Does fighting speeding tickets ever pay off? When you receive a speeding ticket, your first inclination may be to pay it and be done with it. After all, you'll need to take time off from work to go to court and fight a ticket, which will cost you more in the long run. In most cases, this ends the argument, but there are some things to think about before you put a check in the mail.
First, consider the total cost of the speeding ticket. This includes the fine as well as whether the ticket will cause your insurance premium to go up. If you're looking at a premium increase of $200 to $300 over three years, fighting the ticket is worth your while. If this ticket means that you'll need to attend traffic school at your own cost, it's also worth fighting.
You'll likely need to take time off from work to fight the ticket. If you've got vacation time coming or you're a salaried employee, that might not be a big deal. If you're self-employed or paid hourly, time off could squeeze your budget. Look at the cost of the ticket and the total cost of any insurance surcharges. If you'll be out $700 to $1,000 over the next three years because of a ticket, it's probably worth missing a day's pay for what you'll save over the long term.
All you have to do to fight a speeding ticket is to create a reasonable doubt in the judge's mind. If you really believe that you weren't speeding, or if you think that the officer made a mistake, it is a good idea to present your case to the court.
It helps if you have never received a speeding ticket before, or if it has been some time since you received a speeding ticket. It is possible that you will be able to have the ticket dismissed or at the least reduced.
Fighting Police Radar
The radar gun may seem like indisputable evidence that you were speeding, but it is not indisputable. Each state has very specific rules concerning the maintenance, testing and use of radar guns.
Before your court date, do some research on your state's rules for radar gun use. Find out what licenses, maintenance records and training certifications are required for police radar. Write down this list, and when your case is heard, ask the police officer to provide all of the relevant records. If any of these records are missing or out of date, the ticket is automatically invalid.
Be aware that police have caught on to this tactic, so you probably don't want it to be your only defense. It's not uncommon for police officers to arrive with a binder filled with all the necessary paperwork, proving that the radar information is accurate.
Asking for Leniency
In court, you may get an opportunity to explain why you were speeding. The judge may agree that it was a good reason. If there was a genuine medical or personal emergency involved, judges will often dismiss speeding tickets. Keep in mind that, "I had to get to the store to buy a new outfit," or, "My boss said he'd kill me if I was late again," are not genuine emergencies. If a family member is injured or stranded, or you're on your way to seek medical treatment or be with someone in the hospital, you've got a legitimate emergency.
If you were rushing home to let out a pet that had been locked in the house all day, you might get a break if you're lucky enough to have a judge who loves pets.
Some judges will be lenient if you can prove that the ticket or an insurance surcharge will present a genuine hardship. If you're out of work, have a disability or are caring for someone who's ill, let the judge know. Some judges will reduce the amount of a ticket if it presents a serious financial hardship.
There's only one situation where you can contest the validity of the ticket itself, and that's when speed limit signs aren't posted. To get a ticket dismissed in this situation, you need to prove that an unusually low speed limit, such as a 55 MPH zone on a 65 MPH highway, isn't marked. You'll need to go back to the site where you were pulled over and look for signs. If they're damaged, missing or hidden by trees, you've usually got a solid case to get the ticket thrown out.
When you're fighting a ticket, keep in mind that the judge has heard it all before. Most judges readily side with law enforcement when it comes to speeding tickets, so don't expect to lie your way out of it or sway the judge with a sob story.
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