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I got a speeding ticket. Need advice if I should go to court?


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#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Ryan Wishton

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Posted July 10 2005 - 05:47 PM

I got a speeding ticket.

It was for going 41 in a 35. The problem is that the officer marked going 41 in a 31 mph zone. 31 is marked on two spots of the ticket.

Now, I have never heard of a 31 mph zone? This officer obviously added extra miles to this ticket. Should I go to court to dispute this ticket?

Now, yes I was probably still going 6 mph over. I can't say as I lost track of the speedometer when I got pulled over. But, the fact that he added a ficticious number kind of irks me.

Is this a case that could possibly have the ticket thrown out if I go to court? This is my first speeding ticket.

Any advice?

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted July 10 2005 - 05:50 PM

Totally wrong forum for this, but yes. You should always go to court if it matters enough. You may not win, but they will generally reduce the fine/points just by your showing up.

-paul

#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Ryan Wishton

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Posted July 10 2005 - 05:57 PM

Oh geeze.

I meant to place this in the "After Hours Lounge"

Feel free to move. Sorry.

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted July 10 2005 - 06:01 PM

31 is marked on two spots of the ticket.

Sounds like the cop screwed up the paperwork. Possibly a technicality that could get it dismissed.

Cop must be way behind on his quota to write a ticket for 6 mph.
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#5 of 37 OFFLINE   Doug Pyle

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Posted July 10 2005 - 10:25 PM

Yup, this is probably after hours. That said, the fine may not be as big a deal as the insurance as you add up tickets. Sounds like you have a good case if it is a defective ticket, not just a technicality as it makes a difference if you were 6 versus 10 miles over the limit.

With such a glaring error, it is possible an officer might have made more errors, such as whether you were going over the speed limit at all. Anyway, if you believe you were not speeding, in any case an error should not have been made and is in your favor. If it were me, I'd go to court.

#6 of 37 OFFLINE   Francois Caron

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Posted July 11 2005 - 01:05 AM

Challenge it. Get some pictures of the speed limit signs where you were pulled over and bring them to court. Then ask the officer where in the area is there a 31 mph speed limit zone as described in the ticket.

#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted July 11 2005 - 01:28 AM

I challenged a speeding ticket similar to this one several years ago.

It was for going 42 in a 35 mph zone.

I was driving down a street which has varying speed limits at different points.

At one point the posted speed limit was 40 mph, a block later it was 35 mph. The problem was, the 35 mph sign was partially obscured by bushes, and couldn't be seen clearly. I was pulled over about a block past the 35 mph sign.

I decided to challenge this. I took pictures of the partially obscured speed limit sign, and then took a vacation day from work so I could appear in court on the designated day.

The judge listened to my case, and asked the officer if the posted speed limit was, indeed, 40 mph at one point. The officer replied "Yes". He asked me if I thought I may have been going 42. I stated that I may have been since the posted speed limit was 40 as far as I knew. (I thought things were going great at that point, and I was about to get off!)

The judge then declared me "Guilty" by my own admission!

Lesson learned: Never fight a traffic ticket!

(BTW, the next day, driving down the same street, I couldn't help but notice that the bushes had been trimmed around the 35 mph sign and it was now clearly visible! Posted Image)
Joseph
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#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Richard Beckman

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Posted July 11 2005 - 01:32 AM

I would go. Do not take on/put down the officer or acknowledge you might have been over the limit. Just matter of factly point out the discrepency.

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted July 11 2005 - 02:27 AM

I would go to court. I once went to fight a ticket. I got called up and the judge just dismissed the charge immediately. I guess the cop did not show up. I don't think it works like that all the time though. I got another one once and I did have to pay it, but they reduced it down to a within 5 mph of the speed limit instead of 15, which meant fewer points on my license. And it seems you have an interesting case with the way the ticket was written. But, yeah if you go before a judge, never admit that technically, you were speeding. And remember, a judge is more inclined to believe the cop so be very respectful if you point out the potential mistake.
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#10 of 37 OFFLINE   Randy Tennison

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Posted July 11 2005 - 02:57 AM

