What to do when you get a speeding ticket
There is nothing fun to feel when those blue lights flash behind you on the freeway. No one wants to get a speeding ticket, and for good reason. If you are found guilty, an offense:
Affect your driving record, which may result in the suspension of your license.
Cost of upfront money: You will pay the speeding ticket and any legal costs.
Costs more money in the long run: After a traffic ticket, your auto insurance rates can go up to several hundred dollars a year.
It is possible to reduce the impact of speeding or erase it, although this can be difficult. Here’s what to know about your options.
The day you got arrested
Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve already been ticketed for speeding, so file these tips in case it happens again:
Ask what method the agent used to determine your speed and write it down.
Say as little as possible. Anything you say can be used against you if you go to court.
Be polite, don’t argue, and try to be trite. If the officer does not remember you, he or she may not remember the details in front of a judge.
Then write down everything about the incident, including the time of day, location, and anything that might have affected the circumstances, such as obscured or missing speed limit signs.
You can then choose to contest the ticket in court, negotiate a lower penalty or pay the speeding ticket and accept the impact on your driving record and the higher insurance premiums that may result. result.
If you decide to pay the speeding ticket
While paying a $ 50 ticket doesn’t sound so bad, think about the real cost of a speeding ticket. In addition to paying the upfront costs, after a traffic ticket, your auto insurance rates can go up to several hundred dollars a year.
For example, NerdWallet’s 2020 rate study found that:
A 40-year-old driver with good credit and full coverage will pay an average of $ 355 more per year after a speeding ticket.
On average, a 40-year-old driver with good credit and minimum coverage will pay an additional $ 148 per year with a speeding ticket on their record.
If you end up accepting the speeding ticket, it’s crucial to compare auto insurance quote; some companies will increase your rates more than others.
If you decide to contest the ticket in court
If you plan to fight the ticket, you will need to go to court, where a prosecutor will need to prove that you were speeding. Even if you think the ticket is wrong, speeding tickets are hard to beat.
If the officer doesn’t show up at the hearing, you might be off the hook, but don’t be fooled. If you are requesting a hearing, plan to make your point and be questioned in front of a judge. Check the ticket to see if a state, county, or local officer issued it, and search online for traffic procedures in that jurisdiction. Look up your state’s motor vehicle code, carefully read the speeding law you might have broken, and be prepared to say you didn’t.
As you prepare for court, you can:
Delay the hearing. This will give you more time to build your case.
Gather the evidence. Your best chance of winning the argument will be if you have physical proof that you didn’t step up. Evidence may include dashcam video or GPS data from a smartphone app, or photographic evidence that a speed limit sign has been hidden.
Search gear equipment. Research the officer’s method of measuring your speed, note their weaknesses, and prepare to present them. Instruction manuals include maintenance schedules that you can quiz the officer about, and they can note weaknesses in radar guns, for example.
Arrange for witnesses. You can call witnesses, including all passengers in the car at the time of ticket issuance.
Plan your questions. You can interrogate the sending agent, including his memory and his training with speed-clocking equipment. Stick to short answer questions and avoid asking “why” questions.
Decide whether to hire a lawyer
If this all sounds like more to you than you would like to handle on your own, you can hire a traffic lawyer to help you out. These lawyers usually specialize in DUIs and more serious cases, but some cover speeding tickets. Considering the costs, hiring a lawyer is probably worth it if your ticket is particularly expensive or could result in the loss of your license.
An average traffic lawyer costs between $ 250 and $ 350 nationwide, according to Thumbtack, an online marketplace for service professionals. A speeding ticket costs between $ 50 and $ 2,500 in some states, in the most severe cases.
If you decide to negotiate the penalty
“Mitigation” consists of concluding an agreement with the prosecutor and the court; it saves the court money by avoiding a hearing while reducing your penalty for the ticket. You may be able to request a negotiation before or during your hearing, but that is the court’s decision, so check the court’s website or call to be sure. In some areas, you must request mitigation measures in writing.
Typically, as a mitigation, you admit the offense and present information that would lead a judge to grant you leniency. Results may include:
You pay all or part of the ticket, but it does not affect your driving record.
You take a driving course instead of paying the speeding ticket.
The ticket is reduced to a smaller fine.
You have more time to pay the fine.
Other possible outcomes
There are other possible ways that your speeding ticket can be undone. For example, depending on where you live:
Your state may waive your first movement violation if you take a driving course.
You may receive a deferral, in which case you will usually pay a fine and your ticket will be canceled after a certain period of time if there are no more violations.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the post. It won’t go away on its own and you will have bigger problems with the law. The extent of the problems depends on your condition: you could be arrested or face higher fines, or your license could be suspended.
NerdWallet writer Philip Reed contributed to this report.