Speeding tickets are quite common. The statistics show that one in ten drivers gets stopped for speeding, and 70% of those end up with tickets. Getting a traffic ticket is not fun and can have far-reaching consequences, including losing your driving privileges if you get too many. However, you can minimize the damage, and in some cases, you can even fight the ticket and win.
What is a Speeding Ticket?
A speeding ticket is a piece of paper that a law enforcement officer gives you after stopping you for driving faster than the legal posted speed limit. A traffic ticket is also a fine that you must pay within a set number of days. You can choose to deal with the ticket in a few different ways: pay it, fight it, or plead with the judge to drop it.
What Happens with a First Offense for Speeding?
Each state has specific laws for dealing with a first-time traffic ticket. If the driver is young and hasn’t had their license for very long, some states require a mandatory license suspension of your license for 3-months. They are taking a strong stance against speeding so that young drivers learn early about the dangers and the consequences.
A first-time traffic ticket for speeding can have more severe consequences than multiple, depending on how long you have had your license. Regardless, you will have to either pay the ticket or fight it, and you may end up with points on your license based on how fast you were going. After speeding, your auto insurance premiums may increase significantly also.
Is a Speeding Ticket a Misdemeanor?
A speeding violation may be classified as a misdemeanor depending on the speed you are going and state laws. In some places, if you drive 15 mph over the speed limit or 80 mph, the police may charge you with a class 3 misdemeanor or a class a misdemeanor. A basic traffic ticket is not that problematic, but a misdemeanor will look a lot worse on your driving record. It could affect your auto insurance rates and even employment prospects. If the speeding incident involved reckless driving or other infractions, the misdemeanor might become even more serious, or you could be charged with a felony. Speeding is a much more serious crime than most people believe and can end up as criminal offenses on their criminal history.
How Many Points Do You Earn for Speeding?
The number of points that go on your driving record depends on how fast you were going (above the speed limit) and the state laws. For example, in New Hampshire, if you are going 1-24 mph above the posted speeding limit, you will earn three demerit points on your license. Typically, speeding will cost you 1-3 points on your driver's license. Each state has its own point system for traffic issues.
How Much is the Fine?
When you get stopped for a speeding moving violation, you also have to pay the state fine. The amount will vary based on how fast you were going and state laws. Another factor that will affect the price is whether you were speeding on the highway, work zone, school zone, or within a residential area on regular roadways. The least expensive states where fines start at $20 are Oklahoma and Alabama. Nevada wins the prize for the highest speeding fines with a whopping $1,000 fine to first-time violators. Alaska, Mississippi, New York, Arizona, and New Hampshire also have steep penalties for speeding ranging between $200-$300. Some states also charge court costs along with the fine.
If you want to know how to check on the cost of your ticket, you can do a couple of things. Most states will show the fine on the ticket so you can mail it in. If it does not, you can call the number listed on the ticket to find out. You can contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to ask or contact the police department that cited you.
How Long Does a Speeding Ticket Stay on Your Record?
How long a speeding ticket stays on your driving history depends on the state. For example, in New Mexico, it will stay on your record for a year, in New Hampshire only three months, and in New Jersey, it will remain for five years. New York traffic violations stay on there for 18 months. You will need to check with your local DMV office to find out how long your speeding ticket will remain on your record.
Can You Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed?
The answer is yes, in some cases. You will have to come prepared to speak in front of a judge in court and provide evidence that you were not speeding or if it is the first offense, plead to have the judge dismiss it, and let you off with a warning. Since speeding violations are typically difficult to fight and win, you might need to bring a lawyer with you.
One loophole you may get lucky with is, if the police officer does not show up in court, they may dismiss your case. If you have witnesses or really believe that you have evidence and can win, then it’s worth trying.
Options After Getting a Speeding Ticket
When you get a speeding ticket, you have one of three options regarding how to respond.
Pay the Ticket and Accept the Consequences
If you know you are guilty, you can just pay the ticket and accept the consequences. You will have to pay the fine, you may get points on your driving record, and your insurance may go up considerably. You may also be subject to additional fees in some areas. You can usually pay by credit card or mail in a check.
Fight the Ticket
You can also choose to fight the ticket in court. There will be a court date and time printed on the ticket where you can show up at the courthouse to dispute the traffic offense. You might want to hire a traffic lawyer to help you win the case.
Plead to Have the Ticket Dismissed
If you have an excellent driving record and it’s your first offense, or you have an excellent reason for speeding, you might take your chances trying to convince the judge to drop the charge and dismiss the ticket entirely. If you don’t have the money to pay for the ticket, you might be able to negotiate the price down or ask for more time to pay. You can also offer to attend traffic safety school in place of dismissing the ticket.
How to Fight a Speeding Ticket
If you do choose to fight the ticket, you should follow these steps below:
- You may be able to contact the court, let them know you are fighting the ticket and get the court appearance delayed, so you have more time.
- Gather evidence, which may include witness testimony, facts about how the officer assessed your speed and other items. If there is any smartphone or GPS data, you can use or video footage, collect that to use at your court hearing.
- You can also perform research online to learn about how speed monitoring equipment works and question the officer about the age and efficiency of his or her radar gun.
- Prepare for court with questions and answers to any the judge might pose to you.
- Hire a traffic court attorney. Anytime you represent yourself in court, you take a big chance. A lawyer knows the traffic laws and having them help could mean the difference between paying the fine, points on your license, and higher insurance quotes, so it might be worth hiring one.
Even if you don’t win, the judge may decide to go easy on you and make you pay the fine, but the ticket will be dismissed (like it never happened), and you’ll avoid the other effects but be sent off with a warning.