It happens to all of us at one time or another – the dreaded traffic ticket. One minute you could be making great time on your morning commute, and the next minute you see those flashing lights in your rear view mirror indicating the need to pull over. One momentary lapse in judgment shouldn’t mean that your driving record be tarnished for years to come; learning how to fight a traffic ticket can ensure that you don’t pay a big fine or have to pay more for insurance.
The first thing to remember is to be polite and respectful to the officer who pulls you over. Being sarcastic or saying things like “my taxes pay for your salary, ” will not go over well and may in fact get you into even more trouble. Answer all of the officer’s questions in a direct manner and don’t attempt to get out of your vehicle unless specifically asked to do so.
Another important thing to remember is not to admit guilt or come up with outrageous excuses. When the officer asks if you know why you were pulled over, answer with a simple, “No I do not officer.” Let them explain to you in detail what your offense is. If you were caught speeding, make sure they tell you the speed that you were going, and what the posted speed limit actually is.
Be sure to get the officer’s name and badge number as you will need it if you go to court. Also, if they offense is speeding, ask very detailed questions about the device they used to determine your speed. Find out where the officer was located and check to make sure that speed limits are clearly posted. If not, take pictures of the area you were driving in as proof that you were not sure what the limit was.
Sometimes, asking very detailed, specific questions may deter the officer from appearing in court; they may determine that it’s just not worth the effort and with all of the evidence that you have gathered, a judge will rule in your favor. Officers have to come to court on their own time, and they may very well prefer to golf that day. If the officer does not appear, then your ticket is automatically deemed null and void.
If the officer does appear, and this is your first offense then chances are you can still win your case. The judge may decide to lessen the charge so you don’t have to pay as much or lose your license. Depending on what the offense is, you may want to hire a lawyer. There are also organizations owned by former police officers that can give you advice and help you fight your ticket. You will have to decide whether it is worth the extra money you will need to spend on this type of assistance.
Whether you hire a lawyer or decide to represent yourself, it’s critical that you be prepared for your court date. Get as much information as possible and know what you are going to say to the judge. File a motion of discovery as soon as you get your ticket; this is your right to know all of the evidence that is being presented against you and will help you build your case. You can’t fight what you don’t know.
The judge may be willing to lessen or dismiss your charge if you indicate that you are willing to go to traffic school. Check with your local jurisdiction to see if this is an option in your area. A refresher course is always a good idea and will help to prevent further tickets and offenses. It may be your best strategy in how to fight a traffic ticket.