Do not plead guilty before the officer even writes the ticket.
Your speeding ticket case starts the moment the RADAR, LIDAR or remote speeding camera locks on you. The mistake made most often is people trying to talk their way out of the ticket. There is probably not an excuse or reason you can give that the officer has not heard. On the other hand, excuses for speeding are also admissions to speeding. Although speeding tickets are civil infractions, not criminal offenses, anything you say still can and will be used against you. If you are stopped by an officer, be polite (even if you are convinced the officer is wrong). Provide your license, insurance and registration. Do not make any statements about your speed, your tires, your speedometer, the traffic, road conditions, or anything else to do with the facts surrounding your speeding ticket.
Mail your speeding ticket to the court immediately.
In Washington State you have 15 days to mail your ticket to the court. If you fail to do this you waive your right to a hearing (with a few very limited exceptions). Snohomish County will not re-open your case because you forgot to mail the ticket in time. Before mailing, make sure you mark "contested hearing" on the back of the speeding ticket and make two copies of each side of the speeding ticket. Retain one copy for your records and the other for your attorney (if you choose to hire one).
Request the infomation you need to fight your speeding ticket.
You will need to ask the prosecutor for copies of police reports, officer's notes and names of witnesses. You should also ask for certification and maintenance records of the speed measuring. Normally these records are kept at the courthouse or you will be directed to a website where you can look up the information. Tell the prosecutor and court that they must provide a "speed measuring device expert" at your hearing. Washington court rules require you to ask for this expert on a separate document. The best way to submit these requests is in the form of legal pleadings, but clear and concise letters will usually be sufficient for the court. All discovery requests should be served on the prosecutor. This usually involves delivering the request directly to the prosecutor's office or having it delivered by courier or registered mail. You should also provide a copy to the court with proof of service on the prosecutor.
Should I Subpoena the Officer?
It used to be a great strategy to subpoena the officer and when he or she didn't show up move for dismissal. This is not the case anymore. Most agencies are being more diligent about requiring their officers to appear on traffic tickets. If you have no technical defenses or you have an actual reason for calling the officer to the stand it may make sense to issue a subpoena. You only need to give the officer 7 days notice so you have time to review the reports and make an informed decision. The subpoena must be personally served on the officer with proof of service for it to be valid.
You've laid the foundation. Now, take your fight to court.
Here's where things get somewhat complicated. Consider hiring an attorney. They can catch problems you may not see and save you the hassle of going to court by appearing for you. If you really want to defend yourself you should buy a book on beating speeding tickets and get a copy of Washington Infraction Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction and your local court rules. Show up to court ready to argue compliance with court rules and standards of evidence not to offer excuses as to why you needed to speed.
Get Your Ticket Dismissed!
There a few simple things you can look for to get your speeding ticket dismissed (be aware that there are too many defenses to list most of them in a short article): (1) An infraction notice must be filed with the court within 5 business days from the issue date. (2) Normally, the court must give you a hearing date no sooner than 14 days but within 120 days from the notice of speeding ticket. (3) IRLJ 3.2(b) lists some information a speeding ticket must contain, including contact information for the court and identifying information for the driver and vehicle. The specific statute number for the speeding law you violated, and a place for the fine amount, must be provided. (4) The prosecutor is required to provide the documents you requested within 7 days prior to your hearing. The important exception to this rule is that the court can admit the officer's sworn statement if provided at least 1 day prior and you are not prejudiced by the late response. Again, this is not a detailed list.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
For the following reasons many people find that the relatively low fee for a ticket attorney is worth the price. It frees you up from the hassle of having to appear in court, saves you time in dealing with all of the paperwork and greatly increases your chances of a favorable outcome. If you have one of the following circumstances, you could have a lot more at stake than just a simple one time ticket and you should strongly consider hiring an attorney to handle your speeding ticket case: (1) commercial driver's license, (2) preferred rate insurance, (3) multiple tickets, (4) deferral from another ticket, (5) probationary license, (6) intermediate license, or (7) on probation for a criminal driving offense. If you plan on mitigating or deferring the ticket a lawyer probably does not make sense (see link below on Mitigation and Deferrals).
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