Being new to the whole blogging thing, there is so much I’d like to discuss that I’m not sure where to begin. I want to do an article about speeding tickets, but that’s like trying to write about Football. Where do you start? So, Ive decided to start with a rather broad approach to speeding tickets and in the future I’ll likely narrow the focus to smaller subtopics. This article is intended to address the most common issues I see come up with speeders.
SPEEDING TICKET DOs:
- DO consult an attorney, even if its not my firm, before just paying off your speeding ticket. If you’ve gotten a ticket you know that the market for traffic attorneys is flooded, to say the least. Most offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose in making a few phone calls. When dealing with speeding charges there are pitfalls seemingly around every corner that could result in insurance points or license revocation. With new online payment of tickets it is now easier than ever to plead guilty to a charge that could cost you in the long run.
- DO remember your court date. With our fast paced lives its usually all we can do to stay on top of the necessities. Having to remember a court date a month away only further complicates things. But it is important that you either appear in court or hire an attorney to appear for you. Failure to do so can turn an ordinary speeding ticket into a big mess that will eventually result in revocation of driving privileges by DMV. PLEASE NOTE; AS OF JULY 1, 2011, STRICT LIMITATIONS HAVE BEEN PLACED ON A JUDGE’S ABILITY TO STRIKE LATE FEES. IF YOU MISS YOUR COURT DATE YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY A $200 LATE FEE TO THE COURT.
- DO be knowledgeable about your charge (pardon any grammatical issues with that sentence). Take a second to look at your ticket and determine what county you were in when charged, the speed you were charged with, the speed zone you were in, and even the officer’s name. This information is all important in resolving your ticket.
- DO show patience if you decide to go to court and handle your case by yourself. The court docket in Duplin County has been known to reach upwards of 1,000 cases in a single day. There is generally only one judge and one prosecutor to hear all these cases. Dedicate the entire day to resolving your case and treat court personnel with respect or they will likely put your case on for the end of the day.
SPEEDING TICKET DONTs:
- DONT assume that simply paying the ticket off is harmless and causes the charge to go away. It rarely does.
- DONT attempt to have a trial to beat your speeding ticket (with a few exceptions). Not guilty verdicts are EXTREMELY rare in speeding cases. In addition, the court dockets are at an all time high and most judges would see a trial on a speeding case as a tremendous waste of the court’s time and will likely punish you for it. Don’t just take my word for it, speak to court staff and others who see court everyday and they will tell you that speeding trials almost never end well for defendants.
- DONT come to court to handle your ticket without cash to pay your fine and court costs. If the court grants you “time to pay”, additional penalties will be added to your case. In addition, some judges are becoming increasingly impatient with people who are not prepared to handle their tickets and are resorting to “other” methods of dealing with the situation.
- DONT come to court and think that the charging officer is going to “help you out” or “put in a good word for you”, even if they said they are. Make no mistake, you should always treat an officer with dignity and respect. However, the officer is often not in court to “put in a good word for you” when your case is handled. Most officers are on telephone standby on their court date and will come to court if called. Furthermore, with the size of most officer’s caseloads it is unlikely they will remember you simply because you were courteous. Its the people who are disrespectful that they often remember, and that is never good.
- DONT Call the Clerk of Court’s office and ask to continue your upcoming speeding case. The District Attorney and the Judge are the only people who can continue your case and neither will do it outside of court. The Clerk’s office is in charge of keeping all the files and keeping track of court dates. They do not have authority to continue your case.
SPEEDING TICKET MYTHS:
- MYTH: ” I can beat my case because the officer was not wearing his hat when he wrote me the ticket.” I have heard this one several times. Plain and simple the officer can write you a ticket in a beanie and it wont get your ticket thrown out. District Courts are not that technical.
- MYTH: “My case should get thrown out because the officer misspelled my name on the ticket” or “because he put my address down wrong” or ” because he put the time down wrong”. In most instances the court will allow the ticket to be amended and misspellings and things of that nature can be corrected at trial. If the mistake on the ticket brings into question whether it was actually you that was stopped, that is a different matter. In those cases the court will rely on the officer’s memory of the events and his in-court testimony that, despite a scrivener’s error in filling out the ticket, he recognizes you as the person he charged.
- MYTH: “My ticket should get thrown out because the officer did not read me my rights.” We’ve all seen the “Law and Order” shows where the bad guy gets thrown on the hood of the cop car and the scene cuts to commercial break to the fading sound of the detective telling the perp “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you….”. These are called Miranda rights and they play a very important role in the judicial system. However, rarely do they play any role whatsoever in a simple speeding case. An officer’s failure to read you your Miranda rights does not void the ticket, it simply allows you to ask the court to exclude any “custodial statements” you gave from the court proceedings. “Custodial statements” are almost never an issue in a speeding case.
- MYTH: “My case should get thrown out because all the cars around me were going as fast or faster than I was and the officer did not stop any of them. ” Remember that the officer that stopped and charged you is just one person. The officer cant stop all the cars around you all at once. Courts usually are not interested in what the cars around you were doing.
- MYTH: “The officer charged me for going 83 mph in a 70 mph zone. But I know I was not speeding because I had my cruise control set on 79 mph.” The problem with this logic is that, though most officers will not stop you for going 79 mph in a 70, 79 in a 70 is still speeding. So if you go to court and have a trial on this issue, when you present this defense you have in essence admitted to the court that you are at least guilty of speeding 79 mph in a 70. There are much easier and cheaper options.
- MYTH: The officer charged me with 67 mph in a 55 zone. Afterwards, I had my car calibrated and have proof that my speedometer is off.” Though this is a logical defense to speeding, our District Attorney does not accept this as a valid excuse for a reduction. Therefore, the alternative is to have a trial. The court will not let you simply show paperwork evidencing that the speedometer is off. Our rules of evidence require that you put an “expert witness” (i.e. the mechanic who calibrated the car) on the witness stand and that he give testimony of his opinion concerning your car and its speedometer calibration. Even then, there is no guarantee that the court will accept his opinion. “Expert witnesses” are not free, and in the end you will have spent a lot of money attempting to defend your case with no guarantee that you won’t be found guilty anyway. There are cheaper options.
SPEEDING TICKET MATH:
The math is simple. As an example, a conviction of 80 mph in a 70 zone will result in 4 insurance points. 4 insurance points will result in an 80% insurance premium increase for the next three years. Assume you pay $1,000.00 annually for insurance.
$1000 x.80 = $800 increase, for each of the next three years. =$2400
Even a less dramatic example is costly. Say you are convicted of an offense that results in just one insurance point. This will cause a 25% increase in your insurance for each of the next three years. Again, assume you pay $1000 annually for insurance.
$1000 x .25 = $250 increase, for each of the next three years =$750
The math is simple.