Speeding tickets

This is not a current issue for me.

I’ve lived in a DC suburb for over eleven years. Over that time, several family members, including myself, have gotten speeding tickets.

When the offense occurred in rural counties in Virginia, we received multiple letters from attorneys in those counties claiming to be able get the tickets reduced and/or thrown out without us making an appearance.

When the offense occurred in Fairfax County, we received nothing from local attorneys.

Is there any merit to those claims? Would the net out of pocket have probably been more than the ticket but without the points and insurance impacts?

Diversion is the typical method to get you out of the “moving violation”. Normally you still pay the same fine amount, but as long as you don’t get another speeding ticket in the same jurisdiction for some period of time (6, 9, or 12 months) the ticket doesn’t go on your record, points, etc. However, if you do receive a follow up ticket, you will have both tickets on your record. It’s sort of like speeding probation.

You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to get it for you. Most of the time you can get if yourself by going down to the courthouse or whever the presiding court in the jurisdiction you received the ticket, and do it all yourself. It just takes time out of your day.

ETA: Fairfax County may not offer a diversion program. At least I can’t find one searching on their site.

Only an absolute fool would pay any speeding ticket automatically.
Some tickets are written in error, that is, to a person not speeding.
Sometimes the radar is not calibrated and the ticket basis has no standing.
Sometimes the officer will not present himself in court and the case will be dismissed.
And there are a few more possibilities.

Traffic tickets are generally not criminal in nature. Therefore, the individual can be represented by an attorney. That attorney knows the system and all the people. They eat lunch together. When a person has hired an attorney, he means business. Judges and magistrates like to “reward” the fellow professional by cooperating with them. Almost always a plea can be worked out that excludes driving points and insurance contact. The increased insurance costs over the years will outweigh the attorney costs. I have represented myself several times and not ever gotten any driving points. You can’t just show up and admit guilt. You are cooked at that point. You either get a plea from the magistrate ahead of time or an advisement plea from the judge or magistrate. If the person has let a pile of tickets build up on the record first, getting a plea is more difficult.

Bottom line: Every ticket must be challenged.

Although most of your facts are correct (for some juristictions), your conclusion that “Every ticket must be challenged” is one that my lawyer friends disagree with. They have said that if you’re caught red-handed, and you (this is for CA mind you) still have your Traffic School option available, take it. In CA, you can take Traffic School every couple of years, it gets one ticket off your record.

Nolo Press puts out a pretty good book on fighting traffic tickets.


Many counties in rural Virginia make a great deal of their money from zealous enforcement of speeding laws against people trying to get somewhere on the highway. There is a whole knitted-together industry of judges, cops, and lawyers built on the premise that you would rather spend $250 on hiring a former prosecutor to go to court and argue you down to a misdemeanor than actually go back to Incestville and defend yourself (and possibly lose). If everyone who was charged with reckless driving by speed actually showed up to court in these places, the whole thing would grind to a halt.

If the fine is the same whether you contest or not, perhaps the best startegy would be to always argue in court. You may not win, but needing to have the court tied up and the officer present to testify has to cost the jurisdiction close to what it makes on the ticket.

Logic suggests that a county that fins it loses money on tickets would stop issuing the more trivial ones. Cynicism suggests they would just raise the fine to keep it a paying proposition.

I’ve not had a lot of tickets, only three, but in all cases, the cost was lower if you pled guilty, as if you contested and lost you’d pay court fees.

Also in Illinois all the judges said at the beginning of the session, exactly what he needs to find you “not guilty” and if you couldn’t produce that you’d be found guilty.

For instance the judges clearly stated you must prove to him that the radar was not working ON YOUR particular ticket, not that it wasn’t working correctly at other times, but specifically at the time you had your ticket written.

You could easily see if the ticket was made out incorrectly and you can see if the officer shows up. In Illinois it’s pretty open and shut against the driver from what I’ve seen of it.

I’ve always wondered about that. It’s supposed to be based on preponderance of evidence, but it seems to be more based “you’re a stupid liar, and the cop is an infallible bastion of truth, so you must prove this negative”.

I would put the traffic school under the heading “Playing the game.” They are thinking of adopting it here too for first time offenders. Most of this is not about safety. It’s about revenue. The jurisdiction does not want to let the money go as they are counting on the revenue to fund the judge and the officer.
I’m just saying that paying a ticket without using all your options is foolish.

I have little doubt this is correct. And I note that it has some rather nasty implications.

Lawyers and judges who do this are in effect colluding to deceive insurance companies about the true risks associated with insured drivers, and thus to make other drivers subsidize those who are willing to line their pockets.

Absolutely. And hey, it’s not like people aren’t actually guilty of breaking the law here, as dumb as some of these speed laws are.

I would be much more than willing to pay a $300 fee each year in order to be allowed to drive at the maximum speed at which I can safely operate my vehicle given conditions. That is, effectively, what the traffic enforcement system is, except for the pesky insurance rate issue and the points on the license. Drop that, let me pre-pay my yearly ticket, and everyone wins.

Combine that with an “expert” driving test like they do in Germany (to keep the idiots who have no idea what their own and their vehicle’s limits are), and I’m there CR.

The People of the State of X has the burden of proof, but testimony from an officer of the court has more weight than testimony from John Doe. You must show that the officer’s testimony is defective.