of a traffic ticket or a hearing is denied. Some states set a hearing date and notify the driver as soon as an offender returns a plea of not-guilty. For simple traffic violations like speeding just a little over the speed limit, or not stopping at a stop sign (which does not result in an accident) a person may only need to show up in order to win and have the ticket dismissed. If the police officer who issued the traffic ticket does not appear in court at the appointed hearing time, the traffic violation will be dismissed.

There is a common perception that police officers tend to target out-of-state drivers for issuing traffic speeding ticket. It is more likely that an out-of-state driver will not appear at a later date for a hearing in the county where the ticket was issued.

If the police officer does show up, he will have the first opportunity to testify as to what happened and why the driver was issued a ticket. A driver will then have the opportunity to hear what the police officer's version of events is and the driver is allowed to cross-examine the police officer.

Defenses to Traffic Violations

For a speeding offenses in particular, it can be easy to argue against the method in which the police officer measured the speed. There are many imperfect ways in which police measure the speed of vehicles including radar detection (which has limits on distance and on deciphering between different vehicles), and pacing (which relies on an officer's subjective ability to determine speed based on his view and timing of the vehicle passing a fixed object). The only foolproof method of speed detection is the method of an officer driving with the flow of traffic or a police officer driving the speed limit is passed by another officer.

While a driver might try to argue his case to the police officer, he gets another chance to argue his excuse for speeding to the court. There are instances where the court will consider a reasonable excuse for speeding like an emergency. The court will consider many factors including the level of urgency, the circumstances, the posted speed, the weather, and the type of road on which the speeding took place. If the court agrees with him, he can have the charges dismissed.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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