What Form of Defense Do I Take?
Now you must decide how you want to fight this citation. You have several options available to you. You
can always choose to pay the ticket and be done with it. Or you can decide to win this fight!
Some things to keep in mind when making this decision are:
Was I doing excessive speed?
Can I afford to have the points added to my record?
Do I want the ticket on my records?
Am I willing to pay the extra insurance premiums because of this ticket?
Can I afford the fine?
If you answer no to any of the questions, then you should consider fighting this ticket! If you truly feel
you deserved the ticket, then you must deal with the consequences of such. You may even want to
consider going to driving school and paying the fine in trade for a clear conscious.
How Do I Start To Fight This Ticket?
The first thing you will want to do is to plead Not Guilty. This does not mean exactly what it sounds like.
All it means is that you are now making the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
You may not need the use of a Lawyer unless there are other circumstances surrounding the citation.
Were you accused of drinking? Was anything illegal found in your car? If not, you probably can win this
on your own and save attorney fees. After all, you have all the information from the ticket, and the
memory of that awful experience as your defense!
The first item on the agenda is to make sure your driving record is in impeccable order. If you have a
parking ticket, take care of it. Make sure your tag and registration is up to date. If you have any previous
tickets, get a printout of your points and what they were for. Review the ticket for accuracy. Was the
correct statute used? If not, you may have grounds for "motion to dismiss".
The second item will be to arrange for a court date. To do this you must enter your plea of Not Guilty to
the court. You can do this in person to the Clerk of the Court, the Judge himself or mail a copy of the
citation with a formal request for a trial date. Contact your local authorities to see what is the best method
for you. You may be requested to actually pay the fine at this time. If you lose the trial, you will
have already paid the fine and are done with it. You cannot be charged additional
fees because you challenged the ticket. Should you not be able to attend the trial
for any reason, you do not want to be charged with a Failure to Appear for wasting
the courts time.
Your trial will be within the next 45 days if you request a Speedy Trial. You don't
have to have a Speedy Trial if feel it would be at a busy time for you and would
make getting off work difficult, leaving early from a vacation or anything that could
keep you from making your court date. Also, the longer you wait, the less the officer will remember about you and the ticket. However, some people just want to
get this over with before they lose their desire to fight. Weigh all the factors before
making a decision.
Should you elect to have a Speedy Trial and the courts respond that the officer will
be off work that day, or possibly on vacation and would like to reschedule, you should say no and refuse to waive your rights to
a Speedy Trial. If they proceed to reschedule, then you may now have grounds for a mistrial.
Do your homework. Go to your local library or law library (most court houses have one and are open to
the public) and research your state statutes regarding speeding tickets and your rights to a Speedy Trial.
Your time is as important as an officers days off or vacation time. If the judge finds that the prosecutor
had reasonable cause to continue your case, then go with it. Do not do anything to
make the judge angry. You can always appeal if you lose, and it will almost always
Preparing Your Defense
Gathering Your Data
You have the right to subpoena documents used in issuing this citation or witnesses that will be beneficial
to you. (Do not subpoena the officer or any officer who assisted in the ticket.) You can do this through a
Public Records Request Form. See your Clerk of the Court for details.
When requesting a subpoena for documents, make sure that you include records involving the radar gun
(if one was used). Ask for all logs referring to calibrations, FCC License use (who at that department was
trained and certified to use it), any repairs, problems or specifications pertaining to that radar gun,
including the tuning fork.
Ask for records concerning the officer issuing the ticket. Request information regarding his formal training
and certification in using the radar gun, how many tickets were issued that day and for the previous 20
work days, specifics on the patrol car or motorcycle that he used to make this traffic stop. This is very
important if he did not use a radar gun, but clocked your speed on his speedometer. The prosecution can
request that your request be denied with "motion to protect" which could keep you from accessing these
documents. Should this happen, you need to document it carefully and when your court dates
comes up, ask for a "motion to dismiss". If this does not work, ask the judge why
you are being denied pertinent information to help substantiate your case. He may
decide to grant your request at this time and you can file for a "motion for continuance" so you can now prepare your case.
Once you have all the documents in hand, you will need to review every piece of evidence available. Did
the radar gun's records show excessive repairs? If so, it could have problems of accuracy. If no records
are found, it could show that the unit was under duress and in need of maintenance. The manufacturers
manuals will detail how often routine maintenance is needed.
Radar calibration is used to check the unit for accuracy. It must be logged in and
recorded each time it is checked and should also be certified each time. Some experts will say that to be completely accurate, a
radar gun must be calibrated immediately before and immediately after a ticket is written with a tuning
fork. Has this been done? Has the department met all the specifications of the FCC
License that allows them to use the radar gun?
