How To Prepare Evidence For A Traffic Violation Appeal

If you recently got a ticket for speeding, driving through a stop light, or any other traffic violation, you have the right to appeal the charges brought against you. Before your appeal, however, it's important to understand the types of evidence you can use to support your claim of innocence. You should also be aware of the evidence that will be brought against you by the police officer so you can prepare a convincing rebuttal.

Evidence You Should Gather for an Appeal

The best time to gather evidence is immediately following your encounter with a police officer. Before moving your car into traffic and driving off, take a few minutes to write down information. This might require calming down first – getting a ticket can cause feelings of anger, resentment, shame, and embarrassment. Once you relax, however, here's what you should do:

  • Write down the officer's name
  • Note the date and time
  • Describe road and weather conditions
  • Write the speed you were driving at
  • Take note of the offense (speeding, fender bender, etc.)
  • Write names, ages, and phone numbers of any passengers
  • Get testimonials from any witnesses (pedestrians, passengers, other drivers, etc.) stating that your actions didn't merit a ticket
  • Take pictures of anything that might aid your appeal – construction, weather (especially if it obstructs the view of stop or speed limit signs), speed limit signs, etc.

Suggestions for Writing a Convincing Appeal Letter

Your next step is to use the information gathered to write a convincing letter of appeal. Again, you need to do this at a time when you aren't feeling worked up about the unwarranted ticket. As you write your appeal, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Use a firm, professional tone
  • Don't exaggerate details about the officer or your driving; simply describe the circumstances that preceded the ticket
  • Emphasize your driving experience and previous driving record (example: I've been driving 15 years without ever getting a traffic ticket)
  • State what the problem might have been (example: a tree may have been obstructing the radar gun for an inaccurate reading, or your speedometer is inaccurate and you didn't realize until you got a ticket)
  • Provide pictorial and written evidence to support your claim
  • List witnesses who can testify in your favor along with their contact information
  • Provide personal information that might convince a judge to drop or reduce your fines, such as current financial situation or a family matter you are attending to that reduces your finances
  • Request that all charges be dropped, and state an understanding that if they are not dropped you know the appeal will lead to a court case

Evidence a Police Officer Gathers for Court

Unfortunately, an appeal letter and solid evidence are not always enough to get the charges dropped. When that is the case, you are expected to present your appeal in court, along with evidence refuting your ticket. The officer that pulled you over will have to attend this hearing and provide evidence in support of the fine. Here's what the officer might use to strengthen their argument:

  • Recorded reading from a radar gun
  • Data about that day's weather and traffic conditions
  • Notes about the event, especially including parts of your conversation in which you were uncooperative or attempted to justify your actions
  • A copy of your ticket

There are a number of ways to handle a traffic ticket – from stomping your feet and paying the bill, crying in embarrassment while writing out a check, or making a formal appeal to get the charges dropped. If you handle the incidence well, however, you will probably be more prepared for an appeal than the officer who pulled you over. The best things for you to do is to gather the evidence in your favor immediately, and be professional in writing your appeal. For more information on appealing driving violations, or even DWI charges, contact an experienced lawyer.