What are your chances of getting a reduced fine or a complete dismissal?
You may be surprised to learn that there are several things to consider before ending up in traffic court, paying a big fine, logging up points and higher insurance premiums. What are your chances of getting a reduced fine or a complete dismissal?
Can you get rid of a traffic ticket once it’s been issued? Just like you would call a plumber to fix a leaky pipe, you can call a local traffic school and enlist someone to find any leaks in your case. I would advise skipping the expensive lawyer if this is a first offense, and have an experienced educator look over the ticket details for a fraction of the cost. There are several things to look for when on the receiving end of a traffic violation.
Paperwork can sometimes be the bane of our existence, but it can also be exactly what saves your case in court. When the ticketing officer writes a ticket look closely at the date, time of day, and other pertinent information recorded on the ticket. If any of those facts are skipped or entered inaccurately, you have an automatic dismissal. Cops make mistakes, too. It may not happen often, but it only takes one screw-up to tilt the scales of justice in your favor.
In the event that you are in the wrong and justifiably at fault, your attitude can be a deal breaker. Don’t come off as affronted, annoyed, ticked off or defensive. Keep the tone in your voice low key and businesslike. What is the first thing an officer asks after approaching your car? Usually it’s a version of “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Be polite, but don’t answer anything in the affirmative. If you say “yes I was going 10 miles over the speed limit” a note could be made. Being cooperative does not mean you have to admit guilt. Simply avoid the question and hand the officer your license and registration.
If he asks again answer with the question; Can you tell me, Sir/Mam? Remember any affirmative you answer can be used against you by the ticketing officer. On the other hand, the officer will remember you in court as being compliant if you answer questions non-combatively. Remember, he or she deals with a lot of people on a daily basis, so you don’t want to stick out as one of those he had trouble with.
When you know your assigned court date, do yourself a favor and enroll in traffic school prior to showing up in court. This pleases the court. The Judge will see you as repentant and pro-active. His sentencing could include a complete dismissal.
Be prepared to fight your case. Learn enough to ask the correct questions and give the appropriate answers. Know the consequences of pleading guilty or not-guilty. Either way know what results from each verdict. Assume you have a chance to win. Winning may be a complete dismissal, or a lesser fine. Always present your case with a calm, businesslike demeanor. States the facts intelligibly and without embellishments. Speak directly to the Judge and not to the officer. Do not try to make the officer “look bad”. Just states the situation cleanly and concisely.
For the sake of an untarnished driving record don’t just accept a ticket as a final sentence. Learn, prepare and practice good common sense while in court to give yourself the best fighting chance you deserve.
Lastly, the best prescription is to drive according to the rules of the road and then you won’t need to take any of the above advice. However, if you have one of those days, – and we all do on occasion, you know what to do.