Being Your Own Lawyer...(or bring your own lawyer)
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 94 16:22:25 PDT
Subject: Being Your Own Lawyer...(or bring your own lawyer)
Forwarded-by: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Originally-By: email@example.com (Erik Selberg)
Subject: How to get out of a speeding ticket...
or: Why it's good to have a last name with a late-appearing letter of
I was lucky enough to spend an hour lounging around traffic court
today to contest a ticket I received coming home at 5:20 in the
morning after finishing my architecture project last spring. Since my
name came last alphabeticly, I was the last person in the session, and
got to see everyone else in action. So, for everyone else's
How to get out of a speeding ticket
Step 1: Get a ticket. This is usually pretty easy to do.
Step 2: Plead "not guilty" and send it in.
Step 3: Go to a magistrate hearing. A magistrate is not a judge; more
like a huge wanna-be. You'll get a magistrate hearing" in about 2-3
months. The guy here won't do much but quote "well, looks like he
got you" and "seems to me like you broke the law" etc. If you can
get the ticket resolved here, great (and good luck). Otherwise, you
can just say you contest the ticket and go straight to a court date
(usually 3-4 months down the road).
Step 4: Go to court.
For your court appearance:
Option 1: If you bring a lawyer, you'll get off. One guy brought one,
and another just had his lawyer show up. They were both painfully
guilty (radar at 15+ over the speed limit, pace for a mile), but they
got off. I'll mention how in a second.
Option 2: If you request an officer to show up, you'll probably get
off. Only one officer was present out of about 6 who requested an
officer to show up. The other five were excused immediately and
Hazard 1: you have to explicitly request this when you schedule your
court date. Hazard 2: if he or she shows up, you're in trouble.
Option 3: Bring some evidence. The only guy who reasoned his way out
was one who brought some Polaroids and showed that from the cop's
viewpoint, he had committed an infraction, but in reality he
hadn't. The guy apparently stopped, inched forward to make sure he
could go, saw a motorcycle (the cop), stopped again, and then
went. The cop apparently didn't see the first stop and cited
him. With the help of the Poloroids, he got off.
Option 4: Listen to what lawyers do from people who took Option #1.
Now, two folks who I thought should have won but didn't did the
One just tried to explain what happen. It was her vs. the ticket. She
was cited for going left from the 2nd to left lane --- she had gone
from the second lane through one major intersection (on Denny) and
then said she had gotten into the left land of a car island and turned
left from there. The judge, because of a preponderence of evidence
(i.e. it was "more likely" that she had committed the offense than
not), ruled against her.
Another guy had the officer show up. He said that he was waiting in 3
minute parking, and when the officer appeared behind him, signalled
him to go through a red light. The officer then gave him a ticket for
going through a red light. The officer denied the story. The guy lost.
Here's what the two lawyers (and subsequently I) did:
Objection #1: Object to the speed. In case of radar, you can object on
the basis that:
- There was no evidence on the ticket as to the calibration of the
- There is no evidence as to whether or not the police officer was
properly trained in its use
There was also a third bogus one which I didn't catch.
In case of a pace (my case and the case of the lawyer before me), you
can object on the basis that:
- There was no detail as to what kind of car, personal or official,
thus no way of discerning what kind of spedometer was used in the
- Even with such information, there is no evidence of the spedometer
being calibrated correctly.
In case of "estimation," object on the basis that there is no evidence
that the officer is trained in estimating speeds.
This objection will suppress the speed on the ticket (i.e. yer all
Objection #2: I'm not fully sure if this is valid, but it seemed to
work. If the location of the infraction is incorrect (as it was on my
ticket), you can make that an objection (it turned an "Infraction
committed from 7300 - 8000" into "7300 - 7500").
So, rather than explain my story, I just made the location and pace
objection. The judge was pretty harsh about my wording, but let me
work through it. After cracking that I should take better notes in
court, she let me go.
The moral of this story is: there are lots of really bogus objections
you can make to get you off if you know what they are. No wonder
lawyers rake in the cash!
© 1994 Peter Langston