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Thread: Should you - can you - fight a traffic ticket?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Should you - can you - fight a traffic ticket?

    Should you - can you - fight a traffic ticket?
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    You run afoul of a radar trap -- and end up by the side of the road holding a piece of payin' paper for doing about what everyone else was doing -- only you were the unlucky soul picked out by the cop.

    Should you -- can you -- fight the ticket?

    As far as "should," the answer is almost always an unqualified yes. Even a minor radar-trap speeding ticket (let's say 50-something in a 45 zone) will cost you at least $100 up front -- and potentially many times that over the next few years in higher insurance premiums. In fact, an ordinary speeding ticket can end up costing you $1,000 or more over the three-to-five year period the "points" will be on your DMV record. Even if you have never had an accident (and therefore never cost the insurance company a cent) and even though we all know (including the cop who wrote you the ticket) that most speeding tickets are trumped-up revenue generators based on deliberately under-posted limits set well below the natural flow of traffic -- you'll still be treated as though your are an unsafe driver and charged accordingly.

    As far as "can you fight the ticket," the answer is -- maybe.

    Everyone has heard the various stratagems -- from requesting continuances (so that the cop might miss court) to challenging the cop's qualification to use radar, whether his tuning fork worked -- and so on.

    All these (well, many of them) can (and have) worked. People do "beat the wrap" -- either by evasion and simple good fortune (such as the cop not showing up for court) or by using the system against itself (including such things as challenging the way the speed limit was set by the local authorities, the cop's training, etc.).

    The problem is that many -- perhaps most -- of the available avenues for a layman to go up against the ticket machine and win are difficult i f not practically impossible to navigate.

    It's one thing to call the court clerk, request a continuance -- and then cross your fingers and hope the cop will be too lazy or otherwise preoccupied to make it to court that day -- and that the judge ends up dismissing the case. It's quite another, however, to attempt a challenge of the system itself -- as many of the "ticket fighting" strategies (including books and "kits" you can buy) suggest you try.

    These latter are generally based on the failure of many states and localities to conform their procedures for setting speed limits with federal guidelines contained in a thick book of regulations called the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). In order to qualify for federal highway funds, states are supposed to comply with the procedures and protocols set forth in the MUTCD -- including doing proper speed surveys that measure the natural flow of traffic on a given road and subsequently setting the posted limit for that road within 5 mph of the observed 85th percentile speed, the rate at which the majority of cars were traveling. Most states and localities fail to adhere to MUTCD standards -- and either do the survey incorrectly or post the speed limit well below the 85th percentile -- which transforms the majority of drivers into "speeders" ripe for the plucking.

    Technically, this is all illegal or improper -- or in violation of the state's agreement with the federal government insofar as receiving highway dollars, etc. There are also technicalities one might exploit as regards the cop's qualifications/training to use radar (or whatever the speed measurement device happened to be), per se v.s prima facie speed limits, various mitigating factors -- and so on.

    But actually using these things effectively -- that's the nut. Instead of successfully challenging a ticket, you might wind up antagonizing the judge -- who might (for example) simply refuse to even hear your "evidence" if some legal protocol you happened not to be aware of wasn't followed to the letter (for example, having your speed survey duly "certified," stamped or notarized). And if that happens, you risk being made an example of -- as well as looking foolish in front of a large group of people in open court.

    The same goes for challenging the cop's training on the radar gun -- and so on.

    Remember, these people -- the cop, the prosecutor and judge -- are the pros; they do this thing every day and are know all the Ps and Qs.

    You don't -- and all it takes is one P (or Q) that you haven't thought of or didn't know about -- and it's hasta la vista, baby.

    Now, some people have a lawyerly turn of mind and can deal with the bureaucratese involved in fighting a ticket using the system against itself. If you're one of these people (or better yet, a lawyer yourself) then using one of the better-known "ticket fighter" plans, kits or books can be very worthwhile.

    But if you're not, you are probably better advised to try and cut a deal with the prosecutor/commonwealth attorney -- or plead with the judge to "cut you some slack" by reducing the charge from a moving violation with points on your record to some other offense that won't show up on your record -- and which, therefore, the insurance company won't be able to use against you come renewal time. If you have an otherwise clean record and the cop isn't antagonistic, it's a fair bet you can get away with a one-time hit to the wallet after appropriate genuflection and promises never to speed again. Sometimes, you can also avoid the points in return for wasting a weekend at traffic school.

    But if you have any doubt about your ability to mount a legal challenge to the system that issued you that ticket, the best advice is -- don't.

    Plead for mercy instead -- or hire a traffic lawyer to represent you.

    Challenging the system is wonderful in principle but far from simple in practice. That doesn't mean you shouldn't -- or can't. Just that you think very carefully about what you do before you do it.


    END


  2. #2
    gail
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    Re: Should you - can you - fight a traffic ticket?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Should you - can you - fight a traffic ticket?
    By Eric Peters
    for immediate release

    You run afoul of a radar trap -- and end up by the side of the road holding a piece of payin' paper for doing about what everyone else was doing -- only you were the unlucky soul picked out by the cop.

    Should you -- can you -- fight the ticket?

    My motto is THERE IS NO TICKET TOO LOW IN FINE, NOR TOO FAR FROM HOME, THAT I WON'T FIGHT. GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY!

    The problem with most people though is that they won't or can't take the time to fight the ticket. So the system wins, and we drift ever so slowly into 1984*. So slow in fact that we never noticed. As Eric pointed out, <<As far as "should," the answer is almost always an unqualified yes. Even a minor radar-trap speeding ticket (let's say 50-something in a 45 zone) will cost you at least $100 up front -- and potentially many times that over the next few years in higher insurance premiums. In fact, an ordinary speeding ticket can end up costing you $1,000 or more over the three-to-five year period the "points" will be on your DMV record. Even if you have never had an accident (and therefore never cost the insurance company a cent) and even though we all know (including the cop who wrote you the ticket) that most speeding tickets are trumped-up revenue generators based on deliberately under-posted limits set well below the natural flow of traffic -- you'll still be treated as though your are an unsafe driver and charged accordingly.
    >>
    or worse. I have been hearing stories that people who have received a traffic ticket, and then get into atraffic accident will be charged as felons. There have been several case here in Las Vegas that are going to jail from 5 to 20 years. It's insanity! The bar has been raised so high that if you can't fight the ticket yourself, it would do you well to hire a traffic attorney. This is really serious stuff.

    National Motorists Association has lists of attorneys for its members. Check them out at http://www.motorists.org

    *1984 by George Orwell, first published in 1951. Who knew it would come to this. He was a few years early, but right on!

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Should you - can you - fight a traffic ticket?

    "

    My motto is THERE IS NO TICKET TOO LOW IN FINE, NOR TOO FAR FROM HOME, THAT I WON'T FIGHT. GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY!"

    Them's fightin' words! And words to live by... !

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