Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and California are on the top four states in terms of driving citations. In the United States, there are 196,000,000 licensed drivers as of 2013. Out of this number, 112,000 receive speeding tickets on the daily average. This means 41,000,000 drivers get traffic tickets annually. About $6,232,000,000 comes from payment for speeding tickets. A speeding ticket costs around $100 and annually the average revenue per police officer amounts to $300,000.
Traffic tickets are intended to be deterrents to traffic violations to ensure safety and order on the road. Yet even when most Americans are licensed drivers, many have occasionally committed mistakes and with the automated cameras on strategic intersections, you just can’t escape not being punished for a wrong turn or for speeding.
So how do you beat traffic tickets? The first thing to do is to be aware how traffic tickets work, regardless whether your traffic violation is in court or you simply desire to know traffic rules and avoid any violations.
What are traffic tickets?
This is a notice being issued by police officers to motorists or road users who are accused of violating traffic rules.
In the US, different states, counties and municipalities have codified laws or ordinances and most minor violations are cited as civil infractions. Examples of these minor offenses are non-moving violations, defective vehicle equipment, improper vehicle equipment, seat belt and child-restraint seat violations, or insufficient license proof including registration and insurance.
What are the types of violations?
Traffic tickets are of three types:
- A moving violation like exceeding road speed limit, running a red light or stop sign and DWI/DUI
- Non-moving violation such as parking violation or illegal parking
- Strict liability offenses such as driving with broken or burned-out headlights, illegal U-turn, negligence to yield and parking without authorization in a handicap space.
What to do to beat traffic tickets?
When a traffic officer stops you for a violation, your attitude is your best defense.
- Be polite. Always be respectful. Show submissiveness and humility. Do not act arrogant. Aggressiveness and fighting with the police officer will just get you more in trouble. It is good if you roll down your window and put your hands on the steering wheel. Do not attempt to move as this might make the police officer more suspicious.
- Let the officer finish the basics. Wait for him to ask you questions. As standard questions, he will ask “Do you know why I stopped you?” and your answer should be politely “No, officer I don’t.” The second question is “Do you know how fast you are going?” You can answer any of the following: (a) “I’m not sure, officer.” (b) “I think, it’s my speed limit.” (c) “I wasn’t speeding, I checked my speedometer right before you stopped me.” Then, he will usually ask for your driver’s license and car registration. Hand him whatever he asks for.
- Do not accept guilt. Simply answer “yes” or “no” to his questions. If you have established rapport, you can ask for mercy or consideration. Make it sincere and let him see that this is very important for you. However, when he finally gives you a ticket for your offense, don’t argue. Your argument may be used against you in court.
- Follow court guidelines. Usually traffic tickets are tried by mail. You can submit a letter claiming your innocence and the police officer will also do the same. Traffic police don’t bother to do the paperwork, so you can win by default. If you lose, however, you can ask for an in-person trial and request for traffic school or pay penalties or fine.
- Plead your case. As mentioned earlier, plead as “not guilty”. When you do, you will be assigned to a court to continue with the trial. There are instances when the officer may not show up. So again you win because the case may be dismissed. However, in many cities with a large turnout, the judge can decide to simply reduce your offense to lesser charges by reducing points on your driving records, or in county ordinances, no points will be placed on your record.