There’s no feeling worse than finding out you’re being pulled over. You know what you’ve done, and it’s on the tip of your tongue to say, ‘I’m sorry, officer, I know I was going fast and ignored the speed limit signs.’
Don’t do it, though.
Instead, know how to fight a speeding ticket to avoid penalties. You may get out of it, or at the very least, lower the cost of the fine. But if you just admit guilt, there’s no hope. You’ll pay the full fine and probably pay higher insurance premiums too.
Rather than handing over unnecessary money, use these steps to avoid paying a speeding ticket.
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1. Be Polite When You’re Pulled Over
This may seem like an odd suggestion when talking about fighting speeding tickets, but it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Don’t be rude, disrespectful, or give the police officer any reason to worry about you during the traffic stop.
Use your manners, and do as the officer says. When you fight your ticket in court, the officer will remember your kindness and possibly show a little more leniency than he/she would if you were disrespectful or caused fear.
2. Don’t Admit Guilt or Fault
It’s easy to apologize or say, ‘I know I was going over the speed limit,’ but don’t. Save the conversation for your court date when you fight the speeding ticket. You are ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ so just wait for your time to appear in court to make sure you don’t admit guilt before you need to.
Don’t worry, it is just an alleged violation. Signing the ticket doesn’t mean you admit guilt. It’s just acknowledgment that the officer is giving you a traffic citation for disobeying the traffic laws.
3. Evaluate the Situation While You Wait for the Ticket
As the officer writes up the ticket, use your time wisely. Take note of as much as you can in your surroundings and the situation. What are the weather conditions? What is the cop’s license number? What streets are you on? What were the traffic conditions like? What did the cop say to you during your exchange?
You may need some or all of this information when you fight the traffic violation in court. Take as many notes as you can, or voice record on your phone so you don’t forget the important facts.
4. Spot Errors on the Ticket
Before you pay the fine or set up a court date, look over the ticket carefully. Is all the information on the citation correct? Even small errors could be enough to convince the court to dismiss the violation. Look for obvious errors, such as the wrong speed or the wrong posted speed limit sign.
Look at the little details too, though, like the date and time of the incident, the street name, or the make and model of your car. You may be able to get out of the ticket just for disputing the police officer’s errors as it discredits his reputation.
5. Prepare Yourself for Court
Don’t just show up to your court date and assume you’ll win. Know precisely what the police officer cited you for, what vehicle speed you were going, and what your state laws say about the incident. While in court, ask to see the police officer’s records. If he/she can’t provide them, the judge may dismiss your case.
Remember, there are court costs every time you go to court, so be as prepared as possible to fight and win the first time so you limit your expenses.
6. Delay the Court Hearing
Find legitimate reasons to delay the court date. You’ll have to appear on each date, so make sure the appearance is short and sweet to keep court costs down. The more continuances you get, the more likely it is that the officer will forget about your case, which allows the judge to throw it out of traffic court.
7. Ask for Another Punishment
If your biggest concern is keeping your speeding ticket off your record to avoid increasing your car insurance premiums, don’t be afraid to ask for another punishment. For example, you may be able to take a driving course to keep the traffic offense off your record and, therefore, leaving your insurance premiums alone.
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8. Plead Not Guilty to Avoid the Speeding Ticket Cost
Never plead guilty to traffic tickets you want to fight. Pleading guilty leaves you no room for negotiation. You pay the fine, and it hurts your insurance premiums, end of story. Instead, plead not guilty and figure out ways to fight the citation.
Whether you claim a mistake in the officer’s recollection of the exchange, misidentification of your car (other cars look just like yours), or the situation didn’t occur like the officer said it did, you must plead not guilty to have this option.
9. Bring Proof of Your Driving Record to the Court Date
If you have a clean driving record, prove it. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles before your court date and get a copy of your driving record. Sometimes showing that you are a good driver and haven’t had any infractions in the last few years softens up the judge, allowing him to let you off easier (or sometimes all together). It may decrease or eliminate your fine altogether – it’s worth the chance.
10. Request a Discovery Subpoena
This is somewhat like a shot in the dark, but it may help your case when fighting a speeding ticket. A discovery subpoena provides you with access to any documents relating to the radar gun, police car, and even the police officer himself.
If there were recent recalls or issues with the radar gun or officer, you are eligible to see what they are. You may also access the officer’s records regarding past cases to see if there’s anything that’s similar to your case that the state law will help you fight.
11. Use Lack of Prosecution Witness to Your Advantage
If the officer doesn’t show up to your court date, use it to win your court case. This should be your first line of defense when fighting a speeding ticket. If there’s no one to prove you went over the speed limit, then there’s no reason to stay in court.
12. Have a Valid Reason for Speeding
If you were speeding, don’t admit it, but if you had a valid reason, state it. While there aren’t many excuses that judges allow, if you have proof of a serious issue, like a medical crisis, someone trailing you, or avoiding an accident, you may be able to get out of the ticket. It helps if you have proof of any situation you claim made you speed, though, as sometimes just your word isn’t enough.
13. Hire a Traffic Attorney
If you don’t feel comfortable representing yourself or want legal advice to see the best way to fight the ticket, enlist the help of a traffic attorney. Find an attorney who has a lot of experience, especially if you have any special circumstances regarding the situation. Ask around for referrals or do your research to find a professional who can help you get your ticket dismissed.
