Fighting a Ticket

Grrrrr this is not how I wanted my day to go! Mr. Patterson and I were driving along a somewhat obscure one lane highway in central Florida this past weekend. It’s mostly ranches along the drive with very few houses close to the road; really all you see is scrub land and cattle.

We were moseying along when out of nowhere a police cruiser pulls up behind us and turned on his lights. To say we were surprised would have been an understatement. We dutifully pulled over and gathered the documents we knew the officer would request to see. Once at the driver’s side window the officer informed us we were speeding, unbeknownst to us the speed limit had dropped by 10 mph a few hundred feet back. We never saw the sign or knew that we were breaking the law.

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After a being checked out by the police officer we receive a ticket. We had planned to politely argue that the sign was not readily apparent and maybe we should have been given a break, but once issued the ticket all our arguments were moot. It really chapped my hide to receive the ticket as I felt like the officer was using the sudden drop in speed to trick motorists into getting caught. What I really wanted to say was, “Go catch the real criminals, you jerk!” But thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I kept my mouth shut.

When we got home hours later I was still pissed about the whole experience. In no way did I want to just roll over and pay the ticket thereby admitting guilt. Nope I plan to fight the ticket.

One thing I know is that it was good I didn’t try to argue with the officer. Once you see those blue and white lights behind you, it’s important to get your attitude right. No officer is going to let a jerk that argues or hurls insults at him off with just a warning. You want the officer to like you so switch off the car, turn down the radio, take off your sunglasses, keep your hands at 10 and 2 and be polite.

If the officer asks you if you know why you were pulled over, never say that you do. Or if he asks you, “Do you know how fast you were going?” politely respond, “No, officer, I don’t.”  No matter what. Anything you say in this instance can be construed as an admission of guilt. Plus the officer may not have pulled you over for the violation you think. It may be what you actually did is worse than what the officer saw you do. Let him tell you what offense he pulled you over for.

If you do get a ticket, leave the scene in a calm matter, making no bold moves. You don’t want to anger the officer nor do anything that would make him remember you. Your next actions will be legal maneuvers so the less the officer remembers you the harder it will be for him to recall details about your case.

As soon as you get your ticket begin preparing your defense. Read over all information printed on the ticket. Look for any inaccuracies. Did he write down your license plate incorrectly? Or print the wrong street name where the offense occurred?  Etc. Any inaccuracies can discredit the officer in court and get the ticket dismissed.

Snap any pictures with your cell phone that could help your case. If I had been smarter I would have taken pictures of the obscure nature of the speed limit sign we missed. Take pictures and make note of all relevant details like road conditions, heavy traffic, or the weather that might influence your case.

The next step will be to contest your ticket. Your court date will be written somewhere on your ticket. It is imperative you show up to court that day looking presentable and like a responsible member of society. A three piece suit will be overkill, but ripped jeans and a loose fitting t-shirt will not impress the judge either. Dress casually, but nicely.

The best case scenario will be to show up for court, ready to present your case and the officer who issued you the ticket does not. In this instance, your case will be dismissed. Any fines issued against you will be returned, you’ll receive no points on your license and the instance will not go on your driving record. This is the easiest way to win your court case and happens with some regularity.

Another tactic is delay the trial as long as possible. Ask the court for a continuance to put off your court date. This will put even more time between when you received the ticket and when you finally go to court, making any details harder for the police officer to remember. If the officer can’t remember the details of why he pulled you over, you will most likely get out of the ticket. In some jurisdictions you can only ask for one continuance, but in others you can ask for several.

If you get a ticket anytime near the holidays it might behoove you to ask for a continuance until the holiday nears. This increases the chances the police officer will be on vacation and not show up for court on the new day of your trial, which means your case will be dismissed!

Sometimes fighting a ticket may cost you more than the actual cost of the ticket. In these instances it may not make sense to fight it. Find out what the maximum fine will be for your violation, the court fees, what if any jail time you are facing, and increased insurance rates.  Also if it’s a serious offense or you have multiple offenses you should hire an attorney.

In other cases fighting a ticket is exactly what you should do. A lot of times if you have a clean driving record or this is your first offense, going to court will help you reduce your fine and the points put on your license.

