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How to Fight a Speeding Ticket?

Speeding violations are some of the hardest traffic offenses to beat, but if you win you can avoid ticket fines, driving record points, and increased car insurance rates. You can boost your chances of beating your speeding ticket by knowing how to prepare for court, understanding the common defense strategies for speeding tickets, and hiring a traffic ticket attorney.

Should You Fight Your Speeding Ticket?

Here’s what you face if you plead guilty to your speeding ticket:

  • Pay a speeding ticket fine.
  • Might have to pay court costs.
  • Accumulate driving record points.
    • Depending on how many points you have, you could be dangerously close to license suspension.
  • An increase in your auto insurance rates. How much your car insurance rates increase after a speeding ticket depends on various attributes, one of which is the insurer you have.
  • Could lose your job or face job-related penalties.
    • This depends on the nature of your work.

Now, here’s what you face if you plead not guilty and fight your speeding ticket in court:

  • You’ll need to spend time gathering all evidence that proves you’re innocent or had an extremely justifiable reason for speeding.
  • You’ll have to take time off work to appear in court.
  • You’ll pay a traffic ticket attorney’s fees, if you hire one. (See below.)
  • The judge might:
    • Dismiss your case and you’ll avoid all penalties.
    • Find you not guilty and you’ll avoid all penalties.
    • Offer you an alternative penalty, such as attending traffic school. Typically, an alternative penalty like this erases or at least lessens other penalties such as the fine and driving record points.
    • Find you guilty and you’ll have lost time and money in addition to the ticket fine you would have paid anyway.

There are pros and cons to both, and where you fall on the scale depends entirely on your specific speeding ticket situation. How much your speeding ticket is may also play a role in your decision if you want to fight the ticket.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court?

After you’ve weighed the pros and cons of fighting your speeding ticket and decided you want to plead not guilty and contest the ticket, it’s time to prepare for court.

  • Look at the citation. Find the exact details of the offense and think about what you were doing that day.
    • When and where were you speeding? How fast were you going? Where were you going? These are important details because it’s easier to convince a judge to dismiss a ticket for speeding on the highway to get your pregnant wife to the hospital than one for speeding in a school zone because you overslept for work.
  • Gather evidence proving your innocence or justified cause.
    • Having physical evidence such as a dashcam recording or GPS data from a smartphone proving you weren’t speeding or the officer mistook your car for another driver’s vehicle is best. Your word or another passenger’s word and pictures and diagrams of the area are helpful as well.
  • Make arrangements for witnesses.
    • Ask anyone who was in the vehicle with you if they’re willing to testify that you weren’t speeding or to testify to your justifiable reason for speeding.
  • Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney.
    • After you begin preparing to fight the ticket in court on your own, you might realize a ticket attorney is your best bet. See below.

Note that if you hire a traffic ticket attorney, he can help you with additional more complicated court preparations, such as:

  • Delaying the hearing to give you both more time to prepare for the case.
  • Researching speed equipment, including maintenance schedules and weaknesses.
  • Plan the most effective questions for the ticketing officer.

Do You Need a Traffic Ticket Lawyer?

Hiring a traffic ticket attorney is never a bad idea; however, whether or not it’s the best idea depends entirely on your situation.

First, understand that traffic ticket lawyers typically focus on the big traffic offenses such as driving under the influence, reckless driving, and accidents resulting in death. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a traffic attorney who will take a speeding ticket case; it simply means that if your case isn’t extreme, you might have to spend some extra time looking for one.

Next, get familiar with what a ticket lawyer can do for you including, but not limited to:

  • Getting you a “not guilty” verdict or getting the case dismissed* altogether. You have a good chance at one of these options if:
    • Your ticketing officer doesn’t show up to court.
    • You plead to a less-serious violation.
    • You agree to a probationary period.
    • *NOTE: You still might have to pay some or all ticket fines and/or court costs if the judge dismisses your ticket.
  • Convincing the judge to reduce ticket penalties.
    • Most often, this applies to reducing driving record points; however, it also can apply other penalties such as lessening license suspension times. The judge might even give you an extended due date for your fines or allow you to set up a payment plan.
  • Negotiating an alternative discipline.
    • Traffic school might be the most common alternative discipline. For example, your judge might offer traffic school as an alternative to your ticket fine, or even dismiss your ticket altogether if you attend traffic school on their recommendation.

