Traffic tickets are not welcome no matter why you get them, and they will always pose the receiver with a dilemma: to pay, to ignore, or to fight? A ticket can translate to potential points on your license which can increase your chances of having your license taken away. It can even interfere with your job if you get too many of them. And they’re not cheap. Just one ticket in California can run you more than $230.00 if you’re caught going 15 miles over the limit. Getting your traffic ticket reduced is an option though, and it normally starts with the date on your ticket.
First Things First
It’s possible that you could defend your ticket in writing, but it’s not always offered and not necessarily recommended. It’s much easier for an official to ignore or skim a written request than it is when a person makes the effort to defend themselves in the flesh. Plus, if you write to contest the ticket and lose, you generally can’t appeal the decision. Depending on where you live, you may have a traffic court date or potentially a settlement conference to attend to start the process. Taking the time off from work may be a hassle, but if you the costs are high or if you feel like the officer made an error, then it may be worth it. A conference will be a good time to determine if there’s a way to get the ticket knocked down to something a little easier on your record.
Going to Trial
Trials will eat up your time and money with court dates and fees, but again, a trial may be what keeps you from having a major black mark on your driving record. Sometimes the officer won’t show up, in which case you win by default. You may have to do some research on the officer who gave you the ticket (e.g., when their radar gun was last calibrated, etc.) in addition to having your own arguments. You can also hire a lawyer to fight it for you. Those that specialize in traffic tickets may have more of a chance to get your ticket reduced to a minor parking violation. Lawyer rates vary though, so do some research before going this route. Your case will be a civil case, so the evidence will be about witnesses, statements, and physical evidence (e.g., camera footage.)
Mitigation is a way for you to admit fault, but explain the circumstances. For many, this will become an exercise in their negotiation and people skills, but sometimes it’s not even taken into consideration. There are certain judges out there who will reduce a $120 traffic ticket by $30 and extend the deadline — without even asking you to make a case. But most of the time, if you have a good driving record and a decent story, you’ll probably see some leniency after giving the details. Whatever deal is offered up is ultimately yours to either take or appeal, but you would need to do so with extreme caution. Any potential sign of disrespect to either the judge or law enforcement in general is not going to be appreciated. (We’re sure you’re surprised.)
Each state is different when it comes to alternatives for reducing a traffic ticket, so check into the specifics for all the above. Some states will allow you to take traffic school to avoid the points and some states will let you wipe the ticket entirely if you keep your driving record clear for a full year. Regardless of where you live though, there are ways to reduce your traffic ticket if you know where to look.