If you’ve been pulled over by a police officer, and you weren’t arrested for drunk driving, it is likely that you were issued a civil infraction. Civil infractions are the tickets police officers issue to offenders of traffic violations. These infractions do not impose major sanctions, jail time or require a jury trial; but they can create hardship, and often create inconvenience and annoyance.
Civil infractions typically notify the offender of the violation committed, and the date and time the offender must appear in court. Most offenders accept responsibility and immediately pay the applicable fine without attending such a hearing. However, offenders who feel that they have a valid argument must schedule and attend an informal hearing. Only if an offender requests a formal hearing, or where the offender hires an attorney to do so on his behalf, will a formal hearing be scheduled. There is little difference between an informal and formal hearing. In either scenario, the offender appears in court to explain his side of the story to the judge. There are neither “guilty” nor “not guilty” pleas in traffic court. Instead, pleas of “responsible” and “not responsible” are required.
The truth is that an offender’s best argument for fighting a traffic citation is hoping that the police officer who issued the citation fails to appear at the hearing. Having said that, most officers are diligent when it comes to attending said hearings. Therefore, if you’ve been pulled over and you intend to fight a citation, it is best to remain calm and treat the officer with respect. You do not want to create extra motivation for the officer to appear at your hearing, and the more you argue with an officer, the more memorable you become.
If an officer does show up at a hearing on a traffic citation, the offender’s odds of prevailing in front of a judge are slim to none. Typically, the judge is already going to know who the police officer is because police officers testify before judges all the time. As unfairly as it may seem, judges are going to take a police officer’s word over the word of an offender almost every time.
If you decide that it is in the best interests of yourself or someone you know to fight a traffic citation, it is a good idea to contact our office at (248) 588-3333 to discuss your options. An experienced Michigan traffic attorney can help you beat or plea bargain your speeding ticket. It is important to recognize that attorneys are skilled negotiators and can often bargain with prosecutors to amend a citation so that you pay a smaller fine, or even better, are assessed fewer points on your driving record. For more information, please visit us at Speeding ticket in Michigan or call our law firm at (877) 737-8800 (toll-free).