虽然拿了citation之后心里有时会觉得很不公平，即便是真的，迟早还是要应对，无论是自已解决还是找律师，重要的是不要或减少对保险和driving record的影响。从另一方面来说也许是好事，毕竟在未来的3年内，开车会更加小心。怎么说，开车还是安全第一啊！时常看到有人在车后贴有“Life is Good”的字样以提醒后面的driver谨慎驾车，想想还是对的啊，呵呵。
●Decide Whether the Ticket Is Worth Fighting
●Fight a Speeding Ticket: Is Speeding Always Speeding?
●Fighting a Traffic Ticket: Get the Officer's Notes
●How to Fight Traffic Tickets, Five Strategies that Work
●Traffic Tickets FAQ
●Traffic Accident Liability: FAQs
Decide Whether the Ticket Is Worth Fighting
First off, decide whether it's worth your time to fight a ticket. It's certainly possible, but fighting traffic tickets can take a lot of time and effort and may not be worth it in the long run. If a ticket means thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums, however, it may be very worthwhile to fight it.
Understand the Law You Are Alleged to Have Violated
Most police officers don't really know the letter of the law - after all that's what attorneys are for. An easy first step in fighting traffic tickets is to read the exact law you're alleged to have violated, and break it down into elements. Once you've broken the law down into its components, if you can show that your behavior didn't meet the exact prohibitions contained in the law, then you've gone a good ways towards showing that you haven't violated the law at all. Here's an actual stop sign law, with brackets to separate different elements of the law:
"[A person] [operating a human-powered vehicle] [approaching a stop sign shall slow down] and, [if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection]. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, [the person shall yield the right-of-way to] [any vehicle] [in the intersection] or [approaching on another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across] or [within the intersection or junction of highways], [except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping]."
Some elements you can't really challenge (you are a person after all), but notice that stopping isn't actually required! It's only necessary if it is "required for safety" and the law explicitly allows you to "cautiously make a turn or proceed through the intersection without stopping".
Chances are good that the police officer wrote down something like "rolled through intersection without a complete stop". You can easily go into court, lay out the law, and demonstrate that you never violated the law in the first place. Will a judge accept this? Absolutely. This is precisely what lawyers do, they break down laws into elements and try to prove that some element wasn't met. Remember, you're innocent until proven guilty.
Don't Pay the Ticket, It's Often an Admission of Guilt
When you first get your ticket, do not pay it. In almost all jurisdictions, paying the fine is an admission of guilt. Instead, find out how you can get your day in court.
Consider Traffic School
Many jurisdictions offer an option to attend traffic school. In return, your charges will be dismissed or reduced. Explore this option by researching the law in your state. If you find that traffic school is a good option, request it from the prosecutor or judge.
Common Defenses to a Traffic Ticket
There are several typical defenses used when fighting traffic tickets. Many of the defenses below are based on your constitutional right to question the accuser.
The Officer Doesn't Show Up
The easiest way to win is to have the police officer not show up. Because you have a constitutional right to question the accuser, if the officer doesn't show, you will typically automatically win. How can you increase your chances of getting a no show?
●Postponing the court date can significantly increase the odds that the officer will not be present during the trial.
●Never go with the date on your ticket. That's usually a "gang date" for the officer, where the officer has scheduled all of his or her court dates at once. If you schedule for an extension that falls on a different day, chances are they aren't going to come in on their day off just for you.
●Try to choose a court date that is closer to the holidays or summer vacation days - this might increase the odds of your officer being out on vacation.
Camera Tickets and Hearsay
People often think that there's little they can do with a camera based ticket, but they're amazingly easy to beat. Here are some tips:
●Courthouses will rarely go through the trouble of bringing the video or picture to court, usually resulting in an automatic dismissal of the ticket.
●Even if they do, there is no human subject to question other than the officer who viewed the tape. The second the officer opens his mouth, you just object "hearsay". Hearsay is the equivalent of "so and so told me", which courts consider unreliable evidence. After all, the officer didn't actually see you do anything, rather the officer is relying on the observations of someone/something else. As a result, the officer can't testify as to what you did wrong and obviously neither can the camera. It takes courage to do this, but it can work.
Trial by Declaration
In many states, you are entitled to a trial by mail. You submit your claim as to why you are innocent in a letter, and the officer must do the same. While officers will often show up for court because it is an overtime opportunity, trial by mail is pure paperwork, and they will often not bother to submit their side of the story. When this happens, you win by default. Should you lose by mail, you have lost nothing: you can still request an in-person trial, request traffic school, or pay your fine.
