Fighting A Traffic Ticket: Types Of Defenses

Fighting A Traffic Ticket

Fighting a traffic ticket is no easy task. Traffic courts are much different than many people realize and winning your case will take some planning. I’ll get into the different types of defenses you can use and hopefully, with this info, you can string together a logical defense and win your case. By the way, if you haven’t read it yet, head on back to Page One: How To Fight A Traffic Ticket

Subjective Challenge

One way of fighting a traffic ticket is to use the subjective challenge. In many traffic offenses, the officer must make a subjective judgment, which is why police officers have so much discretion on whether to write a ticket or not. Under this defense, you’ll argue that your actions were safe and reasonable for the given conditions. For example, let’s say you stopped beyond the white line at an intersection because the car behind you was going to rear-end you otherwise. Thirty seconds later, a police officer sees you beyond the white line, pulls you over, and writes a ticket. You can challenge the officers subjective conclusion about why you were beyond the white line because the officer didn’t see what happened or his view was obstructed.

In nearly half of all US States, this argument can even be used for speeding violations. Speed limits in many states are not “absolute” and can be challenged. For example, if you were passing a large truck or legally passing a vehicle in the oncoming lanes, you might briefly drive over the limit so that you could place yourself in a safer position. Those are just a couple of the different ways of using the subjective challenge.

In order to realistically win your case using this challenge, you’ll need to be able to prove a couple things. First, you need to prove that what you did was safe and reasonable. You’ll also need to prove that the officer was in a position which obstructed his or her view of the situation. For instance, the officer may have been across the street with heavy traffic obstructing the view. Make no mistake, fighting a traffic ticket puts the burden of proof on you. If you’re going to use this defense, you better have some physical evidence such as photographs to back it up.

Incorrect Observation

Traffic Ticket DefenseGiven the same situation as above, let’s say the officer actually witnessed you stopping beyond the white stop line at an intersection and also had a great view of you doing it. You can’t use the subjective challenge, but you may be able to challenge the officers observation of what happened. Maybe he didn’t see that you were about to be rear-ended by the guy behind you. This defense is extremely hard to win without very good physical evidence to back up your statement. It all comes down to who the judge believes and unfortunately for you, the person wearing the badge will get the benefit of the doubt every time. There are still some things you can do to try and use this defense though.

One way you can present a good defense is by bringing witnesses such as passengers or bystanders to testify on your behalf. This alone probably wouldn’t win your case, but it strengthens it. You can also bring photos, diagrams, or video of the scene to help present facts like key locations or landmarks. The best way to win this defense is the same way you’d try to win the subjective challenge; By proving to the court the officers view was obstructed.

Mistake Of Fact

This is another difficult one, but sometimes this can be your best defense in fighting a traffic ticket. With this defense, you can argue on a technicality. Let’s say you were cited for speeding but the speed limit sign was covered by a branch so you couldn’t see it. Or maybe the stop line at an intersection was faded. This defense all comes down to having fair notice. If you weren’t given fair notice of the violation, you may be able to use this defense. Make sure you bring evidence to the court. Try to get a picture of the sign or a weather report for that time and day (if snow was blocking a sign) or a video of how everything unfolded. Without evidence, this is very difficult to win, but it might be the best chance you have in your particular case.

Justifiable Action

Fighting A Traffic TicketThis defense can be used when you were legally breaking a law. For example, in many states you are legally allowed to drive into an intersection if an emergency vehicle is behind you and needs you to get out of the way. You may also drive significantly below the speed limit if you are preparing to make a turn. In these cases, you don’t have to deny your actions, you simply have to prove that what you did was safe and lawful. It’s important to note, however, that many people make up some pretty poor excuses when fighting a traffic ticket and the judge has to hear those excuses all day long. Present your case with clear cut facts and bring any evidence you can such as photos, make a video, and bring in paperwork showing “exceptions” to the law you are accused of violating. Saying something like “I didn’t realize I was speeding” or “I didn’t wear my seat belt because it’s too uncomfortable to drive” isn’t going to cut it. The judge has a lot of leeway here, so present your case in a professional manner.

Hopefully one of these techniques will work for you but remember, winning a case in traffic court is exceedingly difficult! Be prepared with facts, evidence, and don’t be surprised if you lose even though you presented both of those things. Consider asking to take an online traffic school to have the ticket removed from your record or find a way to plea with the prosecutor or judge to have the ticket removed in exchange for something else, such as keeping your driving record clean for a certain amount of time. Fighting a traffic ticket is no fun at all and most people leave the courtroom feeling frustrated, wronged, and cheated. If you decide to fight that ticket, be prepared for an uphill battle.

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