If you have been issued a red light ticket, you are certainly not alone. Although a number of different factors can contribute to the situation, the court system doesn’t take these violations lightly. Any attempt at a defense requires sufficient preparation.
Here are 6 ways to get your red light ticket dismissed.
Know the Law
You can’t expect to prepare an adequate defense without some knowledge of the traffic code.
- For instance, you’re not actually violating the law if the light turns red while you’re halfway across the intersection.
- The only way to get the judge to agree with you is to demonstrate that you understand what constitutes a violation, then prove you are not in the wrong.
Know Your Driving Record
If you have other moving violations, accidents or parking tickets on your record, you may not be allowed to argue a red light ticket. In such a case, your best chance at a dismissal would be if the officer does not appear in court. You can request a copy of your driving record from your local DMV.
Request a Deferral
If you have a clean driving record, you may be able to request a six month deferral from the prosecuting attorney. Your responsibility will be to make sure you receive no further citations during that period. If your case isn’t very strong, this may be your best option.
Tell a Convincing Story
A strong argument may convince the judge that you’re innocent of any wrongdoing, resulting in a dismissal. Here are some examples of defenses you can use that may cause your violation to be dropped:
- Disproving (or discrediting) the officer -Disputing the officer’s point of view may work in a limited number of situations. You might argue that he wasn’t at the right angle or didn’t have sufficient time to assess the situation properly. You might even be able to claim that you’re the victim of a personal vendetta. However, without sufficient evidence to prove your point, the judge is more likely to believe the officer.
- Obstruction of View – If there was a large vehicle or tree blocking your view of the traffic light, you may be able to use this defense. This would involve convincing the judge that you would not have run the light if you had been able to see it.
- Out of Necessity – If the roads were icy or you were being tailgated by an incompetent driver, be sure to let the judge know. As difficult as this may be to prove, it is possible to get your ticket dismissed on these grounds.
Challenge the Traffic Cameras
Arguing against traffic camera photos seems almost pointless if you are guilty, because the camera is set to go off only when the light is red. However, pictures aren’t always clear and it may be possible to dispute the license plate number. A clear picture can also help, if it proves you weren’t driving the car or that you were in a funeral procession. You may also be able to challenge the ticketing agency. If you live in a state where only the state can issue tickets and the city put up the cameras, you might have a case if there’s no legislation allowing them to use them. Your ticket would essentially be invalid.
Defensive Driving Course
You may be allowed to take a defensive driving course. Most jurisdictions have these (or similar) requirements:
- Have a valid driver license
- The citation must be for a moving violation
- You must not have had a ticket dismissed over a defensive driving course in the past 12 months
Defenses for red light violations vary from one state to another, as well as between the different circuits in each state. Always consult a traffic attorney before attempting to represent yourself. An experienced attorney knows the laws of your state thoroughly and can help you make a better argument in your defense.