You should also go to court if there were extenuating circumstances. I read a story about a father traveling with his daughters on the highway, at one point a bird got caught in their windshield wipers. His daughters got scared and began screaming so he sped up to dislodge the bird quickly. A cop clocked him speeding just at that moment. The cop didn’t buy the excuse and issued him the ticket, but once the man told the judge the story in court, he dismissed the case and the father didn’t have to pay any fines or get points put on his license.

I plan to go to court and hope the officer does not show up so my case will be dismissed immediately. If I do go to trial I plan to describe to the judge how the sudden speed limit slow down sign was not readily apparent. I hope my circumstances will be enough to sway the judge to dismiss my case. For me, this is really about removing the ticket from my record so I won’t incur higher premiums from my auto insurance carrier.

What I learned in my research is that going to court is half the battle. You have very little to lose and will more than likely at least get a reduction in fines and points.

Anyone else had success out there fighting a ticket? Drop me a note in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

31 Responses

  1. Glenn Roberts

    If you are a Florida resident, and your license is NOT a CDL, you ought to be able to request the traffic school option, which will keep the points off your driving record. I would use this as my final option if it is clear I am losing my court case or have just been found guilty. Requesting it too early would be an admission of guilt.

    I’ve only had one speeding ticket in 25 years and it was in Pensacola. I could not use the driving school option as I had a CDL and live out of state.

    Good luck!!

  2. Margaret Underwood

    I beat a speeding ticket once. The officer wrote the wrong date on the ticket. This happened around 2:00 a.m. The officer used the date prior. (I guess he had been writing tickets and day and just wasn’t thinking) Since I had been at work the day before. Which was the time and date that was actually written on the ticket. I brought a note from work stating I was at work at that time. Ticket had to be dropped. Too bad the cop made a mistake, but it saved me.

  3. Gale Stargate

    Hello
    I’m going to comment on this as I have had numerous tickets over my driving career. Not so many lately, but years ago, I had two speeding tickets in a single day.

    That was when I was 20 years old and had a FAST car in the muscle car age.

    Anyway, just got a ticket. Went to court, and fought it based upon case law, but the so called judge (he was called something else, but he was not a judge in CA) was not going to let me win. I proved that he couldn’t use the stuff (video) that was submitted, but he just more or less told me that he was going to use it anyway.

    It was a dog and pony show. The officer in the court told everyone that no one ever wins in this court. No one. But I still went to win.

    Great advice on your part.

    Go to court.

    don’t be afraid of them as they are not going to put you in JAIL for going to court and asserting your RIGHTS.

    I could go on and on, but for now, let’s just say that I’ve sued judges in FEDERAL court. So going to a speeding ticket hearing is nothing. Just do it.

  4. ken brand

    had a similar situation I returned and took a photo after hearing and showing the judge the photo and the lack of visibility my case was dismissed

  5. paul

    If you get a ticket via a camera, remember you are in a country that requires the accused to face his accuser. Any evidence that a camera takes then is hearsay. One might object to the evidence of the camera, and say “objection Hearsay” If the cameraman is not there, who is the accuser?

  6. Martin O'Neill

    In the UK the police use hand held speed cameras that are prone to inaccuracies. For a ticket to be valid the camera must have been calibrated on the day it is used. If the police cannot produce said calibration certificate then the ticket is dismissed.
    Similarly, if a police officer stops you in his car without a calibrated video log he cannot issue a ticket unless he has another officer beside him to testify that you were breaking the limit by at least 10% for a measurable distance. I once escaped with a telling off in these circumstances after being pulled over by an unmarked police car on an almost empty motorway at 125mph! That’s 55mph over the limit and an automatic ban and heavy fine, not to mention huge hikes in insurance premiums. I was VERY relieved.

  7. Jon

    Yes,I got a speeding ticket in Waldo, Florida, a well known speed trap with roadside signs announcing it.

    It was night and I was last in a group of four cars. None of us exceeded the posted speed limits. I was picked off from behind. The patrolman never asked for my license, only my registration. My car is registered in Florida.

    I paid a local lawyer to represent me. Minimum fine. No points.

    I have been through Waldo many times, before and after that event. No, I do not speed along that stretch of US 301!

