In Part I of "How to Fight a Speeding Ticket," I detailed the three options for when you get a traffic ticket in Florida and which one to choose. Additionally, I ended right at the point where I said you have to actually tell the court that you want to fight the ticket, and that is done by going to the courthouse and pleading "Not Guilty." After you do that, you must wait until your actual trial date.
Sounds simple, right?
Here's where things can get tricky. Down here in South Florida, they decided a few years ago that they didn't like people setting matters for trial with the sole intention of seeing if the officer was going to appear or not. Apparently, it can get costly running a traffic court.
It seems back in the day, people didn't really have a defense other than hoping and praying the cop didn't show, and the counties didn't like having to pay the police officers overtime to sit in court when they could be out writing more tickets. So, some "genius" came up with the idea of instituting a "pre-trial" conference. Please note, I use the word "genius" here very loosely.
Basically, before you can have a trial, in many counties in Florida, you must endure a preliminary hearing where the police officer is not required to attend. The hope with this "pre-trial" conference, is that you will be so frustrated at having to appear again and again, that you will just resolve your case to move on with your life and when you do, the county won't have to pay the officer to appear, thus saving the taxpayers millions of dollars.
Personally, I see it as strong-arming citizens into resolving their cases. There really is no other explanation for it. When you plead "not guilty," you were telling the court that you believed you were not guilty and wanted a trial. Nowhere did you mean to say that you wanted to be dragged into court, forced to sit and waste more time, only to be asked again, if you still want to fight your ticket. It's almost cruel and unusual punishment. The looks on people's faces when they realize this is not their trial, and they have to come back says it all. "How many more times do I have to keep telling you that I want a trial?" is what the look is saying.
But the correct answer if you want your trial, when you are asked at your Pre-trial conference what you want to do is to say "Not Guilty."Only then will you be sent home and given a trial date. Annoying, I know.
It's important that you are aware of this "intermediary" step because if it exists in your county, and you want to fight your ticket, you need to know that you will be required to make at least 3 court appearances if you want to actually go to trial on your case.
If you don't have this problem in your county, you just saved yourself hours of wasted time. In your case, you will go straight to trial after the original "not guilty" plea.
Alright, so between Parts I and II, you now know exactly what to do and what to expect in the steps leading up to your actual trial. If you want to know how to beat a speeding ticket, you need to read my post on how to beat a speeding ticket. In that article, we cover more tips and tricks to use during your actual trial. If you are tired of reading, you can just watch this video for some more great info.
If all this sounds like too much work or wasted time, fear not. For under $100, you can hire a Florida Traffic Attorney who can take care of this for you. Let's be honest, don't you have better things to do with your time anyway?