You pull over to the side of the road, disappointed. Now is the worst possible time for you to get a traffic ticket, and of course, that’s when it happens. However, the feeling of hopelessness should be replaced with hope because there are ways to fight back and get out of your ticket. It can be tricky, but the rewards outweigh the work. Read on to learn five valuable ways of fighting your traffic ticket and relieving your stress.
1. Challenge the Officer’s Subjective Determination
It’s actually quite simple to challenge an officer’s subjective call in many states. Many times, a cop will have to make a judgment call as to whether or not you should be pulled over and ticketed, making it a perfect opportunity for you to challenge his call of you making an “unsafe” turn, for example. That’s a subjective view of the situation in which you can argue that your turn was safe given the conditions. It will certainly help your case to point out the facts of the scene and note that the officer was not in a good position to clearly see the situation.
2. Fight the Officer’s Observations
There may be situations where the officer didn’t make a judgment call, but rather objectively observed you commit a traffic violation. In this instance, it’s going to come down to who can present the most compelling facts in the case. If you were given a ticket for a rolling stop, you will have to convince the judge to believe your story over the officer’s. In most cases, the officer wins, so you will need to prepare a strong case and possibly try to trip the officer up in his story.
Some pieces of proof you can bring into an argument to try and win are:
- Witness testimonies, which can include those in the car with you and those standing by at the time of the violation.
- A visual diagram that can easily be depicted and clearly presents your case. The diagram should clearly show the setting of the violation, which is especially useful in cases involving intersections and traffic lights.
- Actual photos of the scene where you were cited. You may be able to show covered road signs that led to your citation to strengthen your defense.
- Evidence that would make people question that the officer’s point of view was sufficient to observe your violation. The best way to go about this is to argue his view was partially or fully blocked.
3. Prove “Mistake of Fact”
Judges can be flexible in some cases, and if your violation was an honest mistake that could have happened to anyone, it may be dropped.
- You ran a stop sign because it had been turned at an angle and you couldn’t see it was a stop sign until the last second.
- A speed limit sign being worn down to the point where it isn’t readable, causing you to get a speeding ticket.
A mistake of fact essentially means you didn’t have a warning to guide your conduct. If a new stop sign was put up in your neighborhood days ago, you may be able to avoid a ticket for running it. This won’t work in cases where:
- The sign had been there long enough. (usually a couple of weeks)
- You use the excuse of having never been to a certain intersection.
- You were exceeding the speed limit.
4. Argue That Your Conduct Was “Legally Justified”
Your fourth option is to fight back by saying your driving conduct was legally justified given your specific situation. As an example, say you were driving too slowly in the “fast lane.” A good defense for you to use would be to say that you were driving so slowly to make a legal left turn, and you were pulled over before you could get to it. You’re not denying the fact that you were far under the speed limit, which slowed down other vehicles, but your actions were still justified because you had to make a legal turn. This kind of argument can work in many cases because you aren’t directly opposing the officer’s story, just simply pointing out extra facts that work in your favor.
Some instances in which this kind of defense may work include:
- Your car is making noises that suggest to you that something isn’t right, so you drive slowly in order to ensure the safety of others on the road.
- Being forced to stop in the middle of the freeway for a car malfunctioning. Again, you would be arguing that you were right in your actions because you were inspecting the car rather than being an accident waiting to happen.
- A bee or bird flew into your window and caused you swerve into another lane. This kind of situation is so unexpected that it would be impossible not to react, especially if you were stung.
- You started to have severe bodily pain, such as heart palpitations, which caused you to speed to the hospital in fear of losing your life.
5. Prove Your Conduct Was Necessary to Avoid Harm
When emergencies are not of your own doing, you can use another lawful “necessity” argument, which can be used in all states. In the case of an out-of-control truck or other vehicle, you may argue that you were only speeding to avoid that vehicle and avoid a dangerous situation for yourself and other drivers. You must make your defense very convincing and prove definitively that you had no choice but to commit the violation to protect the safety of yourself and others on the road. Some situations include:
- Being in the merge lane with cars boxing you in, causing you to speed over the legal limit to allow a car to merge, successfully avoiding a collision.
- Being blocked off from the other lanes and having someone speeding up behind you, and you speed over the limit to avoid getting read-ended, and then go back to a safe speed once clear.
- You swerve across the middle of the road to avoid hitting a person, animal, or object, which causes you to cross over a double-yellow line.
Note: You should know the difference between arguing your case because of road conditions vs. making excuses for lack of paying attention to the road. You will have no chance with an argument in these examples:
- You argue you had a lot on your mind, causing you to lose focus.
- You had an important phone call that caused you to not see a red light.
- You didn’t buckle up because you had an upset stomach.
Now fighting a ticket shouldn’t seem so daunting after all. As long as you can present a strong and reasonable case that justifies your actions or brings question to an officer’s story, you have a good chance of getting out of a ticket. However, neglecting to pay attention or losing focus and concentration will never be a valid argument for avoiding the consequences of a traffic ticket.