Reddit is a great resource for getting advice… here’s some good advice from the redditor bokbok:
First, I want to state that this in no way should substitute for legal advice and your own judgement. These are simply tips to avoiding having points on your license or having to pay fines/go traffic school by fighting your ticket. How you use this information is at your own discretion. Hopefully the mods don’t take this down because it is a bit lengthy, but I think everyone should know how to fight their ticket and should, given the option. This ticket was issued in CA, though I think processes of fighting speeding tickets should be relatively the same in other states.
Now to what happened. I fought my speeding ticket and won. I was given a ticket for going 90 mph in a 65 mph zone. The ticket was for $322 dollars which I got back. Some of these things I learned only after I started to research how to fight a ticket. If you are caught going in excess of a certain amount (depends on posted speed limit) the Violation Code changes and is considered wreckless driving. You CANNOT fight these types of tickets on your own unless you have the legal knowledge. Some of this information is completely relevant to fighting other tickets you find are unwarranted and you will know which parts.
When you get pulled over
1) BE POLITE Be cordial, don’t be an asshole. Hands on the wheel. When the officer asks you for your license and registration, ask him if it is ok that you reach into glovebox/center console to retrieve it BEFORE you give it to him. This will put him at ease. Cops are always spry from not knowing if a person is a going to pull a gun out on him or not. This will put him a bit at ease.
2) DON’T ADMIT TO ANYTHING. Do not say yes sir I was speeding. Let him tell you what HE THINKS you did. Make sure to take note of exactly what he says. This information is important.
3) DON’T ARGUE WITH HIM. It is ok to question what happened, but don’t make it into argument. You can always say something like “Really? I’m quite sure I was driving with the flow of traffic” or “My speedometer was reading at the speed limit.” It is best to let him do the talking and ask questions in a vague manner rather than challenge his judgment.
4) ASK QUESTIONS. Don’t do this in a suspicious manner. The cop might get a hint that you want to fight the ticket if you are pushy. Act like you are clueless. Types of questions to ask: How did you catch me? If it was by radar ask what the reading was and if you can see it. Small things like him saying “75 or so” are crucial to your benefit. The less accurate he is, the better chance you have of succeeding. If he says he was pacing you, ask what that means so he describes it to you (appearing clueless). Ask for how long he was following you and from where. Make sure to take mental notes of all this.
5) COUNTY SEAT If at this point he has decides to write you a ticket, ask if you can have it sent to the county seat. I learned this only after I had gotten my ticket. The county seat is the main branch in the county of where the ticket is issued. 2 reasons to do this: First, the main branch is usually not the officers home branch. Sometimes it is pretty far. This means he is less likely to show up in court should you have to go, because it is more work for him to drive there. Second, the ticket might get lost in the process. It’s not that likely, but whatever you can do to put things in your favor helps. If he asks why, just tell him that you work near there or something similar. He cannot refuse this right and if he does take note of it.
After you receive your ticket
1) WRITE IT DOWN Once everything is settled and you are now on your way again, pull over somewhere and write down or record every detail you can remember. If you have a good memory then don’t worry about this. Every detail includes: weather, date, time, traffic conditions, where the sun was at, lane you were in, lane he was in, what the conversation entailed (how fast he said you were going, how he caught you etc) The more info you have the better your case. Take lots of pictures of the area if you can. I used google earth photos.
2) EXTENSIONS Look at the date you are due in court. Call the a couple of days before and get an extension. You will receive one, and you can always make up an excuse for one. 2 weeks before your next court date try to get another extension. You may or may not get one. I did. The longer time between you and the court date the more time has passed and the less likely the cop will be able to recall you or information about the violation.
3) WRITTEN DECLERATION Read the citation and see what the rules are for trial by written declaration. Written declaration means you write up your case versus showing up in court. Even if you lose this case, you can go to court in person, which of course is up to you. Information is readily available on the internet about deadlines etc. Usually you have to send a letter postmarked 5 days in advance of your court date stating you want trial by declaration. Again, you can find this information online and I suggest you do it well in advance before you send the actual letter. The letter will read something like “I would like trial by written declaration and include the citation number.” Again this buys you more time. What will happen is that the court will process your request and send you the appropriate forms to fill out. It takes a while for them to do this, it took over a month before I got my papers. Some counties might provide the ability to start the process from online. That is up to you. I personally would opt for typing a letter and mailing it. The more time you can buy the better.
Once you receive the papers
1) DETAILS Construct your case as precisely as possible. I will upload a version of what I wrote as an example if anyone wants to see it. Include all the details you can. Your letter must be revised a few times to prevent contradictions or inaccuracies. Have some of your friends or peers revise it if you like.
2) FORMALITY/STRUCTURE Make sure the wording is formal and that the events are in order. Start out by describing where you were driving, time of day, weather, how fast you were going etc. Followed by where you were being pulled over, speed, lanes. The conversation and then your reasons why feel the ticket is unjust.
3) DIAGRAMS Include diagrams if you can. I included a hand drawn one. It helps
4) DEADLINE Send it by the deadline stated on the papers. Time extension is very important.
6) RESULTS Results either in your favor or against. If you lose you usually have the option to have an in person trial, or at this point just deal with it.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it really only took me an hour or two to type a letter and make a diagram for it. I did a bit of additional research, but most of the information is here for you. I saved $322 and a point on my drivers license PLUS having to go and pay for traffic school. It was definitely worth the time.
Pardon any grammar/spelling errors.
Edit: I should add that this applies to the USA. Not sure how it works elsewhere.
Edit 2: link to my written declaration http://i.imgur.com/uGaaq.png
Edit 3: Rlight gave some information on what to do in the case you do lose and would like to go to trial in person.
They will set a court date for you. First thing you should do is call the dispatch office where your officer is stationed (written on your ticket) ask for the officer’s schedule (this is on public record and legally must be disclosed) If the officer has 2 or 3 consecutive days off schedule your court date in the middle. Here’s why: typically officers will set up all their court dates consecutively in one day. If you’re the single ticket interrupting his weekend he’s probably not likely to show up to court.
Next. Go to court, many officers won’t bother showing up for what is now almost a 60 day old ticket. If you’d like to go to trial (nothing is lost by doing this, at worst you end up right where you started) ask for the radar gun certificate. This must be done daily on every gun used in a police car, and signed off by a superior. In reality most officers do not have this in court or actually do this. Finally (if you’re in CA or another state similar) the highest speed limit is 75 mph. By law everything beneath the highest speed limit must be speed tested (those little strips you run over to test the average speed of a motorist). Now obviously they don’t do this on freeways, and when you ask the officer will say there is no speed tests for highways. Your response is: “What is the law regarding streets requiring speed tests?” Answer: “The highest speed limit does not require them” Next: “What is the highest speed limit in state X” and in most states the answer is higher than 65. Thusly negating the speed limit sign. This method also works for non-highways as they are required to be speed tested once every two years (? I could be wrong, and it’s different state to state, but my point is that they’re almost never up to date). So ask for the speed test! That’s all I can think of for now, but I’ve beaten MANY tickets using these methods.