I was in traffic court the other day and I saw something I don’t normally see a lot of – people contesting their Seattle speeding tickets even though they were eligible for a deferral, and they didn’t have a Seattle traffic lawyer with them.
Why is this so strange?
Because they never win, they never have a good defense, and they always say the darndest things (kind of like that kids show back in the day when Bill Cosby would ask kids questions).
Not convinced? Let me give you an example.
Why You Shouldn’t Admit to Speeding
In traffic court, unlike the regular criminal court (speeding tickets and most other traffic infractions have been decriminalized so attorneys don’t have to be appointed), the traffic attorneys don’t get to go first. They have to wait in line with everyone else. I think this is done in part because the judges don’t like to see all the traffic tickets get dismissed, and our punishment for that is having to wait in line, even if we have somewhere else to be.
Because of this “punishment” I get to see a lot of regular citizens come up, present their case, and give it their best shot.
Just such a guy was giving it his best shot, trying to beat his speeding ticket. He comes up to the table after his name is called and introduces himself to the judge. He does not have a speeding ticket lawyer with him.
The judge lets the guy know that he is eligible for a deferral and asks him if he wants to take advantage of that. He says no.
Now, let me interrupt here for a second. Whenever someone gets up without a lawyer and says they want to contest their speeding ticket, particularly when a deferral is on the table, I’m expecting some magic. Or, in the alternative, I’m expecting some kind of halfway decent argument from the accused.
Back to the story. When the guy passes on the traffic ticket deferral, the judge reads the police report into the record, so the court has it and so the guy knows what he is facing. Essentially, the report says this: “I was traveling on a road. The speed limit was 60. I saw the guy speeding. Using my radar, I clocked him at 65 mph. I pulled him over and issued him a speeding ticket.”
Then, as you might expect, the judge waits to hear from the guy. His defense, which I bet he thought was going to work, was this: “I was going 65, but everyone else was too. Because of that, I shouldn’t be the only unlucky guy who gets a speeding ticket.”
Admitting to Speeding Won’t Work
Guess what the judge did. You are right, she found he’d committed the speeding ticket infraction and reduced his fine for being so naive as to think the everyone is doing it so it must be okay defense. She even asked the guy if everyone didn’t do their homework if it was okay if he didn’t do it too.
What it Takes to Beat Speeding Tickets
Now, I have a lot of respect for people that fight their Seattle speeding tickets, even if they don’t hire a speeding ticket lawyer (it takes a lot of guts to get up in front of the judge and argue for your case). But, if you are going to do it, you’ve got to be smart enough to take a little bit of time before hand to put together a defense. And, secondly, if you think you’ve got a good defense, to check it out with some people and make sure it will actually fly when you get into court.
Beating a speeding ticket isn’t rocket science. But there is a reason speeding ticket lawyer win all the time and regular people don’t – you still have to lawyer them up a little bit. And although I’d love to tell you all how I beat speeding tickets every day, it’d be kind of like giving you a motorcycle without teaching you how to ride – in the end you’d do more harm than good (and the other traffic lawyers out there would get really pissed at me – trust me, they’ve called).
I may catch some flack for saying this by my colleagues, but I am going to let you in on one secret of speeding tickets in Seattle – speeding is a strict liability crime. What does that mean? It means if you are driving even one mile an hour over the speed limit you are guilty of speeding. Period. So, if you decide to contest your own speeding ticket, don’t think you can go in there with an excuse as to why you are speeding and hope to beat the ticket. It isn’t going to work.
About Me: Christopher Small isn’t just the author of this article, he’s also one of the traffic lawyers at Emerald City Traffic Defense. If you need help with a speeding ticket, give us a call at 206-651-4245.