No matter how safe a driver you are, there’s a good chance you’ve been ticketed for speeding at some point. Regardless of the circumstances, most drivers assume they deserve the ticket and pay the fine. In fact, depending on why you were speeding, you may be able to challenge the ticket and avoid any negative reports on your record.

Traffic laws, of course, vary depending on where you live, and any attempt to challenge a speeding ticket must take this into account. In much of the United States, however, there are legally sanctioned reasons for exceeding the official speed limit, and if you keep these in mind, you can save yourself a lot of money and legal trouble.

There are five main categories of legal reasons to break the speed limit:

  • If the actions of the police force you to speed
  • If you are keeping yourself or your passengers safe
  • If you are being coerced
  • If there is some dire reason to speed
  • If you have been trapped

The Fault in our Cops

Some common examples of how law enforcement officials can cause drivers to speed include:

  • If the police are driving recklessly during a chase or in an attempt to change lanes, and you speed to get out of their way, you have a valid excuse.
  • For that matter, any attempt to evade a reckless driver is a valid excuse for speeding.

These examples would also fit under another category of legal speeding:

The Safety of You and Your Passengers

The aforementioned examples all qualify as emergencies that justify violating the speed limit. These excuses only apply, however, if you can prove that there was no clear way to resolve the emergency without speeding.

Additionally, you may be able to get out of a speeding ticket with the following excuses:

  • If the police can’t prove that you are actually guilty of speeding, you can avoid any fines or charges. If, for example, the cops pull you over for a violation committed several hours earlier, unless they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were responsible for that violation, you have strong legal recourse.
  • Even if the police can prove that your car committed a violation, if they can’t prove you were driving at the time, the law is on your side.

These defenses are not limited to speeding, but apply to a wide range of moving violations.

Excuses Based on Circumstance

  • Different jurisdictions have different rules regarding drivers’ responsibility. In some states, if you are driving the car at one point, this is sufficient evidence of you driving it at another point shortly afterward. It is thus essential that you pay attention to state and local laws everywhere that you drive a car.
  • Speedometers are not perfect, and often identify the wrong car when another one is speeding nearby. If you have evidence that a different driver was speeding, you can use it in court to get your speeding ticket dropped.
  • If you have evidence that the police ticketed you for the wrong reason, present it in court; it may be the key to canceling your speeding ticket. If, for example, the police pull you over because of your race, your gender, or some other aspect of your identity unrelated to your driving skills, they have broken the law. Accusations of prejudice, however, are difficult to prove, so only make them if you have compelling evidence.

Check to see if the officer who pulled you over was operating outside of his or her jurisdiction. If a Marysville police officer pulls you over in Jonesville, for example, you can use this as an excuse to get your ticket dropped. This is only the case in some jurisdictions, however, and it doesn’t apply if the police have followed you in a “hot pursuit.”

Entrapment, Coercion, or Dire Necessity

Terms like “coercion” or “necessity” apply to a variety of circumstances, from the dramatic– someone is pointing a gun at you– to the mundane– the other cars around you are driving too fast for you to safely follow the speed limit.

There are many ways to get out of traffic tickets, but they’re never an alternative to safe driving. To learn more about defensive driving tactics, traffic laws, and the tools you need to avoid accidents and tickets, consider attending a traffic school.