How Do I Beat A Ticket In NY State?

I got pulled over by a trooper this evening who wrote me a ticket on someone else’s behalf.

The trooper pulled over and an unmarked Dodge p/u pulled up behind him. The trooper said that the guy in the p/u was an off duty cop who claims I passed him at 90mph so he gave me a ticket for him. I have nothing but respect for cops and judges, but here’s my problem: I’m not guilty, but I think I’ll probably be found guilty and have to pay a fine I can’t afford. (And my insurance will go up which I also can’t afford.) What’s my best bet for beating the ticket?

I figure I’ve got four options:

A: Plead guilty and hope for a low fine - I really dislike this idea.

B: Plead not-guilty, and at the trial admit that I passed him legally in a safe manner and the cop’s nuts if he really thinks I’m guilty, and he was really just pissed because his souped up p/u was driving too slow and a measly Civic passed him against his will.

C: Plead not-guilty and claim that I didn’t pass him and he must have me confused with some other black Honda Civic.

D: Leave the country and lead a life on the lam.

Which of B or C is true, if one is?

B is true, but I think my odds of getting a judge to believe it are really slim. I’ve received tickets in the past and never fought them before because I was guilty. But one thing I learned from sitting around in courtrooms is that the judge always (in my experience) takes the word of the officer over the word of the accused. How do I get around this?

Your best bet to beat it legally (which is all you’ll get on this board) is to show up in court and ask for the testimony of both officers – the one who issued the ticket and the off-duty officer you passed. Assuming the off-duty person was traveling at the top legal speed, you can ask him how he knew it that “90” was your speed (is that what went on the ticket? Ouch for three points!) and not some lesser speed, how many cars passed him/her, how many were black Honda Accords, etc. In particular, if you were going nearly double his speed, how did he keep you in sight to ensure the other officer pulled over the correct vehicle?

The reason the judge almost always believes the cops is that the cops are almost always right – they’ve got a set speed trap, radars, etc. such that if they say you were speeding you pretty much were. Here you’ve got a different set of facts and your chance at beating the ticket is to establish that the facts are different from those which the officer believed he observed.

If the off-duty officer doesn’t show up, I’d be very interested in how the ticketing officer intends to establish guilt. The ticketing officer can’t testify that he was told you were speeding - that’s hearsay.

I have a friend who is a bit of a speed demon in upstate NY. Lucky for him, he knew the local fuzz.

However, once he left that city, the state troopers had no mercy. Several times he was close to losing his license based on points.

As it happens, a state speeding violation issued by the troopers who answer to Albany is heard in the local town court. Often the small-town judges were perfectly happy to bump down the charge to a parking violation or some such. Result: the fine went into local coffers, rather than to Albany, and my friend happily paid it to avoid having more points added to his license.

Insurance-wise this is a good strategy, but if you don’t have the money to pay it in the first place, well…