3/8/2012 12:11 PM ET|
Speeding ticket? Fight like a lawyer
Sometimes you need to challenge a speeding ticket, particularly if it could drive up your insurance rates. Instead of hiring an attorney, try these lawyer-recommended tactics.
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 Insurance.com 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.
"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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They sent out an unmarked car to my house and waited for the guy!!!
When the neighbor came speeding down the road at 45 mph, in his patrol car,(Opps!! I forgot to tell you that he was a Sheriff deputy) The Other officer told me to never call again and mind my own business!!
Wow!!! how eager they were to get someone till it was one of there so called brethren!!!!
Far as I see it, the deputy was a threat to the others in my neighborhood and should have been delt with harshly!!!
Ha! In Corpus Christi, TX several years ago, things got pretty weird. Repairing wiring in my car, I had the dashboard off and lying in my mobile home park driveway and was driving around the park - private property - when a cop stopped me about a hundred feet from the drive and dashboard. When I informed him that the vehicle registration and proof of insurance papers were in the dashboard, he refused to let me walk (or drive) to get them, instead writing me a ticket. That after calling for back-up to which two police cars responded.
If you think that was all there was to the matter, you don't know Texas or its constabulary (I had, for one thing, pointed out to the officer that I was driving my car in a private RV park, not on a public street - cops in Texas "don't take no lip"). In court, I politely informed the judge of the facts - that after having stood in line for nearly two hours - and offered the papers proving that charges against me were false. The judge refused to look at the papers, instead ordering me to speak to the city attorney sitting in the room and watching (with a smirk, I might add). When I showed the attorney the papers constituting incontravertible proof of my innocence of the charges, he said archly, "Fine, we'll set the matter for trial."
You think we're done, don'cha? Uh-uh - this is Texas we're talking about. When I appeared at the appointed time and place, it was to learn quickly that not only that the cop who arrested me wasn't there, but neither was the judge. And neither was the city attorney. When I spoke to the clerk sitting at a desk in the hallway adjacent to the courtrooms, she demanded that I wait for the attorney. When I pointed out that I was here at the appointed time and that the city was therefore in default, she called two sheriff''s deputies, who posted themselves at each of the entrances to the hallway.
When the city attorney arrived forty-five minutes later, he said, "Look, we'll give you a break. You can pay a four hundred dollar fine on the two charges in monthly installments." The fact that there was no judge, no complaining witness, and that the city had not shown up to prosecute its charges, he informed me with a sneer that none of it made any difference.
I left at length, never paid the fine, and the result was a monthly bill which eventually was turned over to a collection agency, My letter daring Corpus Christi to proceed further - an arrest warrent, for instance - was never taken.
If you think this is a nation of laws, you're living in Never-Never Land.
Another Texas ticket story. State Trooper stopped me on I-10 and gave me a ticket for doing 89 in a 70 zone. I was only running 68. I was being passed on the inside by a Toyoto, followed by a semi in the same lane. Radar can't track 3 vehicles in the same shot. I was 200 miles from home and the Trooper and the Court thought I'd just pay a fine. Wrong! I had my wife as a witness with me in the car, I asked for a Motion for Discovery listing the video tape, the radar gun and it's maintenance log, the Trooper's vision/glasses test, his Driver's License, his Radar Certification, and a few more things. I had satellite photos of the spot I was said to be speeding in(a long sweeping curve which radar does not work accurately in), and of the nearby town on the map(6miles away) in which I was expected to appear in court at. I had a gas receipt from the station there when I had filled up just a few minutes before. The time on the Ticket was 2 hours off from MY time! I kept getting postponements for the Court date, repeating my demand for a Jury Trial. The Court finally gave up, lost interest in this minor case of theirs. After 2yrs, I'm off the hook.
Oh, did I fail to mention that I used to be a Deputy Sheriff and I know how this all works?
