The Insider's Guide to Fighting Traffic Tickets
There’s nothing quite like getting a traffic ticket to ruin your day. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "the most common reason for contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop." Most people think that fighting a traffic ticket is a hopeless job. Only five percent of drivers who get traffic tickets contest them. People who do challenge their traffic citations usually lose because they’re unprepared and nervous. If you’ve recently received a traffic ticket, here’s what you need to do and consider.
Tips for Contesting a Traffic Ticket
- Review your ticket. Check all details of your ticket immediately after it’s issued to you. If you find wrong or missing information, there may be grounds for dismissal of your ticket.
- Know your state traffic laws. Going over the speed limit in safe conditions is legal in a few states. If you received a speeding ticket in one of those states, you may have grounds for a ticket dismissal.
- If the offense is of a subjective matter, sometimes you can challenge what an officer said he or she saw. In other words, was the officer in a good spot to get an accurate view of what occurred? If not, point out facts that can prove to the officer that he or she didn’t see what actually happened.
- Determine if your actions have any legal justification or were necessary to prevent danger. Let’s say your ticket is for an illegal lane change. If you made an illegal lane switch to prevent hitting an animal or object, your ticket may get dismissed.
Going to Court
If you go to court, be sure you have photos that can support your case. These may include photos of stop signs or intersections. A good example is a photo of a hidden stop sign.
Use clear diagrams that show the location of your car and the officer’s vehicle. Make sure to include relative objects such as traffic signals or intersections. If possible, have witnesses who saw what happened and can testify on your behalf.
Considerations and Warnings
- Consider if you have enough time to devote to fighting your ticket. If it is only a minor traffic infraction and fine, it may be better to just pay the fine. If you do decide to fight your ticket, expect to spend several hours in preparation. You will also spend at least half a day devoted to traveling to and from court, as well as disputing your case. You’ll also need to make sure you dress in proper attire so that you make a positive impression.
- If you decide to fight your ticket, don’t use excuses that can immediately defeat you. Don't say that you didn’t know the speed limit or that you were talking on your phone and didn’t notice the stop sign.
The Option of Attending a Traffic School
In many states, if you choose to fight your ticket you may waive your right to take traffic school. Usually, once you go to court it is then up to the judge to decide whether you are eligible for traffic school.
Traffic school could prove to be a good solution for your traffic ticket. In most cases, drivers get a reduced fine when they attend traffic school. It will also allow you to keep the ticket from having a negative effect on your driving record.