At Speeding Ticket Central we continuously receive many of the same questions regarding traffic tickets. We have compiled many of them in this Speeding Ticket FAQ or Speeding Ticket Frequently Asked Questions page to help you understand the working of the speeding ticket legal system.
Please not that traffic laws vary from state to state and the following is not legal advice but just general information. If you need legal advice contact a traffic attorney in your state.
Speeding Ticket FAQ for Traffic Tickets and Traffic Courts
What is a "continuance" and how do I request one?
A continuance is the moving of a trial date to a later date. The prosecution or the defense may request a continuance for any of several reasons. Work conflicts, school schedules, health problems, vacations and the need for more preparation time are all acceptable reasons for requesting a continuance.
You can request a continuance by contacting the COURT, via the court clerk, and explaining why you need it. This can be done by telephone or in person. We recommend using registered mail so you will have proof that your request was sent and received. The burden is then on the court to respond. It's best to make a request for a continuance at least two weeks in advance of the trial date.
Why should I request a continuance?
If you intend to gather information for your defense and prepare your presentation, you may need more time than the court has allotted between the time you received the ticket and your trial date. You may live a long distance from the court, and it would be more convenient to move your court appearance to another time. Or, you want to increase the likelihood that the officer who gave you the ticket will not appear in court on the day of your trial.
How do I get the information I need to prepare my defense?
There are both formal and informal mechanisms for the gathering of information: Request or Motion for Discovery, Open Records or Public Records Laws, Interrogatories, Depositions, subpoenas, and personal research.
What is a Request for Discovery?
A Request for Discovery is an information request you would make to the prosecutor, usually the District Attorney, for relevant information related to your case. If you were cited for speeding, you may want information on the kind of speed measurement device the officer used to clock your vehicle, or the training records for the officer that measured your speed. A simple written request, sent via registered mail to the District Attorney's office, is usually sufficient to exercise this inquiry.
Some states mandate that certain kinds of information must be released to a traffic ticket defendant making a Request of Discovery. The release of the information is not optional. Other states specifically relieve the prosecution from any responsibility to fulfill a Request for Discovery. We recommend a trip to a local library and the assistance of the librarian (most are very helpful) to find out how your state treats Requests for Discovery.
What is a Motion for Discovery?
A Motion differs from a Request in that a defendant makes the Motion to the court and not the prosecution. In a Motion for Discovery you must justify your reasons for making certain requests for information and the court will decide if your request has merit. If the Court determines that your request is legitimate and the information is needed for your defense, it will order that the information be given you. The prosecution can object to your motion and the court could order a hearing to argue the Motion for Discovery.
What is an Open Records Law?
These laws go under different names in different states, but their intent is to make public records available to all citizens. In general these laws mandate that public records be released to anyone making a request. Certain records, such as medical or tax records, may be protected by privacy laws and are not available through a simple request. However, you can usually obtain radar equipment maintenance records, calibration records for breathalysers, and training certificates for specific officers through an open records request. Open Records Requests are independent of the court and your trial, and the failure of an agency to provide requested records will not automatically result in a dismissal of charges. Remember, this procedure is for the purpose of obtaining EXISTING RECORDS. It cannot be used to force the government to create new records.
How do I make an Open Records Request?
A visit to your local library and a review of your state's open records law is a good place to start. Generally an open records request is made to the agency you believe holds the records you want. This is usually the police agency that issued you a citation. For best results make the request in writing and cite the open records state statutes that give you the right to request the information you seek. There may be reproduction cost fees (the law usually requires that they be "reasonable") for the materials you want. You may also want to request that the agency certify the documents to be valid copies of the originals.
What is an interrogatory?
An interrogatory is a written request to the prosecution for information related to your case. For example, if you want to know where the officer was sitting when he or she clocked you with radar, you could ask that question and perhaps include a map of the general area where the officer could mark his location when he observed your vehicle. If your request appears reasonable and has a bearing on your defense it will most likely be honored.
What is a deposition?
A deposition is a formal meeting, with a court reporter, where the defense and/or prosecution may question witnesses who are under oath. This is a very expensive and time- consuming procedure and not often employed in traffic ticket cases.
What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is a court order to appear or bring information to a court proceeding. The target of the subpoena can object to the order, and a case within a case can evolve that deals solely with the subpoena. A subpoena has to be "served" on the party being ordered to produce information or testimony. Anyone can serve a subpoena, as long as they are not directly involved in the litigation. Along with the expense, another downside of subpoenas is that the information is usually not produced until the time of trial. For purposes of developing a defense it is desirable to have all relevant information well before your trial.
What kind of personal research can I do?
Any defendant should clearly understand the violation they are being charged with. You may need to make another visit to the library and look up the statute you have supposedly violated. It may be possible that the officer cited the wrong statute, or that you did not meet the definition of a violation.
