If you received a traffic ticket in New Jersey, you may wish to fight the ticket in traffic court. While it never hurts to show up to court armed with a defense, you should double-check to make sure your defense is a viable one. FindLaw explores common and effective defenses to traffic tickets, as well as defenses that simply do not work.
The most commonly used defense in traffic court is not really a defense — rather, it is a matter of luck. If the officer does not show up, you will automatically win your case. Why? Because you have a constitutional right to question the accuser, something you cannot do if he or she is not present. You can increase the odds that the officer will be a no-show by postponing your court date to a date that is closer to the holidays or summer vacation.
If your ticket is a camera-based one, you may be able to beat it even if the officer who viewed the tape does show up. This is because most courthouses rarely go to the trouble of procuring the video or photo evidence. If an officer does show up and tries to defend the ticket, all you have to do is claim hearsay. Because the officer did not actually see you commit the violation, his or her defense is based entirely on the observations of someone or something else. As a result, the officer cannot confidently testify that what you did was wrong.
If an officer used a radar gun to clock your speed, you may be able to argue that the gun was miss-calibrated. Departments must recalibrate their guns every 30 to 60 days, but most rarely take the time to perform this simple task. To use this defense, you simply need to access department records.
You can also check your ticket for errors. If the officer misspelled your name, noted the wrong color vehicle or grossly misidentified the highway on which you were traveling, the courts may have no choice but to throw out the ticket.
Not all defenses the court hears are viable. For instance, you should not claim ignorance, as ignorance of traffic laws never works. You should also refrain from using the “no-harm-no-foul” defense, as reckless driving is reckless driving regardless of whether or not you caused anyone harm.
Some defendants claim that the officer singled them out of a dozen other violators. This defense does nothing except confirm your guilt. You should also never claim that the officer is lying, as the judge is far more likely to believe a defender of the law than an average citizen.
This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.