Traffic Violations Law
For many people, the extent of their experience with the criminal justice system is being pulled over for a traffic violation. And in many cases, they likely just pay the ticket and move on.
But when is it worthwhile to fight back on a speeding ticket, and how do you do it?
In most cases, fighting a speeding ticket means finding ways to undermine the evidence against you. If an officer used radar technology, you can cast doubt on the accuracy of the equipment. Radar guns must be regularly calibrated; if you can prove the one the officer used in your case hadn't been, a judge may throw out that evidence.
If you get a ticket because of a speed camera, you might be able to argue the camera was not clearly marked according to state law. Or, you could argue that the camera shouldn't have been in that location at all. If all of this sounds like a lot of effort, you're right, it is. But, there are people who can help.
Many people represent themselves when they contest a traffic ticket. But, there are some situations where it's beneficial to have an attorney help you. For example, if you are facing extra penalties due to drastically exceeding the speed limit, an attorney can help you present reasons for a judge to be lenient. Speeding tickets can also cause your insurance rates to go up, so fighting a ticket could have long-term benefits.
An attorney will know the ins and outs of the local courts, as well as the judges and likely some of the police officers who issue traffic tickets. They have the knowledge to determine whether you have a valid defense to the speeding ticket. They can also negotiate with prosecutors to try and get fines or other punishments reduced.
In some cases, hiring an attorney might cost the same as just paying the ticket. So it's important to weigh other costs, such as time off from work to attend traffic court when you're deciding whether to fight a ticket. On the other hand, if you are in a situation where you have several prior traffic violations on your record, it might be worthwhile to have an attorney help you avoid another one.
If you are a commercial truck driver, the stakes of getting a traffic ticket can be high. When your license and livelihood are on the line, it often makes sense to hire a local traffic attorney before going to traffic court.
Many drivers who receive speeding tickets defend themselves by claiming there were no speed limit signs or that trees or other obstructions were blocking the signs. However, city regulations often include a default speed limit. Default speed limits tend to be around 20-30 mph for city streets, 55 mph for county highways and similar roads, and 65 mph for expressways and interstate highways.
Keep in mind: Simply not seeing the speed limit sign is not a valid defense.
Sometimes, but it depends on the state. In New Mexico, for example, cities must mark speed cameras. In Ohio, on the other hand, a police officer must be present at the scene to use traffic cameras as evidence for speeding tickets or red light violations. Some states, like Wisconsin and Texas, cannot use speed cameras at all.
A speeding ticket can cost you anywhere from $50 to $2,500, depending on where you live. If you have been ticketed before or were going so far over the speed limit that there is an additional penalty, you can easily see your ticket jump into that higher range. You also might have long-term costs, such as increased car insurance rates.
Hiring an attorney to help you often costs around $200-$300. So for some people, like someone with a commercial license or someone facing a high fine, working with a lawyer is cheaper in the long run. But for others, it might be better to go it alone. Or, you can just pay the ticket.