Re-visit the site of your alleged violation and look for elements that you could use to your advantage. Take photos that will help you make your arguments. Make measurements that may show errors in distances that were reported by the officer.
Will errors on the ticket result in the charges being dropped?
Material defects may include: *See MCL 257.742(1), 257.727c(3), andMCR 4.101(E)(1).
• No signature on the citation by the citing officer.* The absence of asignature is a material defect that makes the entire citation invalid.• Incorrect identification of the defendant.• Incomplete identification of the offense.• Failure to specify the location of the offense.• Failure to specify the date of the offense, or entry of an incorrect date.
If I don't sign my ticket, does that mean it's invalid?
No, but not signing for a ticket in some states can lead to other charges. Signing for your ticket, merely means that you will pay the fine or plead not guilty and show up in court. If your name was spelled wrong, that could be used in court with other anomalies to introduce reasonable doubt in the officer's testimony. However, if all the information relevant to the stop is correct, a spelling error will not result in the dismissal of the charge(s).
What if the prosecution doesn't give me the information I requested?
If your state mandates that certain items be given you, and they aren't, or the court orders that certain items be given you, and they aren't, you can ask for a Motion to Dismiss for failure to provide Discovery and it's likely the motion will be granted. However, if no such mandates exist and the court has not ordered that certain items be given you, there is little likelihood that a dismissal will be granted. Although, a continuance might be granted to give you more time to seek the information through other channels.
If I prove that my speedometer was defective when the officer stopped me for speeding, will the court dismiss the ticket?
No. The court might consider it a mitigating circumstance, but it's likely you will still be found guilty. Virginia courts will consider a defense of a defective speedometer.
Does the officer have to show me the radar/laser reading?
This is not required in any jurisdiction. Also, whether the officer allows you to see the speed reading has virtually no bearing on your case. Officers can lock on radar readings and leave them on to display to any hapless victim, even though it was not their vehicle that registered the displayed speed.
Should I hire a speeding ticket attorney?
This is always a personal call. In the vast majority of cases an attorney will arrange a plea bargain for his/her client. A speeding ticket can result in thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums. The cost of an attorney pales in comparsion to the consequences. One of the best ways to access a speeding ticket attorney is through a membership in a prepaid legal plan. A speeding ticket attorney is provided at no cost if you are a member when you receive the ticket. For speeding tickets received before you are a prepaid member, you receive the member attorney fee discount. Since they are nationwide, this is an excellent option for out of state speeding tickets or truck drivers with a CDL violation. For more information click on the link below:
Can I write the court and tell them why I'm not guilty?
California allows a "trial by declaration" , which is, in a sense, a written explanation or defense you send to the court. Normally it is a waste of time. However, it can be used to buy you time to raise money for the ticket or put off your speeding ticket until after your auto insurance renews. Sometimes, you may get lucky. Here is the link for the forms and information. California Speeding Ticket Information
In most other states this will go straight in the trash can. However, it doesn't hurt to ask the clerk of court if your particular judge normally reduces the fine/points based on a written request.
Can a police officer issue me a ticket if he's outside his own jurisdiction?
If the violation took place within his jurisdiction the answer is yes. If the violation took place outside his jurisdiction the answer is less clear. There may be interagency agreements that allow police to exercise their authority outside their jurisdictions. There may also be state laws that allow inter-jurisdictional enforcement actions. One point to remember, the officer that observed the violation and issued the citation is the only person that can testify against you. The likelihood that an out-of-area officer would appear to testify against you at your trial is somewhat remote.
What if I don't believe I was going that fast?
It's possible the radar was picking up another vehicle. It's also possible that the radar unit was being operated improperly. Either of these are difficult to prove without the help of a speeding ticket attorney. Even if you are able to get the radar reading thrown out, many states accept the visual observation of the officer and will still find you guilty.
What if the officer was rude?
If the officer had to follow you for a quarter-mile or more until you noticed him in your rearview mirror, he may be unhappy. You were guilty of "contempt of cop," which happens when you don't do whatever it is an officer wants you to do. Regardless, it is not a good idea for you to act in a similar manner.
What if they only ticket people of my race?
Sometimes this has every appearance of being true, largely due to stops for trivial traffic laws like seat belt violations, playing the radio too loud, or having a blown out light bulb. If you believe the officer stopped you based on your race, we recommend making a complaint to the police department and/or city government. If it continues to happen after the complaint, consider a lawsuit.
What will happen if I just ignore the speeding ticket?
If it's for a moving violation such as speeding, ignoring it may result in a suspended license and/or a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. This is true even if you got the ticket outside of your home state. This means the next time you get stopped you could spend the night in jail.
But everyone was going over the speed limit. What if I was just pulled out of the crowd?
It may be true, but it is totally irrelevant now. Plead not guilty and go to court. In court, don't complain that you were being victimized; the judge does not want to nor have time to listen to a claim that is nearly impossible to prove. If the officer shows up in court, cross-examine him by asking questions in such a way as to make it appear he had no idea which vehicle caused the reading on the radar gun.
