Has anyone successfully contested a traffic ticket

If so, how did you do it.

My mom did. She proved using pictures and charts that the officer couldn’t have possibly seen whether or not she ran the stop sign.

I was absolutely sure I wasn’t driving as fast as the radar showed, so I had my speedometer tested. Sure enough, the test showed my speedo was faulty.

Of course, I had to get it fixed, I still had to pay a fine for faulty equipment, I paid a lawyer to contest it for me and the total cost ended up to be several hundred dollars – far more than just paying the ticket would have been – but I won on principle.

That’s probably not the answer you’re looking for.

I have never tried but you have to know the judges in your jurisdiction. Some have a reputation for reducing the monetary penalty or keeping the points off the license just for showing up to court. Others won’t care. Most of the people I know just call up a friend in law enforcement and have the ticket ‘fixed’. I never understood exactly how that works but I have seen it done in enough places to know it must be widespread minor corruption.

If it’s your first offense, write a letter to the court admitting your wrongdoing, promise to pay attention in the future, and you’ll get the standard response. In Washington State, it is a “court fee” and 5 years probation for not getting a moving violation, and it doesn’t get counted (Eg, insurance does not learn of it as long as you don’t get a second moving violation). not a bad deal.

My only ticket (speeding), I had the fine reduced by half and points put on my license if I attended a traffic class. It seemed like a good deal, so I took it.

I’m in Indiana, I don’t know if that works here. I had another citation in 2002 though, so this isn’t my first offense. I’m a bad boy. Soon I’l be jaywalking and loitering.

There is a program to knock 4 points off your record if you go to traffic school. But I don’t know if there is a program that offers a probationary period, then discharges the ticket from your record rather than having it listed on your record which can affect your points and insurance rates.

FWIW, I just did a quote on geico to see what my rates would be with and without the ticket. Supposedly my rates with the ticket are only $1.50/month more. So it may not be worth the money to fight this.

How did you get this deal? My impression is the only options are plead guilty or deny the ticket. Where is this third option of doing some kind of remittance? I know about traffic school, but I don’t think that discharges the ticket from your history.

I did.

On a rainy night, I was driving about 30-35 miles per hour on a 45 mph street. Las Vegas roads are very slick during rain, and my brakes locked up, causing my truck to slide thru and intersection an hit a car waiting to make a left hand turn. I was cited for “driving too fast for the conditions”. I felt that 10-15 mph under the posted limit was a speed that any reasonable person would think reasonable, and the only thing that allowed for the officer’s citation was the fact that I got in an accident. I felt that I had done my best to exercise due care, and there was no call to punish me for being incorrect.

To cut to the chase, I went to court on the date the ticket showed. This was a prelim where we would get an actual court date. I met with a prosecutor, explained that the citation was not correct in my view, and that I intended to fight it. He went away to talk to his boss, came back and said “well, let’s see if we can’t work something out. We really want to keep this officer on the streets and out of court.” I knew that I had him. I refused to compromise, asked for my court fees back, eradication of the ticket and no points on my license. I eventually got my way. After we signed the agreement, I let the prosecutor know that he had tipped his hand with his comment: the officer most likely didn’t work for the county anymore or there was some other problem that was going to keep him from being in court. He nodded, thanked me and went on to his next case.


A friend of mine got a ticket once for driving in a construction lane (I was with him at the time and went to court with him in case he needed a witness). He showed the judge a picture we took the next day of an “End Construction” sign about .25 miles before the place he was ticketed. Charges dismissed.

I believe I’ve gotten 4 moving violations, and all none of them showed up on my record (ETA: well, there was also one I got in Ohio five years ago. I just paid my fine and went along my merry way, insurance none the wiser.) I don’t know how they do it now, because it’s been 13 years since my last Illinois ticket, but back then, as long as you didn’t have more than two violations within a year period, you were allowed the choice of traffic school. For traffic school, you would pay the ticket, and a fee for the class, but the ticket was left off your record. If you got a second violation, I believe it was a much longer class, and perhaps a steeper fee, but the ticket would also stay off your record.

