So you got a speeding ticket . . .

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Most people either just send in the fine – or go to court and make no real attempt to bob and weave their way out of a speeding ticket.

Cattle do the same thing on their way to McDonalds.

Even if you have a perfect driving driving record, every ticket is worth fighting with everything you’ve got- because the presence of even a single “moving violation” on your driving record – no matter how minor (or bogus) can end up costing you hundreds (possibly thousands) over the 3-5 year period it will be visible on your DMV rap sheet.

There’s the fine itself, of course. But that’s just a one-time hit. 

It’s a few months later when your insurance policy comes up for renewal that the real pain will be felt. 

Your insurance company is all about maximizing the revenue stream – just like the cop who gave you the ticket. And even though your piddling 66 mph in a 55 zone “speeding” ticket doesn’t in any fair-minded way mean you’re an unsafe driver, the insurance company will use it as a pretext for claiming that you are – and will jack your rates up accordingly. If they hit you with a 10 percent surcharge annually for the three years most DMVs will keep a moving violation “active” on your record, the dollars add up fast. Many times you’ll end up paying more to your insurance company in premium hikes than the cost of the actual fine itself.

Perhaps more than the cost of hiring a good traffic attorney, even.

That’s why fighting every ticket is so important. But it becomes even more important to beat that first ticket in order to avoid the consequences of getting a second ticket while the first one is still “on your record.” While some insurance companies will not mug you over a single moving violation, few leave you alone after number two.

Which is why it’s crucial to fight that first one – even if it’s just a little one. 

So, what can you do?

Basically, your options come down to dealing with it yourself – or hiring a traffic lawyer to do it for you. The first option is obviously cheaper – and can work, too. But the second is more likely to succeed, simply because an experienced lawyer knows how the con is played.

If you want to go it on your own, you can try the following:

* Ask for a continuance –

Many states allow any person charged with a moving violation an automatic “continuance” – which means you can get the court to change your original court date to a later date, often simply by asking that it do so. Why do this? Several possible reasons:

One, let’s say you got a ticket in fall and the original court date is in November. By getting a continuance that pushes the court date into the new year, you might avoid losing the “plus” point that some states give drivers for going a calendar year free of  convictions for any moving violations.

Two, you might just throw a monkey wrench into the bureaucracy. Paperwork does get lost; the cop might not show to your second, “continued” court date. If either happens, the charge against you might get dropped entirely. 

Three, you have absolutely nothing to lose by doing this. It’s free – and it’s a good way to game the system. Just like the system is trying to game you.

* Sign up for “driver’s ed” –  

In several states, you have the option of wasting a Saturday pretending to agree with a bored bureaucrat’s tired spiels about the righteousness of all posted speed limits and the deadly danger of ever driving faster. It’s eight hours in the can in return for the court dropping the charge. Well worth it.  In some states, it’s even possible to take the DMV-authorized “driving school” online – which lets you avoid the hassle of spending an entire Saturday reliving high school detention. (See http://www.trafficschoolonline.com for more information.)

The critical thing is to avoid being convicted of a moving violation, for the reasons explained earlier.  Many judges will “give you a break” by allowing you to plead guilty to “defective equipment” or some other non-moving violation -or pay a beefy fine.

Any of these options is preferable to being convicted for the original moving violation because your insurance company won’t have a pretext for a rate hike. In some counties/states, certain charges aren’t reported to the DMV at all – especially if it’s an out-of-state ticket. 

Even the beefy fine’s preferable to a conviction on the original moving violation –  because it’s a one-time hit vs. the ongoing fleecing you’ll get for having even one moving violation on your driving record. 

So, what about lawyers? 

The cost to rent a shyster to handle a minor traffic case (normal speeding, not “reckless driving,” DUI or a major charge that has a mandatory court appearance and the possibility you might get thrown in the clink) is typically between $500 and $1,500. It sounds steep – it is steep – but for all the reasons outlined previously, it can be money well-spent – especially if you end up getting another ticket during the next three years.

