When potentially preparing to fight a civil infraction, it is essential to know what you are up against, primarily because it will determine whether contesting it is even a viable option. Most court websites provide a schedule of fines and points for various violations. Match the information from the ticket to the schedule and determine if points have been assessed. If points have been assessed, proceed to step 2. If points have not been assessed, it is unlikely that this ticket would be able to be reduced to any further.
Determine If the Officer Gave You a "Gift" at the Scene
Many times police officers will often write tickets at the scene for violations less than the actual violations committed. E.g. You are caught going 80mph in a 70mph zone, but the officer only wrote the ticket for 75mph in a 70mph zone. Many times helpful officers will do this to ensure that you comply with traffic laws in the future, but to allow you to avoid points being assessed to your license. Check your ticket. If a "gift" was given, it will show what the charge is, and there will likely also be a notation of what the actual speed is. If there was no gift at the scene, proceed to step 3. If there was a gift at the scene, it is unlikely a prosecuting official will reduce the offense further, given that the officer has already reduced it once.
Consider Your Driving Record
Take a few minutes to review your driving record. If it is clean, this gives you more for your attorney to negotiate with when it comes time. If your record is long and littered with prior violations, especially in the last two years, it is less likely that the prosecuting official will make an offer to reduce the charge. That is not to say that it will not be reduced, it is just less likely. It is important to remember, when determining whether to reduce a ticket, prosecutors only consider two things (if that): (1) Whether there was already a gift; (2) What the prior driving record looks like. If your record is clean, proceed to step 4. If your record is exceedingly long, consider the cost-benefit side of hiring an attorney to negotiate a ticket down, but proceeding is not always a bad idea.
Contact an Attorney Immediately
From the time a civil infraction ticket is issued, there are only ten days to request a hearing on the matter. As such, it is important to notify your attorney immediately so appropriate documents may be filed. If you cannot get in touch with your attorney before the deadline, but you know you want your attorney to represent you, you must request in writing a FORMAL HEARING on the matter. This is the only way an attorney may represent you. Many people make the mistake of requesting an informal hearing (where you represent yourself). Proceed to step 5.
Your Court Date
About five to six weeks after your request, you will finally get your hearing (depending upon what jurisdiction you are in). You will have to do very little. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf, and, in extreme circumstances, may even conduct a formal hearing. Your attorney will likely show up armed with your driving record, possible your criminal record, your ticket or a copy thereof, and a good presentation for the prosecutor to negotiate the ticket. You need only sit back, let your attorney handle it, and follow their instructions. Just remember to dress appropriately for court and be respectful to any officials you may come into contact with.