How to Beat a Traffic Ticket: Never Just Pay Up!
Yesterday, if you tuned in, you discovered the sordid TRUTH about the red-light speed cameras (in sum: it’s a cronyistic extortion ring), and learned how Americans are fighting back.
Today, as promised, we’re going to dig deeper and reveal several secrets that crooked cops, insurance companies and judges don’t want you to know… PLUS, how to beat a traffic ticket.
There are many reasons you should fight traffic tickets. First of all, most traffic tickets, especially speeding tickets, have little to do with safety. Anyone who tells you otherwise has fallen for — or is benefiting from — the State propaganda.
Second, when you acquiesce to the Parking Lot Panderers, not only do you lose out on money and points on your license, but the government profits from a “victimless crime.” (As we spoke about yesterday, a crime needs a victim, otherwise it’s not a crime.)
Even worse, however, when you don’t fight the ticket you are encouraging the bastards to continue, or possibly even ramp up, their exploits.
And don’t think your indignance doesn’t count. Small acts of civil disobedience, unlike votes, do matter.
As the National Motorist Association (NMA) has pointed out: “If even ten percent of these tickets went to trial, the court system would cease to function.”
The courts keep the speeding soirees going because they have a vested interest in the traffic ticket racket. Aside from taxes, traffic tickets are the only significant form of revenue for the court system. (Conflict of interest, anyone?)
“This is why,” the National Motor Association writes in their book Fight That Ticket!, “traffic ticket defendants are guilty until they prove their innocence, police officer testimony is automatically given more credence than that of ticket recipients, and those same officers are allowed to testify via scripts that have little bearing on reality or facts.
“There is a delicate balance of threats, indifference, bribes (plea bargains), ‘good cop/bad cop’ routines, and inconveniences, all designed to discourage traffic ticket defendants from taking their cases to the court. Keep in mind that there are tens of millions of traffic tickets issued every year.”
Again, if only ten percent of Americans fought them, the court system would be more clogged than a Dutch dance party. And if Americans only knew the extent of the scam being perpetrated each day under the guise of “safety,” they’d crash the courts overnight.
Here are, for example, courtesy of the NMA, 11 secrets crooked cops, insurance companies and the courts don’t want you to know…
- The purpose of insurance is to cover unusual risk. Since the act of exceeding an unreasonably low limit is hardly unusual or dangerous, the risk assumed by the insurance company is nearly non-existent. Therefore, any surcharges issued for speeding tickets are almost pure profit.
- The profits that an insurance company generates from speeding ticket surcharges allow them to purchase more radar and laser guns to give away free to law enforcement agencies. This allows the police to ticket more people, which in turn ensures a constant flow of revenue to the insurance company. The units will perform their revenue-enhancement duties for 3-5 years, having been paid for in less than one.
- Thousands of speeding tickets are issued by traffic law enforcers who don’t know or care how to properly operate radar, VASCAR, or other speed-measurement devices. They are ignorant of proper operating procedures, performance characteristics, and common malfunctions or errors.
- Traffic ticket fines are the cash cow of the court system. No other class of “crime” is as profitable for state and local governments as is that of traffic tickets. Traffic courts cannot be fair and unbiased when their financial welfare depends on traffic fines.
- It is not true that writing more tickets will result in fewer accidents. A 1995 Memorial Day ticket-writing binge in Connecticut resulted in a 67% increase in accidents over the same time period in the previous year. The federal government paid $750,000 to the state for that.
- Many speed limits are deliberately set well below the prevailing speed of safely-driven vehicles. Doing so does not slow traffic but it does make a greater number of motorists eligible for a speeding ticket they don’t deserve.
- There is no connection between receiving an occasional traffic ticket and the likelihood of being in an accident. Therefore, there is no justification for charging a person more for auto insurance just because they were convicted for a traffic violation.
- Trivial or concocted traffic law violations are frequently used as an excuse to stop, detain, and search persons for whom the police have no otherwise legitimate reason to do so. “Probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion” are inserted after the fact and only if the motorist lodges a formal complaint.