  8. Kevin

    Another way to go would be to request discovery “pro se” and if it is not sent to you within a set number of days, it is thrown out at your deposition hearing.
    You can find “pro se” (meaning representing yourself) papers on legalzoom and the like (just google “pro se”). Another way to go would be to request “deferred prosecution”, meaning they defer the penalty, you pay a lowered fine, and the offense doesn’t go on your record if you don’t get a ticket for a year.
    You can’t have any tickets or have used this method within the last 3 years to qualify.
    If you do get a ticket in the next year after deferred prosecution, both tickets go on your record at the same time (OUCH).

  9. Peter Adams

    I do agree with your comments above and I also feel that everyone should keep a camera in the car, it may be a disposable camera or a cheap digital one (I have do so for more than 30yrs). I learned the value of taking photographs at the scene of an accident in 1970!! in Sterzing in Italy we were involved in an accident whereby a car shot out of a side street into our car (it was raining and the Italian Police were not interested) photographs were taken. Some 2 months later when we were trying to sort this out, English car and Driver involved in an accident in Italy with a German Car and driver, anyway the German driver stated that he was only partially guilty as we were traveling too fast and he did not see us until we were on top of him. Had this been the case then the damage to our car would have been all along the nearside when clearly the photographs proved that we stopped as soon as the impact happened and the damage was confined to the front wing. Once his insurers saw the photographic evidence they paid up. Now going back to the speeding incident, you should have taken photographs of the new speed limit sign, maybe trees or other items obscured it ? by going to the local library you could read the relevant laws that the signs have to comply with, then go and check the signs, are they the right size, the right height, are the signs repeated where required by law. The fact is that local authorities do get things wrong and if the signs do not comply with the law then you must be acquitted. Next the speedometer of your car, is it accurate, have you had it tested ? Do you have sat nav? the sat nav can be used to check the accuracy of the speedometer. When you get to court (if you are defending yourself) you need to ask the police officer, “How fast do you allege I was travelling?” How long did you follow me?, Can you please explain to the court how you were sure that I was exceeding the speed limit?, Were you watching your speedometer at all times officer? Can you explain to the court why the court should accept that the speedometer in your car is accurate? When was it tested ? How was it tested? If it was tested sometime ago then it may be no longer accurate, if the tyre’s are not kept at the correct pressure then that effects the rolling radius of the wheel and as a result will alter the reading on the speedometer.

  10. Judy

    Hi there,

    I have fought many tickets in court and won.(Not that I am a continuous offender, but I have been driving since I was 16….and now I am just a bit older than 16..haha) Especially parking tickets, and once I got a photo radar ticket because my speedometer was broken and I won that too. It is such a waist of everyone’s time when there a so many tickets being issued for the sake of the department needing to meet quota’s. I think that the real criminals are getting away with so much because the departments waist so much time on people who only offend on occasion. What about the idiots who speed down the residential roads at 100KM/hr. testing out their red devils and get away with it day in and day out? I live on a busy street and it is nearly NEVER that those are the ones that get caught……grrrrr! I hate to say it, but although there are a lot of erroneous tickets being given, it is fairly easy to fight them in court, but it is a huge waist of time and taxpayers money. There must be a better solution.??

  11. Robert Busch

    Hoping the officer no-shows may work some of the time, but not always. My son showed up to challenge a ticket. When the officer no-showed the judge continued the matter. Gotta love double standards.

  12. J. Patrick Hickey

    I got a ticket for speeding. I decided to wear my letter carrier uniform, and presented myself with an air of professionalism. After asking me what the motto of the letter carrier was. I answered something to the effect, “Neither rain, sleet, snow nor dark of night shall keep this mailman from his appointed rounds!” He loved it and dismissed the charges!

  13. Tim

    All radar guns must be certified and you have the right to look at the speed recorded on the gun when you are stopped. I fought a ticket and asked for the certification of the radar gun and the police officer could not produce it and the judge dismissed the case but you have to ask for the judge to dismiss it after they can not produce the certificate. Look up radar and fighting tickets online for more help.

  14. John Muse

    I beat a ticket.
    The signs were not posted as required by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (available online), so the judge ruled in my favor.

