Nearly 50 percent of the drivers between 15 – 19 years of age are convicted of a traffic violation in their first year of driving.
The most common violation is for speeding, which often results in the loss of vehicle control and accounts for about 50 percent of all teen traffic convictions.
When you violate traffic laws, you increase your chances of having a collision.
Teenage Traffic Deaths
Drivers 15–19 years old have the highest traffic conviction, collision, and injury rates of any age group. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers. If you are under 18 years old, your risk of a fatal collision is about 2½ times that of the “average” driver. Your risk of an injury collision is three times higher than the average driver’s risk.
Actions Against The Provisional Driver License
Teenagers as a group average twice as many collisions as adult drivers, while driving only half as many miles. The teenage collision rate per mile is four times greater than the adult driver collision rate per mile.
Studies show that the traffic deaths of new drivers are deadly combinations of their inexperience driving, lack of familiarity with the vehicle, and their need to push themselves and the vehicle to the limit.
Keeping Your Provisional Driver License
The DMV will track your driving record and take actions based upon any collisions or violations as follows:
If you get a traffic ticket and fail to appear in court, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege until you appear in court.
If you get a traffic ticket and fail to pay the fine, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege until you pay the fine.
If you have one “at fault” collision or conviction within 12 months, the DMV will send you a warning letter.
If you have a second “at fault” collision or conviction (or combination of both) within 12 months, you cannot drive for 30 days, unless accompanied by your licensed parent or other licensed adult who is at least 25 years of age.
If you have a third “at fault” collision or conviction (or any combination) within 12 months, you will be suspended for six months and placed on probation for one year.
If you have additional “at fault” collisions or point count convictions while on probation, you will be suspended again. (Traffic law violations resolved in Juvenile Court are also reported to the DMV.)
If you are convicted of using alcohol or a controlled substance and you are between 13 – 21 years of age, the court orders the DMV to suspend your driver license, for one year. If you do not have a driver license the court orders the DMV to delay your eligibility to apply for a driver license. You may also be required to complete a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) program.
Any restriction, suspension, or probation will continue for its full term past your 18th birthday.
Other, stronger actions may be taken if your driving record justifies them. Remember, if your driving privilege has been suspended or revoked, you may not drivein California.
Habitual Truant—Persons 13 – 18 Years of Age
The court will suspend, restrict, delay, or revoke your driving privilege for one year if you are convicted of being a habitual truant from school.
Minors and Cell Phones
It is against the law for a minor to use a cell phone while driving. If your cell phone rings, do not answer the call or respond to the text message.
Convictions for violations of this law are subject to fines.
Exceptions: You may use a cell phone to contact law enforcement, a health care provider, the fire department, or another emergency entity in an emergency situation.
So, you got your first speeding ticket… Sucks, huh?
It seems like speeding tickets are one of those things that happen when everything else is going wrong, too.
But that doesn’t change the fact you are now a criminal and need to repay your debts to society!
Seriously though, don’t panic. While I’m absolutely judging you, I’m not mad at you, I’m just disappointed. But that’s why I’m going to help you out. You see, I believe in redemption, rehabilitation, and second chances. We won’t send you to the chopping block after your very first speeding ticket. But be warned, you’re on thin ice!
Crazy Speeding Ticket Facts (You’re Not Alone!)
My snarky comments aside, let’s get real. Getting your first speeding ticket isn’t a big deal. If this was your 5th speeding ticket in a year, ok, that’s a big deal. But most Americans eventually get a traffic ticket. There are about 200,000,000 licensed drivers in the United States. With that in mind, check out these insane facts:
More than 100,000 people per day receive a speeding citation (that’s more than 40,000,000 speeding tickets each year!).
About 20% of all drivers on the road will get a speeding ticket this year.
The average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States exceeds $150, for a total of $6,232,000,000 in speeding ticket fines annually (yeah, that’s 6 BILLION).
The average police officer issues $300,000 in speeding fines annually.
Of all these speeding tickets, less than 5% are ever contested in court.
What To Do When You’re Being Pulled Over For Speeding (Next Time)
You’re driving down the street minding your own business when all of a sudden you notice red and blue lights moving closer to the rear of your vehicle.
“Wait, is that a cop?”
“Ah crap, it is.”
Then you hear a loud siren that starts getting louder and louder.
“No way he’s coming after me. Right?”
Within 10 seconds you realize that yes, you’re being pulled over for a traffic violation.
“Son of a…..”
This is not the time you want to freak out. Don’t slam on the brakes and don’t pull to the left or in a median. Quickly but safely pull to a safe area on the right and simply wait.
When the police officer approaches your window, just relax. Even if you feel you did nothing wrong, be respectful, and speak to him like you would anyone else.
