Getting pulled over can really ruin your day, and if you end up with an exorbitant fine that blows your discretionary budget for the month, it can ruin more than just one day. Some traffic fines are unavoidable, but if you weren't in an accident and didn't cause any injuries or property damage, there's always the chance that you can get out of the ticket. Take a look at a few strategies that may help save you the cost of a traffic fine.
At the Traffic Stop
When you see the blue lights flashing behind you, pull over immediately, shut the car off, and turn the interior light of the car on so that the officer can see inside. This signals that you're being cooperative and not hiding anything, which can help put the officer at ease. Traffic stops can be a dangerous business, so being cooperative and up-front from the start can help prevent or defuse any tension the officer may be feeling.
If you're not sure why you were pulled over, ask why politely. Don't argue, even if you disagree. Let the officer know that you're committed to driving to your destination without risking the safety of anyone on the road. Don't grovel, but try to express the fact that an expensive ticket would be a big deal for you. The idea is to let the officer feel that you're sufficiently chastised and don't need further punishment. Whatever you do, though, don't make a scene – if the officer insists on writing a ticket, accept it quietly. If you can't avoid the ticket, you want to at least leave the officer with the memory of a polite, calm, not-particularly memorable traffic stop.
After the Traffic Stop
If you can't convince the officer to let you go with a warning, don't worry – there's still hope. You should plan on fighting the ticket in court, but before you do that, take the time to call or write a letter to the officer who issued the ticket and ask for a meeting.
In most areas, the officer has the authority to drop the ticket. Remember that police officers are civil servants – you have the right to request a meeting, and as long as you're polite and your behavior raises no red flags, the officer will probably agree. When you meet with the officer, don't just ask to be let out of the ticket, give the officer your best reasons why you should get a one-time pass. Were you rushing to get home to a sick child? Will a ticket impact your job because you drive for a living? You're asking the officer for a favor, so give him or her a good reason to grant it.
Going to Court
If all else fails, you're left with the option of going to court. Your best bet is to delay your court date for as long as you can. You want to be a faded memory in the mind of the officer who issued your ticket by the time that your case comes up. Follow all of the court's rules and procedures, but ask for any delays or continuances that you can.
When you finally go to court for your first hearing, plead not guilty. You'll be given a trial date. Be sure to show up for the trial, or you'll be found guilty automatically. If you get lucky, you may show up and the officer may not, which can sometimes – but not always – lead to an automatic dismissal. At this point, you've tried everything to avoid going to trial, so your best bet is to bring a speeding ticket lawyer and your best defense, and hope for the best.
If you get all the way to a trial, there's still a chance that you can be found not guilty, or that you can convince the judge to assign you an alternative punishment. But if you give up and pay the ticket, you're stuck with it, and the points on your license that go with it. So why not take your best shot at getting out of the ticket? An experienced traffic lawyer in your area can help.