One of the most common traffic violations in the U.S. is speeding. Pretty much anywhere you go, you are more likely to get cited for having a bit of a lead foot than for any other type of moving violation.
Keep in mind, though, that getting a traffic ticket doesn’t mean you’re automatically guilty of speeding. A traffic ticket is merely a notice issued by a law enforcement officer that summons you to appear at traffic court. There – and only there – can your guilt for the ticketed offense be affirmed, but only after you have the chance to defend yourself.
Five Possible Defenses against a Speeding Ticket
It can seem like a cut-and-dry matter if you were pulled over and cited for speeding, but these issues can end up being much more complicated than you’d think. In fact, there are several different ways you can defend against your speeding ticket. We’ll discuss five of them below.
1. The Officer’s Unreliable Perception
Sometimes officers will use doubtful methods to determine whether or not someone is speeding. One of these ways is to pace beside or drive behind a motorist under investigation. If the officer is pacing, he or she will look at their own speedometer to assess the other motorist’s speed; if the officer is driving behind the motorist, he or she will look for a change in distance between the two vehicles as evidence of speeding.
An even less reliable method some officers will use is known as “sighting.” This occurs when the officer is stopped and estimates motorists’ speeds as they pass. Each of these methods relies on the officer having an accurate perception of speed, which won’t always be the case – especially if the speed cited on the ticket doesn’t significantly exceed the posted speed limit.
2. Defective Speed-Measuring Devices
Even when an officer isn’t relying on their own perception but that of an instrument such as a radar gun, you may be able to defeat a speeding ticket. Radar guns and all other similar devices are only as good as the officer’s knowledge on how to calibrate and use one. If the officer didn’t properly set up the device or failed to use it in a manner that would accurately assess your speed, its readings can be thrown out as evidence.
3. You Had a Faulty Speedometer
We take our speedometers for granted, but like radar guns and all other instruments, they require proper calibration. If your speedometer isn’t properly calibrated, you could have been unknowingly exceeding the speed limit because your instruments were telling you otherwise.
Winning with this defense will require you to get your speedometer properly calibrated and present the court with a certificate from the mechanic verifying that your instrument was unreliable in its previous state. This isn’t an absolute defense – especially if your cited speed well surpassed the posted speed limit – but you should still consider having the calibration performed anyway.
4. The Speed Limit for the Area Was Hidden or Not Properly Posted
We’ve all had that experience where we’re driving in an unfamiliar area and suddenly realize we don’t know what the speed limit is. This can be especially problematic if the speed limit signs are obscured by trees, graffiti, or other obstructions – or sometimes it may be that you encountered no sign at all along your route.
These can be used as defenses against your speeding ticket, but be prepared to demonstrate with photo and video evidence that you reasonably could not have known the speed limit. Also bear in mind that many interstate highways in New York don’t have speed limits outside of 40-55 mph, so you may not successfully defeat your ticket if your speed exceeded the posted limit by a lot.
5. You Were in an Emergency
Being late for work or a family engagement isn’t an emergency, but you might find yourself in a different situation where speeding felt necessary. Your pregnant love one could have unexpectedly gone into labor, someone could have stopped breathing or is bleeding out, or you just got word that your house is on fire.
Any of these examples might be enough to get you out of a speeding ticket in the moment, but in case one was actually issued, they could also help you defend against the ticket in traffic court. Ultimately, the judge will consider whether you really needed to speed and if driving at the speed you did was reasonable considering the situation and your surroundings.
Were You Ticketed for Speeding? We Can Help.
Your chances of successfully defending against a speeding ticket will vary depending upon the details of your case. An experienced traffic ticket attorney in New York like ours at Stites Law can help you increase your odds of defeating your ticket in court by building a defense that can mitigate or eliminate your responsibility for the violation.