Does it have any bearing on the validity of the traffic citation if the officer who observed the violation and the officer who issued the citation are NOT one in the same? (ie. one officer operating the RADAR radios to another officer down the road, who pulls you over.)
Yes it does. First, the clocking officer must be able to confirm that the car being pulled over was the car he clocked. This confirmation should be made to the officer that does the stop. The officer that does the stop is responsible for identifying the driver to whom the speeding ticket is issued. Both the officer that clocked the vehicle's speed and the officer that issued the ticket must be at the driver's trial. This also applies to situations involving the use of airplanes to clock vehicle speeds.Note that a few states do not require the officers to be present unless you subpoena them.
Will Traffic School keep points off my record?
Many states will allow you to take traffic school for a speeding ticket and points will be removed from your driving license record. It is important to contact the clerk of court and receive permission before taking traffic school. If the speeding ticket will still show on your driving record your insurance company may still assess insurance points and your premiums will increase. Be sure to confirm that by taking traffic school the traffic ticket will not appear on your record.
ONLINE TRAFFIC SCHOOL
Many states allow you to take online traffic school and keep the speeding ticket off your record. Check HERE for your state.
What is a Probation before Judgement?
This is also called a Prayer for Judgement or Deferment in some jurisdictions. This is a procedure where you pay the fine but the speeding ticket is masked and does not show on your record. The clerk of court can tell you if this is available in your state and the restrictions. Texas, Maryland, and North Carolina offer this option but usually only to drivers from their state.
Does an out of state speeding ticket go on my record?
Generally speaking the traffic ticket will be reported back to your home state and points will be placed against your driver's license just as if you received the ticket in your home state. Do not believe the officer that tells you there will be no points on your license so just send in the money. He has no idea of the law in your home state.There are numerous exceptions so you need to contact the DMV in your state to verify the effect of an out of state speeding ticket. For example, a North Carolina driver who exceeds the speed limit by 15+ will have their license suspended. Pennsylvania, New York, and Colorado will not post out of state speeding tickets to your record.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Speeding Tickets?
Generally speaking, there is no statute of limitations on speeding tickets. When you do not appear or pay the ticket, the court enters it as a guilty plea and they can collect the fine many years later. In Texas we are seeing courts trying to collect speeding ticket fines from as far back as 1988.
What Do I Do if I Have Lost a Speeding Ticket
It is very important that you respond to the court within the time required. If you do not, they may issue a bench warrant and suspend your license. This will result in increased fines and lots of problems, including the possibility of spending time in jail. All you can do is to pull out a map and start calling the courts in the county/city where you received the ticket. Please do not call us as we cannot help, this is something you must do yourself.
How Do Points Affect My Auto Insurance
Driver's License points and insurance points are different. Each insurance company assigns insurance points based on their own schedule. In New Jersey, a four point ticket typically will increase your auto insurance by $600 per year for three years, a total of $1800. The only way to know for sure is to ask your insurance agent about your particular situation. The cleaner your driving record, the cheaper your insurance. It always pays to contest a speeding ticket.
One way to be sure that you are getting the best deal on auto insurance is to shop around. If you think you are paying too much or just want to be sure that your current company is not ripping you off then we recommend the following site.
THE INSURANCE SECRET YOU NEED TO KNOW
One minor ticket may not increase your rates but two or more MINOR TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS or one serious ticket and YOUR RATES WILL GO THRU THE ROOF. Fight back by applying for a new policy right after receiving a ticket, but well before the ticket has been decided in court. The easiest way is to apply for multiple quotes ONLINE.
Never allow your insurance to cancel for non-payment. If you cannot pay always cancel your auto insurance and then park your car. A bad credit report can also increase your auto insurance premiums so you also need to check your report every two years.
Can I Beat My Speeding Ticket?
In some cases you can beat your speeding ticket. In almost all jurisdictions it is possible to get the fine and speeding ticket points reduced. Everything depends on yor particular situation and the procedures of the specific traffic court. We recommend a speeding ticket attorney for any serious traffic violation. The consequences are too severe to try it on your own. If you are going to appear without an attorney, you need to go to the court on a date prior to your trial and observe the procedures. We also recommend the following the speeding ticket books.
How Can I Find the Speeding Ticket Laws For My State?
Speeding ticket laws vary from state to state. Much of the information you read on the internet is not state specific and cannot be used as a defense in your speeding ticket trial. On our home page, see the link on the left, we have many state specific speeding ticket FAQ pages. If your state is not listed, search Google below for the Code of Laws or Speeding Ticket FAQ's for your state.
Do you have a speeding ticket FAQ that you think should be added to this page? We welcome your comments regarding speeding ticket frequently asked questions. Click on the link at the top of the page and send us your comments.
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