Drivers beware! Desperate state and local governments have redoubled their efforts to raise cash by fleecing motorists with increased “traffic enforcement.” There has never been more financial pressure on governments to trick, rip-off, and screw over the hapless public.
Traffic Laws Are Designed to Make You Pay
Speed limits weren’t conjured up by the Founding Fathers; they were nationalized by ultra-liberal president Jimmy Carter out of safety concerns and further embraced by local authorities who saw dollar signs.
Feeling the heat from superiors, police officers are today increasingly being handed ticket-writing quotas to raise money. You may have noticed police cars lurking around corners more frequently, and officers have been writing up motorists for small infractions like never before.
Of course, the best thing you can do is to drive safely AND avoid the cops in the first place. Most police officers wait at a limited number of spots to catch speeders. They often work in pairs, so if you see one cop detaining a motorist, assume that his partner is nearby. They also have set routes they patrol to issue parking tickets. Figuring out where they are and steering clear will help avoid being ticketed.
If you do get pulled over, take a deep breath and remember these tips:
Don’t admit guilt. It’s the police officer’s duty to tell you what you did wrong. If he asks a question like, “Do you know how fast you were going?” he’s only giving you rope with which to hang yourself. Instead, simply state that you believe you were driving safely.
Be polite and cooperative. Don’t start antagonizing the officer. If he questions you, don’t be sarcastic or condescending. Police have tremendous discretion, and being polite may result in you being cut some slack. If you end up in traffic court, testimony that you were belligerent won’t earn you any sympathy from the judge either. Just remember that you have to walk a thin line. Be courteous but brief, not volunteering any information unnecessarily. Generally, keep your mouth shut and let the officer do the talking.
You Can Beat the Traffic Nannies
at Their Own Game
If you’re given a ticket, you have a right to defend yourself in a courtroom. Most people opt to avoid the hassle and simply pay the ticket, which is exactly what the greedy town bureaucrats want to happen. If you have the time and think you have a case, take your ticket to court.
First, there is a reasonable chance the police officer won’t show up in the first place. Cops are busy on their beats during the day and sometimes don’t have time to attend traffic trials. If the officer is not present in court and you are, the ticket automatically gets dropped.
Most states technically view traffic infractions as criminal matters, rather than civil. This means that the burden of proof is higher – requiring your guilt to be established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” (However, as a practical matter, judges rarely doubt the word of a policeman.)
If the traffic violation is a civil matter in your jurisdiction, you are innocent until proven guilty by “a preponderance of the evidence.” In either case, your goal is not necessarily to establish your total and undeniable innocence, but to show why the evidence presented against you is inaccurate, unreliable, or insufficient to establish your guilt.
Regardless of which standard of proof applies to your case, here are a few pointers:
Don’t rely on your word alone. Against the word of a law enforcement officer, the judge will side against you virtually every time absent any documents, photographs, witnesses, or other evidence to corroborate your testimony.
Request a copy of the radar gun manual. Most speeding tickets are issued with help from a radar gun. Fortunately, these instruments are unreliable. Inside the manual will be a list of things that can cause inaccurate readings, such as wind and metal railings. Use this to further muddy the waters.
Check the speed written on the ticket. Sometimes the officer will write a lower speed on the ticket than the speed at which he clocked you. This is often done to compensate for faulty radar guns, which are sometimes calibrated too high. If you can credibly suggest the information on the ticket is inaccurate, you could win the case.
Consult with an attorney if you’re confused about the law. Although the fine imposed by a traffic citation might be relatively small, the negative impact on your driving record and future insurance rates can be significant. Having a lawyer on your side improves your odds of defeating or reducing a costly ticket.
If you are convicted, attend driving school if it is presented as an option. While it may be a hassle, it could not only reduce the fine, but also save you hundreds of dollars in higher car insurance costs over time.
For more information, check out the National Motorists Association (www.motorists.org
). The NMA provides a directory of traffic attorneys and other valuable benefits. It will charge you $35 per year ($45 for your family) for membership. After a year, if you challenge a speeding ticket in court, plead not guilty, and lose, the NMA says it will actually pay your fine!
Be safe. But DON’T be a victim of broke governments trolling for a quick buck!