The Sixth Amendment Requires a Speedy and Public Trial
The sixth amendment guarantees you a speedy and public trial, and this can be an easy basis to avoid a ticket. For example, in California, a speedy trial is defined as 45 days from the time of the infraction. In many jurisdictions you must go to the courthouse in person to get a court date. Among those legal documents you are asked to sign, will be one in which you waive your right to a speedy trial. Do not sign this document. You cannot be legally forced to waive this right. What this means is that if the court system cannot fit you in, within those 45 days, (times for your state may vary) then your case must be dismissed.
Tickets Based on Radar Guns
Most radar guns need to be recalibrated every 30-60 days, and due to ignorance, lack of funding, or laziness, they rarely are. One solid argument for your case is to prove that the measurement device is faulty. In some states the officer must check the calibration after issuing the ticket - usually by using two tuning forks held in front of the radar, which vibrate at the frequencies for 35 mph and 55 mph. Verify whether this was done and documented.
Check Your Ticket for Errors
While courts will often excuse minor errors on a ticket – a misspelled name or whether your car color is maroon or dark red – if the officer cites the wrong law on the ticket, or grossly misidentifies the highway or your make of car, you may to get your ticket dismissed.
Defenses That Don't Work
The following is a short list of common defenses people often make when fighting traffic tickets that just don't work:
●You claim ignorance of the law. It doesn't matter how honestly you misunderstood what was required, it won't work.
●You argue that no one was hurt. The no-harm-no-foul rule doesn't apply in court. The only exception is whether safety is part of the law itself, and you can argue that obviously you operated your vehicle safely because no one was hurt.
●You complain that the officer selected you alone out of a dozen other potential violators.Admitting that you were in fact guilty, but that there were other guilty people present doesn't help you. You can win a "selective enforcement" defense, but it's very hard to do and requires that you demonstrate the officer had a specific and improper motive to pick on you. For instance if you filed a report against the officer and he just happened to pull you over the next day with a dozen other violators nearby, you may win.
●You give the judge a sad story. It doesn't work, judges hear this all day long and may doubt your honesty. At best this will slightly reduce your fine.
●You claim the officer is lying. Between you and the police officer, the judge is more likely to believe the officer. Unless you have specific proof, it won't work.
Fight a Speeding Ticket: Is Speeding Always Speeding?
In general, all of the 50 states have three different types of speed limits. These are called, respectively, "absolute," "presumed," and "basic" speed limits. In order for you to put up the best defense possible if you want to challenge your speeding ticket, it is important for you to know which one you were cited with.
Speed Limits that are Absolute
Many people wonder how to fight a speeding ticket, especially a traffic violation for going above the absolute speed limit. An absolute speed limit is quite straight forward -- if the posted limit is 40 mph, then that is the absolute limit. If you are going 45 mph, you are violating the absolute speed limit. There are limited defenses for such a ticket, but some of them include:
●Claim that you were speeding because of an emergency. The emergency must have made you speed in order to avoid serious injury to yourself or others. An example of a good defense would be if you were forced to speed because you had to outrun the firestorm that was raging down the road, engulfing everything in flame.
●Challenge the determination of your speed. A traffic ticket will often have your tracked speed written down on it, and you have the right to challenge this statement. To make this defense, you must first determine what method the officer used to determine your speed (laser, pacing, sight, radar), and then either attack the method used or the officer's implementation of that method (such as challenging the officer's training with the device).
●Challenge the officer's identification of your automobile and claim that you were mistaken with a similar car that was driving next to you at the time of the ticket. Many cars look very similar, and it could be easy for the officer to mistake your car for the one he clocked speeding after losing sight of it over a hill.
Fight a Speeding Ticket under a Presumed Speed Limit
If you have been given a ticket under a presumed speed limit, this means that the officer accused you of driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions present at the time. There are two general defenses to such a ticket. First, you can challenge the officer's claim that you were driving above the posted speed limit, just as if you were challenging an absolute speed limit violation. However, you can also claim that, even if you were driving above the posted speed limit, your driving was safe for the conditions at the time of the ticket.
Here is one example. If you were ticketed for going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone and there is little chance of proving that you were not going 45, you could claim that you were driving safe given the conditions. Perhaps the traffic around you was traveling at 50 mph or above and you felt that you would be a danger on the road if you were going 35 mph and did not want to get read-ended by a speeding car.
If you decide to take such an approach to challenging your speeding ticket, you will have the burden of proving that the speed you were driving at was a safe speed given the conditions. It is generally assumed that the posted speed limit is the safest maximum speed for any given stretch of road, so you will have to overcome this presumption to be successful.
