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One of the most common traffic tickets is for speeding. Although many drivers exceed the posted speed limit on a freeway and highway patrol officers give some leeway to motorists provided their speed is not excessive, these officers are often not so lenient in residential and other areas. A speeding ticket can cost you hundreds of dollars, depending on how many miles per hour you were over the posted limit, and may be more if you were speeding in a school, on a bridge or in a construction zone.
You can be ticketed for speeding even if you were driving under the posted speed limit if the traffic conditions were such that traveling at that speed was too dangerous. According to California Vehicle Code Section 22350, you may not driver faster than is “reasonable and prudent and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
Speed Can Kill
Speeding can be a serious manner, being the main factor in over 1,000 traffic fatalities per year in California. Speeding decreases the time you have to react to an emergency and once you do brake, your car must travel a longer distance and often out-of-control if your speed was excessive or on a slippery surface. If you do collide with another car or object, the amount of force involved increases exponentially depending on your speed.
How Speed is Detected
Highway patrol officers may monitor your speed by pacing your vehicle over a certain distance. More commonly, officers use a radar device or “gun” that emits an electronic signal over the roadway that bounces off the cars at a certain frequency that can show your speed.
CHP officers also use LIDAR, which is immune to radar detectors. These are aimed at particular cars and measures your speed by the amount of time the laser signal is reflected back.
What to Do
With any traffic ticket, you can choose to simply pay the ticket before the court date indicated on your citation or ticket. This is an admission of guilt and you will receive a point on your driving record. If you have no other traffic violations in the past 18-months and your speed was not over 25 miles over the limit, you can request to attend traffic violator school. After completion, which can be online, your conviction will be erased but you still have to pay the fine and class costs.
Should you decide to contest the ticket, you still must pay the fine and appear in court by yourself or with a traffic lawyer. If the officer fails to appear, the judge may either continue the trial or dismiss your case and refund the fine.
There are defenses to a speeding ticket other than showing up at trial and hoping the officer fails to appear. Many traffic ticket lawyers charge reasonable legal fees, and if you are facing loss of your license or other substantial penalties, you should consult with one.
If radar or LIDAR was used, you or your lawyer should request a copy of the operator’s manual, maintenance log for the device, engineering reports and speed surveys of the roadway. An experienced traffic lawyer in your area may already have this information or knows how to obtain it. Inadequate records or those that show lack of maintenance on the device or poor training of the officer could result in a dismissal. Also, if the roadway where you were ticketed was substantially changed and no new speed survey was conducted, it may be grounds for dismissal.
The prosecution has the obligation of proving the validity and credibility of the devices used and of any other evidence submitted. You need only challenge the evidence without presenting any evidence or testimony of your own. If you were speeding to avoid an accident or some other mishap, you will need to testify to prove the defense of necessity.
Finally, the officer must have cited the proper statute and other information which, if noted incorrectly, could be a basis for dismissing your case.
If the evidence is sufficient, you or your lawyer can also negotiate a lesser fine or other disposition that may not result in loss of you license. Retain an experienced traffic ticket lawyer for your speeding ticket if you face substantial penalties and loss of your driving privileges.