Speeding tickets happen, even with lots of experience behind the wheel. Yet, sometimes mistakes happen too, and you may be unfairly given a speeding ticket because of equipment malfunction or some other misconception. If you are given a speeding ticket that's undeserved, you have a right to stand up for yourself.
- Skill level:
Document the incident immediately. Write down your account while still stopped, if possible. If there are any witnesses, question them immediately, or at least get their names and numbers to speak with them at a later date in case they have to leave for any reason. Capture in words any possible reasons you can think of for the mistake, such as a car of the same colour, make and model being the speeding car, not yours. Any possible reason should be written down. This is the background for your appeal.
Organise your reasons why. You need to clear on the fact that you were not speeding, and you need to be resolute in proving your innocence. Know the answers to questions by thinking ahead. Be prepared to state the speed you were going. Be prepared to state the last time you looked at the speedometer. Be prepared to explain the fact that it is working in your car (if it is). You want to write down all the essential facts, as if you were preparing a serious case for a jury.
Write a letter to the police officer who gave you the ticket shortly after the citation is issued. You don't want to take a "You're wrong!" approach. Having empathy and acknowledging why he came to his conclusion is important. It's important that you explain in several different ways why this ticket is important to you. If you are clear on why you are upset (not angry or aggressive) about this ticket, it can impact how the hardworking officer deals with your situation.
Request public information about your case from the police department. This may seem like a silly step, but you want to arm yourself with as much information as possible when you are dealing with appeals. Although you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, you have much against you when it's your word against that of a police officer. Write about all the public information gathered that supports your case in preparation for your defence or appeal.
Go to the initial ruling. This will be in front of the judge. The police officer who gave you the citation will be present in the next part of the appeals process. In the first part, you'll simply be asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
Try to delay the trial date---the second part of the process---as much as possible. Hope that the officer does not appear in court on the day of the hearing. If he does not appear, you automatically win your case so that no appeal is necessary. That is, in essence, what many speed breakers hope for when caught, but you cannot expect this to occur. You must be prepared for the officer to show up.
Be prepared and on time for the court date. Question the police officer who gave you the citation in detail at the trial if he does show up. Have a list of questions in advance. The questions should be written, but you should memorise them. Speak them clearly and kindly. Always use manners in the courtroom, calling the judge "Your Honor." You want to be equally kind and considerate to the officer. Bring all your documentation with you into the courtroom, and present questions and research about the device used to judge your speed.
If you lose, write down your entire journey from Steps 1 to 7 in a clear letter statement of appeal. File an appeal to the appellate court of your state. You will be considered an appellant. You'll need to once again use all your detailed notes and records, up until---and including---the trial. Write it all out in clear, precise terms. Make copies of all documentation, and include that in your letter of appeal.
Tips and warnings
- Ask for community service consideration if you cannot afford to pay the ticket. If you don't want to deal with a speeding ticket on your record, you can take traffic school in many states. While you will still have to pay the penalty for the speeding ticket, for an additional fee and attendance in traffic school, you can get the ticket eliminated from your record, as though you never even received it.
- Don't fight a speeding ticket if you know that you are guilty. It's a hard pill to swallow, but the rules of the road are ultimately there for your own protection---and for the protection of others. While a speeding ticket will hurt you far worse than wealthy celebrities who may rack them up without feeling the consequences, it's best to get it over with.