It’s the rare driver who never speeds. For the rest of us, the threat of getting a speeding ticket is ever present.
This makes Carinsurance.com’s third annual survey of every drivers’ habit at some point — driving too fast — worth reading. The report actually categorizes the successful excuses … um … reasons given by drivers stopped for speeding.
The report reveals about half of drivers surveyed claim to have avoided a ticket by giving an excuse/reason. These figures are about double the success compared to last year’s report.
“Honesty seems to be on the rise in 2021,” observes Les Masterson, managing editor for CarInsurance.com. “Only 12% of respondents lied when giving excuses this year, while nearly 33% of last year’s survey participants confessed to fibbing.”
Why are you speeding?
The top five excuses/reasons for speeding in the report are:
- I didn’t know I was speeding – 26%;
- Medical emergency – 25%;
- Everyone else was going the same speed – 22%;
- Late for work – 21%;
- I had to use the bathroom – 20%.
The report said actually asking for a warning is surprisingly successful. In 2021, the success rate of that move is 36%, which is down from the 48% success rate the previous two years.
You have legal rights and options — use them
But talking is only half the battle.
You can contest the citation. Many people forget that getting a speeding ticket is a legal offense and it is up to the state to prove its case in court. Yes, traffic court is a real court, with all the constitutional guarantees of rights for citizens who might find themselves in front of the bench.
The website’s report indicates while only 28% of ticket recipients took the “trouble to appeal in 2021, many of them were successful in court.”
There’s a reason for this, according website Best Life, which quizzed Massachusetts-based lawyer Geoffrey G. Nathan, a former prosecutor who specializes in speeding tickets, and New Jersey attorney David Michaud, who specializes in fighting traffic citations, how to get out of a ticket, including going to court.
Courts are busy — that is actually an advantage for the driver
Sometimes just showing up works, said Michaud, who said that traffic courts are busy. They can’t afford to take too much time on any one ticket. The court will generally reduce your ticket to the next lower level and give you a point reduction just for showing up.
Don’t be afraid to sit down with the law, Nathan offered. Few people fighting their own tickets think to call the prosecutor who will present the case against them to the judge, and/or the police officer who wrote the ticket, to request a pretrial conference.
Nathan said he finds that negotiating with the law usually works. Most people who lose their license drive anyway, he says, and police don’t want to turn the average guy into a criminal.
Hiring a lawyer can actually mean long-term savings
Michaud agreed with Carinsurance.com’s contention that hiring a lawyer can really pay off. Those aiming for a major reduction — say, reducing a four-point ticket to a no-pointer will definitely need help from a paid professional.
The Carinsurance.com report stated that the most successful moves in 2021 are:
- Represented myself, got out of ticket — 43% (55% of women; 40% of men);
- Hired a lawyer, got out of ticket — 35% (22% of women; 39% of men);
- Represented myself, still got the ticket — 14% (19% of women; 13% of men);
- Hired a lawyer, still got the ticket — 7% (4% of women; 8% of men).
Despite fees between $100 and above $700 to hire an attorney, 91% of those who retain an attorney to fight a ticket report feeling the cost is worth it. The report shows car insurance rates increase between 22% and 30% on average after a speeding ticket.
Drivers getting multiple speeding tickets during a three-year period can result in classification as a “high-risk driver.” That can really make car insurance expensive.
However, Nathan said you may be able to avoid all of this by employing a little common courtesy.
Number one was respect the ticketing officer. Don’t slam on the brakes when pulling over and get as close to the side of the road as you can to keep the officer away from traffic.
Produce your license immediately, answer all of the officer’s questions clearly, and stay in your car.
Officers make notations as to the attitude of the driver. People who take out their aggression on the trooper are making a big mistake, Nathan said.