It’s fairly convenient to simply plead guilty to a ticket and mail in your fine. You don’t have to take time off of work or spend hours in a courtroom. However, in many cases, it is to your benefit to take the extra time to try to avoid or at least reduce the charges you face. Here are some of the top reasons to enter a not-guilty plea and go to court for your traffic violation.
There is more at stake than the cost of a fine when it comes to traffic violations. In Missouri, there is a minimum number of points added to your license for a moving violation, which increases with the severity of the offense. A few points for running a red light or speeding may not seem like a big deal, but these points stay on your record for years, and can add up easily, leading to the suspension of your license. It is best to fight the ticket, if only to avoid having points added to your license, especially if you have had other offenses in the last few years.
If you have evidence that you were not committing the offense you are accused of, you should absolutely fight your citation. This also holds if the officer who stopped you does not have adequate evidence to prove your guilt. If they can’t provide you with your exact speed, or make generalizations about the details of your violation, it’s likely that they failed to follow proper procedure when stopping you, and your case will be easily resolved.
In some cases, a list of offenses can be added to a single traffic stop. Speeding through a red light? You’re in for a much larger fine. Taking the time to take your case to court often results in, at the very least, a reduction in the fines and charges brought against you. A few hours in court might save you hundreds of dollars if you take the time to present your best case.
The factors surrounding you and the officer who ticketed you play a significant role in how likely you will be to successfully beat your ticket. Consider where the officer was when they observed your violation, and whether they had a clear view and were able to follow proper procedure. Also consider the conditions surrounding you when you were stopped. If you were surrounded by other cars or in thick traffic, it is possible that the officer made a mistake and stopped the wrong vehicle, which could lead to your case being dropped.
Consider the exact details of your violation. Many states have laws that allow for speeding slightly over the posted limit if you are still driving safely. Minor nuances like a misspelled name are not usually enough to get you out of a ticket, but other minor points, like if you were ticketed on a large downhill patch of road, might come into play.