A lot of people are very nervous around police officers. This causes people to act irrationally. For example, leave your dang seatbelt on unless you want to be accused of not wearing one. Don’t reach around in your car for your license and registration. Just chill. Sit there with your hands visible and just wait.
You have one of two choices here – You can either fess up to the cop and hope he or she has mercy by issuing a warning instead of a ticket, or you can be very careful to not say anything which could incriminate yourself (even if you admit to going a few mph over the limit, that’s still illegal so keep your mouth shut).
Keeping your mouth shut is what most lawyers would tell you to do as it gives you the best chance at winning in court. But a cop may see this as “not cooperating” and while that isn’t illegal, they probably will be less likely to show leniency and increases your odds of getting the ticket. The choice is yours.
What To Do AFTER You Receive A Speeding Ticket
Once you’ve been issued a speeding ticket, you have some choices to make.
When the 10 to 15-minute ordeal is over and the police officer drives away, you’re left with a piece of paper in your hand, the citation, explaining your fine, court date, and options for paying or contesting the speeding ticket.
After agreeing that you will appear at the courthouse within an allotted time regarding this citation, you may feel a bit confused about your options.
Now what do you do? Being a Deputy Court Clerk for nearly 10 years, let me offer you some helpful advice.
Step 1: Don’t Rush To The Courthouse Confessing your Crime
First, you don’t need to rush to the courthouse as soon as you get the ticket. Police officers don’t turn their ticket books in until their shift is over. Therefore, he will still have the court’s copy of your ticket his ticket book.
So, if you happen to run to the courthouse minutes after you were issued the ticket, more than likely, you’ll be sent away by the court clerk until a later date because the court won’t have a record of your citation.
Step 2: Take Time To Actually READ The Back Of Your Speeding Ticket
Second, take the time to read the back of the citation in order to choose the best way to keep the violation off your record. It’s amazing how many people don’t bother reading the ticket and just pay it, which also causes their insurance rates to go up due to having a speeding ticket on their driving record.
It is very important to keep traffic violations off your driving record because many states are making it difficult for drivers with violations to remain on the road. Don’t be lazy. Read the back of your ticket.
If the information on the citation sounds confusing, simply contact the courthouse by calling the phone number listed on the citation. Since many court clerks have a heavy workload, you should call at least three times and ask questions to three different clerks. You’ll find that you won’t receive complete information if you don’t make at least 3 contacts.
Step 3: What To Do If You Feel You Are Not Guilty Of The Speeding Ticket
Third, if you decide that you were not guilty of the offense and you want your day in court to express your opinion and disagreement with the ticket, this is your option.
“But I didn’t do nuthin’!”
Fair enough. Cops make mistakes, and plenty of people who get their first speeding ticket feel like they did nothing wrong. It happens all the time.
Fortunately, you live in the good ol’ US of A where the constitution demands we are allowed to face our accuser and defend ourselves.
However, be aware that people who fight their speeding tickets are rarely found not guilty for the offense. This is especially true in small towns.
You may, at best, get a reduction in the fine and then offered Deferred Adjudication or Defensive Driving to prevent the traffic violation from appearing on your record. d
But no matter what amount your fine is set at, you should be aware that there are court costs, which are really state fees, added to each fine amount.
So even if the Judge sets your fine for $1.00 you’ll still pay at least a $50.00 payment because state fees will be included.
Whatever option you choose to handle your violations don’t forget to follow through because there is little mercy offered to those who choose to ignore their order from the court.
However, if something happens and you’ve missed the due date of your fine or your court date, simply find out what the Judge’s name is and send him a letter as soon as you can with a detailed explanation for your non-compliance. Even a Judge can be understanding.
Pro Tip: Just Take Traffic School Or Defensive Driving & Be Done With It
If you truly feel you are not guilty and want to fight your speeding ticket in court out of principle, I get it. But even in that case, since this is your first speeding ticket, the fastest and most pain free way to move on with your life is to take traffic school or defensive driving.
The vast majority of states allow you to take an online traffic school or defensive driving course to completely dismiss the traffic ticket and remove it from your driving record. Heck, you might even get an insurance discount after taking the course, saving you money in the long run.
Instructions for taking traffic school are normally found on the back of the ticket. If it is your first speeding ticket and you otherwise have a clean driving record, you will most likely be able to elect for traffic school without ever having to go to court. It’s all handled online or through the mail.
Best Online Traffic School & Defensive Driving Courses For Ticket Dismissal
There are a lot of online traffic schools and defensive driving courses to choose from, but here are the 4 best courses you can sign up for. These are all fast, easy, and cheap. Just sign up, get it done, and move on with your life. If you’re lucky, this will be the last time you need to take a traffic school, but most of us get at least a few tickets in our lifetime.
