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You got pulled over for speeding and you've heard about people beating tickets. So you go for it. Before the officer is even by your car, you are preparing your legal arguments, an eloquent list of reasons why you should not be fined for failing to follow traffic laws.
You're pretty sure this will work because you read about people doing this on the Internet. But the officer is unimpressed by your claims and now you have to go to court. How can you master the sport of beating tickets? Beyond your interaction with law enforcement, how should you act in court?
Encountering Law Enforcement
You may find advice online about challenging tickets that involves asking police officers if you can check their radar and discuss when it was last calibrated. Some jurisdictions do allow you to ask these questions, but the suggestion of this former criminal defense attorney is to save your cross examination for court.
When you encounter law enforcement, your best bet is to be polite and avoid conflict. You do not have to agree that you were speeding or be obsequious. Just try to keep the engagement short and friendly if possible.
If you challenge your ticket in court, the officer will have to appear and explain any issue you raise, including calibration. Better to do your pleading when there is a judge present to hear you.
Challenging the Ticket in Court
You have been summoned to court for the hearing on your ticket. Do you get a lawyer? It's worth seriously considering because tickets can mean added points on your insurance, and can wind up costing much more than just fines over time.
If you do not have a lawyer going on your behalf, show up for the hearing. Be on time. Dress neatly. And again, speak politely to the officer. If the officer is not present, ask the court to dismiss your ticket. If the officer is present, watch how they handle other tickets and how they address the court to get a feeling for how your own hearing will go.
If the judge ultimately finds that you were speeding, this is the time to plead. Ask the court for an alternative sentence -- sometimes you can be ordered to do an online traffic course to avoid getting points on your insurance.
Finally, do everything you were ordered to do to address the ticket. Failure to pay fines for tickets can trigger the issuance of warrants in some states. People do wind up in jail over traffic infractions, and it usually has to do with ignoring court-ordered fines.
Talk to a Lawyer
Traffic infractions are not crimes but many criminal defense attorneys handle traffic ticket hearings for clients. If you or someone you know has a pending ticket, talk to a lawyer.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.