I have to admit it, for a very long time I handled my traffic tickets myself. Of course, I was in high school and not very wise to the ways of the world. Specifically, I did not even know that you could hire a lawyer to fight a traffic ticket. I don’t think there was such a thing as a speeding ticket lawyer when I was in high school. In any event, I handled my speeding tickets myself. At the tender age of 16, I quickly found out how much I did not know. I was in way over my head and ended up getting slammed every time I went to court. That is just one of the reasons I became a traffic ticket lawyer. But that’s a story for another day. Today I want to give some free advice to those people out there that want to fight their traffic ticket themselves. I will add one caveat thought before I begin. If you have the means to hire an experienced traffic ticket lawyer, you should hire one. Most people who represent themselves are unsuccessful for a ton of reasons. Remember, some lawyers like the Traffic Ticket Team only charge a nominal fee and offer a refund if you get points in most cases. To that end, here are some suggestions for you if you go to court yourself.
COP IS A NO SHOW
This is by far the easiest way to get your traffic ticket dismissed. If the cop does not come to court, you can ask the Judge to dismiss your traffic ticket. There are usually two reasons that the Judge will not dismiss your ticket. The first is that the officer me have asked for a continuance and nobody told you. That’s right, you took off of work or school and waited for hours and nobody had the courtesy to tell you until you name was called. This happens all the time and it is just plain unfair. The second reason is that the first hearing on a traffic ticket, in some jurisdictions, is pre-trial hearings. This means that the cop does not need to show up. It is a hearing whereby you agree to plea your case out or ask for a trail. If you ask for a trial, you will have a trial a month or two later and that is when the cop needs to come. Nobody tells you this so think twice before taking a day off of work.
YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET
This is an expression my parents would use and I happen to believe it in the law and in life. When you get to court for your trial, ask the cop if he will dismiss the ticket. Unlike a criminal case where the State Attorney is the prosecutor, in traffic court, the cop is the prosecutor. He can dismiss the ticket if he wants to. Why would a cop ever agree to dismiss a ticket that he wrote? Because he is human. Maybe you have a really good excuse. If you parent just died and you were not paying attention, tell the cop. If you are an attractive single woman and the cop is a man, use your powers of persuasion. Same applies to men and female cops. Don’t make excuses like “I was late for work.” However, if you have a reasonable reason for speeding, tell the cop and ask for a break. If he says no, at least ask if he will agree to a withhold adjudication. That way you won’t get points on your record. If he says no to that, then you may as well take your chances at trial or ask the judge what he will impose if you agree to a plea. Don’t be afraid to ask the Judge for a break either. You can tell him that you want to resolve this case, but want to keep points off your record. He will probably give you a break and withhold the points and just give you a fine. He may even give you driving school. Again, if you don’t ask you don’t get. The worst thing he can say is no and then you need to apply your legal knowledge. This can be attained two ways. The first is reset your case for 5 years so you can go to law school and start practicing traffic ticket law. The second way is to go to court a few weeks before and watch the traffic ticket lawyers in court. Watch what legal arguments they make and loopholes they cite. Bring a pad and paper and take notes. There are dozens of legal arguments that can be made to have a traffic ticket thrown out. Just make sure you are watching the right lawyers.