- A large proportion of the stop signs erected by local governments are illegal and in violation of state traffic regulations. They know that people don’t stop for them since the intention is to use the signs as speed control devices. This proliferation of stop signs merely increases the number of motorists who can be cited for failing to stop when there is no reason to.
- The best protection against the “good ole boy” system where the judge, district attorney and the arresting officer are on a first-name basis is the jury trial. Jury trials are time-consuming, expensive, and diminish the profitability of the traffic ticket system. Therefore, state-by-state, the right to a jury trial is being incrementally denied to traffic ticket defendants, all under the guise of being more fair when actually it is less.
- Only a small fraction (about 2%) of all traffic tickets are seriously contested. The vast majority of these contested tickets are dismissed or the defendant is given a significantly reduced penalty. If just 10% of the people who received citations fought their tickets, the entire system of government extortion would collapse within a matter of months.
Keep all of this in mind the next time an officer asks “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
It’s precisely why, once you’re done reading the handy guide below, you should print it out and keep it close.
Memorize the first section on how to deal with the police in a traffic stop. The key, as you’ll see, is to be as inconspicuous as possible. The police are there to enforce, and their egos won’t allow you to tell them any different.
The courts exist to decide. Your chances of winning, thus, are much higher in the courts.
Stay safe. Stay informed. Fight the power. And read on…
[Ed. note: This is Day Two of Laissez Faire’s Civil Disobedience Week. Stay tuned tomorrow for Day Three. We’ll be discussing nullification and how the people can take the power back from the Law.]
Get a ticket? Now what?
Via the National Motorist Association
Here are a few pointers on what to do if you’re pulled over and are asked to pay your share of the “driving tax” (speeding ticket fine).
In many cases, speeding tickets are nothing more than revenue enhancement, a way of supporting the state/local budget without raising taxes.
Therefore, it’s really a “driving tax”.
If you know the officer is after you:
- Unless otherwise directed, pull over to the right shoulder as soon as you can. Going to the left shoulder is asking for one unhappy officer since the left shoulder exposes both you and him to extreme danger. Pull as far off as possible.
- If it’s at night and the police car is unmarked, you may want to roll onto a lighted area. Most cops won’t have a problem with that.
- At night, turn on the dome light.
- If you have tinted windows, roll it down. Let the officer see you.
- Put both hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to arrive next to your door. He has no idea if you’re armed, an escaped ex-convict, or just an average person.
- Keep movement in the car to a minimum; they can see your movements but don’t know what you’re doing. Are you hiding a gun? Putting away a radar detector? Make his job easier and you can only benefit.
- When he asks for your license and registration, tell him it’s in the glove box or wherever it is, then reach for it. Again, reduce his apprehension about the situation.
- Do not argue or plead your case. The roadside is never the place to conduct a hearing. To do so is a guaranteed losing situation. Cops enforce, courts decide.
- Be as inconspicuous as possible. If you make a fuss, the officer is more likely to remember that when you go to trial. That’s bad, you want to be as forgettable as possible.
- When you’ve parted company, go back to your car and make notes of the situation. Amount of traffic, weather, time, officer’s demeanor, etc. No detail or event is unimportant, you will forget it later when you need to know it. It is a good idea to draw a map of the area, including trees, signs, buildings, etc. You may need that later.
- Keep your copy of the ticket!
Beat the ticket.
Never just “pay up”! By doing this, you are giving your permission for this kind of extortion to continue. Plus, did it ever occur to you that when nearly everyone is breaking a law, the law is wrong and not you? (Don’t use that in court, you will lose. But it’s something to think about. It wouldn’t be called “revenue enhancement” if the limits were reasonable.)
Always fight the first one. Don’t wait until the one that takes your license away. A judge will see that and may likely say “What’s another ticket? You’ve had 3.” Conversely, if you have a clean record, a judge may say “Well, in light of your prior clean record…” and reduce or dismiss the charge.
