Traffic tickets are issued to promote safe driving practices, but sometimes you feel you don’t deserve the ticket. Traffic tickets can be expensive and violations are often not your fault. If you have had the misfortune of receiving a traffic light ticket, you can contest the ticket. You can win the case if you do not have a record of traffic tickets and were not driving recklessly at the time.
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Pay any required bail bonds.
Plead not guilty in person by going to court on the date specified on the ticket. The court will schedule a trial date.
Attend court on the scheduled date. Dress formally. Explain calmly and carefully to the judge and police officer why the charge should be dropped. Describe the events from your point of view. Describe traffic conditions that may have forced you to go through the intersection a hair too late, such as a driver behind you riding your tail. If the road was icy or slippery you would have made a good decision in not suddenly stopping. Describe any weather conditions that may have made visibility difficult. Inquire whether or not a camera may have been improperly timed. Tell them if there were any reasons you were stuck in the middle of the intersection when the light turned red. In most states, if you were already in the intersection when the light turned red, you cannot be ticketed. Avoid being rude or accusatory.
Present any photos, drawings or evidence that will support your case. Take a photo from the officer's perspective. If they had any blocked visibility at all, this can help you win your case. If your ticket was issued because of traffic light camera capture, take photos of any trees or other obstructions that might have blocked your view of the light. Research the legal yellow light duration for your city. Go back to the scene and time the yellow light to make sure it is not illegally timed. If you are found not guilty, your bail bond will be refunded and the ticket fine will be dropped.
Pay any required bail bonds.
Plead not guilty by mail by writing a letter to the court stating your plea. Include the ticket number in the letter. Also request a Trial by Written Declaration Form. Mail it to the court address as indicated on the ticket. They will send back a Trial by Written Declaration Form back to you.
Fill out the Trial by Written Declaration Form. Describe clearly the events from your point of view and why the charge should be dropped. Talk about your history of good driving habits, and especially make it clear if you have never received a traffic light ticket before. Include any photos, drawings or evidence that will support your case.
Return the form by the return date specified. The judge will rule on your case and submit your verdict by mail. If you are found not guilty, your bail bond will be refunded.
Tips and warnings
- Trial by mail is only allowed in some states. Check your state laws regarding whether or not your state offers this option.
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