Getting a speeding ticket can ruin your day. In most cases, a ticket can result in substantial fines, points on your driving record, and an increase in insurance premiums. If you have multiple traffic violations, you may even face the temporary loss of your driver's license. What if you disagree with the ticket or believe that you can prove you were not speeding? In North Carolina, you certainly have the right to fight the ticket, but it may not always be the best option. What arguments can you use to support your defense?
You Made an Honest Mistake
Sometimes there are situations where you mistakenly break the law. Perhaps the speed limit sign on the highway was obstructed by trees. Maybe the stop sign you inadvertently ran had been knocked over by some teens, preventing you from seeing it. It would be helpful to take photographs of the obstructed signage or reason why you mistakenly broke the law.
The state has an obligation to make sure that its roads and highway are maintained properly, which includes ensuring that all signage is visible to drivers. If you can prove that you did not intentionally or knowingly break the law, a judge may agree to scrap the ticket.
Speeding Was a Necessity
Sometimes we are put in situations where breaking the law is a necessary evil. Maybe you are trying to rush a loved one to the hospital for emergency medical treatment. Or, perhaps you were acting under force or duress. If you can prove that speeding was justifiable under the circumstances, a court may agree to reduce the penalty for your ticket or throw out the charge altogether.
The Officer's Assessment is Wrong
Many times, police will use radar technology to help them determine whether a driver is speeding. Tickets issued pursuant to radar data are generally upheld in court. Police do not necessarily have to use radar to issue a speeding ticket. Personal observation of speeding can also be enough to trigger a citation. However, if you were only speeding by a few miles-per-hour over the limit, an officer's own personal assessment of the situation may not be sufficient to support a ticket. Your chances of beating a ticket are best when your ticket is based on an officer's own subjective assessment, but ultimately it is up to a judge to decide whether to believe the officer's testimony. In North Carolina, judges tend to treat officer's testimony as credible, so even if the officer's speed estimation is subjective or not supported by radar, you could still be convicted of the speeding charge.
Should You Fight Your Speeding Ticket?
If you have been issued a speeding ticket in North Carolina and believe it was issued in error, you have the option to fight your ticket. But even while there may be a number of grounds on which you could fight your ticket, it is important for you to evaluate not only the advantages but also the risks associated with fighting a traffic ticket. For example, if you decide to fight a traffic ticket, the legal fee to hire an attorney is likely to be higher because it will involve more time on the part of the attorney. Additionally, if you take the case to trial and end up being convicted of the speeding charge, you could experience a suspension of your license and significant increases in your insurance.
On the other hand, if you do not contest the ticket, you may be able to obtain a much more favorable outcome by hiring a knowledgeable attorney to negotiate down the speeding charge to either a lower speed or a non-moving violation such as improper equipment, which carries no points on your license or insurance. While this option would require you to pay some court costs and fines, it would likely be much less than the costs of hiring an attorney to fight the ticket and the increase of insurance premiums that would be experienced if convicted of the charged offense.
Contact Caulder & Valentine today at 704-470-2440 to request a consultation with our skilled legal team about whether you should fight the ticket in court. We will review your case and explain the steps involved in fighting your ticket.