Many drivers have experienced the unpleasant event of receiving a speeding ticket. When you received your ticket you may have been annoyed, embarrassed, angry, or some combination of these emotions. Once you sat down to take a look at your ticket, you probably started to wonder what you should do next. Maybe you don’t think you were going as fast as the officer has alleged. Maybe the fine associated with your ticket is overwhelming. Maybe you are concerned about the effects this ticket will have on your DMV record and insurance rates. Before you decide how to proceed, there are some steps you can take so that you make an informed decision about how to handle your speeding case.
Check Your DMV Record
One of the first things you should do after being charged with speeding is check your current DMV record. Most states have an online option to print or request a copy of your driving record. You want to check for any errors or incorrect past tickets. If you do have some prior infractions, knowing how many points you currently have will help you determine if the new charge puts you in danger of a license suspension from the DMV. And if your record is clean, you will want to bring a copy to your court date.
Over time the speedometer on a vehicle can stop accurately displaying the vehicle’s speed. This problem can be exacerbated by changes in tire size and pressure or previous repairs. A speedometer calibration may reveal that your faulty speedometer made you believe you were driving slower than you actually were. Check with local auto repair shops to find someone who can check the accuracy of your speedometer. Many technicians will produce a notarized form detailing what your speedometer display is at several different speeds. Even a few miles per hour discrepancy can lower your fine or DMV points significantly.
Driver Improvement Class
Driver improvement classes done before your court date can help your case and earn you some “good” DMV points on your license. There are now several programs conveniently available online. Many states have a list of approved online courses posted on the DMV website. However, if your case is more serious due to very high speed, dangerous driving behavior, or a bad driving record, you may want to locate a special program for reckless and aggressive driver improvement.
Consult a Lawyer
You may have determined that you don’t need to hire an attorney for your speeding case. However, many lawyers will offer you a brief, free consultation before your court date. A lawyer who is familiar with the court can give you some pointers about how to present the evidence you have gathered and what your likely outcome will be. In some courthouses, the prosecutor or police officer will speak to you before court to review your documents and agree on a deal for your case. In other places, the prosecutor will only talk to your lawyer. It’s best to know your options before you show up for court.
Prepare Your Argument
You should decide before your court date if you are going to plead guilty or not guilty to your speeding ticket. If you are pleading not guilty, be prepared to conduct a brief trial. Many judges will give you some leeway as a defendant without a lawyer but still require you to follow basic trial procedure. After the officer testifies, you should be prepared to ask him some questions. That is not the time for you to begin telling your side of the story. Ask the officer specific, closed questions. When you have no more questions, tell the judge that you are ready to testify. Your testimony must be the sworn truth and relevant to your charge. In the end, you can make an argument to the judge for why you should be found not guilty of the charge.
Your Court Date
On the day of court, be sure to show up early. Most courthouses have extensive security lines, just like the airport, which can take some time to pass through. Give yourself plenty of time to find parking and get through security. Dress nicely in a suit or other business clothing. Bring several clean copies of the documents you have gathered, neatly organized in a folder. You should also bring a notepad and pen to take notes on anything the judge, police officer, or prosecutor instructs you to do. Be polite and professional with everyone you encounter.