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Could you have a defense to your traffic ticket?

It's quite possible, but you won't know for sure unless you decide to challenge the ticket. Many people dismiss traffic tickets as minor inconveniences, but if you accumulate enough points on your license due to multiple traffic tickets within a certain amount of time, you could find your license suspended. It could also cause your auto insurance rates to rise.

Moreover, if your job requires you to drive, traffic citations for certain offenses could cause your employer to suspend your driving duties. If you drive a commercial vehicle, this could mean that you lose your livelihood, at least temporarily. In light of these factors, it may be worthwhile to determine whether you have a defense to your ticket that could keep it from counting against you.

What defenses could you use?

Your Constitutional rights allow you to confront the person accusing you of a crime. Since most tickets result from a traffic stop by police officer, it's not surprising that this would be an important factor in formulating a defense. You may find that one or more of the following may serve as a viable defense in your case:

  • Had someone calibrated the radar gun recently? Most radar guns require periodic calibration, and you may request that the police department prove that the machine was working properly.
  • The officer may not appear, and since you retain the right to question your accuser, a no-show could mean a dismissal for you. You may increase the odds the officer won't be there by doing the following:
    • Postpone or otherwise reschedule your court date. The date on your ticket may be a day when the officer plans to appear, and another date may mean he or she can't or won't be able to appear.
    • Choose a court date around a holiday or vacation times.
  • You can't question a traffic camera. That is, they don't speak, and if an officer attempts to testify based on a photo taken by a traffic camera, it could constitute hearsay and a dismissal for you.
  • If the officer made a major error on your ticket (such as putting the wrong location or vehicle make and model), then the court may dismiss it.

As you can see, you don't always have to just pay a traffic ticket. In fact, it may not be in your best interest to do so since it essentially means that you plead guilty to the offense. It may require some effort, time and money, but the potential for retaining a clean driving record may be worth it.

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