In Part I of "How to beat a speeding ticket in court" we touched upon the fact that in order to beat a speeding ticket in court, you must first know how the police officer calculated your speed. In other words, which electronic device did the officer use to see how fast over the speed limit you were supposedly going. Once you know that, you can then know exactly the type of paperwork the officer will use in court to show the judge. Only then can you prepare a defense. So in Part II, I will explain the following:
- How to verify the accuracy of the paperwork
- How to exploit any mistakes you spot
- How to ask the judge to dismiss the ticket
Once you've seen the paperwork (either before your trial if the officer shows it to you, or when the judge orders the officer to do it), the next step is to make sure what the officer is showing you is proper. This is where experience comes in. Like anything else, the more you do this, the better you will be (I'm not suggesting you go out and get a few hundred speeding tickets). And when you finally get a chance to see your paperwork, there is no requirement that the officer explains it to you (although some of them are very nice and are happy to explain what you're looking at), or how long you get to look at it. But when your moment comes, be ready, don't blink, and know that most of the time, you will be shown a log, showing your ticket number and date and time the ticket was written, a certificate that the device is approved to be used, (the officer can't use something he created the night before in his garage but is pretty confident is accurate) and a maintenance record that shows the device has been checked recently. If any of those are required, and the officer doesn't have them, you're ready for the next step.
It really doesn't do you any good to ask to look at something if you don't know what you are looking at. Again, this is where experience comes in, but if anything doesn't look right in what the officer shows you, it probably isn't. What I mean by this, is if you don't see anything showing your citation number, or the date of your citation, it's possible the officer is trying to fool you by showing you his buddy's logbook and thinking if you don't know what you're looking for, you'll be fooled. A little detective work can serve you well. Be polite and if something doesn't look right to you, just ask the officer to explain what you're looking at and where your ticket fits into all this. I can't tell you the number of times our firm has been able to get cases dismissed because the officer "left the paperwork" either in the patrol car or back at the police station. If you don't ask to specifically to see where your ticket appears in the records, you might be selling yourself short.
Finally, and I know this sounds obvious, but you can't forget this step. If, after looking at the paperwork, you think you spot something that doesn't look right, do not be shy. There is no penalty for asking the judge to dismiss your citation because the paperwork doesn't look right to you. The worst thing that can happen is the judge denies your "motion to dismiss" and you move on to something else. Remember, you are your own best ally in traffic court. There is no State Attorney (prosecutor) on the other side, just you and the police officer. You MUST, as some point, say something to the judge about why you would like the ticket dismissed and state a reason. The judge will try and act as a neutral third party, but judges are human. If you don't come across as arrogant, are truly respectful, show a general interest in trying to learn how the process works and why, you stand a much better chance of the judge liking you, and believe it or not, secretly rooting for you. In fact, if you do everything right, the judge might look at the paperwork the officer is producing and see something your eye didn't catch and decide to dismiss your ticket for a reason you didn't even know about. Trust me, I've seen it many times.
Good luck and let me know how you did.