It’s pretty easy to find a traffic lawyer in most areas; just Google the county/state in which your case will be tried and add the keywords “ticket” and “lawyer.”  Look for one who has been doing this for awhile and who regularly appears in the court where you’ll be appearing. The best defense lawyers are former prosectors. Interview your prospect, ask him specifically how he will handle your case – and what his success rate is in getting charges like yours reduced or dropped. 

If he wins, you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing the cop who cited you turn beet red with anger as you slip the noose.

And that is worth a lot more than the cost of any fine.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  4 comments for “So you got a speeding ticket . . .

  1. G3Ken
    July 30, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Funny how two nearly identical counties handle the same offense. Her on Long Ialand, we have two counties Suffolk and Nassau. Both have similar populations of around 1.5 million per, but Suffolk is Geographically much larger. The way they handle tickets is starkly different. In Suffolk, you WILL likely be convicted. Cop’s work vs. Yours…..you lose. Why? Cops never lie. Everyone knows that. Snicker. You will get a hefty fine, points and he increase in insurance robbery premiums.

    In Nassau, being denser, you’d figure they’d be stricter……and you’d be wrong. At least they make no bones about the reason. He Monet, stupid. ALWAYS plead not guilty. Unless you’re a menace, your speeder will be plead down to anything from not wearing your compulsory seat belt, to failure to yield. Points will be negligible, or none at all. You WILL pay the same hefty fine, but just once, not every year to your insurance carrier. They make no bones about “public safety”, it’s about the money. I prefer honesty. Best of all, the cop may not show up, retire and move to Florida or die in the intervening 18 months it takes for them to call you to court. No lawyers needed, plead not guilty and save long term or maybe not at all. If they dont show for any reason, you’re golden. Same for criminal cases, not that I advocate being a scumbag criminal, but even if you didn’t do something cops and witnesses die, we all do. We all move away and if he officer or the witness moves, they are very unlikely to return to testify…unless you killed someone…and YOU BELONG IN JAIL.

    • G3Ken
      July 30, 2013 at 5:06 am

      Sorry for the typos. Damned iPad auto correct (screw up), Still my responsibility. Again……sorry.

  2. DownshiftFast5to1
    July 30, 2013 at 5:40 am

    This is kind of weird. I was just thinking of asking some questions about speeding tickets and G3Ken’s question brought this article front and center tonight. It kind of helped.
    Thanks, G3Ken.

    Ha! EPA is a magic eight ball. … Or something.

    I wonder how different state courts are compared to federalie courts with simple speeding tickets?
    I imagine it’s a case of, you WILL likely be convicted.

    • G3Ken
      July 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      It comes down to two factors: your word vs. the cop. It should be that the two conflicting testimonies cancel each other out, barring some extra evidence I.e. dashcam footage, but no, we are obviously committing perjury, while the angelic LEOs never lie. Yes and the tooth fairy really does exist.

      NEVER answer any questions. Ever notice how they ask “where are you headed?”, “Work, where’s that?” , “Where do you live?” and of course “Do you know why I stopped you?”. Never answer any of them. They aren’t interested in your job, your travel plans or your home. They’re fishing. What if someone robbed a store and got away using a car similar to yours? You just made yourself a possible suspect because, by your own innocent admission you just came from work and now you’re stopped at “x” and the crime took place between the two. Not enough to convict you, but enough maybe for a roadside search and detention at the scene. Not likely an arrest, except if you happen to partake of some banned substance at home and you happen to be holding, or maybe you keep a lawful firearm in your trunk as some do, even here in NY.

      Like I said, don’t talk and do NOT plead guilty. Always go to court. There’s a good chance “The Man” won’t show. Then you’re free.

      The only good thing about NY, and you’d never believe it, but we are one of the few states left that don’t reciprocate ticket info, so when I get a ticket out of state, I pay up and NY never knows…..for now. My son’s girlfriend lives in Boston and he got enough tickets in the CT-RI-MA corridor that he’d never have a license. He just figured the cost of tickets into his travel plans.

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