What kind of evidence should I present in my defense?

You want to demonstrate that you did not or could not have committed the infraction.  Making excuses does not help prove your innocence, so saying things like: “I was just going with the flow of traffic”, or “I didn’t know how fast I was going” or “well there was another guy who was going even faster than I was” are not going to be very persuasive to a judge.  Also, ignorance of the law is not a defense.  So explanations like: “I didn’t see the posted speed limit” or “I thought I was allowed to drive on the shoulder” or “the traffic laws in my country are different so I was confused” are not going to help.

If a radar detector was used to read your speed, try to show that there were so many cars near and around you that the radar could not have accurately detected your speed.  If you had to make an emergency maneuver to avoid an accident, present that evidence.  Sometimes, arguments about the fairness of a ticket can be persuasive to a judge.  For example, some police officers like to catch people coming out of a higher speed limit area into a lower speed limit area.  If you were driving within the speed limit in a 35 mph zone and, upon immediately entering a 25 mph zone, an officer pulls you over – show this in court.

How can I show this unfair speed entrapment?
Take photos of the area where you were stopped, being careful to show the speed limit signs as well.  Show, if you can, that the officer stopped you within a few feet of entering the lower speed zone.

What other things can I argue or demonstrate?

Radar detectors are generally quite accurate, assuming they have been properly maintained and serviced. But officers sometimes also gauge your speed by following you and, while maintaining a constant distance from you, use their own speedometer to measure your speed. This isn’t very accurate, so if you had passengers in your car, see if they noticed how fast you were going and can testify to your true speed.

Police officers are human and also make mistakes. So come to court prepared with credible witnesses, photographic evidence and/or a logical argument of your innocence and you may have a shot at winning. Keep in mind, however, that the police or prosecutor only has to prove that you committed the infraction “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means there only needs to be a showing of a 51% likelihood that you committed the infraction – this isn’t a very heavy burden for the prosecutor or police.

A judge has found that I committed the infraction.  Now what?

Don’t get angry. You have a couple of choices: 1) Pay the fine. Most judges will reduce the fine just for showing up in court; or 2) you can appeal the judge’s finding. To appeal the judge’s finding, you must file a written notice appeal with the court within 30 days of the finding. You will be responsible for the costs of an appeal, which includes a $220 filing fee. The appeal will be reviewed by the Superior Court. The Superior Court will only review the record/evidence presented during the contested traffic hearing. You will not be allowed to present new evidence. If it is that important to you to fight your ticket, I recommend that you hire an attorney to handle your appeal. Appeals are far more complicated than presenting evidence in a traffic court hearing.

What if I refuse to pay the fine imposed by the judge?

That would be a very bad idea.  The unpaid fine will be sent to a collections agency and your credit history will be negatively impacted.  More importantly, unpaid traffic fines will lead to your driver’s license being suspended.  If you continue to drive with a suspended driver’s license, you could be charged with a crime.  So, ignoring a minor traffic ticket could lead to an escalation of charges and result in the loss of your liberty.

 

—Disclaimer—

This article is made available by Lee & Lee, PS for educational purposes only. The intent is to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law. The article does not provide specific legal advice. Readers of this article should understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the writers. Furthermore, the article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction.