Strategies for Fighting a Traffic Ticket

Was the ticket bogus? Do you disagree with the policeman about how fast you were going, or whether you stopped? The police are not always right. Just because you got a traffic ticket, doesn’t mean you are guilty. You can fight your ticket. It’s not always easy, but in some circumstances, you might have a good argument for the judge.

Know the Law

Read the ticket and Google the law you violated. You want to know exactly what the officer is charging you with. In Nevada, our laws are called Nevada Revised Statutes. An easy first step in fighting traffic tickets is to read the exact law you’re alleged to have violated.

Check Your Traffic Ticket for Errors

Minor errors will not get your ticket dismissed. Major errors such as the wrong vehicle, or wrong highway may. Review the entire ticket for anything incorrect.

Policeman Doesn’t Show

The role of the police is to enforce the laws. The role of the judge is to decide whether the policeman was correct in handing you a ticket. The police do not work for the judge. They are only a creditable witness to what happened. If the policeman doesn’t show up to the hearing then there is no witness to your violation. You have a constitutional right to question you accuser. If the policeman doesn’t show up then you most likely win. The same goes for any other witnesses needed to prove you violated the law.

Challenge the Policeman’s Observations

In many states, it is possible to challenge the police officer’s view of what happened. To challenge the ticket, you must challenge the judgement of the policeman. For example, when an officer gives you a ticket for making an unsafe left, you can argue your actions were “safe”. Or, maybe challenge the policeman didn’t have a proper view of your vehicle or the oncoming traffic. The goal is to challenge the officer’s observations. It is hard to fight the radar gun in court, and easier to argue the policeman misjudged your actual speed. Challenge their observations.

Traffic Tickets Based on Radar Guns

On a speeding ticket the policeman must show the speed registered on a radar gun, or speed based on his observations. Radar guns need to be recalibrated every 30-60 days, and rarely are. Raise this issue in court. Force the policeman to verify the calibration date of the radar gun used.

Tickets Based on Hearsay

If the policeman gave you a ticket based on a video or someone else’s statement then he can not attest this fact in court. This is called “hearsay”. The actual witness, or actual person who gave the statement must appear in court to testify before the judge.

Raise Doubt in Policeman’s Facts

In some cases, it often boils down to an argument about whose version of the facts is correct. For instance, if you were cited for failing to come to a stop, who wins the case will depend on who the judge believes. Unfortunately, the badge usually wins. You will need to raise real doubt in the policeman’s facts.

Statements of witnesses, such as passengers or bystanders, can help. Diagrams are good tools to argue facts. Have a drawing ready to show the judge. Point out traffic signals, where other cars were positioned, etc. Photographs or videos of the intersections, stop signs, or the faded road markers are even better.

It Was a Mistake?

Can you show the judge you made an honest mistake, or that there was a intervening reason which caused you to speed, or miss the stop sign? If the mistake was an honest and reasonable one the judge may dismiss the traffic ticket. For example, you failed to stop because the sign was covered by an overgrown tree. Maybe you live in the neighborhood and know there is a stop sign, but something was blocking it. Or, the speed limit sign was really 45, and not 35. Bring pictures to support your statement.

You Were Justified or It Was Necessary

You may also successfully argue that your actions were justified considering the circumstances, or your actions were necessary. For example, you are forced to move lanes without using a blinker because of an object in the roadway.

Emergencies, or taking precautionary actions are good legal defenses. Did you speed up to pass a truck with an unstable load, or to avoid a vehicle at the intersection? These would be valid legal arguments to speeding.

Defenses That Don’t Work

We have seen over 10,000 tickets. We know the arguments which work and which ones don’t. The story we hear the most is the telling the judge, “Everyone around you was speeding too. The officer selected you alone out of a dozen other violators.” Admitting you were guilty, but that there were other guilty people present doesn’t help you.

Another “bad” defense is claim the officer is lying. This never works. Find contradictory evidence, argue the policeman’s observations. Never accuse the policeman of “lying”. This is not a good argument.