traffic ticket blog

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Barry D. Kowitt is one of the founding partners at Unger & Kowitt, where they have helped over 500,000 people fight back. 

In this blog, he shares with you his views on the traffic ticket system, as well as providing traffic ticket solutions that really work, no gimmicks. Hint: saying "my car doesn't go that fast" isn't going to cut it.

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How to beat a traffic ticket in court in Florida

 

How to beat a traffic ticket in courtWithout question, the single biggest mistake I see people make when they try and beat a traffic ticket in court, is failing to prepare for their trial.  We've all seen television shows with trial scenes and as entertaining as they can be, they couldn't be further from reality.  Yes, even Judge Judy isn't realistic.  Any trial, whether it's a murder trial or a traffic ticket trial, must follow proper court procedure. 

The first thing you must know is that, in Florida, the state has the burden of proving the case against you.  If they can't do that, the matter will be dismissed.  Simple enough.  If there is no one to testify about what you might have done wrong, the judge will have no choice but to throw the matter out. 

When you do show up, don't get excited because you don't see the police officer at your first court hearing.  I'm sorry to tell you, but in South Florida, your first actual court hearing does not require a police officer to attend.  It's called a "pre-trial hearing (or pre-trial conference)," and it takes place before your trial (hence the word "pre" before the word trial).  The courts are hoping people want to resolve their case here and not continue on to trial.

But you read this blog, and you are too smart for them, so don't fall for it.  Wait until your name is called (yes, I know it can be hours) and tell the judge that you would like a trial.  After you do that, they will set your case down in a few months and you can finally have your day in court. 

If you haven't researched your violation by now, what are you waiting for?  Get online or go to a library and read up on the statute you were charged with.

When it's the day of your trial, dress appropriately, show up on time, and wait for your name to be called.  We've already covered that the police officer will go first and explain to the judge exactly what he or she observed you doing.  The officer might produce documents to verify what he or she is saying.  You will have an opportunity to look at those documents and ask questions, but not until the officer has finished speaking.  Oh yeah, here's some more free advice.  Don't be rude and interrupt.  You're not F. Lee Bailey, so don't try to be.  When the officer is finished, and has met his or her burden (meaning he or she has proved to the judges satisfaction the elements of the charge), you can finally speak.  

Now, I know it's been a long time.  You probably got this ticket months ago and have been dying to tell a judge just how wrong you feel this ticket was.  You have been practicing and rehearsing exactly what you were going to say for months, and you're getting so good at it, that your own mother actually believes you were not speeding.  So don't blow it.  Take a deep breath and try to discredit police officer's case.  If it was a speeding ticket, did the officer testify to all the elements in the statute you read?  Did the officer make a visual observation of your speed that was consistent with the speed measuring device?

If you can't think of any questions (and I just gave you two), it's time to make your case.  My last piece of free advice is that factual defenses generally do not work in traffic court.  Meaning, do not tell the judge what actually happened.  Trust me, you are walking into a trap. 

I'm not suggesting you lie, what I'm saying is that your story of what you were doing is probably going to convince the court that you are, in fact, guilty of the violation. 

Telling the judge that the light was yellow or that you were keeping up with traffic or that your car doesn't go that fast are all things the judge has heard a million times and even if any of those were true, it doesn't matter.  The judge probably doesn't believe you anyway. 

Generally a police officer's credibility in traffic court is much higher than the person who received the ticket and will most likely say or do anything to get out of it.  This is why the only defense in traffic court is a legal defense which is based on legal arguments, not factual ones.

For some legal defenses, you will have to stay tuned, they're coming soon.

Have a traffic ticket and want to fight it yourself?  Get our FREE 25 page eBook that explains everything you need to know when you get a traffic ticket.

                                        

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Comments

Retaining a legal representative is often the best choice in fighting a traffic ticket. Many defences are technical and require signifficant knowledge of rules and traffic court process.
Posted @ Sunday, July 24, 2011 11:41 AM by Mississauga traffic tickets
I couldn't agree more. Traffic Court is definitely one of those things that people feel isn't very complicated and think they can just walk in and get the case dismissed (because they just saw an episode of Law and Order). But the reality is, there is a lot more too it than telling the judge "I was just getting on the highway" or "there was no speed limit sign" is not a defense. As I tell people, "You can't play the game if you don't know the rules." Which is why being prepared is so important.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 26, 2011 5:37 PM by Barry Kowitt
Hello, I really like your blog; and after reading through it I've decided to look into hiring a lawyer. Are there any firms in the Orlando area that you would recommend? I got a ticket a few hours ago for driving with a 7-day old expired tag. Thank you.
Posted @ Wednesday, October 17, 2012 9:33 PM by W. Paul
My daughter got her 1st speeding ticket last night 83 in a 55...ouch (she is 17). She stated she didnt realize a cop was behind her and the his car was on her tail so she sped up so the car behind her spead up and was on her tail again so she spead up again and thats when his  
lights came on. Is this worth fighting or is it a waste cause she is a young driver?
Posted @ Tuesday, January 15, 2013 3:29 PM by TJ
Paul, 
 
