Traffic tickets are common. Most people get at least a few over a lifetime. However, some may not be clearly justified. For example, the police officer may have recorded the wrong vehicle, or the radar might have malfunctioned. Maybe you had a reasonable excuse for committing a traffic error, such as swerving to miss a family dog that unexpectedly rushed into the street. Before paying your traffic citation fine, here are a few things to consider.
Review the Citation
Carefully read the traffic ticket details to see what is marked and how the event is described. If you find an error, make a note of it to discuss with the Traffic Court. Note any discrepancies that could be argued either for or against a citation. For example, if you drove through a yellow traffic light that turned red while you were under it, the officer may believe you deserve a ticket, but you might feel it is not deserved. The Traffic Court judge or magistrate may need to make the final decision.
Reflect on What Happened
Write your account of the event. Include the time of day, weather conditions, traffic patterns, and traffic lights or signs. Include details pertaining to influential aspects, such as the weaving car ahead of you, a child playing on the street curb, or someone who calls to you from the periphery.
Determine if the Ticket is Deserved
As you put all the pieces together, decide if you handled the situation correctly or not. If there is a citation error, contact the Traffic Court to ask how to argue the charge. If relevant, find out how to prepare a defense against the citation, such as bringing a timeline of your actions or a witness statement from vehicle passengers or pedestrians. Ask about potential consequences for arguing your case but losing, such as if you will pay a higher fine than indicated on the citation due to using the court’s time.
Consult a Traffic Attorney
If you firmly believe that the citation is unmerited, discuss it with experienced traffic attorneys, such as Wood & Rabil LLP Attorneys At Law, who can advise you on how to proceed. They know the legal process and the local courts, so they can steer you in the best direction for dealing with the citation.
Traffic tickets are no fun, and they can add points to your driver’s license. Avoid getting a ticket if possible. But if you should be cited, thoughtfully evaluate the situation to see if the charge can be effectively argued.
Author information: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.