Image: Speeding ticket © Corbis

You just got hit with a speeding ticket. Now what?

For first-timers, the response could be simple: Pay the fine or take the opportunity many states offer to erase the offense from your record. Odds are, you won't suffer higher car insurance rates.

But with two or more moving violations, you'll find that an additional ticket may endanger your finances. Beyond possible license suspension or revocation, you could be staring at escalating fines and premium hikes in the hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. An analysis of 32,000 car insurance quotes found that drivers with two violations were offered rates 34% higher than drivers with no violations.

You may want to fight the ticket. A lawyer could cost from $75 to $500, depending on where you live. Or you could go to court on your own. Lawyers specializing in traffic violations offer the following five strategies, which could help:

1. Delay the hearing date if possible

The more time passes, the better the chances the officer who pulled you over may not show, causing the infraction to be dismissed. He or she could be sent to another division. Or the officer could find another job, move to a different city or get sick and be unable to appear.

Over time, the circumstances that caused you to be ticketed may become hazier. Any equivocation on the facts could convince a judge to throw out the ticket. It happens more often than you might think, says Brian S. Laviage, a Houston attorney.

"A very good client of mine got caught going 120 mph (in a 65 mph zone) on the Sam Houston Parkway from a Texas state trooper," Laviage recalls. The man was able to delay his hearing for almost two years due to business obligations.

"When he finally ended up in court, he found that the trooper had been transferred to the Dallas/Fort Worth area," Laviage says. "His case was dismissed."

And here's another tip, courtesy of Mark D. Hauser, a Philadelphia lawyer who often handles speeding cases: If you can, schedule the hearing for summer.

"An officer isn't as likely to appear during his vacation," says Hauser. "There are usually more no-shows during the summer."

2. Remember every detail you can

Information -- specific information -- means everything in court. The more details you can present before a judge that contradict the traffic officer, the greater the likelihood the charge will be thrown out and you'll be able to maintain your affordable car insurance.

Start thinking the moment you see those red lights in the rearview mirror. What are the weather conditions? How heavy is the traffic? What did you ask the officer about the violation, and what did he or she tell you?

Lawyers recommend taking notes right after you get a ticket, right by the side of the road.

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"Ask the officer if he remembers what you were wearing, or did you have any passengers, or what was the weather like," advises Laviage. "If he is unable to answer, this takes a major blow at his credibility in the mind" of the judge.

Study the ticket for comments the officer may have written. Then question him or her about them. Again, a judge may be responsive if facts can't be recalled.

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