Nobody wants to pay a traffic ticket, but most of us don’t know how to get one dismissed. Guest contributor, Scott Desind, shares his tips.
If you receive a traffic ticket, you might assume that there’s nothing you can do—so you just pay it. What you don’t know can hurt your pocket book: It is possible to get some tickets dismissed. Still, going to court isn’t always an easy or stress free experience.
Here are a few tips that will help you get your traffic ticket dismissed once you have a court date:
1. Stay cool
Remain calm and respectful, both during the traffic stop and during the trial. Good manners can go a long way.
2. Organize all the facts
Getting organized, and staying that way, is important for getting your ticket dismissed. Gather all of the facts in an easy to reference format. The more information you’re armed with, the better you can present your case. Having everything at your fingertips will make things easier when the defense is presented as well as when the prosecutor is presenting questions. You’ll look more professional and you won’t forget anything important.
Helpful facts include, but aren’t limited to:
- Radar readings
- Time of the day/ date
- Weather conditions when ticket was issued
- Current insurance and registration information
In addition to the above, try to remember even seemingly inconsequential facts from that day, such as the clothes that were worn. While these facts may not seem important at first, it is impossible to tell what details the prosecution will request. Being armed with all possible information can make the entire process go much smoother and keep you from getting flustered when defending your case.
One final tip: On the morning of the trial, as well as in the minutes before the trial, go through the details of the case and refresh them in your mind. A prepared defendant is a successful defendant.
3. Make a good impression: remain calm and respectful
During the entire trial, remain calm, rational and respectful at all times. This includes what you say, but also how you dress and your body language as well. Judges and prosecutors pay attention to every detail, including how respectful the defendant’s body language is.
Although the situation can be very stressful and some of the questions asked by the prosecutor may well be inflammatory or aggravating, it is important to keep a calm exterior and answer all questions with a respectful tone. Defendants should go into the situation expecting the prosecution to put pressure on them and to try to find flaws in their case. An angry, sarcastic or disrespectful response or attitude will not help get a ruling in your favor.
Dressing properly is just as important—look as nice as you can. Just as if you were going to a job interview, you’ll be in the spotlight and your mode of dress should reflect it.
4. Stay focused: Check in with the clerk and make notes
Before the trial, remember to check in with the court clerk. While you’re there, also consider asking if the officer who issued the ticket has checked in.
Often, police officers are unable to show up for court dates for a variety of reasons. If the officer is not present during the trial, he or she cannot offer his or her side of the case and this will often lead to a dismissal of the ticket. Even if the officer arrives and gives his or her testimony, you’ll still have a chance to present your case.
While listening to the officer or prosecution, a small notebook can be your best friend. If there is anything you don’t understand about the prosecution’s case, make a note so that you can ask about it when you get to cross-examine the officer and prosecution’s witnesses. This will help you be less flustered and more professional during the trial and will help to ensure that you ask all of the right questions.
5. If in doubt, ask a lawyer
Sometimes you need a professional second opinion. As a Rocket Lawyer member, you can create a legal document and ask a lawyer with any questions you may have.
In the end, it’s worth remembering that even if you’ve been issued a traffic ticket, it is not going to be the end of the world. Just by being courteous, respectful and organized, and you may be able to get that ticket dismissed.
About the author
Scott Desind, traffic attorney, successfully fights traffic tickets for drivers in the Los Angeles area. He shares his experiences on his traffic ticket blog and at various events.