Thanks for the compliment. We handle many tickets in Orlando. Call me and if it's something I can't handle, I'll find you a great attorney. 
 
Thanks. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 6:03 PM by Barry Kowitt
TJ, 
 
Yes, this is worth fighting. You didn't say what county this was in, but her age will not count against her when it comes to whether it's a "winnable" ticket. It's almost always in a persons best interest to fight their tickets. Call me and I'll give you a more realistic outcome based on some factors. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 6:05 PM by Barry Kowitt
My 16 yr old son received a ticket for driving past curfew which is 11pm. Its my understanding that the officer had to have another reason for pulling him over. He can't just pull him over because he thinks he is 16 and driving past curfew. Is this true and if it is should we go to traffic court. Thank you
Posted @ Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:55 AM by ML
great information. Question: the ticket is 250.00 (88 in a 70) apparently out of state reporting from FL to NJ is 2pts. What would the typical cost of legal defense be vs. paying the ticket, taking an online 2pt removal class? Insurance issues? even if the points are removed?
Posted @ Wednesday, March 06, 2013 12:28 PM by Elaine
Hello....I have a hearing today concerning a speeding ticket. I was not driving the car, it was my son. He drove in from Great Lakes,IL. Navy base to care for his grandmother so that I could attend the (Inauguration) in Washington D.C. He was clocked by a speeding monitor at 35mph in a 25mph zone. He said, the speed change was not clear. The area is Elmwood, Ohio. It has been viewed on the internet and TV frequently. There has been so many complaints concerning this area that 75 to 90 or more people have asked the Attorney Mike Allen of Cincinnati, Ohio to defend them. Tickets are costing $105.00 and some people have received as many as 5 tickets in one day. The area is deceiving concerning the speed change per miles. The decision of the complainants is also today(03/06/13). I'm unclear on how to approach my situation since I was not driving my car. But, hopefully I can join in with the other complainants and ask Attorney Mike Allen to help me, too.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 06, 2013 12:59 PM by FBF
I was cited today for 50 in a 35 mph zone near Marianna, Florida. I was actually doing 61 when the officer clocked me. He said he did me a "favor" by putting 50 on the citation in order to "save" me money. He did not mark that he used a speed detection device on the citation. If I fight this, how would he prove his case against me?
Posted @ Wednesday, March 06, 2013 4:46 PM by Sam
Very Good Information...thank you for sharing.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 07, 2013 4:47 AM by Florida DHSMV
Is there any defense to driving through a safety zone(316.1355)? They say Ignorance is no excuse but this is a fairly new statute that I have never heard of. It was unintentional.
Posted @ Friday, September 20, 2013 2:27 PM by stephen osborne
Stephen, 
 
I'm sorry for your ticket. Especially one of these, what I call "ticky tack" violations. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if you've never heard of it or if your actions were intentional or not (traffic tickets don't take your mental state into account). Whatever you do, don't just pay it. We can help you fight it, but even if you don't hire us, don't pay it. 
 
