If you drive, the day is likely to come in which you receive some sort of traffic ticket. Common examples of traffic tickets that a driver is apt to receive at some juncture in time are those for speeding, failing to come to an appropriate stop and an intersection, or improper lane change. Of course, there is a multitude of other types of traffic infractions. However, these represent the most common types of citations in the United States.
When you receive a traffic infraction, you face the prospect of a fine and the possibility of "losing points" associated with your driver's license, according to the Cornell University School of Law. In other words, a traffic ticket can cost you money and even your driver's license, at least for a specific period of time. Losing a traffic ticket case can have another serious consequence. There are certain types of traffic citations that can result in increased insurance costs.
In the aftermath of being issued a traffic citation, you need to understand your legal rights. You need to know what options might be available to you to beat a traffic ticket. "You must be proactive in mounting a defense to a traffic ticket" explained J. Craig Murphy, attorney at law.
Challenge the Police Officer's Subjective Conclusion About the Alleged Infraction
A person who receives a traffic citation many times has one of two responses to the law enforcement official who issues the ticket. First, a person who receives a citation may walk away with significant anger towards the officer that clouds perspective. Second, in some instances, an individual is apprehensive about the idea of confronting an officer in court. Perhaps it's fear, perhaps its an overriding respect for the law, but some people are reluctant to even contemplate challenging a law enforcement official.
The best course is to take a deep breath and view the situation and the law enforcement official as objectively as possible. A person who receives a citation typically should not be fearful of the officer or in crippling awe of the official. You have the absolutely right to challenge a police officers subjective conclusion about what happened leading up to the issuance of the traffic ticket.
This type of effort to beat a ticket is relevant when the citing officer had to make some sort of subjective determination when the ticket was issued. For example, if you have been cited for making an unsafe lane change, there exists a subjective element to the alleged violation.
Challenge the Police Officer's Observations About the Alleged Infraction
A somewhat related way in which you can attempt to beat a traffic ticket is to challenge the police officer's observations about what happened at the time of the incident. For example, if an officer is several cars behind you and alleges failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, you plausible can challenge the law enforcement official's observations.You help your case if you are able to round up a witness or two that can support your version of events. Photographs of the scene may also work to support your position.
Make a Mistake of Fact Argument
Beyond contending that the wrong conclusion was made or that the officer was not in a position to see what occurred, another strategy to beat a ticket is to contend that you made what legally is known as a mistake of fact. In traffic court, judges do have some leeway when it comes to decision making in these cases. Therefore, while there is a cliché that "mistake of fact" is no defense in a criminal case, that does not necessarily hold true in traffic court.
For example, if you were cited for failing to stop before a pedestrian crosswalk, you may have a defense of the crosswalk markers were old, faded. You can argue that you could not seen the markets. Similarly, if a storm lodged a branch partially from a tree, ending up blocking a stop sign, you might have a defense for failing to stop.
A key to making this defense is taking photos at the scene. If you can show the judge was the scene looked like at the time of the infraction, you will have a better chance of beating the ticket.