The one time I went to contest, I showed up at court with a bunch of pictures and prepared to present an argument, but the judge simply addressed the courtroom and gave us the following options: we could plead guilty and ask for supervision, in which case we’d have to pay the full fine, but the ticket wouldn’t hit our driving record unless we had another moving violation in six month, or we could plead “not guilty” and wait until everyone has plead, after which the judge would hear our case. I chose the sure option: I plead guilty, paid the fine, and nothing ever showed up on my driving record. (I actually did get another moving violation within the six months, in an adjacent jurisdiction, but the records never caught up with each other, and none of the tickets affected my driving record. I just went to driving school for the second violation and all was good.)

Back in the 80s,my friend and I were at the mall. It was near Christmas and crowded, so we parked in a handicapped spot. My friend, who had spina bifida and legitimately had a permit but had forgotten to bring it, told me she’d go to court with me if we got a ticket. Sure enough, we did.

So we went to the courthouse in this little southern town on the appointed day. Myself and my friend, both hugely pregnant, she on her crutches and me with my two-year-old by the hand. We made quite a commotion waddling down the aisle and getting settled; my featherweight little girl let out an “Aawk!” as the folding movie-theater-type seat folded her up. People in the courtroom were already chuckling openly at our antics, so the judge kindly let us go first. “What are y’all here for?” he asked. “Parking in a handicapped spot,” I replied in my best innocent voice. “Case dismissed,” said the judge, trying not to laugh.

In California, the ticket is dismissed though you still pay the fine/traffic school fee but no points on the record.
I think you can go twice in a limited time period(not sure how long) with the second costing more.

About 22-23 years ago in downtown Minneapolis. The street had been gravelled, erasing any road markings. There was a semi parked on the right side of the road, blocking the view of any signs on that side and pretty much forcing people out of the right lane into the left lane. A whole bunch of us went straight, and straight into a police officer standing on the street waving everybody over. Turns out the left lane was left turn only. Oh sure, there was a sign above the light, but every other marker was obscured and no one had any choice BUT to be in the left lane at the intersection.

I go to court to fight it. I catch the assistant prosecutor outside the court room. He declares us all guilty and says there will be no negotiations. The court is PACKED with people there on the same ticket. Considering there had to be more than 20 people there fighting it, I had to wonder how many more got the same ticket and did not fight it.

I was called first. I got up and used the convenient white board to lay out the situation, pleading “guilty with explanation”. The officer was there, but offered no testimony other than to declare that I had driven straight through a left turn only lane.

Case dismissed pending no further violations in one year.

I left immediately, so didn’t see how it went for everyone else, but I had people shaking my hand on the way out. I like to think that once the judge realized how many people were there for the same thing, he probably just threw out all the tickets at once.

Beat one myself. Waited for the court date, asked for a continuance because I was needed at work on the proposed trial date (which was true), and was postponed until I received notice from the court. A year later I got a letter that said, “The officer cannot make your trial date, your ticket has been dismissed.” Well, that was easy.

Helped a friend beat one. She was driving to work and got a ticket for 38 in a 30. Thing is, the limit on the road was 40, but the spot where she got it was a school zone with flashing lights and signs that said, “Speed Limit 30 When Flashing”. She got the ticket at 8:20 in the morning. I called the city traffic engineer’s office and got a list of times at which the school zone flashers turn on and off, and they turned off at 8:20 at that location. The officer, positioned between both sets of flashers, couldn’t see that they had just turned off. So, armed with that info and some photos and diagrams, we went to court and asked to talk to the prosecutor. Showed him everything we had, and he said, “Yeah, I don’t think I can win this one,” and dismissed it.

My very first jury trial was a traffic ticket. I won it because I had that rarest of birds, an innocent defendant. A guy caused an accident driving recklessly running a red light in front of witnesses, and the officer ticketed the wrong person, my client. After hearing the evidence, the jury came back with a not guilty verdict in less than five minutes. The assistant city attorney should have dismissed it, but he was even newer and dumber than I was. Not only did the assistant city attorney not dismiss it, he failed to disclose to me the witnesses who saw that the other guy ran the red light. I knew he talked to them because they were on his witness list and they told me that they told him that the wrong person was ticketed. I’m sure it never even entered his mind that he was failing to disclose exculpatory evidence.

I’ve talked about this one before but I got a friend out of one in San Diego, CA:

He was driving 35 down a street with a 35 speed limit and passed a school where it had a sign that said “25 when children are present”. He was pulled over and I remember the fine was especially large since it involved speeding by a school. Oh, except that there were no kids present at the time. As luck would have it, his niece went to that school and it was not in session that day.

