3 Tips For Success In Traffic Court

A traffic ticket may seem like nothing more than a minor annoyance, but the truth is that even a simple speeding ticket can come with a great cost. In addition to the cost of the ticket, you face higher insurance rates as well. In California, for example, drivers pay around $158 in insurance costs for three years after a speeding ticket. It's in your best interest to avoid getting a ticket if possible, and to try to get the ticket dismissed if you do get one. That means that you may find yourself in traffic court at some point. Take a look at some tips for success when you fight a ticket in traffic court.

It All Starts at the Traffic Stop

You have to start thinking about your success in traffic court as soon as you get pulled over. Your actions at the time of the initial traffic stop can make a big difference in how your case goes in court. The first thing that you need to do is remain calm. It's very easy to get frustrated during a traffic stop, especially if the stop is going to make you late for work or is keeping you from something else that's urgent. But if you get angry or aggressive with the officer, that will go into the police report, and you can bet that the judge will not be impressed when they read it. If you stay calm and professional, you may get off with a warning – but even if you do get a ticket, at least you won't leave a negative impression with the officer and the judge.

While remaining calm and respectful, there are some questions that you should remember to ask the officer. Make sure to get the officer's name and badge number, and the exact speed you were clocked at. Ask the officer if they will show you your speed on the radar gun. They don't have to show you, but sometimes they will. Make a note of the time of day, the weather and road conditions, and anything else that might be of note. You never know what will be useful in court.

Challenge the Radar Readings

Often, the best strategy for contesting a speeding ticket is challenging the reading of the radar gun that clocked your speeds. You can do that by requesting that the calibration records for the device be entered into evidence. If the radar gun hasn't been calibrated recently, you will be able to argue that the speed it showed was inaccurate.

Do some research into how often your state requires speed clocking devices to be calibrated and the procedures used to do so. Manufacturers recommend calibration before every use, but most states don't follow that recommendation. You can also check to see if the officer who stopped you has had training in calibrating the device, and ask what tools they used to calibrated (radar guns require a tuning fork for calibration.) A lack of training or incorrect calibration methods may also be grounds to have your ticket thrown out.

Hire a Lawyer

It may seem like overkill to hire a lawyer for a simple traffic ticket, but when you consider the whole cost of your ticket – not just the price written on the ticket, but the increased insurance premiums and the mark on your previously clean driving record – it's really worth spending the money on a lawyer to help you get your ticket dismissed.

There's a reason that you wouldn't walk into a criminal or civil court without legal representation – only people who have studied the legal system truly know all of the complicated ins and outs of court procedures. A lawyer will know how to present evidence and how to cross examine an officer; they'll know when to object and what the legal arguments for the objection are. Someone who knows the ropes will be your best asset when it comes to getting the ticket dismissed.

It's a mistake to dismiss a traffic ticket as a minor inconvenience and pay it without trying to minimize its impact on your finances first. Taking the time and effort to fight the ticket can save you a lot of money in the long run. Consider talking to a traffic attorney to learn more.