If you're caught speeding and receive a citation for a moving violation, you can try to negotiate a lesser charge, but not without the officer giving you the ticket. The only way to reduce this charge is to speak to the district attorney in court and ask for a reduced settlement. Getting your speeding ticket reduced to a non-moving violation should spare you points on your driver's record and should not impact your car insurance rates.
Decide Which Plea to Ask For
There are many non-moving violations, including illegal parking, driving without a seat belt, driving with expired registration and driving without insurance. Before you go to court, you'll have to decide which non-moving violation is best for you. Facts govern the outcome of traffic cases. Be aware that your chance of success has a lot to do with the circumstances of the speeding and your previous driving history. Multiple offenses on your driving record could make it harder for you to strike a deal.
Gather Your Documents
Check your speeding ticket to determine the court date and the county courthouse and courtroom where you need to appear. Bring the original speeding ticket, your driver's license, a certified copy of your driving record and enough money to pay your fines and court costs. Your goal is get your speeding ticket reduced to a non-moving violation, but even if you are successful, you'll have to plead guilty to the lower offense and pay the associated fines. Some courts don't accept credit cards and checks, so verify payment methods before you go to court.
Attend the Hearing
Arrive at the courtroom at least 30 minutes before the scheduled hearing time and wait for your name to be called by the district attorney. You'll have only a few minutes to speak to the DA and negotiate a settlement, so it's a good idea to sit near the front where you can reach the DA promptly. Remember to dress smartly and be respectful, polite and courteous at all times.
Negotiate a Settlement
Tell the district attorney that you are willing to accept a reduction in charges to a non-moving violation and briefly explain why you want the speeding ticket to be reduced. For example, you might discuss your clean driving record or the fact that you were driving only very slightly over the speed limit. Don't admit guilt to the speeding ticket, because the prosecutor can use the admission against you. It's better to say, "I don't think you can prove these charges," or, "I have a strong defense," as a reason why the lesser charge should be accepted.
The Judge Has the Final Word
If the district attorney agrees to reduce the charge, the two of you will both appear before the judge. The judge has the final word, so even if the DA recommends that the charge be reduced to a non-moving violation, there is a small risk that the judge will not allow it. Be prepared to either plead guilty to the original speeding ticket or plead not guilty and proceed to trial.
- If the prosecutor doesn't initially seem agreeable to your request, inform him of the reasons why you want the speeding ticket reduced to a nonmoving violation. If you provide a heartfelt, valid personal reason for seeking the change, many prosecutors will be on your side.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.