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What to Do When You Get a Speeding Ticket

We all received speeding tickets at some point in our lives and when we see the blue sirens flashing behind us we immediately start thinking about how much money it is going to cost us. Not only will it cost you money in the short term, since you will have to pay the ticket itself plus any court fees that might ensue, but it could also cost you in the long run since your insurance rates might go up significantly. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do in order to limit the impact of the speeding ticket, although it might not be so easy to do. You always have an opportunity to fight the ticket in traffic court.

What should I expect in traffic court?

The traffic court proceedings are fairly routine and open proceedings. This means that there will be other people in the audience who are fighting the tickets and each trial will happen very quickly. It is a good idea to be at the courthouse before your scheduled time because if you are late and the doors are closed, you might be turned away. When you come to court on your assigned date, everybody in the courtroom will be sworn in together, the court clerk will call each defendant up one by one and he will usually say “The State vs.” or “The People vs.” followed by your name. Usually the people who are fighting their tickets will be called up first, followed by the people who have already plead guilty and are seeking to lower or dismiss the fine due to their individual circumstances.

When you hear your name, you should get up and walk to either the witness box or one of the tables before the judge. It is important that you follow all prompts and directions either from the officers or the judge. Wait for the judge to finish talking or reading any information about your case and wait for your turn to speak. Keep in mind, if your case is complicated, you might be a good idea to seek the assistance of an attorney. However, most proceedings in traffic court are standard and the process is streamlined.

The trial will be very simple. Either a prosecutor or the police officer will present the case against you. After they are finished, you will have a chance to respond to anything they have said and call witnesses that can help. The prosecution or the officer will rebut you. You are playing with house money at this point. If you screw this up, the worst thing is that you will be found guilty, but you still do not lose anything. It is your

What about officer non-appearance or fault?

Most people believe that if the police officer does not show up to court your speeding ticket is automatically dismissed. However, this is not the case. The fact of the matter is that it entirely depends on the judge. For example, if the police officer did not show up, the judge might reschedule the court hearing for another date or try to reach the officer by phone. However, this is very rare. In most situations, police officers show up to court because they usually have many cases that day.

Some people claim that it is a good idea to request a postponement of your court date in order to increase the probability of the police officer not showing up. Keep in mind that police officers have certain days each month when they have to be in court and the date of your next scheduled court appearance will most likely be the next day the officer is in court. They are going to put it on a day when the officer has many cases and thus has a good incentive to make his court appearance. Also, keep in mind that the police officer might have notified the court that he can not make it that day and request a postponement himself. If he did not call in or otherwise notify the court, the case will usually be dismissed.

How to Fight a Speeding Ticket

While most people think that going to court is the only way to fight the speeding tickets, there are some things that you can do to prevent it from getting that far. Let’s take a look.

1. Talk to the officer

After the officer has jotted down all of your driver’s license, vehicle and registration information, ask them if you could discuss the ticket with them. If you know that you did in fact increase, your speed it is best to just admit it and do so vehemently and tell them that they had every right to pull you over. Most officer will admit that they take a lot of pride in their work and if you can satisfy their pride factor to a certain degree, they could just simply let you off with a warning. The better you make them feel, the more likely they will let you go without a ticket.

2. Ask to see the radar

Many states require the police officer to show you the radar readings as proof that you have committed the violation. However, if the officer refuses, do not force them to do so. Instead, go to court and tell the judge that your rights have been violated. This could be additional grounds for having your case dismissed. Also, it is a good idea to ask them additional questions as proof that you are keeping an eye on the case. These questions could be something like: “When was the last time you calibrated the radar gun?” or “Where were you when you clocked me with the radar gun?” Do not ask these questions in a sarcastic manner. Instead, show them that you genuinely want to know all of the details. Otherwise you are making the officer’s pride fight harder.

3 . Call the officer at work

Call the officer and ask them if you could meet to discuss the ticket they gave you. Usually, the police officer will be happy to meet with you, but do not show up to the meeting and say “Could you get me out of this ticket?” You should a story or some circumstances why the officer should dismiss the ticket. Try to make the story as personal as possible so the officer can relate to you thus bridging the gap between officer and civilian. Always remember that the police officer has complete freedom to drop the charges so do not take this process lightly.

4. Write a letter to the officer

Even if you already had a meeting with the police officer, it is still a good idea to write them a letter explaining your situation. The letter should be written in a professional manner, short and to the point. Try to show the police officer that this ticket is a big deal to you, there were some circumstances that caused you to increase your speed and you are otherwise a law abiding driver. Again, it is very important to do this in a professional manner because otherwise you could make the matter worse.

5. Contact the judge

If the police officer does not want to meet with you, try contacting the judge that will hear your case. If there will be a prosecuting attorney, you can try contacting them as well. There worst case scenario is that they will say “no.” You are not risking anything. Try contacting them repeatedly, but avoid being a pest. Tell them everything you have to say about your situation and be sincere about it.

6. Get all of your documentation in order

Believe it or not, getting organized and staying that way could help you get your traffic ticket dismissed. Collect all of the facts in a format that can be easily referenced. The more information you have, the better you can plead your case in court. If you have everything right at your fingertips, you will be better able to refute anything the prosecutor or the police officer says. This way you will look more professional and you will remember all of the important details. The information that you should always collect is radar readings, the data and time of the violation, the road and weather conditions when the violation occurred as well as your current driving and insurance information.

In addition to everything that was mentioned above, it is also a good idea to remember seemingly trivial things such as the clothes you were wearing. The reason is that you cannot possibly know which details the prosecutor or the police officer will request. If you know and have all of the information before coming to court, you will be more confident when trying to contradict claims the officer is making. Therefore, on the day you are in court, take a couple of minutes to go over the details one last time in order to keep them fresh in your head. The harder you prepare, the more likely you will succeed.

