Every day people across the United States are stopped by police officers and issued traffic tickets. Often, what comes next is a big hassle. Alleged offenders have the choice of pleading guilty and accepting the punishment or pleading not guilty and incurring the time and expense of defending themselves in court. An easier and less expensive way to handle the problem of traffic tickets would be to avoid getting them in the first place.
The most important thing to remember is that in many cases police officers have discretion about whether to issue you an informal warning or a formal ticket. If you have any chance of getting off with just an informal warning then you must be respectful and non confrontational with the police officer.
Also, if there is a good reason for your behavior it is important to make the police officer aware of it. For example, if you are trying to get to daycare to pick up a sick child or you are trying to get to a dying relative’s bedside then you should share that information with the police officer. Of course, you should only use reasons such as these when they are true and you should be prepared for a police escort to your destination or independent police verification of your story.
Common Reasons for Traffic Tickets
1. Speeding: Speeding tickets are among the most common types of traffic tickets. All of the general rules described above apply to avoiding a speeding ticket if you are pulled over for speeding. It is prudent to travel at or slightly below the speed limit at all times to avoid a ticket.
2. Driving Under the Influence: the best way to avoid a DUI ticket is obvious. Don’t drink and drive. However, it is also important to avoid the appearance of drinking and driving. For example, if you are going to rest in your car so that you can sober up before you drive home then make sure to do it in the backseat and without the key in the ignition. Then you can avoid even the appearance of drunk driving.
3. Cell Phone Usage: some states ban the use of handheld cell phones will operating a motor vehicle. In order to use your cell phone while driving in these jurisdictions it is important to use a hands free device.
4. Violating a rule of the road: drivers must be aware of the rules of the road in the jurisdiction in which they traveling. For example, if state law requires you to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks then you must abide by that law. Not being aware of the law is not a proper defense. Therefore, drivers should drive carefully and prudently to avoid an unintentional violation of a traffic law.
5. Violating a car registration / driver’s license requirement: your car registration and license need to be updated according to the rules of your jurisdiction. It is illegal to operate a car with an expired registration or an expired license and there are few valid defenses for doing so. However, if you have extenuating circumstances that have delayed your renewal or have made good faith attempts to make the renewal but have been unable to do so through no fault of your own then you should keep documentation of the circumstances or attempts in your vehicle and explain them to the officer when you are pulled over.
The next time that you get behind the wheel consider the advice provided above to avoid the nuisance of a traffic ticket. You will be glad that you did.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.