It could be nigh impossible to show that going 60 miles per hour in a 25 mph area is safe, but it could be possible to show that going 35 mph in a 25 mph is safe given certain conditions. Perhaps the road is very wide and straight, and the only reason the speed limit is 25 mph is because of pressure put on the city government by wealthy residents. In these situations, you may have a strong argument.
In order for you to build the best case possible, it is helpful to have certain pieces of evidence to present to the judge. First, you should go back to the scene of the ticket at the same time of day you got the citation and take pictures, both from the sidewalk, as well as from a driver's point of view. The more that you can show it is safe to go above the speed limit on a certain stretch of road, the better.
Next, you should be able to diagram the section of road where you were ticketed, and demonstrate any other factors that would be beneficial to your case on the diagram. For instance, if you can show that you got your ticket on an open stretch of road between two cities instead of in a busy downtown area, you have a strong chance of showing that your speed was safe given the situation. Also, if you can show that the road was heavily congested at the time of your ticket, and that all the cars around you were exceeding the posted speed limit, you can argue that you would be a danger on the road if you had to obey the absolute speed limit.
Basic Speed Limits
The general premise of a basic speed limit law is simply the reverse of a presumed speed limit, like a presumed speed limit that works in favor of police officers. Police officers can ticket you for driving at a speed under the posted speed limit if the conditions make it so that your speed is unsafe.
Often, it is possible to argue that the posted speed limit on a road is above what the safe speed limit is. Rainy, snowy or windy conditions can make driving more dangerous and could possibly reduce a presumed speed limit from 65 mph to 50 mph in the officer's mind. Police officers have discretion to ticket drivers for driving at or below a posted speed limit if the conditions make it unsafe.
However, if you have been ticketed for driving at or below the posted speed limit, you will be afforded extra protections should you decide to challenge the ticket. The biggest difference is that instead of you having to prove that you were driving at a safe speed given the conditions, the officer must instead prove that, given the conditions, the speed you were driving at was unsafe. This may be hard for the officer to do if you were not involved in an accident. After all, the legal presumption is that the posted speed limit is the safe speed to travel at.
Police often cite people who have been involved in car accidents with speeding tickets according to the basic speed limit. Their logic follows like this -- if you were involved in a car accident, there was something that must have been unsafe, and it was probably your speed. However, don't panic if you receive a traffic ticket on top of being in a car accident. The logic is flawed -- there can be a number of other reasons for the car accident, even another driver.
If the officer accuses you of violating the basic speed limit and uses the accident as proof of the "unsafeness" of your speed, you can and should challenge him on this. Ask the officer if there could have been any other factors that caused the accident. These could include:
●An act of nature such as a gust of wind that blew over the truck next to you, or the falling tree that you had to swerve to avoid
●The reckless or negligent driving of another person on the road
●A road defect such as a pothole, a missing stoplight, or a stop sign that had been stolen recently.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket: Get the Officer's Notes
One of the best ways to go about fighting a traffic ticket is to get a copy of the officer's notes. Most police officers are trained to write notes, often on the back of your ticket, with details about why you were ticketed and what the conditions were when you were ticketed. Even if the officer wrote the notes on the back of your ticket, it is still wise to request an official copy of those notes for at least two reasons:
First, if the officer knows his notes are inadequate, or figures you're going to fight the ticket hard, he or she may simply not show up. Usually an officer's failure to appear results in an automatic dismissal of the case.
Second, by carefully reading the notes you can get a good idea for how the officer will testify, and what sort of defenses will be appropriate. An officer doesn't want to get in trouble over a traffic violation, so he or she is likely to deviate very little from what is in the notes.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket: Make a "Discovery" Request for the Officer's Notes
In most states you have the right to receive a copy of the officer's notes through the "discovery" process. Discovery is just legal jargon for the exchange of important information before a trial. The discovery process also allows you to get more than just the officer's notes, and can include things such as police procedure manuals and instruction manuals for speed recording devices. These items can then be used to formulate a defense as well as to question the officer.
The discovery request must be a specific, written request, and the best way to figure out how exactly to do it in your area is to contact the clerk of the court you are in and ask for instructions and any forms required when making a discovery request. You will need to send your discovery request via certified mail to the police department and the local prosecutor and follow the instructions provided to you by the court clerk.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket: What to Do if Your Discovery Request Is Ignored
Few people ever make discovery requests for traffic violations, so don't be surprised if your discovery request is ignored. If this happens reiterate to the parties in writing that you requested information from them and that you believe the discovery requests are crucial to your case. Check with your local court clerk to find out how long people have to respond to discovery requests in your area. Typically, if you have not received a response within three weeks you will need to go to court.
