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When it comes to beating a speeding ticket, fighting it... When it comes to beating a speeding ticket, fighting it in court is not your only option (Douglas Menuez, Getty Images).

You've probably read articles about fighting traffic tickets -- but the reality is many of us (probably most of us) just don't have the money to hire a lawyer -- or the time/expertise (let alone gumption) to actually challenge a ticket on our own.

There are some alternatives, however.

Plead Guilty -- With Explanation

Sometimes you can get a reduced charge by pleading guilty -- but with an explanation. Provided you have an otherwise clean record -- and the charge itself is relatively minor -- often, this can yield good results.

Remember -- what they want most is money. The charge itself is of secondary importance.

A great deal depends on the judge, however. Some are hard cases, others more reasonable. Before you decide to go this route, it's smart to get to court early and watch how your judge handles other cases -- especially those similar to your own. If you think, based on his actions, that he's going to throw the book at you -- you can always request a continuance; in many states, these are granted automatically upon request. Simply tell the judge you are not ready to go to trial. A continuance will push your court date off for another few weeks or so and give you time to prepare a defense -- or hire a lawyer.

Bargain

Traffic courts are a lot like buying a new car -- because there's lots of haggling involved. You can ask the judge (or the prosecuting/commonwealth's attorney) about the possibility of agreeing to attend driving school and/or pay a fine in return for dropping the charge against you -- or changing the charge to a non-moving violation, which avoids DMV "points" being assigned to your driving record. That means your insurance company won't have a pretext for a rate hike. In some counties/states, certain charges aren't reported to the DMV at all -- especially if it's an out-of-state ticket. (Mostly, these include non-moving violations such as "defective equipment" -- a common "lesser charge" that's often assigned in lieu of the original moving violation.)

The key thing, however, is to avoid the moving violation conviction -- even if it means paying a larger fine than you'd otherwise have paid for just the ticket/offense you were originally charged with. A one-time hit to your wallet is infinitely preferable to having that ticket held against you for anywhere from three to five years -- the length of time it will be on your DMV record -- and used by your insurance company to justify higher premiums. The total cost of a single moving violation on your DMV record can easily exceed the one-time hit of a fine for "defective equipment" (or whatever) many times over. And keep in mind: If you should be unlucky enough to receive another ticket before the old one "drops off" -- your jeopardy has just doubled. The points stack up -- and your insurance goes through the roof. How likely is it you can go for another five years without getting nailed again? For many of us, that's a virtual impossibility!

It's possible in some states to take the DMV-authorized "driving school" online -- and avoid the hassle of spending an entire Saturday reliving high school detention. See http://www.trafficschoolonline.com for more information.

Bottom Line

Either of these alternatives -- pleading guilty with an explanation or bargaining your way to a lesser charge -- can be more cost-effective than hiring a lawyer or spending days/weeks of your own time doing what's necessary to fight the ticket yourself. Most of us have jobs and responsibilities that make that very difficult, if not impossible. And it can be very intimidating for a layman to go up against the system, subpoenaing records, questioning the ticketing officer in open court -- and so on. By challenging the system in this way, one also runs the very real risk of antagonizing the court -- and becoming the target of an angry judge looking to "teach someone a lesson." It's true you can always appeal a conviction (in many states, a traffic law case may even entitle you to a jury trial, if you want to take it that far). But that involves yet more time, yet more expense. How much of either can you afford to spend on a traffic ticket beef?

Yes, there's the principle involved. If it's a really unjust ticket, you may be motivated to go all the way -- and do whatever it takes to beat the rap. But sometimes, it's smart to pick your battles -- and go for the best outcome you can realistically hope for given time and other constraints.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 322 Comments
      Jeremy
      • 18 Days Ago

      This article left out so many ways of fighting a traffic ticket:

      1. Contest the speed measuring device's accuracy, judicial notice and proper use according to the operator's manual.

      2. Was it a legally posted speed limit?

      3. Did the prosecutor provide all of the evidence required to prove all of the elements to convict you guilty of speeding?

