Understanding Your Rights – What to Know Before Fighting a Traffic Ticket

An officer must frequently use discretion when issuing traffic fines. Challenging the officer’s court decision in these circumstances can be difficult.

However, some strategies can be used to try to get a ticket dismissed. The first step is always to understand precisely what the law says.

Read the Fine Print

A traffic ticket can result in costly fines, mandatory surcharges, and even a driver’s license suspension. If you fight the ticket correctly, you can get the points off your record, avoid a driver responsibility assessment and keep your auto insurance rates from increasing.

The first step is to read the ticket thoroughly. It lists the date you must enter a plea, usually “not guilty” or “admit.” Check if this is a court date for a hearing where an ALJ will listen to your attorney and sworn testimony from the officer that pulled you over.

Remember, traffic tickets require an officer to make a subjective judgment about what happened. Frequently, video footage can provide exculpatory solid evidence that proves you did not break any laws. Additionally, remember that most traffic infractions are not crimes but are subject to less severe punishments than serious crimes like DUI. Learn more about the penalties for driving infractions, so keep going if you think it will be difficult to contest a ticket.

Know Your Rights

A traffic ticket is a legal accusation of breaking the law. You can still be penalized if you are found guilty in court, but the police officer is not allowed to punish you because they think you broke the law. Specific arguments and evidence can challenge the officer’s observations and thereby call into question their judgment.

While you can fight a traffic ticket independently, it often makes sense to consult an attorney. They will know the ins and outs of the local courts and may even be acquainted with some of the judges and police officers. They can also help you determine whether there is a viable defense to the ticket and negotiate with prosecutors to try to get the fines reduced. In some cases, the attorney can even attend your court hearing in place of you. It is conducive to speeding tickets, leading to a license suspension or high automobile insurance rates.

Challenge the Officer’s View of What Happened

Sometimes a judge will dismiss a traffic ticket if the driver can prove that the officer’s assessment of the situation was incorrect. For example, if the officer cited you for an unsafe lane change, you could argue that it was safe under the circumstances. For this defense to work, you must have detailed information about the who, what, when, where, and why the alleged violation occurred.

It would be best to ask the officer for information about any equipment used to determine that you violated the law. Request maintenance records and schedules to determine if the devices were properly calibrated and maintained.

If you have a necessity defense, you can argue that your actions were necessary to prevent immediate harm to yourself or others. It can include speeding on a highway to avoid being rear-ended by an aggressive tailgater or swerving dangerously to avoid hitting an out-of-control truck. These are often the type of tickets that judges give some leeway on regarding convictions or acceptable amounts.

Hire an Attorney

A lawyer has the education, training, and experience to understand how to fight a traffic ticket. A traffic attorney can also save you time because they can show up in court in your place.

You can try to contest your ticket on your own, but a traffic lawyer can challenge witnesses and present evidence that is not available to you. It is because a traffic lawyer has the experience to know which arguments are likely to be successful. For example, claiming ignorance of the law or complaining that the officer is lying about radar speed readings will gain little traction with a judge.

Fighting a traffic ticket may seem like a waste of time, but it is vital to remember that a conviction could result in your license being suspended and your insurance rates going up. If the violation was an infraction, it will go on your record even if you move to another state.

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