How to Fight a Speeding Ticket
So your driving down the road minding your own business and suddenly there’s a cop behind you with their red / blue lights on. You stop and the officer tells you that you were speeding and issues you a citation. Day ruined, you start planning for your day in court. Your sure the officer was wrong, your sure it was “The car next to you” that was speeding. Now, here is where you need to take a deep breath and begin remembering everything you can and putting it down on paper. In the law enforcement world, speeding is a minor infraction, but it can be one very difficult violations to fight. So, lets talk about some strategies to fight this violation.
Preparation is key. First is to make notes on what cars were around you at that time. What cars were coming towards you, what vehicles had passed you, there size and type. Why? Large vehicles have a larger radar signature and can cause problems for picking up your vehicle. What was the weather like? Windy days can cause interference with a radar gun. Are there any high voltage wires? High voltage transmission wires can cause a lot of interference with a radar gun. What was the road configuration where the officer was running radar? Key in a good radar citation is the officers visual observation / estimation of your speed. If the officer is working on a curve or is “Behind a billboard” he could not get the visual observation needed.
When you go to court remember, in the courts eyes, the officer has no reason to not be truthful. The violator however has a reason to, how shall we say, stretch the facts. Being prepared is the key to overcoming this problem. Simply telling the judge “It wasn’t me; honest!” won’t get you anywhere. (yes, I have had violators come into court and say that to a judge, that was their whole defense.)
Look at the “To Wit” portion of the citation. That is where the officer writes out the violation. What does it say? Is there a distance he picked you up at? You may have been picked up on radar before you even knew the officer was there. Were you going towards him or away? You may think you were picked up going towards the officer but it may be going away. If it says nothing about your direction your notes about where the officer was and any visual blockages comes in. Was the officer’s visual observation on the citation? Any time you can get the officer to say “I don’t remember” it’s a good thing. If they say they don’t remember don’t confront them with your notes. That is for your testimony. Let the officer not remember. Don’t help him “Refresh” his memory. On of the biggest mistakes a person can make in court when the officer says they don’t remember something, so they decide to use their notes to try to “Catch them in a lie”. Unless you set the proper foundation for that kind of questioning it is very difficult. Even trained lawyers have a difficult time setting any type of “Officer Lying” defense. One of your important questions is to ask how often the officer checks his radar guns calibration AND is there a record of his checks. Chances are the officer will say he does the check before shift and there is no record. Use this information in your closing arguments.
If you are defending yourself your best chance at fighting the officers testimony is your own testimony. You can explain how after the stop you made notes on the circumstances. Explain traffic conditions, weather conditions and any other factors that can give a false reading to the operator. If you noticed you were on the correct speed but were pulled over and cited, have a mechanic check your speedometer. If the calibration was off, take your receipt and diagnosis to court and use that to try and get the citation reduced or dismissed.
Last but not least have a closing argument. That is not a time to testify, it is a time to bring up the inaccuracies in the officers testimony, all the “I don’t remembers” and any other testimony favorable to you. Throughout the proceedings take notes so that you can use them in your closing or when you are testifying.
These are just some quick notes on some factors to help you fight a speeding ticket. Every jurisdiction is different on how they handle this type of citation. Always consult a lawyer for your local jurisdictional rules and laws.