A traffic stop following a perceived red light violation can result in a ticket that could be quite costly to the driver. Police officers and judges have little tolerance for this particular driving violation. Even good drivers may make this driving mistake for various reasons. The cost of the ticket can last for the next three years without proper handling of the situation.
1. Verify a clean driving record
A driver with prior moving violations, parking tickets or accidents on the driving record in the past three years will not be able to dispute the ticket. The only hope is that the police officer does not attend the court date. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to request a copy of the driving record.
2. Know the traffic code
A vehicle that is already in the intersection when the light turns red is not in violation of the red light laws. The wording of the traffic law can be dissected, and used, to dispute the ticket. The police officer’s perspective is important to the judge as well. His position can be disputed if the driver has concerns.
3. If not, pay the fine
The fine associated with the ticket will have to be paid if the driver has previous marks on the driving record. Some judges have a reputation for eliminating the points associated with the violation. In this case, attend the court date to address the ticket.
4. If yes, attend the court date
A clean driving record is an indication of responsible driving habits. Drivers, who are not a danger to themselves, or others, have the opportunity to request special consideration through one of the following methods.
– Approach the prosecuting attorney – Arrive early and speak with the prosecuting attorney. This individual will listen to the request for a deferral or dismissal, which are explained below.
– Ensure the police officer is present – The individual in authority who writes the ticket must be present. The ticket will be dismissed if this person does not keep the court date.
5. Do not dispute an Intersection photo
Drivers who receive a ticket because a traffic camera created a photo will not be able to dispute the ticket. Few jurisdictions will change the decision when a traffic camera catches the vehicle in the intersection with a red light. The timing is impossible to challenge when the camera is programmed to take the picture after the light turns red.
6. Request deferral
During the talk with the prosecuting attorney, ask for a deferral for six months. After the time passes without violations, the prosecutor can dismiss the ticket from the driving record. This is possible for good drivers without any other violations on the driving record. One mark on the driving record during the six month period will cause the ticket to be recorded.
7. Ask for dismissal
A clean driving record is sufficient leverage for requesting that the ticket be dismissed on the court date. A police officer can agree to these terms even if he is present. In the absence of the police officer, the judge will dismiss the ticket anyway.
8. Request a trial
A driver present on the court date might not be able to negotiate the preferred outcome. In this case, a trial date can be requested. The case will proceed accordingly.
9. State what happened
Details concerning the timing of the trip through a controlled intersection can introduce doubt in the judge’s mind. Each of these defense positions can assist the driver in his quest to have the ticket dismissed.
- Officer’s position – The driver is wise to return to the intersection and observe the situation from where the officer was positioned. Certain places around the intersection do not offer the officer the right angle for seeing the same traffic light as the driver would have seen. This defense can result in a dismissal of the case.
- Out of necessity – A driver who feels danger from slick roads or a tailgating driver should state these facts to the judge. A picture of the icy road on the same day will be of interest to the court. Make certain that the date and time are present on the photo. The signature of two unrelated witnesses can be helpful.
- Obstruction of view – Large vehicles in front of the driver’s car can block the view of the red light until the car enters the intersection. A judge will listen to this defense.
Drivers can be successful in the quest to have their red light ticket dismissed as long as the judge believes the driver will not repeat the offense. Dangerous driving on the roads is avoided at all costs because of the risk to people’s lives and safety of public and private property.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/6919352910/