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Fighting a Traffic Ticket

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Can I Fight a Traffic Ticket?

It depends. Some tickets you can fight, and others you cannot. That means the first step is to determine what type of ticket has been issued. A driver's success on fighting a traffic ticket will be largely based on this.

As an alternative to fighting a ticket, the driver may just want to take the easier alternative and pay the fine and go to traffic school to have any points removed from their record. A reason for not challenging a ticket may be that, if the driver loses, they may be required to pay court costs and fines in addition to the cost of the ticket.

How Can I Decided Whether to Challenge a Ticket?

The first step someone should ask themselves is “what am I charged with?” Many times police don’t know the law, and technically what you did was not actually a violation of the law, but the officer simply thought it was. It is not uncommon for officers to be concerned with other aspects of protecting and serving to be correctly informed or up to date on the law. Thus, they may make mistakes on the application of many laws.

How Can I Better Understand What I Am Charged With?

Many state DMV’s have traffic laws available on the internet. Simply breaking down whatever the traffic law is into distinct parts can help clarify what the exact charge is. It may also make it clear as to whether or not a person has a case.

How Do Judges Treat Traffic Laws?

Judges will stick to the law exactly as it is written. This type of hyper-technical, word-by-word reading of statutes is the key skill all lawyers and judges learn in law school.

What Other Types of Questions Should I Ask Myself about the Case?

  • Was the officer's view obstructed by something – If so, this allows you to argue the officer could not have clearly seen the alleged offense
  • Did the officer stop the right car – In heavy traffic for an officer to see a violation committed by one car and stop another in not uncommon
  • Were you driving safely – In some states, the law says it's legal to drive slightly over the posted speed limit as long as it is safe to do so
  • Was there an actual, provable error in the officer's approach or methodology – Did the officer correctly pace your vehicle or properly use radar, laser, or VASCAR to establish your speed?

Do I Have Any Chance against a Police Officer in Court?

By right, the judge must listen to both sides of the story in court. If someone has good reason to defend against the traffic violation, there is no reason the officer should be at any real advantage. As long as a case is presented by facts and law, and not lies and circumstance, anyone should have a case.

What Happens If the Officer Doesn't Show Up?

No matter what the defense is, a driver will normally win if the officer fails to appear.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Traffic tickets can be outrageously expensive, and may potentially have a serious impact on insurance and driving privileges. If you are considering challenging a traffic ticket, a criminal defense lawyer may be indispensable. A defense lawyer will be best situated to explain to you the law, how a judge will likely approach the law, and most importantly, be equipped to challenge or otherwise undermine the credibility of the citing officer.

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 04-20-2015 01:59 PM PDT

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