Can You Beat a Traffic Ticket?

Photo (cc) by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

Blue and red lights start flashing in the rear-view mirror and with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you realize the lights are flashing for you. It’s a traffic stop and you’re about to get a ticket. Not only will it cost a big fine; the resulting points on your license could cost you big on your insurance too.

While it may seem there’s little you can do to change the outcome of this scenario, that’s not true. We did the following video on how to beat a traffic ticket by hiring an attorney.

While that story was basically about hiring a lawyer, that’s not the only way to get out of a traffic ticket: You might be able to persuade the officer to let you off with a warning. You may have a legitimate, legally recognized excuse, called a “substantive defense”. You might be able to persuade a judge to reduce your fine/points by making a sympathetic plea. Or you might challenge something technical about the method in which you were pulled over.

Persuading the officer

Before the ticket is even written, there are a few things you can do that might help you get let off with a warning.

  • Pull over as soon as you notice that a police officer is behind you.
  • If it’s dark, turn on the lights inside your car.
  • Turn off the engine after you’ve pulled over.
  • Don’t move around inside the vehicle. Don’t reach for your driver’s license, registration or insurance information until asked for it. According to attorney Joseph Hazelbaker, “Moving around prior to the officer reaching your vehicle can put them on edge or make them suspicious.”
  • Roll down your window and have your hands on the wheel when the officer gets to your car.
  • BE RESPECTFUL AND FRIENDLY!
  • Give your excuse courteously, as the officer asks for your identification, before they have begun writing the ticket.

The main thing to remember is to be polite, without making the officer feel anxious or nervous. While a traffic stop is an inconvenience for you, it could be a life threatening encounter for them, so don’t give them any reason to worry about you.

Legitimate, legal excuses

In some states, there’s something called a “necessity defense”. It means that, if you’re doing something illegal (like speeding) because it was necessary, you won’t be punished for it.

Typically, acceptable necessity defenses will be cases where you were rushing someone to the hospital or trying to get away from a dangerous dunk driver.

Sympathy from the Judge

This one involves what it sounds like it would involve: asking the Judge for a little leniency. There’s certainly no guarantee this will work, but it’s worth a shot. Explain your circumstances and why you were speeding. Maybe you just didn’t see the sign reducing the limit. You can talk about how you’re traditionally a great driver, this is your first ticket, it wont happen again, etc. Try to keep lies to a minimum and respect and manners to a maximum.

Technical reasons

You might also be able to have your case dismissed in court for technical reasons. Suppose you were speeding, but only by a little bit, and within the margin of error for the device the officer used to measure your speed. The fact that you might not have been speeding after all is a decent argument to have your case dismissed.

That device used by the officer might not have been calibrated well, or maintained as regularly as needed. It’s within your rights to request this type of information from the police department where the ticketing officer works.

Finally, the officer might not have filled out the ticket correctly. Even a small mistake might give you leverage for a dismissal. The attorney we interviewed, Anthony Mallo, said that in his experience it happens often.

Don’t drive fast

The point is, you do have options if you get a ticket; options that don’t involve paying a lawyer. But the best way to beat a traffic ticket is to never get one in the first place. Leave home a little earlier, allow yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going and avoid road-side encounters with the cops.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple
8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple

Ready for retirement? Not so fast. You might be surprised at some of the issues that come up for couples when they plan.

How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses
How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses

Major expenses are difficult to predict, but there are ways to make sure you’re protected.

22 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On
22 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On

With some items, it makes sense to pay a little more rather than hopping on the lowest price.

The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get
The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get

This simple strategy can put more money in your pocket during retirement.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

10 States Where COVID-19 Threatens Seniors the Most
10 States Where COVID-19 Threatens Seniors the Most

No state is immune from the coronavirus. But statistics show that some places are especially dangerous for older residents.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

12 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
12 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do
The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do

Tired of age discrimination? Businesses are clamoring for older workers to fill certain roles.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Things That Are Cheaper Due to the Coronavirus
9 Things That Are Cheaper Due to the Coronavirus

The pandemic has a silver lining.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.