Just keep the ordeal in perspective and handle your citation responsibly just as you would a light bill or telephone bill. Don’t ignore it because it won’t go away.
Although you may be able to live with a candle instead of a light bulb or email instead of using a telephone, the negative effect of not taking care of a citation issued to you is an arrest warrant. If you’re issued an arrest warrant for your citation, the fine more than doubles and you are no longer afforded many of the options initially offered to you.
Therefore, if you receive a citation, immediately, put it somewhere you can remember it and in the forefront of your mind until it’s taken care of. This action will prevent further frustrations and annoyances when handling a traffic citation within the Justice System.
From VASCAR calculators to hidden cameras, radars, lasers, aircraft, and known-location speed cameras, police departments have every angle covered when it comes to catching traffic violators.
In some states, they have even more — they have slanted laws that favor the evidence from the devices. In the state of Vermont, for instance, the law assumes that police officers have inbuilt radars — they are allowed to guess at the speed of a vehicle and have their guess stand in court.
Since you can’t catch every speed sign as you drive, it can make sense to constantly keep an eye on the way the traffic around you behaves. If drivers around you seem to be slowing down, you should too, even when you haven’t seen a sign asking you to slow down.
It also pays to keep a low profile. For instance, if you have a sports car, you should know that the police expect you to speed and watch you closely when they can. You have less room for mistakes than someone who drives a minivan. You’ll need to be extra careful.
Here are a few more specific tips on what you can do to avoid speeding tickets.
1. Following proper etiquette when getting pulled over will help you get out of a traffic ticket
Getting out of a traffic ticket starts the moment the officer turns on his (often blinding) flashing lights. Most officers decide very quickly if they will be issuing you a ticket or not, so doing the right things early on will greatly increase your chances of receiving a warning.
When the officer initiates a traffic stop, do the following…
Indicate your intent to pull over – Don’t panic. You don’t need to slam on your brakes and pull over right away. Indicate your intent to pull over by slowing down and using your turn signal or hazard lights. Turn off your radio or any in-car audio so you can hear any instructions given over the PA system. Pull over as quickly as you can safely do so.
Pull over properly – It’s amazing where people will stop when an officer initiates a traffic stop. Many people panic and pull into unsafe areas. Do not pull into medians and get out of active traffic lanes if possible. If you’re on a multi-lane highway, always pull to the right unless an officer directs you otherwise (usually through the loudspeaker). Turn on your right turn signal and make safe lane change until you can get onto the RIGHT shoulder. Pulling into a median or on the left shoulder of the roadway is a pet peeve of most cops.
Create a comfortable environment for the officer – Police officers are usually on edge when first approaching your vehicle. Turn on interior lights at night, roll your window down, and keep your hands visible such as on the steering wheel. You should not be reaching into your glove box looking for your registration or reaching into your pockets to fish out your driver’s license. Keep your hands visible and wait for the officer to ask.
Following the above steps will greatly increase your chances of getting let off with a warning, simply for making the officer feel comfortable. However, there is one more important aspect to consider.
Decide if you want to incriminate yourself or not – At this point, you need to decide if you are going to admit guilt or not. If you do admit guilt, you will almost certainly lose in court. However, sometimes accepting responsibility will get the mercy of an officer, and he’ll let you go with just a warning for that reason alone. Otherwise, be courteous and friendly without admitting any guilt at all. You may get a ticket, but you’ll have a much easier time winning in court.
2. Being cooperative and courteous with the officer increases the chances of receiving a warning
Many of us are aggravated when we get pulled over, especially if you did nothing wrong. Understandable. But keep your cool.
It’s a good idea to be friendly and polite to an officer who pulls you over. Friendliness, though, doesn’t need to involve being chatty. The more you talk, the greater the risk that you will accidentally incriminate yourself in some way. It’s important to say as little as possible. When pulled over, you are only required to follow instructions — not answer questions.
If the officer asks you for any information, you can ask to speak to your lawyer. It’s important to remember to be polite through the process. The more antagonistic you are, the more violations the police are likely to write you up for.
Just remember, you will never win an argument with a cop on the side of the road. If an officer is intent on giving you a ticket, say as little as possible and fight it in court.
In many cases, simply taking a traffic school is the easiest way to go. It keeps the ticket off your record and you can get it done relatively quickly.
3. Get out of a traffic ticket by taking an online traffic school or defensive driving course
Many times, even if you’re as guilty as they come, you can get out of a traffic ticket by taking traffic school or defensive driving. Most states now allow you to take your traffic school or defensive driving course online.
When you take this route, you will usually have to pay for the ticket and spend a little more money (and time) by going through a state certified traffic school, but the traffic ticket then immediately comes off your driving record as if it never happened.
