Most Americans of driving age have experienced that dreadful sinking feeling of looking in the rearview mirror and seeing flickering blue lights. Getting a ticket is never fun – especially a speeding ticket. But just because a cop writes you a ticket, doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You have the right to fight your speeding ticket, and if you know what you’re doing, you may be able to win your case and have it dropped.
How to Fight Your Speeding Ticket
By paying a speeding ticket, you’re essentially pleading guilty and admitting fault. And, unfortunately, the consequences don’t always end with the fine. You’ll also have points placed on your license.
“When you plead guilty to a ticket, you are given points relative to the type of offense. For those with a speeding ticket, the number of points you’ll receive for a ticket will depend on how far over the speed limit you were found at,” Hersem Law explains. “For example, in Tampa, if you’re simply found for speeding, you’ll receive three points on your license. For speeding over 50 mph, you’ll receive four points on your license.”
As points add up, your driving record begins to impact your insurance rates. Premiums can rise by as much as 30 percent for as long as two or three years – just for a couple of tickets! So while the ticket itself might only cost you $150, the total cost – over 36 months – could be well in excess of $1,000.
If you’re confident that you weren’t speeding, you should definitely fight your ticket. But even if you know that you were going slightly above the speed limit, there’s still value in challenging the ticket and attempting to get it dropped.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Handle Yourself Well
The first step is to handle yourself well after you’ve been pulled over. If you adopt a combative posture and become angry and frustrated with the cop, you immediately hurt your chances. Even if it means biting your tongue and smiling through gritted teeth, you must ensure you have the right attitude. Be polite and do what the officer says. After providing all of the information that he requests, you can ask to speak with him about your violation. Depending on the circumstances – and the mood of the officer – you may be able to talk your way out of the ticket (or get it reduced).
2. Figure Out a Defense
Just because you receive a ticket, doesn’t mean your fate is sealed. The officer will give you a court date, and you have the option of coming in and appealing your case.
Every situation is unique, but there are some common approaches to challenging a speeding ticket. You can challenge the officer’s subjective conclusion, challenge the officer’s observations, prove your conduct was a “mistake of fact,” prove your conduct was “legally justified,” or prove your conduct was necessary to avoid harm.
3. Be a Model Defendant
If you decide to go into court and challenge your ticket, it’s important that you know how to act the part. Show up on time and be well dressed. Bring all of the necessary documentation and read up on courtroom etiquette.
The courtroom can be overwhelming. Hundreds of people will file in and out of traffic court on a daily basis. Show up early and try to get a seat near the front. Silence your phone and pay attention. Prepare your statements ahead of time and know what you’ll say. You’re far more likely to get a favorable outcome if you know how to carry yourself.
4. Consider Hiring an Attorney
If you’re facing a particularly expensive or serious speeding ticket, consider hiring an attorney who understands the intricacies of traffic law and can help you come up with a reasonable and thorough defense. Remember: A speeding ticket costs more than the fine! You’ll pay for your mistake for years to come.
Stand Up for Yourself
When you get pulled over and a cop writes you a speeding ticket, you have a choice to make. You can either accept the ticket and pay the fine, or you can spend a little energy and effort on fighting it. The National Motorists Association always recommends fighting tickets. Heed their advice and stand up for your rights!