It’s funny how when it comes to getting a speeding ticket it seems like everyone you know has some tidbit of advice about what you should or shouldn’t do. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are surrounding the issuance of your traffic ticket, I assure you someone will tell you how he or she thinks you should proceed. This is GREAT if the person giving you the advice is a good traffic ticket attorney. If, however, this person happens to be Cousin Bob who feels he knows the system well because he has a long history of traffic tickets, you could get yourself into more trouble by following his advice. Fortunately for you, I AM a good traffic ticket attorney, and I am here to debunk a lot of the myths and half-truths that surround speeding tickets, no matter what Cousin Bob says.
Probably the two most popular excuses given to officers for speeding are, “I am late for work,” or “I was just keeping up with the flow of traffic.” This just doesn’t work and is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. Let’s look at the first excuse. The largest segment of society is people who have to show up for work every day. This is no surprise to anyone. If you have a job, it is not as if you wake up one day and think, “Oh, yeah. I have to go to work.” Granted things occasionally occur that may throw a wrench into your morning routine, but don’t forget the cop had to get up, get ready for work, and report for duty that day too, which is exactly why he is standing beside your vehicle, issuing you a speeding ticket.
“I was just keeping up with the flow of traffic” is really a foolish statement when you think about it. It reminds of being a kid and an adult saying, “If all of your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge, too?” If the flow of traffic is speeding and you are keeping up with traffic, you too are speeding and may very well get a traffic ticket for it. Furthermore, if traffic is speeding and you say you were just keeping up with them, you have just confessed to breaking the law.
It is true that driving too slowly can be just as hazardous, sometimes more so, than speeding, but that generally applies if you are going significantly slower than the speed limit or if some maniac is far exceeding the speed limit and strikes you in the process. If you do decide to driver slower than other traffic, make sure that you stay in the right-hand lane and bear in mind that on the interstate you must maintain a speed of no less than 40 mph.
Equally ineffective excuses include that you have to go to the bathroom, that you are late picking up the kids from the babysitter, or that you are late getting the kids to school. This is a particularly bad excuse because you then not only put the other people on the road in jeopardy, but you are admittedly putting your own children in harm’s way.
Another common misconception is that if the police officer who issued the speeding ticket doesn’t show up in court then the traffic citation will be dismissed. This is not usually the case, especially for the first appearance. This is because the initial appearance is just the pre-trial conference. At the pre-trial hearing, the hope is that the accused will just admit to the speeding violation and endure the associated fines and penalties. This seems a bit absurd because just paying the traffic ticket through the mail (not recommended) within the first 30 days results in the same outcome. Even at the actual hearing, if the issuing officer doesn’t appear, the prosecuting attorney can request a postponement, which the judge has the discretion to grant.
Several months ago, a truck driver made national news because he recorded a state trooper behaving badly. Although the cell phone video became an instant You Tube sensation, this action is not advisable during an ordinary traffic stop. Other than being combative or argumentative, there are very few things that will annoy a cop like being videoed or photographed. Additionally, he will realize that you intend to try to use it against him in court so he is likely to make sure that he goes strictly by the book. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he then begins to look for additional reasons to cite you.
Now, I DO advocate silently notating such things as time of day, weather, traffic conditions, road conditions, traffic signs, and any relevant information you may be able to think of about the police officer. Take pictures and make notes AFTER the police officer has left the scene. You do not want to be memorable to the cop in any way and taking notes or pictures while he is in the commission of his job is definitely going to etch you into his memory. This can be detrimental when you appear in court to fight your speeding ticket.
I have suggested previously that you examine your speeding ticket for errors, but this is also something else that should not be done in front of the police officer. Keep in mind that this is a strategy that usually only works if there are glaring errors. If you note an error which is minor, it is not likely to result in having your speeding ticket dismissed. This is another time when the advice of good traffic ticket attorney can prove to be invaluable.
Many of the defense strategies that I have discussed here have a modicum of truth to them and work on occasion. The problem comes in when you consider that although the burden of proof rests on the prosecution, you are trying to convince a judge who works for the courts that the cop who also works for the same system is wrong or flat-out lying. This is a hard sell when you are dealing with an environment that deals with liars, cheats, and criminals on a daily basis. Is there bias in the court system? Of course there is. This is why it almost always works in your favor to hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney to fight your speeding ticket on your behalf. Give us a call at 967-954-9888 for a free consultation. Many of the issues discussed here are issues that we have encountered before and have addressed with successful outcomes for our clients.