Written by Trey Mattox on 09/04/2020

How To Fight a Speeding Ticket

You see the blue lights in the rearview mirror, check your speed, and know what’s coming next. Getting pulled over by a police officer for a speeding ticket can be a traumatic and stressful situation — not just in the moment, but afterward, as well. 

Will you need to appear in traffic court? Will there be a fine, and if so, how much? How will this moving violation affect your driving record and car insurance premiums? Do you risk having your license suspended or even going to jail? 

A traffic ticket attorney can help with the answers. Many law firms in your area offer free consultation and can let you know what to expect after you’ve received a speeding ticket. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Gathering the Facts

If you’re thinking about fighting a speeding ticket, the first step is to gather all the relevant facts. As you talk with a traffic ticket lawyer, you’ll unearth valuable information that can help in your defense against a traffic ticket. Maybe you didn’t think you were exceeding the speed limit or traveling as fast as the officer said you were. Perhaps you were responding to an emergency or headed to a funeral. Or maybe there was an issue with the vehicle you were driving.

Going through all the facts can reveal the best way to approach your case. During this fact-gathering process, you might only need to acquire a few documents, such as your driver's license, driving record, and the traffic ticket itself. On the other hand, it may be best to obtain mitigation evidence before you go to court. A thorough analysis of the case is important in creating a game plan to ensure the best possible outcome. Several tools are available to help you do so.

Types of Mitigating Evidence

Mitigating evidence does not always pertain to guilt or innocence, but it can increase the odds of a positive outcome. It’s one of the more powerful tools available when fighting a speeding ticket. The goals of presenting mitigation evidence can include:

  • Avoiding a conviction for the alleged traffic violation (which could, in extreme cases, result in having your driving privileges revoked)
  • Keeping your insurance from being affected
  • Avoiding a misdemeanor conviction if you’ve been charged with reckless driving

Below are a few avenues to explore as potential mitigation measures. Your lawyer can help guide you toward the most appropriate choice.

Speedometer Calibration

When gathering facts in a case, it often becomes apparent that you and the officer don’t agree about how fast you were going. You may even have set your cruise control to a speed that’s lower than the officer says you were traveling. In cases like this, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle’s speedometer calibrated. 

A proper speedometer calibration is performed on motor vehicles by a mechanic using a dynamometer or “dyno,” which tests the accuracy of your vehicle’s speedometer. A dynamometer compares the true wheel speed of your vehicle with your speedometer’s reading at various speeds. 

Often, results show your speedometer showed a reading of a couple of miles per hour slower than you were actually traveling, giving you the false impression that you were traveling at or under the posted speed limit. 

Be sure to visit a mechanic who can perform a proper calibration — one whose results will be admissible in traffic court.

A favorable calibration can be useful in fighting many traffic tickets, particularly in borderline cases. In a high-speed case, it can make the difference between a conviction and having your charge reduced. Most judges will take a calibration into account. It can be used as a basis for reducing a speeding violation or even completely dismissing it.

Radar Gun Calibration

Law enforcement officers who use a radar gun to determine your speed are required to follow certain rules. Officers are required to check their radar unit before and after each shift to ensure that it’s working properly. 

Also, a police officer must take the radar unit to be calibrated within six months of writing a speeding ticket and must bring the original certificate to traffic court. Your lawyer can request records from the most recent calibration of the radar gun the officer used to detect your speed. If they don't comply with the requirements, it may be helpful to present these record on your trial date. 

Defensive Driving School

Defensive driving school is another important tool in fighting a speeding ticket, helping to familiarize you with traffic laws. In some borderline cases, it can be a good idea to attend driving school before your court date. This can help persuade a judge to reduce a case that otherwise might not get reduced — or to get a more favorable reduction. The fact-gathering process with your lawyer can help determine whether it would be beneficial for you to complete driving school prior to your court appearance. 

Some judges may require you to complete a defensive driving course before they’re willing to reduce or dismiss a traffic violation. In situations like this, the court will keep your case open for two to three months, giving you the opportunity to complete the course.

There are two varieties of traffic schools that may be required. The standard traffic school is an 8-hour course that can be completed in person or online. For more extreme high-speed infraction, a 12-hour traffic school for reckless/aggressive drivers may be required.

Community Service

Like traffic school, community service can be a valuable tool, especially in borderline traffic court cases. Many judges are reluctant to reduce any traffic violation at or above 90 miles per hour. Before reducing these cases, a judge may require you to complete at least 24 hours of community service. Sometimes, completing community service prior to the court date can help persuade a judge to give you the best outcome possible.

To ensure that the court accepts your community service, be sure to complete your hours for a nonprofit organization, and get a record of your time served in writing. When considering any group you want to work with, ask about its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Avoid any schools and churches, or any organizations where you’re already a member. Otherwise, any nonprofit organization should be fine.

When you’ve completed your hours, ask the supervisor at the nonprofit to write a letter on the organization's letterhead. It should indicate a detailed description of the work you’ve completed, along with dates, times, and total hours. It also helps if the organization indicates its nonprofit status in the letter. Finally, have the supervisor sign the letter.

Letter of Apology

A well-written letter of apology can be very persuasive when you go in front of a judge. There are a number of points you may want to include.

Details from the fact-gathering process often will be relevant to a letter of apology. Give the traffic court a sense of what was happening when you were pulled over. This is your opportunity to explain if there was a reason you were traveling as fast as you were, such as a family emergency. Or you may want to tell the judge you didn’t know you speeding because your speedometer’s calibration was off. Be careful not to sound like you’re making excuses. Simply inform the traffic court of the relevant circumstances. 

The letter of apology is your opportunity to describe yourself to the judge and convince them you’re an upstanding citizen. If you’re a student, you’ll want to make sure the judge is aware of that. You may want to discuss the school you attend, your grades, and any sports or club activities you’re involved in. Also, be sure to provide details of any past or present military service. And if you hold some sort of security clearance, make the court aware of this.

If you’ve taken a defensive driving course before your court date, describe what you’ve learned at traffic school and how you’ve used that information to change your driving habits. If you had a good experience with the ticketing officer, tell the judge about it. 


Receiving a traffic citation can be stressful for motorists, but with the right guidance, you can navigate the process and avoid many of the negative consequences. Start by consulting an attorney who knows the laws where the ticket was issued. Through that conversation, you should be able to determine what tools you’ll need to pursue to get the best outcome for your case. With sound legal advice, you can protect your driving record and auto insurance rates, and move forward from this experience.

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