How To Deal With An Unfair Speeding Ticket
January 15, 2010 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Posting for a friend: I got a bogus speeding ticket in Louisiana. I live in Texas. Is there anything I can do about it?

Was driving home to good old Austin from a Christmas family visit. I was driving 79 in a 70 (so, yeah, I was speeding) when I was pulled over by an unmarked car. Cop introduced himself as "Detective So-and-So" and said he clocked me at 89. No way. I wasn't distracted, was focused on my speed, and I don't go over 80, period. I protested, told him there was no way I was driving that fast, there must be some mistake. He asked how fast I thought I was going, and I told him 79. He responded with, "Nah, I wouldn't have pulled you over had you been going 79." GRR@*(*(&!!!! In any case, the extra 10 miles an hour will cost me: the ticket is $195. I have to assume he clocked another car and when he caught up to me, he misidentified my car. Either that or his radar equipment is off. Actually he seemed like a nice enough chap. I bet my Texas plates didn't help matters, either.

Driving back for the court date and hoping he doesn't show would take me about 5 hours one way in the middle of the work week. Doesn't seem worth it.

Is it even possible to take another state's defensive driving online course to keep this off of my insurance?
Is it worth hiring a speeding ticket attorney? Saw some names from a Google search… they can't possibly charge much, can they? Who would pay more than a ticket to get out of a ticket?
Is it possible insurance isn't even a concern b/c the ticket was from another state?
How much of a hit is this likely to cause on my car insurance rate? I've had zero accidents (ever, with the exception of one fender-bender where the other party admitted fault) and zero tickets of any kind in years… like, probably, 10-15 years.

I know it's hard to be morally outraged over a 10 mph difference in my admitted speeding, but that's why I keep it to 79… I've never gotten a ticket going that fast. 79, why, that's reasonable! 89 is just plain reckless! J

Thanks for any tips.
posted by odayoday to Law & Government (22 answers total)
Two things, one pro and one con: call some attorneys in the county/parish or wherever you received the ticket to get a free phone consult. Con: you admitted to speeding and police officers are considered to be expert witnesses, so it's your word against his as to how fast you were actually going. In terms of the case, this is a quibble. Big mistake.
posted by rhizome at 2:17 PM on January 15, 2010

He asked how fast I thought I was going, and I told him 79.

You already admitted guilt. There is nothing more you can do. Even if you admitted to going 1 mi over the limit, that's good enough for a judge to let the ticket stand.
posted by special-k at 2:32 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

79, why, that's reasonable! 89 is just plain reckless!

Just so's you know, this sounds sort of ridiculous and I'd bet it'd sound even funnier in a courtroom.

Disclaimer: I speed, but have never been issued a ticket.
posted by InsanePenguin at 2:43 PM on January 15, 2010

The fact is that you were speeding and you deserved a ticket for putting other people in danger by driving faster than the posted limit. You admitted your guilt to the officer, so pay the ticket and move on. 79 in a 70 reasonable? Try 70 in a 70. That's reasonable.
posted by snugglebunny at 2:51 PM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: From my friend:

I think you're missing the point of my post. I do not intend to drive to court and argue, "I was going 79, not 89!" In fact, I'd like to avoid court at all. I posed specific questions as to the best course of action.

The comment, "89 is just reckless!" was supposed to be followed with a smiley, as it was intended to be silly.
posted by odayoday at 2:57 PM on January 15, 2010

Response by poster: Also:

to snugglebunny: I deserved a ticket for going 89 mph when I was going 79mph? are you implying cops don't make mistakes, try to meet quotas, and/or target people who are out of state drivers? your smug, judgmental attitude over a speeding ticket question is out of line. it's not the type of response I'm looking for. see the above questions. focus on those. I don't need condescending, judgmental types telling me what I already know. Man, alive with some of you people...
posted by odayoday at 3:03 PM on January 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

As others have said, by saying you were going 79 you admitted guilt. I'd say your chances of getting this reversed or reduced are very low, plus there's the fee, time, and gas for going through court. Best options: 1) just pay it and move on 2) if you're never going to be in LA again you could just not pay the ticket and hope that the interstate red tape prevents any action against you.

In the future, the correct answer to "do you know how fast you were going" is "no." If you want a chance at contesting a ticket, you should not volunteer any information that you don't have to give.
posted by cubby at 3:07 PM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Call the specific court listed on your traffic ticket or the back of the citation. Ask for your options. Defensive driving is at the court's discretion. What is the speed on your citation? At 79, you would normally be able to do defensive driving. They may treat 89 a bit more seriously. You can do the LA defensive driving course online, but I'm not sure if there's a residency requirement. This page lists the various courts and at least doesn't complain when you change the state for the DL and address to Texas.
posted by IanMorr at 3:07 PM on January 15, 2010

The fixation here on what you verbally said to the cop is bizarre.

A) I am 100% certain he doesn't remember the details of every conversation he has with every person he stops.

B) You hadn't been read your rights and weren't under oath so it's not an "admission" of anything. Of course a speeding ticket trial is not a criminal trial, so burden of proof is much different.

But you can still go before the judge and tell whatever story you want in hopes of getting a lighter fine. But yeah, your word against the cop's means you lose, always, regardless of what was said or done at the time of the ticket. Your best bet is probably to pay it and move on.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:19 PM on January 15, 2010

Call the specific court listed on your traffic ticket or the back of the citation

Or do that. I'm torn here, because on the one hand you are probably just going to have to pay it, but on the other hand the "YOU ADMITTED GUILT" thing, as if the cop is going to show in court with a tape recorder of what you said at a traffic stop 6 months ago, that's so weird.

