While it certainly isn’t among one of life’s bigger financial catastrophes, the fact remains that a speeding ticket isn’t just inconvenient and irritating: it’s also quite costly.
Obviously, there’s the fine itself, which can range from about $150 to well over $500 depending on the violation and jurisdiction. What might not considered a particularly serious (read: expensive) moving violation in one town, city or county or state, can be a very different story in another. And trying to figure out why these differences exist is an exercise in frustration and futility. Even Sherlock Holmes would be baffled.
However, there’s another cost involved as well that can make the ticket fee seem paltry: a spike in your insurance premiums. Indeed, at a time when insurance carriers are exploiting every bit of “Big Data” they can to figure out premium costs — everything from a policy holder’s zip code to the industry in which they work, and the list goes on — getting flagged for any kind of moving violation is music to an actuary’s ears, but rotten news for your wallet. That’s the bad news.
The good news, is that you don’t have to sit with your eyes forward and your hands firmly on the wheel (possibly in an angry but controlled Kung Fu grip) and accept what your punishment. According the Law Office of Charles H. Huber, a Missouri-based practice that focuses on traffic matters and bankruptcy, there are three ways you can fight a traffic ticket in court, and give yourself more than a good chance of ending up a winner. Here’s the game plan
- Challenge the Officer’s Claim
Let’s assume that the officer who gave you the ticket is honest. That’s good. But it doesn’t mean that he or she is infallible. We all make mistakes, and officers are human beings (and even if they were computers, we all know that computers make mistakes too — sometimes really big ones).
If you legitimately believe that a material error was made — such as the officer misunderstanding what you said, or failing to listen to your side of the story — then you have every right to challenge the claim. In fact, your fellow drivers may even say that you have a responsibility and a duty, so that the officer in question doesn’t go around making the same mistakes over and over. Remember, however, that your argument will be much more compelling if you have witnesses who will testify to your version of events, photos of intersections and signs (or lack of thereof), and so on.
- Plead Justifiable “Trafficide”
Was your moving violation necessary in order for you to avoid harm — such as, for example, if you sped up to avoid getting sideswiped on the highway? Or maybe your motive was somewhat less dramatic, such as that you sped up to create enough room for cars merging onto the freeway. If you can make a sound, rational argument that you temporarily broke the law to avoid doing harm or damage to yourself, or to any other person, vehicle or object (e.g. pole, signpost, barrier, etc.), then your ticket might get thrown out.
- Explain that You Didn’t Break the Law — Period
If you can prove (or persuade) the court or any other appropriate entity that your actions were legally justified, then you don’t have to plead anything: because your traffic ticket will cease to exist. For example, you may have been compelled to stop your car the freeway shoulder (and perhaps ironically right under a “NO STOPPING ON SHOULDER” sign) because you heard a loud noise coming from your car and thought you smelled smoke. Or maybe you were racing to the hospital because your heart was racing even faster. These are not excuses — they are justifications.
The Bottom Line
Of course, sometimes you just have to bear down and take the (financial) hit. And if you really didn’t try and stop on the yellow or were zooming through a residential zone at twice the speed limit, there’s little you can do except learn from the experience. However, if you have a legitimate case to make, then the above options — and probably with the help of a good attorney who knows how the system works — can help protect your wallet, and preserve your peace of mind!