I have had very few clients who get a speeding ticket who come into my office and say, “Jason, I sooo deserve this speeding ticket, but I want you to get me out of it.” Generally, when someone gets a speeding ticket, they not only feel that it’s unjustified, but they get down-right indignant. There is little doubt that being pulled over (oh, those flashing blue lights), having your license and registration checked (as though you just hot-wired the car), then being issued a speeding ticket (darned rubberneckers) is, at the very least, an uncomfortable experience. It is bad enough that you have to endure these indignities, but then you learn how much the fine and penalties are going to be and it is no wonder that it inspires you to want to fight your traffic ticket. Surprisingly, only a small percentage (5%) of people who receive speeding tickets actually fight them. Those who do decide to fight their traffic ticket tend to focus on the amount of the fines and court costs, and rightly so because with more than 4 million traffic citations being issued in the State of Florida, the amount of revenue they raise is preposterous.
Keep in mind that you only have 30 days to act upon your traffic ticket, but there are three methods in which you can do so. You can choose to just pay the fine, which you should never do; you can elect to go to driving school, but this is not the best option for everyone; or you can go to court to fight your traffic ticket. Fighting a speeding ticket can be a very time consuming process. There is a lot of research that you will have to perform if you intend to fight your speeding ticket yourself and then if you end up going to traffic school, that time becomes even greater. Even if you do elect traffic school so that you can keep the points off your license, you will still have to pay the fine, the court costs, and the cost of the driving school itself. Every citizen is entitled to defend himself in court, but there are many things that could go wrong in the process that should be considered. Here are a few of them.
If you commit errors when you go to court to fight your speeding ticket, it can impact your defense greatly. If this is the first time that you have done so, the amount of time and research that is involved when creating an adequate defense can be overwhelming. Although the burden of proof is supposed to fall squarely upon the shoulders of the cop who issued the speeding ticket, cops tend to be favored in the court system for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is their job and most judges make the supposition that the law enforcement official is not going to arbitrarily write someone a speeding ticket. (We know this is not always true.) Additionally, cops and judges do this kind of thing every day. The officer who issued the traffic citation probably appears in court frequently which automatically puts him more at ease and gives him the upper hand. Judges also appear in court every day and unfortunately for you, they have to deal with many defendants who are disreputable, so they can be inherently suspicious. This sometimes makes it hard for the average person to be viewed in a positive light. Consequently, one tiny crack in your defense could cost you your case. You still have to pay all the fines and penalties, but you no long have options such as having your ticket reduced. A lot of people have been told that if they go to court and the issuing officer is not present then their ticket will be dismissed. Don’t count on it because this does happen sometimes, but it is not always so. The officer doesn’t have to attend the initial hearing because it is referred to as a pre-trial conference. This is because the court is counting on you to just pay your fine and penalties then go away. If you fail to do so (which you should), you will be scheduled for a court date approximately two months later, to which the issuing officer can then appear.
A lack of preparation can annihilate your case. You need to make sure that you know the Florida statute that covers speeding tickets backwards and forwards. (GS 316.183) You cannot possibly present a solid defense unless you are well-versed in the law that you have been accused of violating. Understanding exactly what the law mandates regarding speeding is paramount, but once you have a clear understanding of it, there are some other things to consider. Remember the television show What Not to Wear? Well, that is something you need to keep in mind when you attend court. Rightly or wrongly, the first impression anyone ever has of us is how we present ourselves. You can be an outstanding orator with a firm grasp of the speeding laws in Florida, but if the judge forms an opinion of you based upon your initial appearance, those things may be irrelevant. Holey jeans, flip flops, or cleavage are probably all bad ideas. Another good suggestion is to arrive on time. Just like dressing inappropriately, arriving late or unprepared can give the impression of disrespect or that you don’t take the matter seriously. Judges tend to not appreciate feeling as though they are being viewed disrespectfully. Additionally, since these matters are handled in volume over the course of the day, there is a good chance that you may be standing around for quite some time, but someone has to be called first and it could very well be you. This is a situation where being impatient could end up costing you a great deal. When your case is called, the police officer who issued your speeding ticket will tell his side of the events that occurred that caused him to write the traffic ticket. He may present evidence such as radar or LiDAR readings. It may be frustrating to stand there and listen to his version of events if you feel he is being dishonest or unjust, but this is not the time to interrupt or become combative. Once he is done, you have the right to look over his evidence before you defend yourself against it.
Before you go to court, you need to make sure that you have a concrete paper trail of everything that happened from the time you realized that you were being pulled over until the time you appear in court. This can often take months, therefore, it takes a high level of diligence to that you can make sure you don’t forget anything important. These notes can be critical to the outcome of your case. Create a file that contains your copy of the traffic citation, notices from the Clerk of Court, phone calls, conferences with an attorney, witnesses, and so on. Even something as seemingly small as weather or road conditions could end up being important to your defense and help you construct a stronger case. Don’t forget that the judge is weighing your credibility and the more informed and prepared you are, the more likely he is going to give credence to your defense. All of this sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but an ineffective defense can cost you tremendously. Again, you do have the right to defend yourself, but because of the volume of work involved and the seriousness of a negative outcome, you may want to consider hiring a skilled traffic ticket attorney. We already possess the knowledge and abilities that you will need for a good defense, so give us a call at 954-967-9888. We will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.