Also, while you are collecting and studying all of the materials, you might notice some circumstances that might allow you to receive a lesser fine or lower the points on your license. For example, if it was pouring that day or it was really windy, you can try using this as a defense in court, since it might have been difficult to control the vehicle in such a situation.

7. Go to court

If all of the steps mentioned above have failed, then you should fight the ticket in court. As we said previously, you should be at the courthouse early and dressed in an appropriate manner. Business casual should be enough. Since this is traffic court, you might look strange or downright silly for you to wear a suit since this not such a big offense. If you really have to know what the best attire would be, you can attend previous hearings to see what other people are wearing.

The judge will then ask you how you plead and should answer “Not guilty.” There are other options available such as, Nolo Contendere, but this might have strange effects in some courts. In some instances, it could simply cause your case to disappear in the court file, but you should talk this one over with your attorney. In most situations you should simply respond “Not guilty, your honor” at which point you will be assigned a court date and you can continue steps 1-3.

8. Start contesting the charges

If everything has failed, you still have a chance to defeat the ticket in court. While it may seem intimidating to have to appear in court, you should not miss your court date under any circumstances. If you do not appear in court, you will automatically be found guilty. The court is in fact your friend. You will have some opportunities to get your charges dismissed if the officer does not show up in court or you might even get a chance to cut a deal with the judge or prosecutor just like the people you see on TV.

9. Ask for alternative punishment

Your biggest goal at this point should be keeping the speeding ticket off your insurance record. Try asking the judge if you could go to driving school instead or take some additional defensive driving classes. While this might cost you upfront, the amount of money you will save by maintaining your driving record will far outweigh the price of the driving school or classes. Also, you will most likely have to pay the court costs, but again, it is cheaper than having to pay higher car insurance rates. Also, while the speeding ticket might remain on your record, it will not be visible to insurance companies.

10. Think of any individual circumstances

Even if you were caught speeding, perhaps there was some reason that you had to increase your speed in order to get to your destination faster. For example, maybe you had to rush to school to pick up your child because they were sick or maybe you were sick yourself that day. The judge and the police officers are human beings judge like you and will be able to empathize with you if you had an emergency.

11. Be aware of your rights during the trial

If you are in court, even if it is traffic court, you have still been accused of a crime. This means that the police officer who pulled you over has signed a sworn statement that they saw you commit a violation and the ticket they gave you most likely says that at the very top. However, there is no need to panic, it is just a simple misdemeanor. You have all rights to plead your case, present evidence call witnesses etc. Also, once the judges decision is made, you will have the right to appeal the decision if you do not think that it is fair. However, it might not be a good financial decision since the court fees or attorney costs will be higher than the ticket itself. Therefore let the legal process end here and be sure to remain on good terms with the officer and the judge in case you have to run into them again.

12. Write more letters

In continuation with the point made above in terms of remaining on good terms with all of the parties involved, it is a good idea to write letters to the judge, prosecutor or officer and telling them how nice they were. While this may seem like sucking up, this is your investment in the next time you get pulled over or have to see them again. Be sure to include the mayor and the chief of police in the cc: section of the email.

Sticking it to “the man”

Everything that was mentioned above is not rocket science. The police officer and other people that will be involved in your court case are all human beings just like you. All you are trying to do is get them to see things your way. Getting a traffic ticket is not a pleasant experience, but it is not the end of the world. You are not risking a whole lot by going to court and fighting your ticket. In fact, it is a fun way to participate is the government that you live in. We encourage everybody to try the steps and strategies mentioned above in a friendly and polite way. Forget everything you had seen on TV about lawyers and courtrooms and just go in there be yourself. It is your right as a citizen to challenge the charges levied against so go in there and try to enjoy it.

The most important thing is to keep your cool. Whenever you get a ticket, you start thinking about how unfair it is, how you are going to fight it to the bitter end and so on and so forth. However, it is important to get a grip and remember that the entire situation can be easily resolved without even having to go to court. All you have to do is play your cards right, be polite and persistent. Having good manners and showing respect will go a long way for you. When you get pulled over, just follow all of the instructions the officer gives you and if you think something is unfair, save it for your court date. There is a time and place for everything and debating the police officer is best saved for court.

Also, keep in mind that court should be your last alternative. This is simply because when you go to court, it is up to the judge to decide if you are at fault. If they decide that you are guilty there will be a whole load of consequences including fines, points on your license or even the possibility of losing your license. However, if you arrange a meeting with the officer you will have an opportunity to plead your case without really losing anything. Even if the police officer decides not to believe you, there are still many options for you to resort to.

Do not let your emotions get the best of you. Instead take the time to plan everything out. This includes having the presence of mind to make a not or memorize some of the details when the police officer pulled you over. The more information you have the more credible you will seem in court and even when speaking with the police officer. Sometimes they make subjective decisions. For example, instead of measuring your speed with the radar gu, they will use the speed of the cars next to you or the ones that you pass by. If the officer feels that you are going past the speed limit they will automatically pull you over. Therefore, be sure to always ask for radar reading and any other information the officer has to provide you with. If they refuse to give you this information, is additional grounds for dismissing your ticket.

We hope all of the information and tips in this article have been useful and informative. Just be sure to utilize all of them instead of going straight to court. Even if you think some of them are downright silly or will never work, just try them. These tips have been tried by drivers before and have proven to be effective in getting rid of tickets time and time again. Also, be sure to practice safe and defensive driving. The best and easiest way of getting out of a speeding ticket is not get one in the first place. Whenever you feel like increasing your speed, your thought process should be: “How much money can this potentially cost me”? Slow down, drive safely and enjoy lowa auto insurance rates.

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