Here's how to fight your speeding ticket. While it almost always makes the most sense to simply hire one of our experienced traffic attorneys to protect your driving record, you can do it yourself if you're willing to learn some law and court rules.
Carry valid license and insurance. This is pretty obvious. Not so obvious is the fact that your registration needs to be signed. If it isn't, you can get a ticket for that too. You also want to make sure that all of your lights work. If you have a third brake light, each light has to work. We see a lot of infractions that include a "burned out tail light" when the only light not working is the third brake light in the rear window. Make sure everything functions. License plates: you are required to have a front license plate. You are not allowed to have anything obstructing the plate. This includes ball hitches, dirt, and license plate covers - even the clear ones. For you motorcycle guys, the plate has flat, not angled, but 90 degrees to the ground, and the alpha numeric must be oriented so that the tops of letters and numbers are pointing up. Tinted windows look cool, and the privacy is nice, but if they are too dark, the cops can give you a traffic infraction. You can run a little tint on your front window, but it can't obscure your vision while driving. If you look at your windows by the front pillars, you'll see little lines that indicate the maximum distance from the top of the window that stickers or tint can extend to.
Obey the Speed Limit. If you don't obey the speed limit, then don't admit it when you get caught. Minimizing your speed is the same as admitting breaking the law. For instance, if the speed limit is 60 mph, and you're cruising along at 75 when the cop hits his lights, don't pull over and tell the cop that you were only doing 65. That's admitting to breaking the law. The cop won't care, and the judge won't care. The cop will cite you for speeding regardless of how fast you say you were going. Since you don't have to say anything to the cops when they pull you over, say nothing. Have your license, registration and proof of insurance ready to go, and politely decline to answer questions, which brings up another point: Be Polite. Cops have a tough job. Don't make it any tougher on them, or yourself, by arguing with them about your infraction. That's a fight you will never win.
Get Your Day In Court
Once you get a traffic infraction you will probably wonder, "how do I fight a traffic ticket", or "how do I fight a speeding ticket?" Your best bet is to hire a traffic attorney to fight things for you. These cases are won on technicalities, and not the facts. But first things first. You need to request a "Contested Hearing". Incidentally, all of this information applies only to tickets in the State of Washington. Check the Contested Hearing box (third box down on the ticket) and sign and date the ticket. Fill out an envelope with the appropriate court name and address which you'll find on the ticket itself. Put a stamp on the envelope. Make a photocopy of the front of the ticket and the front of the envelope showing the proper address and postage. Put the ticket in the envelope and mail it within 15 days of the citation. Keep the photocopy somewhere safe as it's proof you timely requested the traffic court hearing. When you get the court date, make sure you show up. Alternatively, hire a traffic lawyer to do all of this for you, so you can chill.
Prepare To Fight Your Infraction
Before you go to court, you need to get a copy of the discovery. Discovery includes a copy of the infraction, the officer's statement about what happened, and the "6.6 Declaration" from the expert who certified the speed measuring device used. When you go to court for your speeding ticket, if you didn't hire an infraction attorney, you need to know how to attack the most basic technical errors with tickets. This requires paying attention to some things that I'll explain in the next session.
What's In Your Discovery
Look for the following issues: Vehicle type. Most courts will dismiss if the officer forgot to put vehicle type such as sedan, pickup, motorcycle, etc. Make sure he didn't put the vehicle type elsewhere in the ticket, though. Timely filed. Cops have five business days to file. Business days don't include weekends, or holidays, so basically, they have at least one week to file. The new tickets that come on 8.5"x11" paper are pretty much automatically filed, so there won't be a filing issue. However, the old green tickets RCW 9A.72. The green tickets require the declaration be signed "under the penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington." The declaration has to be signed by the cop who witnessed the violation and it has to have this language. If it doesn't, ask to have the ticket dismissed. 6.6 errors. Look for information within the 6.6 document that the speed measuring device (SMD) was "tested under the direction of...". The guy who signed the 6.6 is supposed to test the SMD, not some unknown person. 6.6 Attachment A. This little steaming pile nonsense is rarely signed as required by 9A.72. Even when it is, nobody has any reasonable explanation for what specifically it is accomplishing. Sadly, not every court understands this. Judges are elected, not necessarily brilliant. Pace. Did the cop follow you for at least 1/4 mile at a consistent distance and speed? Does he mention his training to pace, or looking at the speedo? If not, there is no foundation for how fast you were going. SMD Testing. The device needs to be tested before and after the stop. Does the cop's declaration say this? If not, ask for a dismissal. The tests include checking the LED lights to make sure they all work, an internal diagnostic, and for lasers a reticular alignment test, and distance test at a minimum of 100'. If the cops declaration doesn't detail all of these tests, ask for a dismissal.
You Can Also Hire A Traffic Attorney
There is much, much more to fighting tickets including the case law that supports everything traffic attorneys do to get infractions kicked out of court. Do yourself a favor though and let your lawyer get grilled by the judge and prosecutor while you sit at home, work or school. I, and every traffic attorney I know, have watched inexperienced attorneys fail in court when they were fighting a ticket any of us could have won. Shop around and find an experienced speeding lawyer you like.
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