14. Traffic School
In some jurisdictions, you can request traffic school to avoid having the ticket on your record. Traffic school is often offered in an online environment, meaning you can take the class from the comfort of your home. It works best for those with a first offense or those with a minor traffic infraction.
15. Subpoena the Calibrator or the Records
Typically, the police officers who issue the tickets need to come to the court date, but if you subpoena the radar gun records, they must be available for you. In some states, the police officer must complete a form stating he/she accurately captured your speed to the best of their ability. If there is anything in the records you can fight, you may get out of the speeding ticket.
How to Fight a Speeding Ticket FAQ
What Is the Best Excuse for Speeding Ticket?
Most people claim they didn’t know they were speeding. Will this get you out of a ticket or eliminate your need to appear in court? It depends. If you didn’t know the speed limit (were unfamiliar with the area) or were just going with the flow of traffic, state your case. It may win over the judge, it may not, but at least you’re telling the truth when you try to fight a speeding ticket.
Is It Worth It to Contest a Speeding Ticket?
Having a speeding ticket on your record isn’t the best thing, but it’s also not the end of the world. If the fines won’t put you over your budget and your insurance premiums won’t go sky-high, it may be worth going to driving school and moving on with your life. Fighting a speeding ticket takes time, money (if you need a traffic lawyer plus court costs), and a lot of frustration.
How Can I Lower My Speeding Ticket?
What you say in court plays a large role in whether the judge will lower your speeding fine. While you may not get your ticket dismissed, you may catch the judge on a good day. If you have a good reason for speeding or are just plain honest with the judge about your mistake, you may find that he lowers your fine. This doesn’t help keep your auto insurance premiums down, but it will save you some money on the ticket fine.
How Do You Beat a Speeding Ticket Photo?
Today, you can get speeding tickets even when you aren’t driving because you can get them mailed to your home thanks to traffic cameras. If you’re the unlucky recipient of a speeding ticket photo, make sure it’s your car in the picture. If the photo isn’t clear, use that to your advantage, and you may be able to get out of it. Also, pay attention to your state’s laws regarding the time they have to mail you the ticket. If it’s past the time allowed, contest it.
What Do I Say in Court for a Speeding Ticket?
While it’s not fun to admit you were going over the posted speed limit, honesty is the best policy. Plead not guilty, but then talk about the situation with the judge. Be polite and keep a level head. It won’t do anyone any good if you lose your cool over your traffic violations. Mention any circumstances that led to your speeding, and be as accommodating as possible during the proceedings for the best result.
How Many Points Is a Speeding Ticket?
Each state and insurance company has its own points system. Don’t worry too much about the points your state assigns unless you’re at risk of losing your license. Instead, talk to your insurance company to determine how their points system works and how driving violation points would hurt your car insurance rates.
How Long Does a Speeding Ticket Stay on Your Record?
Speeding tickets usually stay on your record for three years. This doesn’t mean it will affect you for the entire three years, though. Ask your insurance agent how long a ticket would affect your insurance rate, and check with your state laws to determine how it affects your driving privileges. One ticket usually doesn’t do much damage, but multiple tickets could land you in driving school or with a suspended license if you aren’t careful.
Can You Go to Jail for Speeding?
Speeding usually doesn’t land you in jail unless your speeds are so excessive that it’s considered reckless driving. Usually, speeds over 80 miles per hour or 20 miles over the posted speed limit count as reckless driving and could result in jail time.
If You Plead Not Guilty to a Traffic Ticket, What Happens?
If you contest the ticket or enter a not guilty plea, the case goes to trial. You won’t have to go in front of a jury, though. It’s a bench trial, which means you go in front of the judge to plead your case. You can represent yourself or hire a traffic attorney to help you fight it.
What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Ticket?
Unpaid tickets don’t go away. They stay on your record forever and could result in a bench warrant or an order for you to appear before the judge. In some states, an unpaid ticket results in a suspended license, and in most states, it results in a higher fine/penalty for non-payment.
Do Speeding Tickets Affect Insurance?
Speeding tickets can affect your insurance premiums. Most insurance companies check your driving record. If you have a speeding ticket, it increases your risk of causing or being involved in an accident, which increases the insurance company’s risk, resulting in higher premiums.
Is a Speeding Ticket a Moving Violation?
Yes, any violation that involves a moving motor vehicle is a moving violation, including a speeding ticket. Other moving violations include running a red light and driving under the influence.
Is It Worth Fighting a Speeding Ticket?
It can be worth it to fight a speeding ticket if it’s going to hurt your driving record or increase your insurance premium. At the very least, you have a chance to get a lower fine, no fine at all, and to save your driving record if the judge dismisses the ticket or you are able to go to driving school rather than have it on your record.
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Samantha Hawrylack is a personal finance expert and full-time entrepreneur with a passion for writing and SEO. She holds a Bachelor’s in Finance and Master’s in Business Administration and previously worked for Vanguard, where she held Series 7 and 63 licenses. Her work has been featured in publications like Grow, MSN, CNBC, Ladders, Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loans, Clever Girl Finance, Credit Donkey, Crediful, Investing Answers, Well Kept Wallet, AllCards, Mama and Money, and Concreit, among others. She writes in personal finance, real estate, credit, entrepreneurship, credit card, student loan, mortgage, personal loan, insurance, debt management, business, productivity, and career niches.