Driving faster than the speed limit is among the common infractions committed in the country. You are likely to receive a speeding ticket when you violate vehicle code, or local ordinances of the state.
Most states work on a point system that allocates points to different traffic violation codes. Based on the DMV Point System and the Traffic Violation Code of your state, your driving record will reflect all traffic violations committed by you.
On receiving a traffic ticket, you may face several consequences, including actions against your driver’s license, points on your driving record, and traffic court requirements. The judge can announce an increase in your car insurance rates, or assign mandatory traffic school or defensive driving sessions to you. You will do well to analyze all of the legal options available to you, before agreeing to pay the fine. After receiving sound legal advice from your attorney, you can try to get the fine amount reduced, and even avoid getting said points on your record.
In case the officer stops you for violating the speed limit, it is critical to be prepared with your defense if you plan to challenge the charges.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you find yourself being slapped with a speeding ticket.
1. Challenge the Officer’s Claim
When issuing a speeding ticket, the police officer needs to put his or her opinion in the casefile, and come to a subjective conclusion about the speeding incident. If you have been issued a ticket based on the offer’s personal judgement, then you stand a chance to contest it.
You can use situational arguments to oppose the judgment. For instance, if the officer was driving in front of you, then you can argue that he/she could not have observed whether or not you waited at the ‘stop’ sign.
In certain states, the speed limit is not only the norm, but a person is obligated to drive at a speed that is relatively safe, given the traffic conditions. For instance, you may have to exceed the speed limit to overtake a truck or a heavy vehicle for a certain reason. You can, therefore, argue that you had to maintain a certain distance from the other cars in your lane to ensure your safety.
2. First-Time Offenders
For people who have never received a speeding ticket before, it is advisable to check if the judge will offer a reduced fine for first-time offenders, and whether the citation will be withheld from the insurance company.
In such a situation, the judge will announce a ‘no contest plea’ for you, and will not add points to your driving record. This will help you avoid paying high insurance premiums in the future.
If you still receive a ticket, consult an experienced attorney to help you with a defense strategy for the traffic court hearing.
3. Request the Officer’s Notes
Most states allow the driver to seek a copy of the officer’s notes of the case via the discovery process. This entitles both parties to exchange information/evidence, including the officer’s notes, tapes from the speeding recording devices, and the traffic camera footage before the trial.
This evidence helps attorneys prepare a defense strategy to question the officer during the hearing. There is a chance that the officer may not show up at the court if he/she is aware that the notes are inadequate. The officer’s absence leads to the dismissal of the case.
On referring to the officer’s notes, your attorney will get a better understanding of the situation and be able to devise a stronger strategy. If the notes do not carry sufficient details, then you can object to his/her appeal, based on ambiguity. Your attorney can then draft specific questions for the officer that can be difficult for him/her to answer.
4. Oppose the Evidence Presented
There is a fair chance for you to win the case if your attorney succeeds at creating a doubt in the mind of the judge and the officer. It can help you get your ticket dismissed by the judge.
Your attorney can ask the officer about how he/she arrived at the conclusion that you should be issued a speeding ticket. As the officer answers, be prepared to present the court with new evidence that may not have been collected at the time.
For instance, if you can locate eyewitnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf, then make sure that you have their contact details to call them to the court. Their testimonials can convince the judge that you are right, and the police officer’s observations may be inaccurate.
5. Agree That it Was a Mistake of Fact
If your attorney can convince the judge that you made an honest and reasonable error, you may receive a lenient sentence from the court. You need to present the event as a ‘mistake of fact’ by saying that you should not be held guilty for an offense that you had no intention of committing.
For instance, if you crossed a ’stop’ sign without pausing because the markers were recently placed at the location, then you may appeal for a mistake of fact. In such a situation, the judge can dismiss the ticket issued against you, if he/she is convinced that you had inadequate notice.
However, if the sign had been up for a long time, or if you were speeding at the time instead, the judge may not accept this defense.
6. Present Your Driving as a Justified Act
During the court hearing, you can accept that you were driving at a high speed, and can also present a believable justification for doing so. This can be a risky defense strategy, however, as it increases the chances of you having to pay the fine and getting the points on your driving record.
Taking this approach will require your attorney to highlight the circumstances that led you to cross over the speed limit. If the situation permits, you can state that you intended to avoid an accident with the truck ahead, which you suspected was being driven by a drunken person.
Suffering from a medical condition that needed immediate care can also be cited as one of the reasons for speeding.
Remember These Tips Before Paying That Ticket
The federal and state governments issue speed limits to reduce road fatalities and monitor traffic. It is inadvisable to ignore them, as they not only impact your ability to operate a vehicle safely, but can cost you money in the form of fines and insurance premiums. That having been said, there may be times when you are handed a speeding ticket due to unprecedented situations. This is when consulting a legal expert can help you avoid further trouble. The above tips can help you know more about the legal methods that can implemented, if you receive a speeding ticket.
About the Author
James Allen is Marketing Manager at Kimmey & Murphy, P.C., based in Georgia. The firm has over four decades of experience in handling and representing clients in matters of criminal defense, personal injury, workers compensation, civil litigation, and domestic law throughout Georgia.