      For more information about fighting your speeding ticket, go read my blog (free) at: http://fightspeedingtickets.net/defenses/how-to-beat-a-speeding-ticket-part-i/

      • 5 Months Ago
      I fought a ticket once in a small Florida town.........I changed mt plea to no contest when I saw the judge and traffic cop walking in the courtroom together laughing.........the good old boy etwork is alive and well
      tneill1031
      • 5 Months Ago
      Read the ticket. Make sure the location, time of day, charge ect. is correct. If a statute violation number is cited look it up. Cops make mistakes and one mistake gets it thrown out. Take pictures of the area and make notes on your copy of comments the cop says, because some will lie in court. I have beat several tickets like this.
      • 5 Months Ago
      @yogibear0191 First of all, if your going to call someone "dumb" Learn to spell before you put your self out there to millions os readers. Clearly @ the ripe old age of 19 you don't have any life experience. Seat belts save way more lives than not wearing them! Grow up!
      my89300zx
      • 5 Months Ago
      darkmocha1216, yup that is what they will have you believe. No the cops aren't on commision but they will lose their jobs if they don't comply. Not all municipalities are bad but there are many cities/towns that do use their police as collection agents. No longer is it to "serve and protect" now it is to "Harrass and collect".
      • 5 Months Ago
      Bad legal advise if there is an accident. Never plea guilty if it could come back to haunt you in a civil lawsuit for injuries
      • 5 Months Ago
      say your in a hurry to get to court to pay for your last ticket!
      • 5 Months Ago
      heres one way out... if your driving a toyota and your doing 100 and get caught just tell him that the gas pedal is stuck
      • 5 Months Ago
      I was riding my motorcycle down Arrow Hwy one day, a wide two lane hwy with an island between the oncoming lanes, I speeded up to pass a large truck. After passing I noticed a City Cop shooting radar at me. I was now doing 54 mph in a 40 mile zone. It was a lady officer and needless to say, she was not giving any breaks, no matter what you had to say. Well I went to the City Hall and asked about a speed survey for the hwy and it was (1) day under the 5 year certifaction. Turns out though, the officer was out of her jurisdition by two blocks, according to the City Planner. So, my case was I was in another city with another speed limit. I turned all this info in. You don't have to do a court appearence, just request paperwork and document all your findings with PIC's. Let's see what they come back with...
        • 5 Months Ago
        In some states, another question to ask is "are the speed signs Journalized?" In other words, has their location been recorded in the county court house? If not, the sign might not be legal. Most states have this requirement to prevent the use of portable illegal signs that have not been approved by a political body. Sometimes when new signs are installed people forget to journalize them and than sometimes it was done intentially to increase the revenue. They found four of these signs in my area where a speed zone had been extended as the town grew outward. Apparently someone forgot and they had to void and reimburse for many tickets issued over a four year period.
      • 5 Months Ago
      This article basically gives people a way out when it is obvious that most people that get a ticket, EARN one. This is to some degree, is the same thing as teaching someone to get out of a DWI... If you don't want to pay for your crimes (speeding, running a red light or driving drunk) then DON'T SPEED, RUN THE RED LIGHT or DRIVE DRUNK... this had become a society of pushing the blame onto others and cops are not the ones to blame... So if you so choose to do all the above and get caught... PAY UP!!!
      DIXIE SUNSHINE
      • 5 Months Ago
      To many of you are willing to roll over, pled guilty and fork out your hard earned money. STUPID! Never pled guilty. Fight the ticket. Make them prove you were speeding. Got you on radar? No problem! Make them prove that they have been certified to run that type of radar unit. Make them prove they have kept the radar up to industry standards by producing the log book for the radar unit. Nine times out of ten your ticket will be dismissed because they can't produce the training records or log book. Without those any evidence they have can't be used in court. Yes, you must go to court and waste time to do this, but the money you save and getting no points on your license is worth it.
      pm0501
      • 5 Months Ago
      Here's the trick to avoid speeding tickets. 1. Look at the sign that says "Speed Limit" 2. Adjust your speed so the needle on the speedometer matches what the sign says. Follow this simple tip and you won't be whining about getting caught speeding. Next lesson..... How to avoid getting tickets for not signaling for turns or lane changes
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