If you get a ticket, you do have the option to fight it in court. However, most people don’t try because it is a time-consuming process and the fine may increase if you lose the case. In addition, traffic tickets are often deserved, as many drivers have a lead foot on the gas pedal or sometimes get reckless behind the wheel. However, if you feel that you have been issued a traffic citation in error, you have the option of appearing in traffic court on the designated date and time. Here are some tips on how to prepare a defense.
Provide Evidence That Counters the Citation
If you are cited with reckless driving or failure to brake at a stop sign, for example, and you had an adult passenger with you who verifies your defense, take that person to court with you. If the person cannot attend the court hearing, take a printed statement, preferably notarized, as witness testimony on your behalf. Other witnesses or any vehicle technology you use like those required by some insurance companies for insured vehicles can also be used as support in court.
If you’re not sure what counts as useful evidence, a traffic ticket lawyer may be able to help you. Because they have experience in this kind of case, they can look at your situation and show specific points that work in your favor. The officer may not have had a clear view of your vehicle, or they may have mistaken your car for a different car that was on the road. With that knowledge, your lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case.
Offer a Logical Rationale
If you broke the traffic law briefly or for a good reason, such as driving below the speed limit when a stray pet crosses the road in front of you, the judge or magistrate might give you a pass. The rationale should be solid and reasonable rather than a personal driving preference. If a large truck began tailing you at high speed in the passing zone, and you accelerated briefly to pass a car in the right lane to move over to that lane, state this as your explanation.
However, pleading ignorance of the speed limit in a certain area or failing to monitor your speedometer or driving habits will likely not be accepted. Even taking an ill friend or family member will likely not work as a logical argument unless there was an emergency. At most, the judge might reduce your fine.
Take Support Documents With You
In addition to a witness statement, take along any documentation or records that could prove your position on the citation to be valid. For example, if you momentarily lose vision in one eye and cause your vehicle to swerve, that could be supported by a medical note from your doctor who might confirm that a small pebble flew in from the open window and struck your eye. Documents are stronger evidence than a verbal report unless it’s from a witness.
Display a Respectful Attitude
Always demonstrate courtesy and respect in the courtroom. Failure to do so may cause the judge to lose patience and empathy. Your lawyer can help prepare you or can plead the case for you, as they understand the process thoroughly and can present your defense in a convincing manner.
Some traffic citations can be successfully argued in court. Be prepared to convince the judge of your case’s merit with clear proof and a good argument.
Author information: Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University and now writes articles about health, business, family, and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.