When you’ve been pulled over for a traffic violation and you’ve been as polite and cooperative as possible, sometimes you can get off with just a warning. But often you will wind up with a ticket, which means you’ll have to pay fines. You’re problems don’t end there, though, because you can also get points against your license, which means higher insurance premiums. So let’s examine some of the best strategies you and your attorney can use to fight a traffic ticket.
Subjective Conclusion Challenge
In some states, you are allowed to challenge the officer’s perception of the events. When the officer has to make a subjective judgment about what happened, that judgment is susceptible to interpretation, and you can challenge it. Suppose, for example, you got a ticket for making an unsafe left turn. In this situation, you can fight a traffic ticket by demonstrating that the turn was actually safe and responsible considering the prevailing traffic conditions. You can also fight this ticket by showing the officer was not in a good position to accurately observe the turn.
Similarly, you can fight a traffic ticket by challenging the officer’s observations concerning what happened and the putative traffic violation. Often, this comes down to a determination of whose version of the facts is correct and which version the judge believes is true. You will, then, need to gather as much evidence as possible to support your contention, including:
- Witness statements from passengers and bystanders
- A supporting and explanatory diagram showing relative vehicle positions as well as other key locations and objects such as traffic signals
- Photographs of things like intersections, road signs, and stoplights – that is, of any relevant physical evidence
- Anything that may cast doubt on the officer’s version of the facts, especially her ability to accurately observe the incident
Proof of Mistake of Fact
Sometimes judges allow some flexibility with respect to circumstances beyond your control and honest, reasonable errors. If you can show that such circumstances obtained or that you made such an error, then you may successfully fight a traffic ticket owing to the judge’s finding that you made a “mistake of fact.” Suppose, for example, you were cited for failing to stop at a stop sign. But if it was storming and the sign was hidden by a broken tree branch, this could constitute a mistake-of-fact scenario.
Proof of Legally Justified Conduct
You can also fight a traffic ticket if you can prove that your actions were legally justified in light of the surrounding circumstances. If, for example, you were cited for driving too slow in the left lane, you can attempt to prove that your speed was legally justified because you had to slow down in order to make a safe left turn. The benefit of this tactic is that you aren’t simply challenging the officer’s observations or judgments, but raising an additional, pertinent legal point.
Proof of Necessary Conduct to Avoid Harm
Another effective strategy for fighting a traffic ticket is the so-called legal-necessity defense, which is recognized in all states. In this case, your attorney’s job will be to prove that your actions, which resulted in the traffic ticket, were necessary in order for you to avoid harm. Here’s an illustrative example. You are driving in the right lane, but are boxed in by cars in front and back, and another car is coming right at you on the on ramp. In this case, speeding up beyond the posted speed limit in order to pass the car in front of you and avoid a collision with the car on the on ramp would be legally justified.
Best Way to Fight a Traffic Ticket
The mere fact of your getting a traffic ticket doesn’t necessarily mean you deserve that ticket. Sometimes, then, you should fight a traffic ticket. But you need a qualified attorney with experience in this area to help you fight it and to increase your chances of victory. If you’ve received a ticket that you think is unjustified, contact a member of the Trusted Lawyers Network at TrustedLawyers.com to discuss your case.