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!