First and foremost, contact an experienced traffic attorney, usually a consultation does not cost much and sometimes nothing at all. The attorney will advocate the best course of action to minimalize any damage and limit the increased expenditures you could get after receiving the citation.
The first thing you should do is check the facts. Document everything concerning the circumstances in which the officer pulled you over. This should consist of:
- Weather conditions
- Road conditions
- Speed limit signs if there were any
- Were there witnesses?
- Direction of travel
- Time of day
You will want to contact any eyewitnesses (if you can) get their contact data and ask if they would testify on your behalf in court. (This will only be necessary if you feel they were doing the equivalent or close to the same speed).
Try and get a copy of the police officers report or notes, video of the traffic stop or anything that the prosecutor will use in court. This is also a legal right of yours to have if you are pro-se. If you are representing yourself, you have all the rights of an attorney.
Attend your court date that has been set and plead “Not Guilty.” The judge then will set aside a date and time for trial.
Try to delay the hearing/ trial for as long as you can. This usually will increase your chances that the officer who pulled you over and gave you the ticket will not remember your case well enough to be able to prosecute successfully. This usually can only be done once for each side. The key word is usually.
Keep in mind, pleading in this manner can cost you more money if you are found guilty by the judge.
When you go to court:
- Before court, distinguish what your argument is. In other words, research the area of law in which you “think” the court made an error. Practice this argument so that you know what you want to say, and why. This also calms the nerves while in court.
- Be polite.
- Listen and take notes so that you can ask questions of the officer of any discrepancies of his statement to your statement to the court.
- Be calm and collected and try not to be caught off guard. Just be honest and answer any questions truthfully.
- Dress nicely. Casual business attire usually works well. You don’t want to appear disheveled as this distracts from your credibility.
- Be organized. Bring all supporting documentation and witnesses with you.
- Arrive on time.
- Do not use slang in any part of your argument or paperwork.
- Address the judge as “Your Honor.”
- If the Officer does not show, you have the right to ask for a dismissal of the charges.
- Accept the decision professionally. This helps to create a rapport with the court should you ever have to appear again. If you are found guilty, pay the fine that the judge states and the court cost. If you are found guilty, you do not have to pay anything.
Remember, all jurisdictions have various rules and regulations. Check your jurisdiction for court rules and procedures.