Speeding Tickets How to Defend a Traffic or Speeding Ticket Successfully

  1. If you have recently received a speeding ticket, you may want to challenge it in court. Going to traffic court may be a good investment in time since you may have a reasonable chance to get the fine reduced or the ticket dismissed entirely.

    Review the traffic code you are alleged to have violated

    Your first line of defense to contest a traffic ticket is to perform some research and learn more about the specific statute written on the summons. Get a copy of the traffic code that you were alleged to have violated and read through it carefully. It is possible that you were not in violation of all the elements listed in the traffic code. In addition, you should also become more familiar with your state traffic laws that concern the area of your traffic violation.

    Speeding Tickets and State Traffic Laws

    If you received a speeding ticket, check with your state department of transportation to determine the type of speed limit laws in your state. If your state speeding laws have “absolute” speed limits, it may make your speeding ticket defense a little more difficult than if your state has “presumed” speed limit laws. The law in states that have “absolute” speed limits is that you are guilty if you have even gone one mile over the posted limit. The speed limit is the absolute highest speed you are allowed to go. In states that have “presumed” speed limit laws, being slightly above the absolute speed limit does not make you automatically guilty. You can make a speeding ticket defense on the fact that you were briefly driving above the posted speed limit to maintain a safe flow with the traffic conditions and that it was also safe given the road conditions.

    Discovery of evidence for your traffic ticket defense

    To begin preparing your defense, you will want to take advantage of the “discovery” process to obtain relevant evidence. By law, the prosecuting attorney must provide you with the information and evidence they have against you. You may wish to ask the court clerk at your local courthouse how to make or fill out a request for discovery. The information you should request and receive will have the ticketing officer’s notes, whether a radar gun was used and should include maintenance records. In addition, you may request and also should receive a list of any witnesses to the incident that led to your traffic ticket.

    Take pictures for your traffic ticket defense

    After reading the evidence you received via discovery carefully, you should gather your own evidence for your defense. Go the location where you were given the traffic ticket or speeding ticket. Take pictures of the roadway or intersection where you got your traffic ticket or speeding ticket. When taking pictures, try to include a landmark that will indicate that the pictures are where you say they are (such as a street sign.) If the traffic ticket was issued away from the area of the landmark, take a picture of the landmark and then additional pictures side by side until you reach the area where the traffic ticket was issued. In this way, a judge can piece together your pictures and conclude your testimony is truthful and good evidence.

    When you take pictures of the area where you received your traffic ticket or speeding ticket, try to go on a day that had the same weather conditions. If you can, get a copy of the weather report for the day the ticket was issued. You should list any special circumstances that you can remember such as traffic hazards, unsafe drivers who were driving erratically in the area, etc. An explanation of why you were speeding, such as to avoid an unsafe condition, could be valuable in providing a valid defense. Draw a diagram that you will later be able to show a judge if any details can be shown that might help your case.

    Question witnesses for your traffic ticket defense

    You should consider questioning any witnesses listed in discovery about anything in the state’s records. It is possible that the witness might not be as sure about the items written in the record. If there was a passenger in a car, question them and record their answers. Take all papers, diagrams and photos with you to court. If the witnesses may help you, call them to the stand. If their testimony might hurt you, try to impeach them and show the court that their memory might be fuzzy or that they aren’t so sure about what is on the record.

    Caught by radar?

    You can defend a speeding ticket even when a radar gun was used. Many people do not realize that most radar equipment cannot pinpoint one vehicle over another when it is pointed at several vehicles at the same time. It picks up the most reflective surface in the area. Metal traffic signs, utility lines, power stations and other vehicles with more reflective surface may have resulted in faulty readings. This is especially true if there was heavy traffic in the area and it would be difficult for the radar to pinpoint your vehicle.

    You may wish to go to the scene of the speeding ticket and take pictures of where you were and where the radar gun was used. Are there any traffic signs in the way that could have blocked your view? Any other obstructions, like bushes or trees? Photograph them and show how they blocked your view to the judge while making your defense. You will want to prove the obstruction so you can argue that the radar gun had an inaccurate reading because the aim was obstructed by these items. You will also want to take pictures of metallic and reflective devices in the area.

    When trying to defend a speed ticket when radar or laser technology is used, you may find it best to hire an experienced traffic ticket lawyer to defend you. They are frequently familiar with all the latest technology used, its limitations and any laws or conditions that may be of help in your defense.

    Arguments you can make for your defense

    There are several arguments that you can make for your speeding ticket defense:

    • In a “presumed” speed limit state, if you driving in excess of the posted speed because it was necessary to do so as not to hinder the flow of traffic, argue that you driving safely for the conditions. Back up your claim by having copies of traffic records in your city or county that documents it as a high traffic area. You can obtain traffic maps from your city or county government that show the amount and flow of traffic in any given area at particular time periods.
    • Another defense you can make is that you were speeding due to a physical emergency. If you were speeding due to an emergency need for medical treatment, you may get the speeding ticket dismissed. Document this excuse by bringing any evidence that shows you received medical treatment right after you received the speeding ticket.
    • Questioning the officer’s report and/or training is another good line of defense. Request information on the training and experience of the ticketing officer. This information is a matter of public employee records and it is available to you. To obtain this information, make a request from the public information officer at the particular agency where the officer works. Use this information, if applicable, when it is your turn to question him in court. This defense works best if the officer was not trained properly in using the radar equipment.

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    Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


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