  15. dave

    I was issued a speeding ticket for 85 in a 55 zone. I showed up at the small local court, as mentioned in neat casual dress. I was taken into a room with the judge and the police officer and a prosecutor. I explained I was in a new car and that the ride was so smooth that I didn’t realize the speed I was traveling. I also mentioned that I was trying the cruise control for the first time so I believed I was set at 58 mph. I also mentioned that I was never issued a speeding tix before and if I was a speeder by nature/habit, that I surely would have previous speeding offense. They offered me a reduced speed..I said that I couldn’t in good faith accept that. Then they offered more reduced speed and a tailgate. This offended me more as I explained that I felt tailgating was even worse than the speeding as this would have been involving another vehicle. They both looked at each other in amazement, nodded and offered me 5 mph over the limit. No points and a small fine. They then suggested I go into law..we all laughed and I got outta there as quickly as possible.

  16. Bryan FitzGerald

    Good for you, Nancy. In any traffic case where the defensive driving course option is not available one should always go to trial and fight the case. The traffic laws and traffic across the nation are a thinly veiled means of taking hard earned dollars from the public . . . a money grab by virtually every jurisdiction with the power to reach into your pocket.

    In 2000, I published my book, “Winning In Traffic Court . . . I fight my traffic tickets in court, on my own . . . and usually WIN. ANYONE CAN.” I am currently working on the Revised, Illustrated and expanded ANNIVERSARY EDITION and plane to release it this Summer or Fall. If you are interested, you can still see excerpts of the Inaugural Edition on Amazon. I believe copies can also still be purchased on the National Motorists Association Web Site, through the NMA Store.

    Good luck with your traffic court case, and thanks for being one who understands the value of the rights we have, as Americans.

  17. Alex Kolapak

    I too received a ticket and fought it and won. It was for going through a stop sign. We were returning from a hockey tournament that my son had played in and I was the team manager and assistant coach. My daughter had a figure skating lesson that we were going to and did not want to be late. So this female police officer had set herself up to catch as many unsuspecting drivers as possible that would either be speeding or not come to a complete stop. This area was at the back of the mall on one side and farmers field on the other, only locals would use this as a short cut to get to their residence in the nearby residence. My neighbor, a policeman, suggested I call the city in which I received the ticket to see if there was actually a bylaw that legally allowed the stop sign.
    It wasn’t a legal stop sign and was set up as a construction stop sign. I received this information on the letterhead of the City sign by the planning Commission and went to my appointed court date. I sat through numerous defendants before me who were ticketed by the same female officer. I spare the judge the theatrics of going through all the testimony and of cross examining the officer, and just showed him the letter. Needless to say I got off and it was my great pleasure to pass the officer who was still seated in the court room, and the smile (smirk) on my face was there with great satisfaction.
    Outside the courtroom others who were convicted asked me about my secret and I was happy to pass out numerous copies of the letter I had received from the planning commission.
    So the moral of my story is make sure the sign for the traffic infraction is there legally.

  18. D. Harrington

    I received a ticket a few months ago in NC under very similar circumstances and my feelings were exactly the same. This was clearly a speed trap and I am not deliberate violator of the law. My thoughts were the same, “Go pursue the real criminals out there!” But, in any case, I could have hired a lawyer and gotten out of it without even going to court. But, that offended me also to think that the system just allows you to buy the right connections to get out of something you never should have gotten in the first place. So, I went to court and represented myself. In this case, there were hundreds of people there and it was just a cattle line. I pleaded my case that I was simply going to see two 80-year old women in a senior living center for Christmas, which was true, and didn’t even have to be there in the first place. I was just trying to do something good for a couple of older folks for Christmas. I got the ticket dismissed with no points or insurance penalties, but it was still a pain in the butt. What the counties really want is the fine money. So keep that in mind. The fairness of your case is secondary to them. They just want your money!!

  19. Lawrence

    If you do not want to fight the ticket (time) but not have it on your record here is something that works great. Let’s say the fine is $99.00 send in $100.00. They will send you a check back for the $1.00 DO NOT CASH CHECK (just shred it). Till that check has cleared they cannot close case and submit to the insurance company. So as far as raising your rates it never happens.

  20. Maxine de Villefranche

    I am an attorney (and a copywriter) and I represent all kinds of people who receive citations. I would strongly suggest that you go back to where you were stopped, and take a photograph of the sign showing the speed slow down, especially as you approach it, the same way you approached it before you were cited. You must show proof to the judge that the sign was not readily available, as a picture is worth a thousand words.

  21. Elaine

    If you had Legal Shield you would be covered to have an attorney go to court, or fight it for you, especially if you are out of your own state. You fax in your ticket and they handle it. Tickets can’t be “fixed”, but the points and increase in insurance are handled more effectively. Also, if you have a fatality along with the ticket, you have hours of representation already in the bag with your attorney provider law firm.