I received a stop sign violation on the former Fort Ord Installation. The officer claimed I ran a stop sign. This intersection is known for the federal police parking near the intersection during racing events at the Laugna Seca race track. The route to get to highway 101 goes thru the federal land/and two city property. This way you could get three differnt tickets on your way to the highway. First off I stopped at the sign and looked in the direction where the officers where parked and counted to three. Then I proceeded to move forward and the officer started to move forward and turned on his flashing lights and pulled me over. When the officer came up to the passenger side window I handed him my License/proof of insurance and informed him I did not do what he was about to say I did and would see him in court. I added that his voice activated recorder should have record my short statement to him which he could use in court if needed.
Now to the point I would like to make 1. check your surroundings to see if there is anything that could help your Case i.e.; officer parked in a Fire Lane. Local/State/Federal: NO PARKING of any type of vehicle IE NO EXCEPTION. 2. Excessive fine cost?. Federal citations are limited to $50.00 and 30 days in jail as long as no felony was committed. My case was dismissed without explanation from the court. Point is if you did the crime pay the fine/ If you didn't do then screw it and fight it because you have right just as the police officer has.
I agree with the comment below. Obey the traffic laws and you will not have to worry about anything. Having said that, I have gotten out of 3 speeding tickets in the last 10 years by simply going to court. In 2 cases, the officer did not show up, and the judge dismissed the case. In the third, the officer was present at the beginning of court and I was prepared to have to pay. However, this officer was called to testify in one of the first cases called. The defendant had brought an attorney with him in hopes of getting out of his citation. It did him no good as he was still found guilty. However, after this case was over, the officer waved to his other officer buddies and left the courtroom. Maybe he thought he was done, i don't know. I kept waiting for him to return but he never did. When my case was called, he still wasn't there, and the judge said case dismissed. How lucky was that?...lol.
Anyway, all three times I went to court, my case was one of the last ones called. I sat there quietly each time and watched as defendant after defendant tried to argue their way out of their citation. I never saw a single person be successful. Not one. The only way a person got out of it is if the officer did not show up. Take that for what it is worth. The only other thing I will say is that if you have even the slightest hope of getting out of your ticket, you had better be absolutely courteous to the judge and court. Don't even think about being rude or disrespectful.
If this article sys anything, it's how to beat the system.
While I agree going 5 to 10mph over isn't something I would worry about on the highway in a residentail zone 5mph is a lot when added to the posted speed of 25 mph. I see people going 40 mph in 25 mph zone all the time, so those people need a ticket. One person in the article was doing 120 miles per hour, now in my state the is called reckless driving and criminal speeding and you go to jail on the spot. To drive at 120 mph is insane and you will kill someone if crash need I say more.
Simple solution don't speed and you won't need to waste your time fighting a ticket.
Nowadays, tickets do not have to go to court. You can fight your ticket in writing and a judge decides on your case. I am a conscience and defensive driver and for 35 years I have never received a speeding ticket, until Veteran’s Day in 2011. I figured I would just pay it, but the more I thought about the situation, the more it angered me, so I decided to fight it, because it was an unfair situation. The speed limit was 35 mph, from one city to the next, but the speed limit happened to change, directly in front of the Sheriff’s station to 30 mph. The officer told me he clocked me from a particular street, however, when I checked where he said he clocked me and where the speed limit changed, I was still in the 35 mph zone. In addition, I was already slowing down for a red light at the next block. I plead my case in writing and WON my NOT GUILTY PLEA and my $233 fine was rescinded. To those of you who say, “Just Pay” isn’t always the best case scenario. We all make mistakes, including officers, so I think it is also a good idea to keep officers in-check, especially if it is going to affect your insurance and driving record.
People always hate it when they do something and get caught. Suddenly they want to blame someone else and cry, "It's not my fault. You are being unfair." So many people will try and pull the racism card when pulled over. It's OLD and TIRED and it doesn't work, so give it up. If people only knew how many accidents (including fatal) have been caused by speeders that cops have to deal with. Have respect for others on the road and drive safely.
P.S. Being a cop isn't a glory job, isn't a job that gets the respect it deserves, and isn't a job that pays a great salary. These men and women are putting their lives on the line for YOU. They keep us all safe and maintain law and order. To the complainers out there, I don't see you out there risking your neck every day. Easy to complain when you aren't walking in the shoes of another.
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