Good Luck. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Friday, September 20, 2013 2:58 PM by Barry Kowitt
You've got a really interesting page in here indeed. Totally amazing page!
Posted @ Thursday, October 03, 2013 12:56 AM by nautilus equipment
I'm fighting a ticket next week and I just realized reading your blog that I am not prepare at all. The reason I want to fight it is because I have a bad financial situation right now and I can't afford to pay the ticket so I want to ask the judge to allow me to pay with comunity hrs. But now I'm not sure if I made a mistake in wanting to take the ticket to court. I don't want to end up having to pay more and the thing is that I was speeding indeed and my driver record does not look very good I don't know if that would influence the decision of the judge. I might need legal services to represent me. What you think? 
Thank you
Posted @ Thursday, October 03, 2013 12:38 PM by Liz Martinez
I was pulled over for speeding and told I was getting a citation. I had to sign something, however,he drove away and never handed me anything. What should I do?
Posted @ Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:45 PM by Eileen
I was cited today for 60 in a 45 mph zone in Marianna (Jackson County), Florida. There were two cars in front of me, another car passing me, and a car behind me. I saw the police car and I was thinking it was going to pull over the car passing me, but the police car pulled up behind me and pulled me over. The officer stated they clocked me doing 60 mph. I was driving under 55 when I saw the 55 speed limit sign and I was driving 45 when I saw the 45 speed limit sign. I have been driving thru this area for over 10 years and I never speed thru the cities on HWY 231 because I know the police are clocking your speed. I know what the speed limits are in these areas and I have always watched my speed limit. I was completely surprised when the officer said I was speeding and I was shocked when he said I was going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. My wife and children were in the car with me. On the Florida Uniform Traffic Citation, the officer marked "NO" when asked if passengers were in the car. I was not speeding. Can I fight this?
Posted @ Saturday, November 30, 2013 5:47 PM by Johnny D Smith
Hi Barry. My wife was ticketed for speeding,34 in a 20 MPH zone. The street on which she was nabbed is only about 1/3 to 1/2 mile long, one end is at a major highway and there is only one house on the street, with the rest being businesses and a fire station. I found an AG Advisory Opinion (link below) and I'm pretty sure the 20 MPH limit on that street is illegal per Florida statute, and should be 30 MPH. 
http://www.myfloridalegal.com/ago.nsf/Opinions/581C44E9850876F98525669C00646FBF
Posted @ Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:34 AM by xhunter
Xhunter, 
 
Thanks for the question. The Advisory Opinion is interesting. It's a little old and it's just an opinion, so it's not law. However, it's very interesting and I'll try to bring it up to persuade a court next time the issue arises. You didn't say which county this was in (some are more open to these types of arguments than others). It's worth a shot. Good Luck. If you want to talk to me more about it, feel free to give me a call. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:36 PM by Barry Kowitt
That all sounds like great advice, but how about court fees. Here is my situation, that I just went through but got hit with the $300 court fees. I got pulled over, my NY plates were suspended but I didn't know it. I had changed my license here right after I moved down. The Officer asked for my license and I gave him my Fl License, He said I was pulled over for a decoration I had surrounding my plates (Yankees)and that was illegal. Well, why would he even look into it if my plates were from NY? anyway, no problem, I said to him that I had just gotten pulled over two days ago for the lights bulbs for the plates were not to bright and I had changed them, so why didn't that officer say anything about it? He gave me a ticket for having a license suspended in another state although the ticket read this way "Driving with an out of state license while Fl license suspended" (First lie), second ticket, "living in Fl for at least 5 months working for at least 2 months" (never understood why), and a WARNING for the situation with the plates in NY. So I go to court and the State Attorney would NOT talk to me when I asked her why I was there for license if I have a license. (mind you, I tried to fix this before court day) so I decide to plea no contest because I knew about court fees and a lawyer would have been more expensive than that. When I stood in front of the judge, he himself finds that everything was wrong I and the tickets were completely wrong but still hits me with the $300 court fees. What am I supposed to do?
Posted @ Tuesday, January 28, 2014 8:44 AM by Felicita Lozada
Felicita, 
 
I'm sorry for your situation. I know how frustrating it can be and in many jurisdictions, the people involved (police officer, state attorney, judge, etc. . . ) can appear to give people who represent themselves a hard time.  
 
I have many questions about what you've stated and I don't have the room to go into everything here, but, this is why I encourage people to try and get a lawyer (even if you took a consultation which is usually free, you might have been able to determine what was likely to happen to you).  
 
Is your Florida license suspended? Do you still have a NY license even though you have a FL license? (usually, they make you turn the first one in) 
 
I'm not sure why the State Attorney wouldn't talk to you, as a defendant, you have rights. 
 
I'm sorry and wish I could've helped you before you got into this mess. You can try writing a letter to the judge, but other than reducing the fees, there's not much he or she is going to do. Lastly, you can try to get a payment plan with the clerk of court. 
 
