You’re cruising along, without a worry in the world, when you see those dreaded flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Now you have something to worry about: a speeding ticket. What should you do? During the traffic stop, there are several rules of the road:
- Don’t be rude: The only chance you have at being warned instead of ticketed is to be polite to the police officer. Sarcasm will always result in a ticket, often with “ND” hand-written in the corner (advising the prosecutor that you should receive “no deal” in court).
- Don’t admit guilt: When asked “Do you know why I stopped you?” answer “I don’t know.” Any admission of guilt will be used against you in court. Be advised that signing the speeding ticket is not considered admitting guilt.
- Record relevant information immediately: Write down all the events leading to the ticket while they’re fresh in your mind. It can make a world of difference if you go to court.
- Don’t pay the ticket right away: Paying the fine is an admission of guilt. You need to review all circumstances surrounding the ticket, including how it will affect your driving record and insurance rates.
If you determine that admitting guilt will not dramatically raise your insurance rates, be used in a lawsuit against you, negatively impact your driving privileges or result in an excessive fine, you may decide to waive your right to a hearing and pay the fine. Should any of these consequences be unacceptable, you have other options. Some states offer special programs through where judgments can be deferred if you’re not ticketed again in the next six months. Other states will dismiss minor traffic offenses if you haven’t had any vehicle-related violations in the previous three years. Offering to take a state-sponsored driver safety course can also erase your speeding ticket. If you decide to contest your ticket in court, you have several factors working in your favor:
- Court congestion: Many prosecutors are willing to agree to plea deals involving reduced fines and no driving record “points” in order to lighten their case loads.
- Cops often don’t show up: Up to 25% of the time the officer involved will be a no-show, resulting in the case being thrown out.
- Is every “I” dotted and “T” crossed? All the technicalities that people hate about the law can work in your favor. If the ticket contains incorrect information or the officer contradicts himself in court, your case may be dismissed.
Don’t forget, as you’re driving home from your courtroom victory, please stay under the speed limit.