On the issue of the officer's records, you will want to look for excessive tickets
issued, a certain area used, was the same gun used several times that day before
you got your ticket? If so, you could prove that the gun was under duress from excessive use. Was the other tickets that day issued for approximately
the same speed? Maybe the unit was malfunctioning. How many hours did the officer train
before being allowed to use the radar gun? There are standards set by the National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration. You should check with your local area to see if training requirements meet these
standards. The standard is 24 hours of classroom instruction with an additional 16 hours of field training
through a qualified supervisor.
Should your stop have resulted from a patrol car speedometer or the officers estimated guess system, you
will need to have records detailing the maintenance on the patrol car. If using the guessing system, most
officers are trained to judge an oncoming vehicle within 3 miles per hour of their speed. Others may use
their speedometer to pace the car going the same direction. If so, records are very
important to describe the stress on the vehicle and the officer.
Now that you have gathered this information, you will need to create a list of questions for the officer to
be answered in court. Start with the most important. Some sample questions are listed in the next few
Sample Questions and Motions and Objections
The questions listed below are only some samples of area's you may want to elaborate on. You should
research your local state Statutes for state specific laws. The motions and objections listed below can and
should be researched through your local library, law library or the Internet and should be written with
your pertinent information with regard to state law. Remember to not venture too far off the subject at
hand - your ticket - and to conduct yourself in a professional manner.
These questions would be directed to the officer issuing the ticket:
How long have you been a police officer?
Have you had recent, extensive training in estimating a vehicles speed, or the use of radar detection?
Are you certified as a radar detection officer?
Have you ever had problems using a radar gun?
What about this gun in particular?
Are you aware of the maintenance records and calibration logs pertaining to this radar gun?
Has this unit, or any radar unit available through your department ever had problems with accuracy?
To properly use radar gun, how close do you need to be to get an accurate reading?
Do you know the range that is best suited for this type of radar gun?
Is there anything that can encumber the radar beam? Would you give some examples?
If two cars are both traveling side by side in the same direction, at close speeds, how can your radar gun distinguish which car is traveling faster?
Are you trained in visual speed detection?
Do you routinely use your patrol car speedometer to measure a motorists speed?
When you observed my vehicle, was there any other cars on the road? In what direction were they going?
Can you recall the position you were in when you first saw my vehicle? Were you standing still? Driving in your car? Sitting in a still car?
Was my car moving in the same direction as your car or going in the opposite direction.
Did you notice my vehicle before you used the radar gun on me?
Approximately how long did you have my vehicle under observation?
What brought my vehicle to your attention?
You may want to bring in some questions regarding more personal information at this time. Do not start with trivial questions first. Get the important information out up front and try not to waste the courts time.
Motions to Research
(You will need to check your local state statutes for specifics as they can vary from state to state. There may
be many more motions that will benefit your case.)
Motion to a Speedy Trial
Motion to Dismiss due to
The denial to a Speedy Trial
Lack of evidence
Denied access to necessary evidence
Objections to Research
(You will need to check your local state statutes for specifics as they can vary from state to state. There
may be many more objections that will work for you.)
Other Forms Of Evidence
It's always a good idea to return to the scene of the citation. Look for details you might have forgotten to
mention in your immediate notes. Check to see how well speed limit signs are marked and how far apart
they are. If possible, draw a diagram of the area, including all traffic lights, signs, road markings,
buildings, everything possible. Don't leave out trees in the median or on the sidewalks,
benches, even bus stops. If signs are blocked from a drivers path, take pictures
detailing this. Make them and your diagram large enough that the judge can easily
see your point. If they will not help your case, don't use them. You don't want to help
the prosecutor win the case against you.
Preparing Your Defense
You are now at the point of preparing your defense. Was the ticket issued under the correct state statute?
If not, ask for a "motion to dismiss". It may not work, but will make the officer look like he does not
know his statutes very well. Was the radar gun or car calibrated as specified in the manuals?
Be prepared to use any and all of this information in court. Be thorough and precise in your
documentation. Make a list of the most important information for quick reference. You don't want to
be nervous in court and forget something important.
If you have time, visit the courtroom you are assigned to and observe the judge and his characteristics.
Get a feel for how he handles similar situations, make note of something that agitates him, and prepare
your case and questions so as not to upset the judge. Familiarize yourself with the surroundings so you
will feel comfortable. If you feel you cannot communicate well with this judge, see how
difficult it would be to be reassigned to a different judge.