Good Luck. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Wednesday, January 29, 2014 5:59 PM by Barry Kowitt
Pasco County, city of Port Richey PD issued the citation. The street is a known speed trap around here, so why my wife was going that fast is a mystery. She swears she wasn't, LOL.
Posted @ Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:39 PM by xhunter
Barry thanks for responding. NO, I have a valid Florida license my NY license was given back to me at tax collector office but they cut the corner of it. I never carry my NY license on me so I never showed it to the officer. I think the S.A. knew the whole thing was an error but I assume is easier to intimidate and get a plead . I seriously think the officer was racist and S.A. didn't know what to do. Shouldn't had someone investigated the case prior to showing up in court that way she would have known the mistake???? Just saying! Very frustrating these are the people we must trust
Posted @ Sunday, February 02, 2014 3:46 PM by Felicita Lozada
Felicita, 
 
Sadly, your story is not that uncommon. Until it happens to you, you don't fully realize why you need to hire a lawyer to protect your rights. Hopefully, this is the end of it. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Wednesday, February 12, 2014 6:18 PM by Barry Kowitt
Hello Barry I have a question and thank you :) 
 
I was given a ticket for going 54 in a 40. I believe that the officer was mistaken and, aside from this, the ticket was issued in a transitional zone between the posted 40 and 50 mph zones. 
 
Do you think this is worth fighting? 
 
I appreciate your help! :)
Posted @ Saturday, February 22, 2014 7:59 PM by Mike
Mike, 
 
In my opinion all tickets are worth fighting. In Florida, you rarely come out in a worse position by fighting a ticket (assume you or the person fighting it for you knows what they are doing).  
 
Good Luck and we can help, let me know. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Monday, February 24, 2014 5:35 PM by Barry Kowitt
I have a question. I was driving on I-4 today back from work going at the speed limit. A cop came out of the exit and promptly went on to the left suit. I follow suit and went to the left lane as well. The cop slowed down from 70 to 65mph. There was a car on my right and I turned on my blinkers to go to the middle lane (at this point the cop is in front of me on the left lane). The car that was on my right saw that I turned the blinkers on and slowed down considerably to about 60mph. With my blinkers on I made the turn to the middle lane. I eventually passed the cop that was going 65 while I was going at 70 and the cop came behind my car. About five miles after this incident the cop decided to pull me over and he mentions that when I turn right to the middle lane the other car had to move to the further right lane due to my action, which is far from true. As I was getting my registration out f the glove compartment and pouch where I keep the insurance card and registration he saw my expired old drivers license that I had inside that bag from the day that I went renew it. He mentioned to me that it was a crime to carry two drivers license. The other drivers license was in my wallet. He went back to his car and came back with a $166 bill due to cutting in front of a car and said that he cut me a break cause he could charge me with misdemeanor. The cop was a Volusia County patrol. Should I fight this? I in no way think that I did anything wrong. It is frustrating to see cops randomly finding issues. Do I have a case to say that it took the cop about 5 miles following me before pulling me over? If it was really an infraction he would have done it right away. Do I have a case to say that since he was in front of me he had no way of seeing if I obstructed the other car or not?
Posted @ Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:09 PM by Lucas
Hello, Barry. 
 
Your site is most interesting. I wonder why there aren't more places like this to get trustworthy information on what to do with questionable tickets. I'm writing because this morning I was given a speed ticket at Hibiscus/Tulip Trl in Seminole cty. The officer was parked almost at the end of the road, on the side of the road, facing away from Semoran Blvd. I saw him from about a thousand feet away when he turned the police lights on, got out of the car, and began signaling me to pull over. He said I was doing 36 mph on a posted 25 mph zone. He asked me if I had seen the posted limit sign, if I had looked at my speedometer and whether I know I was speeding. I answer no to all those questions. He then asked me for my license, insurance and registration and proceeded to write a ticket. I just turned 50 recently and this is the very first time, in my lifelong driving record and experience, that I am stopped and given a speed ticket. I, of course, learned early on not to argue with law enforcement so I just sat there a waited for him to issue the ticket. I do not believe I was speeding and the officer did not show me a speed gun showing that I was actually driving 36 mph. Are we supposed to just take an officer word that he clocked a given speed and call it a day? Say, an officer wakes up one day and gives someone a ticket for doing 50 on a 15 mph zone, is that acceptable? How do I know he was not pointing the thing at the car behind me? Is this something I can argue in court or should I pay the $206 ticket?
Posted @ Wednesday, March 26, 2014 9:30 PM by Joel
Lucas, 
 
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Unfortunately, there is no requirement that an officer pull you over immediately when they witness you committing an infraction (or think you committing an infraction), so you should not use as a defense the delay in him pulling you over. I would recommend fighting the ticket however. There are other defenses you can use. 
 
Thanks. 
 
Barry
Posted @ Saturday, March 29, 2014 12:38 PM by Barry Kowitt
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