This technicality probably won't get the ticket dismissed. It is a simple matter for the prosecuting attorney to amend the original charge to read 41 in a 35, just like they amend a speeding ticket to defective equipment when you have an attorney.
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#11 of 37 OFFLINE   DonRoeber

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Posted July 11 2005 - 03:30 AM

Once you say you were going 41 in a 35mph zone, you'll have to pay the fine and take the points, if any. If there is a difference in a 6 over vs a 10 over fine, you'll probably be able to argue that, but you're still guilty of speeding.
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#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Ken Chui

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Posted July 11 2005 - 04:26 AM

Ryan:

You should always contest a speeding ticket, IMHO. As Francois suggested, take some photos of the area and (ahem) "31 MPH" speed limit sign. Review your ticket to see if there were other errors and/or glaring omissions. I wouldn't always count on cops not making court appearances; they deliberately schedule time slots that's convenient for them. If you can't make the stated date, head to the court house to see if your date can be rescheduled. There's always the possibility that the ticket can be thrown out on a technicality (judges have dismissed on lesser errors), but you'll need to go to court if you want a fighting chance. Never admit to the offence; if you must, go with a 'no contest' plea.

Hiring a lawyer can be very expensive. I wouldn't recommend one unless the infraction is substantial; it's about weighing the cost of their fees and cours costs vs. the hike in insurance premiums if you get tagged with another ticket within a year of the first one.

Check some automotive forums to see what advice you can procure from other unfortunate individuals.

Here's a helpful link for info and preparation on your part. Good luck fighting the system! Posted Image


#13 of 37 OFFLINE   Hunter P

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Posted July 11 2005 - 07:18 AM

Quote:
You may not win, but they will generally reduce the fine/points just by your showing up.

This is worth the trip to court alone IMO. Dunno how it is in other parts of the country but in California, going to court, even to plead "no contest," is enough to save up to 50% off the fine.Posted Image
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#14 of 37 OFFLINE   Philip_G

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Posted July 11 2005 - 07:30 AM

even more importantly you might be able to haggle it down to a non moving violation, even if you have to pay full fine it's worth not having a speeding ticket on your insurance.

I got a ticket for an improper left turn (ignored the no left sign) just my luck there's a cop there in an unmarked SUV. In this city if you pay within 20 days the ticket is reduced from a 3 pt improper turn to a 1 point defective headlamp Posted Image

#15 of 37 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted July 11 2005 - 08:04 AM

I wonder what might happen if the cop doesn't show up to court?

Since there is an obvious flaw in the ticket (i.e. there are no 31mph speed limits), then how is the judge supposed to know what the speed limit was?

I guess he can ask you, but I wonder if you played dumb? How would they know what to fine you? They obviously don't know what the speed limit is.

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   Arthur S

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Posted July 11 2005 - 08:54 AM

When I had to go to court on a ticket, I found that the judge was very lenient on people who looked liked they were very ordinary working people. The guy with the coveralls on and dirt on his hands got off. The professional or student looking types did not fare as well. I think that if I had to go to court I would try to look as much like a laborer as possible. Be very courteous.

Do not admit you were exceeding the speed limit. I would say that to the best of your knowledge you were going the speed limit.

If you are lucky, the cop won't show up.

Also, if you are convicted, don't panic. Depending where you live the info might never get on your record. Perhaps a month afterwards, pay the $6 and get a copy of your official driving record from your state's DMV. You might be surprised.

Sometimes you make out better not fighting it. Small municipalities often only want the money and won't report it if you pay rather than go to court.

Good Luck

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   AjayM

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Posted July 11 2005 - 09:06 AM

Quote:
Challenge it. Get some pictures of the speed limit signs where you were pulled over and bring them to court.

So admit to the judge that you were speeding? I think that may be the wrong way to approach this.

Quote:
When I had to go to court on a ticket, I found that the judge was very lenient on people who looked liked they were very ordinary working people. The guy with the coveralls on and dirt on his hands got off. The professional or student looking types did not fare as well. I think that if I had to go to court I would try to look as much like a laborer as possible. Be very courteous.

