For one split second, you hope they’re flashing at another driver. Unfortunately, you quickly realize that they’re flashing at you. At one time or another, we have all that sinking feeling when seeing those lights in our rear-view mirror.
It’s easy to jump to worst-case scenarios. However, there is usually no need to stress over it. There are some options you have, especially if you want to fight the ticket.
Should You Fight the Ticket?
To begin with, you’ll need to determine whether you choose to go to court or just pay the citation and be done with it.
While it’s a convenient method of dealing with the situation, there are some disadvantages with paying a ticket to avoid a court appearance. By doing this, you will be admitting guilt while paying the maximum penalty. Furthermore, your driving record may be affected, resulting in higher insurance premiums.
If you appear in court, you may be able to convince a judge to lower your fine or dismiss the case. However, many drivers are not keen on this option since it requires them to take time off from work or school.
The Citing Officer May Appear
If the officer doesn’t show up in court, you will usually win by default. Moreover, there are ways you can increase the likelihood that they won’t show.
Never opt for the date on your ticket. The officer typically chooses one day were they arrange all of their court dates at once. Instead, request an extension for a later date. If it is their day off, they likely may not show. Additionally, try scheduling a date close to the holidays or summer vacation. This will also increase the odds that the officer is on vacation.
Keep in mind that these tactics will only work for minor offenses and not more serious violations such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Traffic violations include speeding, failure to yield, failure to stop at a signal and improper turn.
Trial by Declaration or Traffic School
Some states allow you to declare your innocence by sending a letter by mail. The officer must also write a letter about why they cited you. Because this method is strictly paperwork, the police officer may not want to waste their time defending their decision. Thus, you automatically win.
If you do still lose, however, it’s not a major issue. Another option is to attend traffic school. This can reduce your fine or dismiss your charges altogether. You can request this option from your judge or prosecutor.
Hire an Attorney
Hiring an attorney can be well worth the time and cost, specifically when it involves a possible substantial fine or points on your driving record. Many police officers don’t know the absolute letter of the law; therefore, it pays to have an attorney who does.
Another easy first step in disputing traffic violations is to read the specific law you’re accused to have broken and divide it into small parts. If you can then demonstrate that your actions did not constitute a violation, you are more apt to persuade the judge that no offense was committed at all.
Of course, the best way to avoid a ticket is to obey all traffic laws. With that said, you can still find yourself pulled over and nervously waiting as your license is checked. No one is perfect. This is true for both drivers or police officers. The tips above will help ease the pain.