Very few things in life give you that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach like seeing those flashing light in your rearview mirror. Chances are the first thing most people do is immediately look at their speedometer. Were you speeding? Do you even know what the speed limit was? Can you think of a really good excuse for why you were going 65 in a 35 mph zone?
Just because you get pulled over doesn’t mean you have to pay the ticket. Remember, for the time being at least, Americans are still not guilty until proven innocent. But can you really beat a speeding ticket in court? Well, as with all court cases, the burden of proof rests not on you, but on the People. You also have the benefit of reasonable doubt to play around with. Most traffic cases are decided by the judge, of course, but even judges are subject to doubt.
Is fighting a speeding ticket in court worth it? You’ll most likely have to take at least part of the day off from work and most likely it won’t be with pay. You’ll have to sit around and wait for your case to be called. Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler just to pay the fine and get it over with?
That’s certainly what the government is hoping for. But remember, a speeding ticket goes on your record and can affect your insurance. So, yes, in some cases it is worth it. Especially since your chances of winning are better than you might think.
Remember that they key to fighting a speeding ticket in court revolves around creating reasonable doubt in the judge’s mind. Judges are human, too, though when they sit up there in their robes behind that gavel it’s sometimes difficult to determine. And they’ve seen plenty of cases where police officers either just got it wrong, or made it up. Cops are not infallible and judges know that.
The first place to begin fighting a speeding ticket in court is with the vaunted, much-feared radar gun. This little piece of equipment drives such cold spikes of horror into motorists that an entire industry arose creating technology to combat it. We all fear the radar gun, and rightfully so, but did you realize that under the right circumstances, the radar gun can actually be your best friend in traffic court? That nasty little tattletale device must pass a whole battery of tests in order for it to be used against you.
The actual mandates of radar testing varies from state to state, so you should look up your own state statutes to be sure, but here are some of the things that must be done in order for it help convict you. The gun must have been tested and calibrated before the arrest and then again after the arrest. The gun must be tested for interference AT THE SITE where it was used against you. The officer must receive training not only radar guns in general, but the specific model he used in your case. Not only must some or all of this testing and training must have taken place, but the prosecution must provide documentation in court.
Let’s say that the radar gun was tested and documentation is supplied. Does that mean that fighting a speeding ticket in court was just a big waste of time? Not at all, my dear man. We all know that most speeding tickets rarely occur when just one vehicle is on the road. Most of the time when we see that little gun sticking out of a police car, we’re surrounded by other speeders. And we can’t help saying to ourselves any time we see some unfortunate dope pulled over, “Gee, he must have been flying in order to get singled out.” Well, guess what, that’s a valid defense. No, not that everybody else was speeding, but that you were somehow singled out of the crowd. How did the officer know it was your car registering on the radar gun, and not someone else’s?
You have the right to ask that question. And if he can’t give a satisfactory answer, one that erases reasonable doubt in the judge’s mind, you may just have saved yourself one brand spanking new fine courtesy of the state. The more you can pin a shaky officer down on why he thought it was your car that was speeding, the better. Most of the time when the arrest is made amid heavy traffic the officer either picked someone at random, or picked someone who was obviously exceeding even the flow of fast traffic. If you know you were going 90 when everybody around you was merely going 70, then this probably isn’t your best bet. Instead, try to build your fight around the deficiencies in the gun.
Fighting a speeding ticket in court under special circumstances can sometimes even get you around a prosecution with tons of documentation verifying the reliability of the radar gun. Most of the time if you have truly legitimate excuse for exceeding the speed limit without driving recklessly, the officer will give let you off with a warning. But not always. There are plenty of hardliners out there who only care that you broke the law. But even if the officer won’t let you get off, the judge may.
For instance, were the speed limit signs easy to see? Where they posted in such a way that any reasonable person would know the speed limit there? Or how about security? You have the right to not be injured. If a suspicious car was following behind you and you sped to get away, that’s a perfectly valid excuse. Of course, you should have told the officer that upon being pulled over. Even better is if you can produce a witness may have seen you being threatened. And, of course, this is far more believable if you are a 110 pound woman rather than a 225 pound man. If you were speeding due to some kind of emergency-to get to the hospital, for instance-often this can sway the judge enough to dismiss the case against you.
One key thing to keep in mind, of course, is that if you’ve already got a couple of speeding tickets on your record, trying one of these excuses is probably not going to sway even the most lenient of judges. Should you be going in with a record of speeding problems, you really need to hope that the radar gun hasn’t be tested in six months.
Fighting a speeding ticket in court is hardly the longshot that most people take it to be.