traffic ticket advice
Date: May 19, 2015 02:14AM
I thought I'd post my experience to help others.
I challenged my speeding ticket and won, mainly because I was lucky but also because I was smart enough to know how. When you are stopped for speeding there is going to be a reading from radar or Lidar. Challenging the accuracy of these readings is a job for expert witnesses and you are not going to get far with that unless you are charged with something very serious and a lawyer is doing it for you. HOWEVER, in order to admit the evidence in court, the officer has to be able to prove his equipment was calibrated within 6 months or your offense. He must have the certificate with him or the evidence is unusable.
I let the officer tell his story then asked to see his certificate. It was dated April 7 and my offense was March 13. That's when I began to grin. You see, the officer had his equipment calibrated 3 weeks after stopping me and he had the new certificate with him. Without the certificate that was valid at the time he wrote the ticket, the evidence was inadmissible.
Police officers are human and make mistakes. In my case, the officer didn't think and just grabbed his most current certificate. On another day an officer might forget to bring it, grab the wrong folder, not be able to find it, etc. Or he might wait a week too long between calibrations because he's busy. So if you are charged with a speeding based offense, ALWAYS plead not guilty and make them prove it. There is always a small chance the officer will make a mistake with that certificate.
The judge was clearly not happy but he had to dismiss my ticket. This saved me $175 in fines and costs plus at least $300 in increased insurance premiums.
Don't count on it, but give it a shot. I went instead of prepaying the fine mostly because I was hoping for a reduction in fines and that proved to be correct, too. The judge I had reduced the fine of EVERYONE who had a good driving record and knocked some down to minor traffic offenses that don't carry points. This was the case for those who pleaded guilty, too.
If you can spare the time to go to court it will likely save you a few bucks and might also save you the points (and higher insurance premiums).
If the case rests on what the officer saw you do, there is no point in challenging it unless you have a witness who will contradict him. If it is your word against the officer's, the judge will side with him.
If your driving record is shitty, the judge won't be nearly as nice to you.
If you are charged with reckless driving, it is probably worth the expense to get a lawyer. They plead almost all of these cases down but are much less generous to people without lawyers.