  22. Matthew H

    very disappointing. i was expecting some legal loophole or something. i fought a ticket once. no parking between the signs. i broke branches off a tree and obstructed the sign and then took a photo. then i took a photo of faded curb paint. i won, and called the cop a loser on the way out of the courthouse. was it dishonest? you bet. but fuck them and their laws invented just to take your money.

  23. Al Newman

    I have fought my few tickets vigorously and helped many more defendants successfully fight their California tickets. California has a requirement that the cop is required to fill out a Pre-Trial Discovery request IF the defendant asks for it! The first 5 times we used this, the cop did not show up or the DA asked for a dismissal 4 times. Since California cops get paid nearly $100/hr including benefits, it costs their agency $300 or so to have the cop sit in court for 3 hr. Since the State gets most of the fine money, local agencies LOSE several hundred $ every time the cop is forced into court by the defendant. If every defendant forced the the cop into court, the cop would spend one week issuing tickets, the next week or more sitting in court being cross-examined by prepared defendants! They would be prepared defendants in California if they had a copy of “Fight your Ticket & Win in California” a Nolo Press book by David Brown.

  24. Larry S

    to fight the ticket, remind the judge that your state requires gold and silver coined money (A1s8 and A1s10) and Congress has not coined any money since 1965. Note also that Federal Reserve Notes are no longer redeemable in lawful money as they used to be. Bring a pre-65 note for evidence. Not that he and the officer swore to keep the Constitution and you wouldn’t want them to break their oaths.

  25. David J. Baldwin

    The best way to fight a ticket is before it’s written. I went through a blinking red arrow light at midnight when nobody was around (so I thought). As soon as I made the turn onto the superhighway, there were the blinking red lights. The office asked if I knew what I did wrong. I said no. He said you have to come to a complete stop before pulling across the road onto the access. I said there wasn’t any cars either coming towards me or beside me, plus I did slow down to almost a complete stop. I think he just wanted to give me a break (I had a old rasberry colored Chevy Beretta with groceries in the back seat plus I am over 60 yrs old)so he told me not to do it again.

  26. Dave

    Hi Nancy go onto marcstevens.net this guy is fantastic at the ticket stuff and more you will wipe that cops you no what. Remember no cause of action no juristiction.

  27. Ways T. S.

    My case wasn’t worth it. It was a similar situation where the speed dropped on the highway and I didn’t catch it. The problem was I’d have to show up in court in a county that wasn’t mine. A 2 hour drive! I’d have to miss a days worth to fight a $70 ticket. Don’t speed, but if you get caught, get caught in your own county.

  28. ronnie bacon

    A lot of times you can request that you want to go to state court, not only will this give you more time to get the money up to pay the fine,(sometimes it takes a year or so for your case to come up) but also traffic fines very seldom make it to state court so it gets thrown out. I’ve been to state 5 times and never paid a fine.

  29. Geo. McCalip

    For anyone getting a ticket in California:

    The is only for California, as laws vary greatly from state to state, but the following applies anywhere:
    1. As pointed out in the article, do not antagonize the officer.
    2. Take an pictures you think may help in your defense.
    3. Get a copy of the Code or statute you are charged with violating and read it. See if you are really guilty.
    4. Show up in court (whether in person, by mail or online depending on the court). In California a traffic ticket is (with a few rare exceptions) an infraction. Failure to appear is a misdemeanor.

  30. Dr L Corcoran

    I worked as a highway patrolman and know the hazards of automobiles and inattention. I know of such areas in cities across the US, being a victim myself as a youth, and they are used as fund raisers, not safety measures. Go to the county or area affected, and ask them for accident, injuries, dollar loss, etc for that area. Then ask for a public meeting to discuss the problem. Doing that may well get rid of the “trap” and clean it up or provide better signing.

    Dr L Corcoran

  31. Miranda

    I received a ticket for speeding on my BIRTHDAY! I was going 10 miles over the speed limit on a backroad in LA. The officer was not friendly. He asked me where I was going and I told him to the Doctor for a folllow-up visit (had throat surgery). Received ticket. When I got home, I called the clerk of court and arranged to pay court cost only and points off of my driving record. Done.


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