Being issued a traffic ticket can be a very frustrating and embarrassing experience. Tickets can often result in hundreds of dollars in fines and even mandatory defensive driving classes or license suspension.
That being said, it is very important to know what makes a traffic ticket valid or invalid. Every ticket should list the alleged office, the fine amount, and the summons data. Mistakes can easily be made by the officer issuing the ticket if incorrect information is written down. If you are interested in fighting a traffic ticket there are a few things to look for to see if a ticket is valid:
What Factors Invalidate a Traffic Ticket?
If an officer writes your ticket in a hurry or absentmindedly, necessary information might be excluded. Any missing data that is crucial to the case, like a missing date or fine amount, will affect the validity of the traffic ticket and might cause the citation to be diminished or invalidated.
Incorrect vehicle listed
If an officer lists an incorrect make or model of your vehicle, license plate number, or any evidence which identifies you, the citation could be thrown out. If this is your situation, you simply need to prove that the information on the ticket does not identify you as breaking the law. This can be done by showing documented proof that the listed car is not yours.
Faulty equipment used
The equipment which informs the presence of traffic violations must be functioning and up to date in order for a ticket to be valid. Radar guns and cameras can be affected by severe winds, storms, age, and weathering causing them to be less precise.
Radar guns are also subject to the user error of the officer. Factors such as the purchase date, regular maintenance, and battery power of the radar gun can also affect how sensitively the instrument captures data. If you can prove that one of these factors influenced the circumstances of your ticket, you will have a better chance of fighting the citation.
Obstruction of traffic signs
A speeding or other traffic ticket can be invalidated if traffic signs are invisible to the driver at the area where the ticket was issued. If a branch, shrub, building, or billboard is blocking any important signs (such as speed limit, stop, yield, or do not enter signs), a driver cannot be expected to follow these signs. For example, if the speed on a certain freeway goes from 65 to 45 suddenly and the sign which indicates this is obstructed, a speeding ticket issued to drivers in this area would likely be invalidated.
Necessity of Speed Defense
Sometimes, speeding is necessary. When you use the “necessity of speed defense” you are admitting that while guilty of speeding, you had very specific circumstances which necessitated it. For example, if you are speeding because of a medical emergency or to avoid an accident, your ticket might be dismissed. This defense does not often work, however, and should only be used as a last resort.
If the officer who issued your ticket doesn’t show up in court on the day of your trial, the case is automatically thrown out. Sometimes officers can forget about issuing the ticket, or the court date is postponed so far out that the officer does not show up.
There are a few common defenses that are invalid and do not usually work to dismiss a traffic ticket.
Going with the flow of traffic
Even if other drivers are also breaking the law or speeding, your citation will still be valid. Claiming the age-old “everyone else was doing it too” plea does not work in traffic courts.
Ignorance of the law
If you mistook the situation or didn’t know the law, you will not be excused from paying your traffic ticket.
Claiming the officer is lying
This claim will not work because in court the officer is under oath to tell the truth about the situation. If it comes down to believing you or the officer, the judge will typically choose the officer unless you have compelling evidence to substantiate your claim.
Claiming that no one was hurt and nothing was damaged
While this may be true, it doesn’t matter if people or property were damaged when you broke the law. Most minor traffic infractions do not require that anyone or thing be hurt for a violation to occur and be valid.