Traffic Violation Defenses For Speeding, Red Light, And Reckless Driving Tickets
This article explains several important legal challenges to many traffic violation charges. These may be able to help you reduce or dismiss your charges with the help of an experienced California traffic violation defense attorney. It discusses:
- How radar accuracy can be used to challenge a speeding ticket.
- Common defenses for a red light or reckless driving traffic violations.
- Why you may want to hire an attorney instead of just paying the ticket.
Traffic violations are common and may not seem consequential at first. However, when you receive one you are faced with a serious dilemma. You could pay the fines, admit guilt and prepare to face inconvenient or disastrous consequences or you can fight the charges, even going all the way to court if necessary.
An attorney can help you make that decision, and if you decide to contest, they will be able to implement strategies to reduce your charges or get them dismissed altogether.
How Can I Challenge The Accuracy Of Radar Or Speeding Detector Devices Used In A Speeding Ticket Case?
Many traffic tickets and violations can be contested on technicalities, human errors, or contextual circumstances. Speeding tickets, even those given by an automated system and cameras, are no exception.
The most direct manner to contest radar/lidar systems is to obtain the maintenance and calibration records for the device that measured the speed. If the device was not recently calibrated or the records indicate that at the time of the citation, there was a range or margin of error in its accuracy, those records can be presented to the court in your defense and potentially even secure a dismissal.
The same is true in cases in which law enforcement did not use radar or lidar, but paced your vehicle and relied on the patrol vehicle’s speedometer. In these cases, it is the calibration records for the patrol vehicle’s speedometer that can potentially be used to dismiss the case.
Sometimes it is not the device, but the circumstances or setting which can undermine the ticket. Lidar readings, for example, can be affected by interference from large vehicles in the area, road signs, and even power lines, transformers, or radio transmitters.
That is why it is essential to have an attorney who can investigate both the evidence from police device recordings and the scene where the citation was issued to determine whether any such potential interference exists.
What Are Some Common Defenses For Red Light Camera Violations?
Even tickets handed out by the cameras at red lights can sometimes be dismissed. There are several defenses to red light camera violations depending upon the circumstances.
The most common one is to challenge the picture taken for the citation. The photograph must be clear and include an unambiguous picture of you driving. If the photograph is not clear or it is not a photo of the registered owner of the vehicle, the citation can be dismissed with the presentation of the ID of the registered owner to be compared to the photograph.
Another challenge to a red-light camera violation involves the yellow light interval. If the interval is below the established minimum duration, depending on the speed limit, then the case can be dismissed.
Insufficient signage notifying the public of the use of red light camera in a particular location can be a defense to a red-light camera citation. Specifically, if the signage indicating the use of red light camera technology is insufficient, either a lack of sign or the sign does not match the size or location required by regulations, then the case should be dismissed.
One final defense could be arguing that if the video camera does not establish that you entered the intersection during a red light, then the citation should be dismissed.
For every traffic violation charge, there are a dozen or more possible defenses.
How Can I Defend Against A Reckless Driving Charge?
Reckless driving, as defined by the California vehicle code, is driving with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. In lay terms, this means any driving that puts anyone or anything in danger. It is charged as a misdemeanor which can result in two points on your driving record and up to 90 days in jail.
While such charges are serious, defending against them is certainly possible. First, the prosecution must prove that you were driving and that your driving was not just bad, but also reckless or in “wanton disregard” of the safety of others. The jury instruction for wanton disregard is acting with disregard for safety when you are aware you could cause harm but chose to ignore the risk. If the prosecution cannot establish that the violation was conducted recklessly or with wanton disregard, then your defense is ironclad.
If the prosecution attempts to prove that your speed alone was in wanton disregard for safety, then you can use all the strategies mentioned above, and more, like the absence of a valid speed survey, to undermine their case.
One final reckless driving defense could be that of necessity. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to establish that you were driving recklessly under duress, for example, if you were fleeing from someone who might cause you harm. Similarly, if there was an emergency, or if you were trying to prevent greater harm, you might be able to argue necessity, which is a valid defense to reckless driving.
Should I Just Pay My Traffic Ticket And Be Done With It?
When you receive a traffic violation ticket, you might be inclined just to pay up and forget about it. But there are several reasons why you might want to think carefully before doing so.
Paying a citation still results in points on your license, and, in the case of multiple offenses, can even result in a suspended license. If you are one of the few Californians who does not rely upon a car then you might not be worried about accumulating points or paying increased insurance fees as a result.
Most of us rely upon our cars to get to work and cannot afford points on our driving record or pay even more for insurance. Additionally, there is rarely a downside to insisting that the officer prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and proceeding even all the way to trial if necessary.
On the other hand, if you hire a qualified traffic attorney, they can help you identify weaknesses in the government’s case and even use them to obtain a dismissal or reduction of charges.
Do I Need An Attorney For My Traffic Ticket?
While you could theoretically try to tackle your ticket independently, a lawyer offers the advantage of years of experience backed by specialized knowledge.
A lawyer can help prevent points from being added to your driving record, which is particularly important if you have already accumulated points or drive for a living. If you are a commercial driver or rely on your car for your job, you will need to fight the citation. And you will need a lawyer to do so.
Sometimes it can even be worth hiring an attorney when their fees exceed the cost of the initial ticket.
This is because the fine you pay is only the tip of the iceberg of costs you may incur if you do not contest the ticket. After all, if you are convicted, you will pay more for insurance as a result of the additional points on your record. Even just taking the time to answer court summons and going to court will force you to take time off work or obtain child care for your court date(s).
On the other hand, if you hire a qualified traffic lawyer you are likely to secure a dismissal or reduced charges, saving you both time and money in the long run.
For more information on Defending Against Traffic Violations In CA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 728-9982 today.