Again, ask the court clerk for relevant forms and instructions, and file a "pre-trial motion" to compel the parties to honor your discovery requests. If your discovery requests are still ignored by your trial date, you can try to simply ask the judge to dismiss your case.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket: How to Use the Officer's Notes
When examining the officer's notes, here are the major things you want to look for:
●Specific detail: If the notes are highly detailed, you may have a harder time defending yourself because the officer will be allowed to look at his notes while testifying. On the other hand, any details might highlight areas of questioning where you can challenge the accuracy of the events the officer recorded.
●Lack of detail: If the notes are lacking in detail, you can greatly use this to your advantage to question the officer regarding specifics that he or she failed to record. Your job is to create doubt about whether you committed the violation, and the more often an officer has to say "I don't remember", the better. Specific details that may not be present that you should look for include which lane you were in, exactly how the officer recorded your speed, road conditions, nearby vehicles and the exact location of the alleged violation.
●Statements: Officers will typically record any statements you make during the traffic stop (which is why, generally, you should say next to nothing). Note whether the statement seems to be a direct quote or an approximation, or whether any such statements were even recorded.
●Diagrams: Officers often record basic diagrams in their notes, outlining an intersection and important features. If there is no diagram, or a really poor one, you can ask questions about the area that the officer will likely not be able to answer and create doubt about the violation.
The more relevant questions you can ask that an officer can't answer, the better off you are.
How to Fight Traffic Tickets, Five Strategies that Work
This article lays out five strategies that many have found useful in fighting traffic tickets they received. These tickets range from speeding tickets, to tickets for running red lights captured by a red light camera.
1. Dispute the Police Officer's Personal Opinion
Police officers often cite drivers for making unsafe turns or driving unsafely down a road. These tickets require the officer to put down his personal opinion and come to a subjectiveconclusion about what happened. If you have received a ticket where the officer needed to exercise some sort of personal judgment about the situation, you may be able to challenge that judgment. For example, suppose you were cited with an unsafe lane change while driving on the highway. If you show up to fight the ticket, you can argue that your lane change was safe given the weather and traffic conditions at that time. To further support your argument, you could point out that the police officer was in front of you during the lane change, and that, due to the heavy traffic conditions, the officer most likely was paying more attention to the road in front of him rather than a car changing lanes behind him.
Subjective tickets are also issued in some states that have leave it up to the police officer to determine whether a driver is driving at a safe speed. These speeding tickets are often challenged by those who are cited. In states that have such laws, the posted speed limit is not the clear-cut law, and a driver has the discretion to travel at a speed that is safe given the traffic conditions. If you have received a speeding ticket for going above the posted speed limit in such a state, you may be able to challenge the officer's opinion by proving that your speed was safe given the conditions. As an example, if an officer cites you for going 75 mph in a posted 65 mph zone, you may argue that your speed was safe because all of the cars in your lane were also traveling at 75 mph, and thus, it would be unsafe to drive at or below 65 mph.
2. Dispute the Police Officer's Presentation of Evidence
There are yet other types of tickets where the police officer's judgment cannot be called into question. These tickets generally have to do with tickets that are clear cut, like running through a stop sign or making an illegal U-turn. Here, challenging a ticket involves challenging whether or not the officer saw you perform the ticketed action. The results of these types of cases will generally boil down to who the judge believes, and you, as the driver, will often have a high burden to overcome. However, there are certain types of arguments and evidence that you can present that may help your case by calling into question the officer's observations.
Some of the best arguments and evidence to present in such a situation are:
●Eyewitness statements from passengers, other drivers on the road or pedestrians that will confirm your story.
●Diagrams, diagrams, diagrams. The more clearly you can show where your car was in relation to the officer's car at the time of the citation, the more robust an argument you can make. For instance, a great diagram would show that the officer could not have seen you run a red light because he was trailing you too far behind to see whether or not your car was in the intersection at the time the light turned red.
●Photographs of the scene of the alleged traffic violation. Photographs can help you if, for example, they demonstrate your claim that a stop sign was obscured by an overhanging limb, or show that a traffic light was out of power at a certain time of day.
3. Present Evidence that the Traffic Violation was a "Mistake of Fact"
In most jurisdictions, the judge hearing your case will be allowed to come to their own decision regarding