When issued a citation, do you pay up or do you fight it?
In Part 1 of this blog series, we went over helpful tips on how to act when you get pulled over by the police. For this second and last part of the series, we’ll delve into something more complex: Fighting a traffic citation in court.
Probably the first question that pops into your head when you’re issued that dreaded traffic ticket is, Do I just pay the fine and avoid the hassle? Any Reno traffic ticket attorney will tell you that paying the fine is an admission of guilt, so do not pay up. Contesting a traffic ticket and getting it dismissed is tricky and involves a lot of work, but it can be done. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your day in court.
Plead not guilty
As mentioned earlier, paying your fine is an admission of guilt. In doing so, you waive your right to a trial, so the first thing you should do is plead “not guilty.” When you do plead “not guilty”, remember that you also lose the option to plea bargain lesser penalties, like reduced fines and fewer points on your driver’s license record.
If you plead “not guilty”, you can choose to represent yourself or hire a competent Reno traffic ticket attorney. Don’t forget to notify the Nevada traffic court of your plea before the date that’s indicated on your traffic ticket.
Gather the Facts, Organize Your Information
You’ve decided to contest your traffic ticket. What’s the next thing you should do? Gather as much information as you can. I discussed this in Part 1 of the blog series and I’m zeroing in on it again here, because it is crucial to getting your ticket dismissed. The more information there is to build your case, the better. What type of information should you document?
- Date and time you were pulled over
- Traffic flow
- Road and weather conditions
- Road configurations – curves, hills, roadway signs, etc.
- Radar readings – Not many people know this, but you can ask to see the reading. If the police officer allows you to see it, take note of the reading and, if you can, the manufacturer’s name and model number, as well.
- Police officer’s notes – Request an official copy of the officer’s notes as part of the “discovery” process. This information will give you an idea of how the police officer will testify, and you can develop a strategy to counter his possible defenses. Contact the clerk court for instructions on how to obtain these notes.
- Witnesses – Get the names and contact details of the people who can testify to your version of what transpired. They could be the passengers who were riding with you that day, bystanders, etc.
Stay Cool, Be Respectful
Your demeanor matters for when you are pulled over and when you are in court. No one wants to go to traffic court, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be rude and impolite. Like I mentioned in part 1 of this blog series: Good manners can go a long way, so don’t leave them at home.
Focus and Take Notes
If you chose to represent yourself instead of hiring a Reno traffic attorney, you should be ready to focus and take note of the information the prosecution is presenting to the judge. Taking notes and paying attention will help you ask the right questions when it’s your turn to cross-examine the police officer or the prosecution’s witnesses, if there are any.
Most of the time, cases tried in traffic courts boil down to which side presents a better version of the facts. The prosecution will use different strategies to trap you and show that pulling you over and issuing that ticket was the right thing to do. If you’re up against a legal expert, shouldn’t you have one on your side, too?
Getting a traffic ticket may not be the end of the world, but it does have its consequences. And when it’s your future on the line, you shouldn’t take any chances. If you’re decided on contesting a traffic citation, hire a Reno traffic attorney to fight for you in court. Contact Richard P. Davies today for a complimentary case review.