Listed below are some of the most popular online traffic schools and defensive driving courses for ticket dismissal.
4. Get out of a traffic ticket by challenging the methods used to calculate your speed
Equipment that’s used to measure a vehicle’s speed usually needs regular calibration if it is to not show incorrect readings. Police departments, though, are often too busy to make time for equipment calibration.
If you’ve been caught, chances are that the measuring device is a poorly calibrated unit. In this instance, you can challenge the police department in court for using poorly maintained equipment. The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to ask for calibration information.
Just make sure you use that freedom of information act to your advantage. Judges are used to people challenging the calibration of radar guns and have grown very tired of people trying to get off on a simple technicality. If you’re going to use this defensive, bring proof the equipment was not properly calibrated. The video below shows how this defense has actually worked.
5. Common defenses for photo enforcement tickets
If your traffic ticket is a photo enforcement ticket (a speeding ticket based on evidence from an automatic camera), the law in many states requires that the forensics expert who analyzed the photo to determine your speed needs be present in court. This is because the law allows you the right to “face in your accuser.” Often, though, police departments are too understaffed to be able to spare their forensic experts. If you show up, then, you win by default.
To get around this, many cities will not issue you a state traffic citation. Instead, they will issue you a city ordinance violation. There is normally a process to contest the violation, but this is not a court of law.
In some states, you don’t have to pay these violations at all. Cities have no recourse against you if you choose not to pay the official looking violation notices.
Unfortunately, in most states, citizens are left with few rights and ways to pay the fine. Failure to pay the ordinance violation can result in your credit report taking a hit. If they do not reverse the violation, the only other way to really fight them is through civil court by filing a lawsuit against the city.
Obviously, filing a lawsuit against a city is expensive and time consuming. It’s a sad reality that many city governments know hardly anyone will fight them over a city ordinance violation, and you’re pretty much out of viable options.
6. Get out of a traffic ticket by checking signs where the violation occurred
Every driver should look up the manual on uniform traffic control devices. This document details the exact approved design for every kind of traffic sign — typeface, size, color, and so on.
A significant proportion of the signs you see on the streets are not up to spec. You should check the speed sign that you are supposed to have violated to see if it’s actually up to code. If it isn’t, mentioning it in court may get you out of the charge.
7. Get out of a ticket based on technicalities
In any legal case, you can have your credibility and integrity questioned if you mis-remember one detail from one court hearing or police hearing to the next. You can use this devotion to technical accuracy in your favor.
Unless it is illegal in your state to record conversations with the police (it is illegal in Maryland, for instance), you should be alert enough to switch on your cellphone’s recording mode as soon as you are pulled over. Then, you should compare the language used in the court filing with what you hear in your recording. If there is a contradiction, you will easily win.
Another example of a technical violation would be inadequate pacing. Usually, the law requires that an officer follow you for between a third of a mile and half a mile before stopping you. You need to ask the officer if he actually did it. Officers often neglect to follow protocol.
If you’re going to try to get out of a traffic ticket by using a technicality as your defense, you better go in prepared. Judges have very little patience for this kind of defense, so you better be right, and you better have proof.
I know, I know. This is America. Innocent until proven guilty right?
Trust me, bring proof.
Also, make sure the technicality will actually get your desired result. For example, people often think a clerical error will get them out of a traffic ticket. Say, for example, the officer miswrote the date or time in the traffic ticket. Does that mean you get to go free? Absolutely not.
If you think you have a technicality as a defense, that’s fine. But research it and be prepared for a judge to scrutenize it.
8. Use your dash cam footage to get out of a traffic ticket
Don’t have a dash cam? What are you waiting for!? Having a dash cam is one of the best ways to get out of a speeding ticket. This, assumes of course, that you didn’t actually do what you were accused of doing.
Many modern dash cams have GPS units built into them that can display your speed and location. The speed that the GPS unit shows may not be legally accepted in court, but you can also calculate how fast you were going based on passing objects or based on the lines on the road.
Most dash cams also pick up sound, so you can record the conversation you have with the officer. If the officer makes any discrepancies, make sure to point that out in court.
Dash cams save people all the time in court, especially for accidents they were accused of being at fault for, even though they weren’t. If you have a dash cam and you were at fault, you don’t have to show the footage. But anytime you’re not at fault, a dashcam will be your best witness.
Sometimes accepting guilt is better than fighting it
If you have a clean driving record or haven’t received a traffic ticket in years, sometimes just accepting guilt is the easiest and most pain-free way. You might need to take a defensive driving course and pay a fine, but it beats taking a day (or multiple days) off of work and sitting in court all day.
However, listed above are some of the easiest defenses for getting out of a traffic ticket. If you’re truly not guilty, fight for yourself and let the truth prevail!