Last time I was in traffic court it was exactly the opposite situation. Evidently the judge took it as a sign of disrespect for the court to not show up looking semi presentable. About 5 cases before mine a gentleman was charged with the same offense I was (expired registration), he wasn't dirty, but it looked like he just came from working on his car. His penalty was about 50% worse than mine (his was also a first time offense with an otherwise clean record). I would as nicely as you can afford, that doesn't mean you need to wear a 3-piece Italian suit, but throw some slacks on with a button-up/collared shirt and a tie at a minimum, you can still look "poor" and look "professional" at the same time Posted Image

As for original poster, check out what a traffic attorney will cost, it varies depending on where you live. Down here they are dirt cheap (sub $100 with the guarantee of no points), in other places you end up paying $500+ for the same kind of offense, but it doesn't hurt to find out.

Second, don't approach it from the standpoint of "There is no 31mph zone, it's a 35MPH zone", the judge may throw it out because of a technicality, but I wouldn't count on it, plus you just admitted to speeding, so your chances become VERY slim from there.

You can schedule a court date and try and reschedule it in hopes the officer doesn't show up, but make sure you have a game plan in anyway because the officer may still show up on the other day.

You can try to call the DA's office and try to work out a deal. Explain that you're more than willing to pay whatever fines/costs, but that you can't afford to have points on your license because of insurance reasons, etc.

Andrew

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   David_Jr

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Posted July 11 2005 - 09:38 AM

From the enforcement side: In Massachusetts the Officer does not have to show up for traffic (Civil Motor Vehicle) violations. These are handled by the local PD or State Police barracks court officer assigned to each court. Here a traffic ticket defective on its face is not automatically thrown out, it can be ammended at the hearing. Admitting that you were speeding, but that the officer got the speed limit wrong is asking for a guilty. From my experience people get the most mileage out of a good excuse for unknowingly speeding. In a case where the SL is 35 and you were going 41, that is only 6 over. A judge (or clerk) might be willing to find you not responsible if you were trying to get somewhere quickly because of an illness or family emergency, etc., didn't realize you were over the SL because of your problem, and were very respectful to the officer at the scene. Also don't contradict anything you said to the officer at the scene. Many officers write notes of their conversations with the motorist on the Officer's copy of the citation, which they then bring to court and could potentially show the judge.
Dave

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   Ryan Wishton

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Posted July 11 2005 - 10:20 AM

The funny thing is that this was a mistake. The problem is I probably was speeding, but I did not notice the sign change. Something similar to Joseph. I did not see any sign changes. But, I didn't know the area.

I did not admit to speeding once pulled over. I just let him do what he was going to do because I knew I was getting the ticket anyways. I didn't say much of anything. I was polite and then signed the ticket. He did give me directions back to the expressway afterwards. So, I suppose he did believe I was lost. It was the truth.

It was late at night with little traffic. I never knowingly speed in these conditions. Plus cops tend to hide out.

On the other hand, not speeding on the busiest street in our state (which we are close to and is full of SUV drivers) would get you plowed. So, it just depends on the situation.

I was in a town I was never in before when I received the ticket. I actually did get lost off the expressway on my way home by taking the wrong exit. I was suppose to take I85 East, but accidently got off too soon. It was very late at night. I did have that mental warning beforehand. The little voice that says don't do that which I ignored. I should have just stayed where I was at until the next morning.

So, I guess this ticket was the least of what could have went wrong being lost in some strange midwestern town in the middle of the night. So, I am at fault of being just plain dumb in my own right.

P.S. Anyways, I also have an option that states: Avoid a Conviction on your driving record if you pay the fine and go to a 4 hour Driver Saftey Program since this was my first offense.

Would I be better off doing this option?

I would go to court. I am afraid if found guilty there though, that the ticket may go on the record anyways and I won't have the driver safety option anymore because I did go to court.

If you go to court and are found guilty, will you still be allowed the driver safety option without conviction on the driving record?

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   Jimi C

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Posted July 11 2005 - 01:37 PM

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