Almost every driver has their own way of avoiding tickets or thoughts about what they would do to beat a ticket if they were ever pulled over. While these might be fun to talk about, you should never rely on other drivers or the Internet to help you beat a speeding ticket. Below are five of the most commonly proposed defenses and why they don’t work.
1. Changing the court date until the officer doesn’t show
Generally, if the officer who wrote the ticket doesn’t show up to court and either the officer or prosecutor was at fault due to poor scheduling or some other reason, the traffic charge will be dismissed. This is due to procedural rules designed to give defendants a speedy trial and punish the state for any unnecessary delay. If, however, you request a new court date, the court will likely find that you have agreed to any delays and will usually give the prosecutor an opportunity to choose a new, more convenient date if your chosen date doesn’t work for them. While in theory you might be able to keep asking for new dates until the officer doesn’t show on a date chosen by the prosecutor, the judge will almost certainly see through your ploy and won’t grant multiple date changes without you showing a very good reason for them.
2. Using cross examination to show the officer can’t be believed
Many traffic court defendants base their entire defense on cross examining the officer. They may try to show that the officer didn’t have a good lock on their car, that the officer just made up an offense to meet a quota, or that past negative evaluations mean the officer can’t be believed now. These are the worst possible defenses. Officers are presumed to be telling the truth, and when they say a violation occurred the court believes them. The chances of a defendant pulling off a Perry Mason moment and showing the ticket was invalid are slim to none, and the only other outcome is angering the officer, prosecutor, and judge to the point where they throw the book at you.
3. Saying other drivers were going just as fast
It also isn’t a defense to say that other cars were going just as fast. It won’t work to say that an officer couldn’t have locked onto your car in a group because they will say that they did. It’s also no good to say that you were the slowest car on the road. It may seem unfair that you were stopped for one mile per hour over the speed limit while the other cars were doing twice the posted speed limit, but that isn’t a legal defense. Saying that you were passing a slow car won’t work either because the response will be that they couldn’t have been driving that slowly if you had to speed to pass them.
4. Pointing out mistakes on the ticket
Mistakes are frequently made on traffic tickets, but they rarely are severe enough to result in a dismissal. Most mistakes are technical such as writing down an incorrect, but similar car color, making a spelling mistake, or transposing two numbers.
These might be slightly embarrassing for the officer, but to beat the charge, the error must be so severe that it didn’t give actual notice of the violation charged or when and where to show up in court to defend it.
This would need to be something like giving you the wrong court date or charging reckless driving when the speed written on the ticket wasn’t high enough to charge it.
5. Pleading guilty for a lesser penalty
Many defendants without a defense feel that they can just throw themselves at the mercy of the court by pleading guilty. In a court where defendants who contest tickets are routinely given the maximum fine, this might work, but only a little. A guilty plea still requires that you pay at least the minimum fine and possibly court costs. It will also add points to your license and increases your insurance premiums. If you had simply chosen the to pay the fine or selected the traffic school option, you could have saved court costs and possibly points or higher insurance premiums. The only advantage to going to court with the intent to plead guilty is to ask the prosecutor if they would be willing to reduce the charges.
If you need to beat a speeding ticket to keep your license or your job or to keep your insurance rates down, don’t bring these shaky defenses with you to court. Contact an experienced traffic court attorney instead.
How to Make Your Defenses Work?
Meanwhile, if you’d like to know which type of defenses work well, it’s more of a matter of knowing precisely what your violation is and how the offense is defined by the law. This is the reason why employing a court attorney is recommended. However, not everyone can have that option. So what can you do?
Research the law corresponding to your violation
First, it’s best to look up the law that you have been accused of violating. Usually, the officer who issued your ticket should have written down the common name of your offense, along with the code section corresponding to the offense.
With the technology we have today, you can easily search for that code by doing a quick internet scan. You shouldn’t have any problem coming up with the text of the law.
After you find the statute, you should be able to point out the different possible defenses that you can use.
Check if there are any missing elements of the offense
In layman’s terms, these elements pertain to the components that must be met for the conviction to be given.
For example, two elements must be met to be convicted for a distracted driving violation. One (1) is that the person should be the one driving, and two (2), that same person should be using a prohibited electronic device.
Most lawyers get away with the law by playing around with these elements. Any missing element you find can be used to defend your plea, and it’s a lot more reliable because it’s something you’ve taken from the written law itself.
Challenge any subjective conclusion by the officer
We’ve mentioned earlier that cross-examining the officer won’t work. So what is the difference here? The underlying answer lies in the word “subjective”. If you are going to challenge an officer’s point of view of what happened, you must focus on subjective judgment.
When we say subjective, this means that the conclusion is based on the officer’s perception that your action was unsafe. So how can you win over this in court in case the battle falls between your word vs his word? The answer is objective evidence, which is the best way to counter subjectivities.
For example, let’s say that the officer pointed out that you were driving dangerously because he heard your tires squeal. Even if this is true, you know for a fact that the real reason why it happened is that you got new tires and you were driving on a smooth road surface.
If you only mention this in court, there’s a chance that the judge will see this as an excuse. But if you were able to present a purchase receipt of new tires a few days before the violation, you have presented hard evidence that is hard to ignore. And this will also put more weight on your argument that the officer may have judged your actions subjectively.