Whether it was for running a red light or speeding, you’ve received a ticket that comes with a far steeper penalty than you anticipated. This may include losing points on your license, losing driving time and increased insurance costs if you plead guilty.
Unless you choose to request mitigation, meaning you plead guilty but explain your case to a judge in hopes he or she reduces the penalty, fighting the ticket may be your only choice. In this case, it’s important to understand whether you have a viable chance of winning your case and what arguments won’t work.
Carefully Assess Whether Your Ticket Can Be Won
Fighting a ticket takes a lot of effort and time, so take proper steps when reviewing your case to ensure your trial can be won. These include: carefully reading the law you’ve broken to see if there are any wording discrepancies that can acquit you; requesting the officer’s presence at your trial (if she doesn’t show, your ticket is tossed); and ensuring your argument isn’t based on something that won’t hold up in court.
Arguments to Avoid
While there are many solid arguments that can get you out of your ticket, there are also those that simply won’t work. Be careful to avoid these if you want to win your case:
- Sympathy: This works best for a mitigation plea, but not for an actual trial. Based on this, the judge can reduce your penalty or offer another option, like attending traffic school, but he or she is much more likely to grant this during your traffic hearing than if you’ve wasted everyone’s time by bringing this defense to trial.
- Claiming a Mistake: Everyone makes mistakes, but this isn’t a valid reason to ignore the law. It is your duty to understand the rules of the road, and failure to do so because you “didn’t know” won’t acquit you.
- Claiming No Harm: Many laws are made to prevent harm, but this doesn’t exempt you from following them even if no one is around. Breaking a law results in penalties regardless if anyone is hurt by it.
- Claiming Selective Enforcement: If you bring this up, you are accusing the officer of picking you out of a crowd of others who were also breaking the law. Even if they were, it doesn’t excuse you from the violation, and you’d have to find substantial evidence proving the officer’s motivation to ticket you personally.
- Claiming the Officer Lied: Evidence is required in all cases, so simply accusing the officer of lying isn’t enough to get you out of a ticket.
Always remember that excuses don’t make for valid defenses. If you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of your case, contact a traffic lawyer who can help you navigate the ropes or represent you.