Before you go to trial, write the district attorney for the court your case is scheduled and ask for a “continuance.” A “continuance” is an extension of your trial date, pushing it further into the future. There are two reasons for doing this: One, it gives you time to prepare your defense. (After all, you’re not an attorney.) Two, it increases the likelihood that the officer won’t show. He could be on vacation, at school, etc. If he does show up, he’s less likely to remember the incident.
If you really feel like messing with the system, also ask for a change of venue to the county seat. Sometimes this may be closer to you, but it also increases the chances that the officer won’t show.
Always plead “not guilty.” Technically, “not guilty” doesn’t mean you didn’t do it, it just means there’s not enough evidence to prove that you did. In traffic cases, especially speeding tickets, this is generally the case. When the district attorney finds out you’re serious about fighting this ticket, he may offer a plea bargain. To accept this is your call.
Usually, traffic tickets do not require an attorney. A little bit of preparation and a lot of determination are all that’s needed. Tickets generated by laser guns may be different though, since laser is not on judicial notice in nearly every court. This means that the theory of operation of laser speed detection is not proven and expert testimony must be brought in.
Make a motion for “discovery” of a few items. (Your particular case may need more.) A motion for “discovery” means you’d like to see some of the evidence the prosecution has. You have every right to get it. Make sure every request for information you submit includes a reference to your ticket number, citation number, docket number, etc. Just saying “Please send me a copy of the arresting officer’s ticket” isn’t good enough.
The discovery request should be made immediately. Some examples of the kinds of information requested through the discovery process are:
- Copies of the arresting officer’s log books for the particular day or hour,
- Copies of both sides of the arresting officer’s copy of the ticket,
- A description of the device used to measure your speed, and
- The officer’s training records on that device.
You want copies of the officer’s logs to find out if other people were also stopped for a traffic violation. If the officer stopped others within an hour or so of the time on your ticket, were all of them for the same speed? This could indicate the radar device was set to a threshold speed, and it beeps at any speed above that. This is how they can read the paper and run speed traps at the same time. It’s illegal in many areas.
Getting copies of both sides of the officer’s ticket is very important; if the officer wrote any notes on it, you have a right to see them. This is why it is very important to not make self- incriminating comments while your ticket is being filled out. If you don’t make a fuss, he’s not likely to write much down, which is to your advantage.
Asking for a description of the device used to measure your speed can help you prepare questions for cross- examination, in the unlikely event that the officer actually shows up at the trial.
With the officer’s training records in your hands, you can see if he was actually qualified to use the device. In some areas, the radar must be calibrated after each ticket is issued, in others, just at the beginning of each shift. The time when the radar unit was calibrated should be recorded in the officer’s log books.
Keep written records and copies of everything — phone calls, who you talked to, your copy of the ticket, when a letter was sent.
As scientists say: “if you didn’t log it, it didn’t happen.”
You can’t possibly remember everything, and even if you could, it would not hold up in court if it’s not written down. Note that all police departments keep logs of some kind. It certainly helps them. Keeping records will help you in the future if problems arise.
Some localities require you to mail in your request for discovery, if yours does, send it registered mail, return receipt requested. This way the court can’t say they never received it because someone must sign for it and you have the receipt to prove it.
If you can’t find out how to do a request for discovery or if you need more information about the discovery process, go to your local library. A college or university law library is even better. Ask the librarian how you might find out the information you need; librarians are under-utilized and under-paid sources of reliable and helpful information. Unlike the courthouse employees, they’re helpful.
As you’ll soon find out, the court system is not user-friendly and courthouse personnel go to great lengths to inconvenience you. Do not be fooled by this. It is their unwritten code to be uncommunicative, obtuse, rude and condescending towards persons attempting to defend themselves. Don’t be discouraged by these attempts at intimidation.
It’s your money and your license. You have a right to expect a little justice from the justice system.
[Ed. note: This article originally appeared on the NMA website. To get more information on how to fight traffic tickets, check out their website here.]
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
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