It can't hurt to call the court, act contrite, and explore your options.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:21 PM on January 15, 2010

A) I am 100% certain he doesn't remember the details of every conversation he has with every person he stops.

Last time I went to traffic court was back in 2005. Almost every cop at the court had a mp3 recorder which they presented as evidence. Cops also take notes on the back of their copy for situations like these. I'm fairly certain he wrote down something like "admitted to speeding".

so burden of proof is much different.

You're absolutely right about that. If it comes down to your word against a cop, the judge will almost always side with the cop.
posted by special-k at 3:25 PM on January 15, 2010

Are you sure your odometer is working correctly? I found out recently that mine was about five miles off.
posted by mmmbacon at 4:26 PM on January 15, 2010

You say the "extra 10 miles per hour will cost [you]" this actually the case, in that the tickets are staggered? Or are you just saying that you wouldn't have been ticketed at all (as the cop suggests) for going "only" 9mph over the limit?

If the former, then you might have reason to dispute this, and maybe get part of the fine knocked down.

If the latter, I agree with earlier answers that it's probably not worth your time.
posted by Pomo at 4:34 PM on January 15, 2010

Call the court. It's quite likely they'll be willing to let you plead down to 79; there'll still be a fine, but it should be less money and look better on your record. You may very well have to show up for it, though, which would suck. Maybe make a weekend vacation out of it or something?
posted by EarBucket at 5:08 PM on January 15, 2010

A) I am 100% certain he doesn't remember the details of every conversation he has with every person he stops.

My understanding ... (perhaps from here: ?) is that after a cop pulls you over, before he drives away, he writes down every single thing you said, in case you contest the ticket and it goes to court.

B) You hadn't been read your rights and weren't under oath so it's not an "admission" of anything.

Note "Myth #6" here: "The courts have ruled that an officer is not required to read the Miranda warnings during a traffic stop. But, that doesn’t mean that they don’t apply. ... During a traffic stop, you do have the right to remain silent, it’s just that an officer will never tell you this. He’s betting you don’t know any better and will ultimately convict yourself by saying the wrong thing."
posted by Alt F4 at 6:44 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

In Arkansas, the amount over the limit you were driving makes a significant difference, as 89 in a 70 would be automatic reckless driving, 79 would not. There is a genuine question of fact as to what speed you were driving, and thus what penalty is assessed.

That said, in Arkansas, I would advise you to speak to the prosecuting attorney and plea bargain to a lesser charge. Being traffic court, convincing the judge that you were only driving 79 absent some documentary evidence isn't going to happen. Heck, even with documentary evidence, it's not likely to happen.

If you can mathematically prove that the officer could not possibly have clocked you at 89 given the geometry of the roadway and the officer's location, you would have a chance at winning, had you not admitted guilt. Nevertheless, if such a calculation was to show that you couldn't have been traveling 89, you might be able to create some doubt as to the actual speed you were driving and keep it to some sort of lower-level violation.

Alternatively, have your speedo checked out and fixed. In any jurisdiction I've had the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with the speed-enforcement brigade, an invoice from such a repair will get the fine waived, although they usually still want their court costs.

Whatever you do, ignore the useless and inappropriate comments from the "you did the crime, now do the time" brigade.

And next time don't admit to speeding.
posted by wierdo at 8:06 PM on January 15, 2010

For what it's worth, my recent experience indicates that cops don't show up in court for traffic tickets. My experience was in Washington DC though, YMMV.
posted by etoile at 8:32 PM on January 15, 2010

A friend's boyfriend received a similar ticket out of state. He ended up paying more than the cost of the ticket to fly in to contest it, so as to avoid points and the insurance hit. It worked. This seems like the best course of options.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:37 AM on January 16, 2010

are you implying cops don't make mistakes, try to meet quotas, and/or target people who are out of state drivers?

Quotas. Some states have laws against them, but I have NEVER heard of a department that has them. The idea of restricting the number of tickets an officer can write is a pretty silly idea...

Seriously though, before you consider contesting the ticket, have your speedometer calibrated, just in case it is off.

And as far as speeding ticket attorneys, I, as well as other officers I know, will sometimes dismiss the ticket in court, because the attorneys sometimes charge more for their services than the ticket was worth. Your call.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 4:08 PM on January 16, 2010

At some point in the past, i was in a situation where what the jurisdiction wanted was the fine money. So the deal made was one that had me pay the money, but not get the points. That was a very good deal. I got this from the prosecutor, over the phone. But I was living in the same state, just far away. (Wisconsin).
posted by Goofyy at 9:32 AM on January 17, 2010

a lawyer will probably charge more than the price of the ticket; you can get your speedometer calibrated. if it shows that it was not accurate that can go in your favor (in some states); you can also ask to know when the police officer last had his radar checked; call a traffic school in your area to find out whether or not a local traffic school will be as good as taking one in the other state, also the traffic schools tend to know a lot about moving violations and may be able to give advice.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 5:52 PM on January 17, 2010

Court by mail. Read the ticket carefully and contact the court that issued it. Call them and see what your options are.
posted by drstein at 3:03 PM on January 18, 2010

« Older Looking for a cookbook with delicious Indian food.   |   3 different rooms so 3 different rents? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.