Finally, consider all the pros and cons; more specifically, determine whether the potential benefits (above) are worth the cost of the attorney. Ask yourself:

  • Would an attorney’s fees cost more than paying the speeding ticket fine?
  • How severely would a speeding ticket affect my driver’s license and auto insurance?
  • Which would be in my best interest: dealing with the speeding ticket consequences (ticket fines, driving record points, potential car insurance increase) or paying a ticket attorney to get me out of this?

Tips for fighting a Speeding Ticket

Before you head to court, take note of these strategies for beating a speeding ticket:

  • Show up early.
    • If you’re late, you may as well come with a check to pay the ticket fine.
  • Be as polite to the judge as you were to the officer, and only speak when you’re asked to speak.
    • If you have a traffic lawyer, she’ll likely do most of the talking for you.
  • Come prepared.
    • Have all the notes, pictures/drawings, and witnesses you need for your case.
  • Have a well-planned defense (attorneys are great at this, too). Common speeding violation defenses include:
    • Officer’s Observations: You’re challenging the ticketing officer’s view on what happened.
    • Mistake of Fact Conduct: You’re arguing the speeding was an honest mistake.
    • Legally Justified Conduct: You have a justified reason for speeding, such as a medical emergency that needed immediate hospital attention.
    • Avoid Harm Conduct: You were speeding to avoid harm; for example, while driving in the left lane another driver was tailgating you and you needed to move into the right lane.
    • Mistaken Identity: The officer mistook your vehicle for the one he clocked; it was difficult to tell the difference in vehicles once he caught up.

Remember, whatever happens during and after the hearing, be as courteous and polite as possible. You don’t need to add a contempt of court charge to your list of problems.

What Happens If You Win (Or Lose?)

Generally, if you fight your speeding ticket in court and are found guilty, you must deal with all the original ticket fines and penalties, along with court costs. Because your current auto coverage provider might increase your rates, you’ll also want to start shopping for new car insurance quotes for more affordable premiums.

If you are found guilty, you will automatically be classified as high-risk drivers in the eyes of insurance companies. Be sure to use our guide to find the best car insurance companies for high-risk drivers.

If you fight your speeding ticket in court and are found not guilty or the ticket is dismissed, don’t leave the courtroom without finding out exactly what that means for the penalties. Ask your judge, lawyer, or other court representative:

  • Does this mean the speeding violation will disappear completely? Will it, or any license points, show up on your driving record at all?
  • Was your not guilty verdict dependent on pleading guilty to a lesser charge, completing a traffic school, or meeting some other court demand?
  • Do you still owe court costs?

Even if you’re found not guilty or the ticket is dismissed, contact your state driver license agency to make sure no points are added to your driving record. Sometimes these things slip through the cracks.

What to Do When You Get Pulled Over?

You can start fighting your speeding ticket the moment you see flashing lights.

Make sure you:

  • Pull over in a timely fashion and in a safe spot.
  • Roll down your window and keep your seatbelt on and your hands on the steering wheel.
    • Don’t start looking for your license and registration until the officer asks.
  • Be polite, don’t argue (but don’t admit guilt, either), and try not to be memorable. You don’t want to stick out in the officer’s mind after you drive away.
  • Don’t talk more than necessary. You could risk saying something incriminating, no matter how innocent it is.
    • You can ask the officer about the method he used to clock your speed for your records, but don’t share an opinion about it.
  • After the incident, write down everything that happened including:
    • The time, date, and location you were ticketed.
    • Where you were going and why you were speeding (if you were and want to argue a case for why it was justified).
    • The names of any passengers. These people might act as witnesses.
    • The officer’s name (this should be on the ticket) and a description of your conversation as well as anything noteworthy he said.
    • NOTE: It’s also a good idea to take a picture of the area, making sure to get anything that stands out or is directly related to your case such as a missing speed limit sign, lack of roadwork (if the officer claims there is road construction going on), and weather conditions (it might be a sunny day even if the officer claims it’s stormy).

Being polite, following directions, and leaving no impression on the officer all increase your chances of beating the speeding ticket.

Final Thoughts

Ideally, your ticketing officer won’t show up and the judge will dismiss your speeding ticket; however, in the likely event that doesn’t happen, you must be thoroughly prepared to fight your speeding ticket in court. Speeding tickets aren’t easy to beat, but if you have a solid case and an experienced traffic ticket attorney to help you, you can avoid nasty penalties like costly ticket fines, driving record points, and higher car insurance premiums.

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