So to avoid missing work, we went to the court, and did a ‘trial by declaration’ which is where the defendant and the cop both write a letter to the court to explain their side. My understanding is that the police hate to do this, so simply choosing to do this in California is often a good way to win. The cops prefer to show up in court because it’s easy, they intimidate the defendant, and they can potentially get overtime. The only downside is that you have to pay the fine in advance and then you get it back if you are found not-guilty.

So I wrote a letter, took pictures of the 35 sign, the “25 when children are present” sign, and the spot where he was pulled over. We also went to the school and got a piece of paper showing school was not in session that day and included a copy of his niece’s school ID. That way we could claim we had advanced knowledge the school was closed even before we got to the school. About the only flaw I could see is that the cop could claim there were kids playing on the schoolyard anyway even though the school was closed, but my friend said that was also not the case. About two weeks later, he was told the judge found in his favor and four weeks after that, he got his money back, then took me out to lunch to thank me for my help.

I’ve never challenged a ticket. It was too easy to pay the fine, and after all, I was speeding.

My observation, based on few people I know who successfully challenged tickets, new stories, and our local televised traffic court, is that judges are generally willing to dismiss charges if they have any basis to do so. It could be a technicality like the officer not showing up in court, pictures to show the officer was incorrect, the testimony of an officer being inconsistent, a radar gun that cannot be proved to have been calibrated properly (they require periodic recalibration), and almost anything except the defendants personal claim that they didn’t do it. My experiences are limited though, so YMMV.

My favorite case was a friend who questioned the officer about an alleged incident of running a yellow light. The officer claimed he had not made it through the intersection when the light turned red. My friend asked the officer when he first spotted the car, how far it was from the light, how fast it was going, and how long the light was yellow. He detailed for the judge that it was mathematically impossible for him to have run the yellow based on the officer’s answers, and the case was dismiissed.

A lot of traffic tickets are part of a government revenue scheme. You can easily pick up a ticket in Pawtucket RI by driving 26mph on any of the all but one road that has a 25mph speed limit. If you have no violations in the previous 3 years, your case is automatically dismissed on the condition of no more violations for the next 3 years, but you will have to pay court costs anyway. The city gets to keep the court costs, while the fines from conviction would just go to the state. So the city courts don’t really care if you get convicted or not as long as you end up paying the court costs.

I challenged one by mail, arguing that the circumstances of that stretch of road made the radar measurment unreliable, and the fine was knocked in half. Another time, I went to court, and the prosecutor seemed to be offering all the speeders a standard plea deal: Plead guilty to the next lowest tier of speeding (i.e., if you’d been written for doing 70-79, you’d plead to 60-69). I took the deal.

This was in federal court in northern Virginia, because I’d been stopped by the Park Police on one of the federally-owned parkways. It was intimidating to plead guilty in “United States v. Tildrum” in front of a federal magistrate judge, but at least it does not constitute a reportable criminal history. :stuck_out_tongue:

My personal experience in a few different jurisdictions is that traffic court judges are pretty willing to reduce the offense (which reduces the fine, of course) or let you off the hook entirely if you’ve got a sufficiently good explanation.

In one instance, I got a failure-to-yield ticket dismissed when I showed pictures of a car completely hidden by a dip in the road about 100 feet from the place where I turned onto the road and got smacked by a car coming out of that dip. And in another one, I got a fine that would have been $500 reduced to less than 1/3 of that, when I pointed out that (a) I was entering the parkway from a steep downhill on-ramp which made it easy to go faster than one was intending, and (b) that for some reason, the speed limit on that brief (and fairly straight) stretch of parkway was only 35 mph, while it was 50 mph everywhere else.

My advice would be that if (a) the money’s enough to be worth your spending a half a day in court (mostly waiting around for your case to come up), and (b) you think you’ve got a good argument for why you either shouldn’t have been ticketed at all, or why your offense wasn’t as bad as it appears on first blush, then you should give it a shot.

ALWAYS show up to plead your case. I’ve never failed to get at least half of my fine knocked off by pleading in front of the judge, even if my plea was “Guilty w/reason.” The reason is usually “I’m an idiot, your honor.” The judge usually smiles, asks me if I have 1/2 of the fine on me, and tells me to pay the clerk.