How to Fight a Traffic Ticket

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At one point or another, all Americans face the inconvenience of a traffic ticket. Anyone who has ever been popped running late to work or forgotten a state inspection or attempted to park in a major city knows this full well.

In some cases these tickets are deserved, but conversely there are cases where they may not be. Once you have made up your mind that your ticket falls in the latter category and you choose to fight it, there are steps you can take to deal with the ticket efficiently and effectively.

Once you make your decision to plead not guilty and state your case before a judge or jury, be sure to notify the court of your decision.

One important note is that traffic tickets display a court date or deadline by which you must respond or make a court appearance. It helps to stay on top of that date in order to avoid further fines and penalties, a default judgment or even license suspension. In some cases, missing or ignoring the deadline could even result in a warrant for your arrest.

If you are choosing to fight the ticket — don’t pay it! Paying the fine is often considered an admission of guilt.

First, examine your ticket. Note that if there are any errors on your ticket, including, color of your car, license plate number, misspellings in your name or wrong drivers’ license information; these are grounds for a dismissal.

Sometimes getting a ticket dismissed is as simple as showing up in court without the officer showing up as well. In most cases if the officer who issues the ticket does not show up to court, the ticket will be dismissed. If the officer does show up, you can move for a continuance and reset the court date, and hopefully the officer will not show up then.

Judges can be hit or miss. Some judges have a penchant for nailing violators while others are willing to be more lenient. Know your judge. If your judge is the former, it is possible in some cases to request change of judge, but this must be done in advance (the number of days ahead is specific to the state).

Before you go to court, make sure you understand the law that you allegedly violated. Understanding the elements that constitute breaking the law and demonstrating how that would not apply in your case are grounds for dismissing a ticket.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has a state-by-state guide on the proper way to begin and plan your case, although you are entirely depending on yourself to do the research and execution. There are other agencies, such as the National Motorists Association, and law firms that are also capable of helping your fight. These firms have professionals dedicated to this section of the law. Costs for these services and materials can vary.

It’s worth noting that having an expert in this subject can be incredibly beneficial and actually save you money, depending on the ticket.

If all else fails, agreeing to attend traffic school to have your charges dismissed or reduced is another viable option.