Should I Contest My Ticket in Court?

Traffic citations are relatively minor offenses, but still come with monetary penalties and other consequences. At times, it can be valuable to challenge your citation in court, especially with the assistance of an experienced attorney. Here, the legal professionals at Scholnick Law detail the considerations one should make when determining whether to contest a ticket in court.

Most drivers either have, or will, receive a traffic citation at some point in their lives. Traffic citations are given for moving violations, such as speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign or running a red light, among a slew of other offenses. They are not as serious as driving under the influence or reckless driving, and therefore are handled in traffic court rather than criminal court. However, traffic citations are still legal infractions, and thus negative consequences exist, such as fines, higher insurance rates, driving record points and even revocation of driving privileges after accumulating a certain number of points.

For some, contesting the citation in court may be an appropriate choice. Going to court will cost you a court fee, but may prevent you from having to pay the citation penalty or receiving any points on your driving record. The potential for a successful outcome will depend on a variety of factors, as described below.

What Does Your Traffic Violation History Contain?

If this is your first citation—or your first since your record was expunged—the chances of receiving leniency in court, including the possibility of a lesser penalty, increases. Those who regularly receive traffic citations may find that a judge is less likely to be lenient in court.

In What Season Did Your Violation Occur?

If your traffic violation court date falls during the summer months, or around a holiday period, it may be advantageous to contest your violation in court. This is because the issuing officer may be less likely to attend the hearing—which means the judge must automatically find you not guilty.

Are There Extenuating Circumstances Present in the Case?

There may often be several extenuating circumstances within your traffic violation you wish to challenge in court. Was the officer’s view of your vehicle obstructed at the time they claimed you made the violation? Were you reacting to an emergency situation, which consequently made your conduct justifiable? Being able to provide a clear account of the events that occurred will prove invaluable. Photos, video recording, witness statements and other forms of documentation will help to bolster your claims.

In the case of a speeding ticket, it can also prove useful to consider the tool used to record your speed. Radar, laser, pacing and even aircraft detection are not inherently infallible, and questions can be raised about the accuracy of the recorded speed, especially due to extreme distances, busy streets and officer error. To challenge these issues, hiring an experienced traffic law attorney will prove critical.

An attorney well-versed in traffic law can help you beat your ticket, and represent you in any legal proceedings. This can ultimately save you time, stress, higher insurance costs and points on your record. If you are a first-time offender, an attorney is even more likely to get the citation dropped. But, even if it is not your first offense, it can still prove useful to discuss the details of your case with an attorney, who will provide a clearer picture of your chances of success in court. For more information, or to speak with an experienced attorney, contact Scholnick Law today.

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