Many people have been in this situation. You quickly speed through a changing traffic light in the hopes that you made the cut in case a police officer happened to be watching at that moment. Five seconds later, you see red and blue lights flickering in your rear-view mirror. The next thing you know, you're parked on the side of the road (Click here to see what to do if you lost your parking ticket). The court system has little tolerance for these types of red light violations, so you're going to need to come prepared if you want to have any chance of getting it dropped from your record.
1 - Verify Your Driving Record
If you already have moving violations, parking tickets, accidents and other offenses on your record from the past three years, you are not qualified to argue a red light violation. The only chance that you might have... is if the police officer in question doesn't show up for your court date. To get a copy of your record, contact your local DMV location.
2 – Understand Traffic Code
If you were in the middle of the intersection when the light turned from yellow to red, you aren't actually in violation of the law. You should use your knowledge of these laws to put together the best possible case for yourself. You just need to get the judge to agree with you.
3 – Pay the Fine and Attend Court
This is a great step to take if you have a driving record that isn't exactly what one would call clean. You will have to pay the fine... though some judges may be lenient enough to drop all points associated with the ticket for those who are willing to pay without argument.Defensive driving courses and other types of traffic school courses are a great way to have penalties dropped or even reduced substantially. If you want to reduce your fines and avoid racking up points on your driver’s license, defensive driving courses are the single best way to do just that.
4 – Driving Record Clean? Get to Court
Having a clean driving record goes a long way. It will show that you're a competent driver who just made a single mistake. Mistakes happen. Drivers who are not normally reckless have a couple of great options for getting their violations dismissed. These include:
1 - Talk to the prosecuting attorney. If you get to the courthouse early and talk to the prosecutor, you can plead your case before court actually begins. They may dismiss or defer your ticket right there.
2 - Double check to make sure the officer is there. The officer in question must be there for your court date. If not, your ticket will get dismissed.
5 – Don't Argue Intersection Photos
If you get a ticket due to a traffic camera, there is no way to argue against it. It's very rare that those types of violations will be overturned. When a traffic camera is present, as it caught you in the act because it is timed to go off only after the light has turned red.
6 – Request a Deferral
If you get the chance to speak to your prosecuting attorney at your court date, you may be able to ask for a six month deferral. If those six months pass and no further violations are assessed, you may get to have the traffic ticket taken off your record. This is only available to those with a clean driving record, though.
7 – Request a Dismissal
If you have a clean driving record and can make a good enough argument in court, you may get to have your ticket dropped.
8 – Ask for A Trial
If your defense in court didn't go as planned, you can always request a trial date.
9 – Tell Your Story Convincingly
If your can convince the judge that you did not commit the offense in which you were cited, then you may be able to get your ticket dismissed. Here are a few examples of defenses in which a violation could be dropped:
Argue the officer's Point Of View You may be able to argue that the officer didn't have enough time to properly assess the situation, for example, or that he wasn't at the right angle.
Out of Necessity Defense If you were in danger from icy roads or an incompetent driver behind you, you should notify the judge. You may be able to get your ticket dismissed under these grounds.
Obstruction of View defense You may be able to argue that a large vehicle was blocking the lights from your vision, for example, and that you wouldn't have made the violation at all if only you had all of the information.