Thousands of traffic tickets are handed out to motorists in Illinois each and every day, and it’s not just the fine that drivers have to deal with. Depending on their driving history and the circumstances surrounding their ticket, there’s a possibility that their driver’s license could be revoked or their car insurance rates could skyrocket. Because of this, we caution drivers from simply pleading no contest and paying the fine.
When you consider that you have almost nothing to lose and everything to gain by contesting your traffic ticket, it’s almost a no brainer. But how do you ensure you put yourself in the best position to beat the charges? We explain in today’s blog.
When it comes to your interaction with the officer, be as unremarkable as possible. During traffic court, the officer is going to have to recall the traffic stop from memory, and being outlandish or aggressive will only help them remember the specific incident. Be polite, keep your answers short and be forgettable during your interaction with police.
Document Your Facts
Again, it’s your word against the word of the officer, and a judge is inherently going to take the word of an officer over yours. Because of this, you need to be sharp and have a vivid recollection of the events leading up to your citation. It helps to write everything down as soon as possible following your traffic stop. Document the officer’s name, the time of the stop, what they specifically accused you of doing, what you were ticketed for, what you were wearing, any radar readings, weather conditions and any other details from the interaction. All of these facts can help to prove you have a better recollection of the events, and therefore your version of the story may be seen as more credible than the officers.
You should also consult with a lawyer prior to your court date. We offer a free case evaluation, so there’s no harm in at least talking to a lawyer about your options. We’ll be straight up with you during this meeting. If it’s not worth our time or your time to hire a lawyer, we’ll let this be known and point you in the right direction for how you should challenge the case on your own. But if we believe we can help you beat the case and save you money, we’ll tell you that too. Meeting with a lawyer is especially important if your driver’s license is on the line or if you stand to have major increases in your auto insurance premiums.
Be Professional At Court
You should dress professionally for your court appearance and act in a similar manner. Pay specific attention to the questions being asked of you, and answer in a clear and direct manner. How you act plays a role in whether or not the judge accepts your version of events over the police officer’s, so help build your character through your appearance and actions. Also, it’s imperative that you appear on time for your court date.
Prepare a Defense
If you have a lawyer, they can help you with this part, but if you’re going it alone, you need to come in with a strategy. Don’t just go in hoping that your word will be believed over that of the officer. While you want that to be the case, you also want to develop a strategy for making your case look better and the prosecution’s case to look worse. There are many ways to do this, but we’ll give some examples:
- If you were accused of speeding, you may consider making the argument that you were simply keeping up with the speed of traffic, and going slower actually could have made traveling conditions more difficult. You could also argue that if it was congested that the officer may not have had a clear radar to your vehicle.
- If you were accused of swerving, you will want to point to any animals or obstacles that caused you to drive in such a manner.
- If a posted sign was blocked from your view, you can argue that you were unaware that your actions were indeed illegal.
These are just a fraction of the types of defenses you can bring up, but you want to find a way to strengthen your case and poke holes in the officer’s story instead of just telling your version and hoping for the best.