There’s nothing fun about the feeling when you see those blue lights flashing behind you. Nobody wants to get a speeding ticket, and for good reason. A traffic violation can affect your driving record, cost you a lot of initial money in fines, an increase in insurance rates.
Here are some speeding ticket do’s and don’ts to help guide you through the process and hopefully make it a little easier and less expensive.
Speeding ticket do’s
- DO consult an attorney, even if it’s not Ludlum Law, before just paying off your speeding ticket. If you’ve gotten a ticket, you know that the market for traffic attorneys is flooded. 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 the new online payment of tickets, it is 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 essential that you either appear in court or hire an attorney to represent you. Failure to do so can turn an ordinary speeding ticket into a big mess that will eventually result in the revocation of driving privileges by DMV. As of July 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. Let’s face it; you don’t want to give them any more money than you have to.
- DO educate yourself on your charge. 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 don’ts
- DON’T assume that simply paying the ticket off is harmless and causes the charge to go away. Unfortunately, it rarely does.
- DON’T attempt to have a trial to beat your speeding ticket. Not guilty verdicts are extremely rare in speeding cases. Also, 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 they will tell you that speeding trials rarely end well for defendants.
- DON’T 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.
- DON’T 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. You should always treat an officer with dignity and respect. 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. It’s the people who are disrespectful that they often remember, and that is never good.
- DON’T 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 the authority to continue your case.
Speeding ticket myths
- MYTH 1: “I can beat my case because the officer was not wearing his hat when he wrote me the ticket.” Plain and simple, the officer can write you a ticket in a beanie, and it won’t get your ticket thrown out. District Courts are not that technical.
- MYTH 2: “My case should get thrown out because the officer misspelled my name on the ticket,” “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 brings into question whether it was 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 an error in filling out the ticket, he recognizes you as the person he charged.
- MYTH 3: “My ticket should get thrown out because the officer did not read me my rights.” We’ve all seen that episode of “Law and Order.” 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 merely allows you to ask the court to exclude any custodial statements you gave from the court proceedings, and custodial statements are seldom an issue in a speeding case.
- MYTH 4: “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 can’t stop all the cars around you all at once. Courts usually are not interested in what the cars around you were doing.
- MYTH 5: “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 6: “The officer charged me with 67 mph in a 55 zone. Afterward, 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 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 gives testimony of his opinion concerning your vehicle and its speedometer calibration. Even then, there is no guarantee that the court will accept his advice. 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. Again, there are cheaper options.
Speeding ticket math
Speeding ticket math is simple. As an example, a conviction of 80 mph in a 70 zone will result in 4 insurance points. Four 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 coverage.
$1000 x .25 = $250 increase, for each of the next three years =$750