If you want to fight a speeding ticket on your own, you have that right. Be forewarned, however, that there is more to it than meets the untrained eye. All 50 states have three types of speed limits: absolute, presumed, and basic. Each requires a unique defense strategy, and success rates vary widely.
An “absolute” speed limit means what it implies: If you register just one mph over the speed limit, you’re in violation of the law. Mustering a successful defense for this citation is challenging. Possibilities include attacking the method of determining your speed used by the police officer; claiming that an emergency situation forced you to speed to avoid injury; or arguing that a police officer mistook your car for another.
A “presumed” speed limit means the posted speed limit is presumed to be the safest top speed. You may be able to prove otherwise. You can fight this charge by claiming that even if you were traveling slightly over the speed limit, you were still driving safely given the specific road, traffic, and weather conditions. You bear the burden of proof to show that conditions were safe to be traveling at your clocked speed.
You can be charged with speeding even if you were traveling under the posted speed limit. That’s where “basic” speed limits enter the scene, or “driving too fast for conditions” (e.g., heavy traffic, extreme weather conditions). In this scenario, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show that your under-the-limit speed was still unsafe.
A traffic attorney has the legal skill to reduce or eliminate your fine, or keep your ticket off your record. If you want to prevail, don’t go it alone.