It is Monday morning on a chilly December. The cold weather, coupled with the Sunday-night party, means that you wake up late for your work. You try to make up for that lost time by going twenty miles over the speed limit. Soon enough, you see those familiar blue lights flashing behind you and, fifteen minutes later, you have been issued a speeding ticket.
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What is a Speeding Ticket?
A speeding ticket is a citation issued to a motorist, driver, or other user of the road, by which the law enforcement officer accuses the offender of a violation of speeding laws.
Is Signing the Traffic Ticket an Admission of Guilt?
No, signing the traffic ticket does not mean that you are conceding guilt of any speed law violation. Signing the ticket simply means that you are agreeing to pay the required fine or appear in court for a speeding ticket (if you want to fight the charge). However, a refusal to sign your ticket is grounds for the officer to arrest you on the spot.
How Much is the Fine for Going 20 mph over the legal limit?
Generally, a speeding ticket can cost you anywhere between $150 and 200. However, this charge can be significantly higher if you are found speeding in a construction or zone or close to a school. Moreover, the higher you go over the speed limit, the greater your penalty is likely to be.
Do I Have to Appear in Court?
Since a moving violation is considered to be a petty offense (as opposed to a criminal offense), you are not obligated to show up in court, as long as you pay the required fine by the due date (unless, like we mentioned, you wish to fight the charge). However, you might have to show up to court under special circumstances, which could include:
- Going at least 30 miles per hour beyond the legal limit.
- Reckless driving.
- Accident that leads to a severe physical injury or fatality.
What Should I Do If I Decide to Fight the Ticket?
For most people, the easiest route out is to make the fine payment and move on. However, some people decide to contest the ticket, in which case they will have to show up to the court.
Check your ticket to know whether it was issued by a local, county, or state officer, and look up traffic procedures in that particular jurisdiction. Go through the state’s code for motor vehicles and identify the law that you allegedly violated, before starting to figure out a way to prove that you did not.
To prepare yourself for court, you can:
To make a strong case, you need physical evidence that the speeding ticket was wrongly issued. This evidence could include GPS data from your smartphone, a dashcam video, or maybe even a photograph that proves that a speeding sign was absent or obscured.
Research on speed equipment:
Understand the methods used by officers to record your speed, and try to find loopholes in that method. For instance, if the speed equipment has a maintenance schedule, you could try to prove that it was not followed.
Find witnesses who are willing to testify in your favor. For example, you could call in any passengers in your car at the time you were charged with speeding.
Especially the questions you are going to ask the issuing officer. Your questions could be about the officer’s memory or their ability to operate speed equipment. It is advisable to ask short questions and steer clear of questions that start with ‘why’.
Delay the hearing
If you think you need more time to build a case, you can request the court to delay the hearing.
Should I Get An Attorney?
Although some people do contest a speeding ticket without a lawyer, you could and should hire an attorney if it feels too much for you to manage. Normally, lawyers specialize in areas like DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and more severe cases, but some might also be willing to handle speeding cases. If you received a ticket that can go on your driving record or lead to license suspension, you should consult a traffic attorney. If your ticket is particularly expensive and will cost you more than the $200 to $300 an attorney charges, you should go for a lawyer.
Can I Attend Traffic School?
If you are a first-time offender, you will be permitted to attend traffic school. Upon completion of your course, you will be awarded a certificate which you can use to request a reduction of points on your driver’s record, which can save you a significant amount of money on your traffic insurance.
Certain states let you attend a traffic school once in every eighteen months, while other states require a minimum limit of twelve months. Your local department will help you figure out if you are eligible for a course and if it will help you deduct points from your traffic record.
Can I Negotiate the Speeding Penalty?
‘Mitigation’ is when you try to make a deal with the prosecutor or the court. Such deals are beneficial for the jurisdiction because they save costs by removing the need for a hearing. These negotiations can be requested before or even during your trial, but this can vary from court to court, so you should call the relevant court or check their website to be sure.
Mitigation normally requires you to admit that you committed the offense and provide other information that might compel a judge to give you a reduced penalty, such as:
- Making you pay a portion of or the complete amount of the fine, in return for keeping your driving record intact.
- Instead of paying for the ticket, the court makes you attend a driving course.
- Lowering the amount of fine originally required.
- Allowing you extra time to pay the fine or letting you pay in installments.
What Will Happen If I Do Not Pay My Ticket?
Failure to pay your ticket means the court can take any of the following actions:
- Requesting the Department of Vehicles for suspension of your driver’s license.
- Prohibiting you from attending traffic school.
- Issuing an arrest warrant.
- Imposing extra fines.
Are There Other Possible Outcomes of a Speeding Ticket?
Depending on where you reside, you might get a ‘deferral’ if this is your first moving violation. A deferral means that you will pay the ticket fine, but your ticket will be dismissed after a certain period, provided that you do not commit any further offenses during that period.
In conclusion, remember that ignoring a speeding ticket will not magically make it go away; however, it might less-than-magically manifest more complications for you and lead you to far greater trouble down the road. Hence, it is better to address your speeding ticket as soon as possible. So, make sure to pay the fine and/or attend a traffic school to prevent other inconveniences or financial losses. Or, if you plan on fighting the ticket, contact an attorney without delay and provide them with all the details that you can.
If you were issued a speeding ticket, our Chicago traffic ticket law firm is here to help. From lesser violations to charges that threaten your driving privileges, we can handle your case. Contact us today for a FREE consultation to discuss your options.