Last Updated on April 17, 2021 by Bernard Juchli
Did you earn yourself a ticket? Don’t worry, driver; this article discloses how to ask a judge to reduce a ticket.
If you are not confident of winning “not guilty” or afraid of a trial after committing a violation, the last resort is a plea with the prosecutor that issued the summons. Most of the time, judges accept a plea offer a lesser included offense. Judges may also reduce the penalty so you can clear the ticket.
Some time ago, I managed to convince a cop who wrote me a moving violation citation. I had the cop reduce the charge to a non-moving violation, leaving no negative driving record. The initial charge was a yielding failure to pedestrians, which he reduced to crosswalk obstruction.
Honestly, I stopped in the crosswalk because of a vehicle ahead. When the light became “red”, pedestrians were already walking in front and behind my car, making it difficult to clear the crosswalk.
How to Ask a Judge to Reduce a Ticket
Of course, the judge is human, and he has likely received a ticket some time ago too. Besides, judges know you’d be coming for a ticket reduction plea. Meanwhile, you should find out how to fight a ticket you do not deserve.
Below are the steps regarding how to ask a judge to reduce a ticket:
1. Identify Your Mistakes
Before you launch the case to request reduction, assess the situation sincerely. Note that if you fight a ticket and fail, you would be racking more court time and expenses. Moreover, it becomes worse when you call off hiring an attorney.
If you have several moving violations, you can’t beat the ticket, and your last resort remains pleading for a reduction.
2. Decide and Implement an Approach
You do not just approach the prosecutor; plan your action. On a few occasions, I’ve met with friend prosecutors, so it’s good to make friends.
How would you approach the prosecutor? Is their personality friendly? Figure these out to know what approach is most suitable.
When you meet the prosecutor, explain that you’d be okay with a decent deal, although you had a good defense. Typically, as I mentioned in the introduction paragraph, reductions may involve reducing to non-moving from moving violation. For example, reducing from speeding to “no seatbelt”. Having a clean record is an added advantage.
3. Weigh Your Chances
In a two-ticket scenario, when you plead for a lesser offense, it does not change the fines. However, you will receive no point on your driving record. Some jurisdictions may dismiss you at no cost, such that the ticket is not recorded after you pay the fine.
Some other states drop the conviction in a specified period, for example, 6 months. I advise you to question a local attorney or check with your local court.
You may consult an attorney for traffic misdemeanors, including reckless driving. It is different from civil infraction, though, since you would only receive driving record points and fine.
4. Find Out the Procedures
Depending on your state, you may have to submit a driving record copy to the court. If your prosecutor rejects a deal, you may appeal to the judge. Explain to the judge that the citation or ticket misrepresents how you drive.
Meanwhile, before you go to the court, dress decently. Table your complaint respectfully and honestly and avoid arguments. Admit your errors and explain that you will not repeat them.
When pleading with the court for leniency, the police officer that issued the ticket may object to your request if you were disrespectful to them. So, be respectful and mindful of how you address the officer. Though it does not mean getting a ticket reduction, it leaves a good mark that helps the situation.
5. Stay Brief
You may not be the only ticketed driver on the day of your court hearing. In this regard, ensure to be brief and straight to the point.
A judge may not have all the time to hear everything you have to say; just present your case and claims honestly and calmly.
6. Press On
Do not concede to making the complete fine payment. Meanwhile, you may request eth installment payment plan if your driving record does not convince the judge for a reduction.
You may mention your income and monthly expenses so that the judge reconsiders what plan or fine is suitable. Some of the time, judges make recommendations or suggestions.
Can I convince the judge to Reduce my ticket?
Yes, you can convince the judge to reduce your ticket. However, you must not act up when the police officer writes you a ticket. When you comply, the officer loses interest in the situation and may allow you to have your way at the court.
When you rage, rave, and rant, citing how you’d make the officer lose their badge, get sued, etc., forget about the reduction. When the hearing date arrives, you’d never like what will happen and how hard the police officer will hit back.
The pathway towards convincing the judge to reduce your ticket begins with how polite and compliant you are with the officer. You may plead with the police officer for a warning, though, to get out of receiving the ticket, leading to the court.
In another scenario, if it is a speeding ticket, making the police doubt you will be easy. How can the police officer be sure you sped? What if they mistook another vehicle for yours? Are there witnesses the police officer can bank on? You might even declare you did the speed limit.
If you can’t survive convincing the police officer to drop the ticket, consider negotiating with the prosecution. Request to attend traffic school or plea deal to dismiss the case.
You may get away with receiving points on your license but must pay the fine. Besides, points create a negative impact.
Tips to Avoid Court Hearing
A friend shared this idea, which worked for me. First, get the police officer’s working schedule traffic. Now, schedule the trial for the officer’s working date. You may hire any of the yahoos if you can’t handle this task. The idea is to contest the ticket in court, making sure the police officer does not show up for the case to be dismissed.
Consequences of a Driving Ticket
One of the causes of a driving ticket is driving with expired license or plate number, and you want to avoid such risks.
Some of the consequences of a driving ticket include the following:
- Negative impact on driving record, typically leading to license suspension.
- Long-term cost when insurance rate increases by some hundred dollars yearly.
- Upfront expenses when you pay the court and ticket fees.
What to Say to a Lawyer and Have Ticket Reduced
I’d love to inform you that I have not been ticketed for some time now (months or years).
I plead with you to withhold the points on my license to retain my good driving record. I am asking that you consider a reduction on my ticket so that I can afford it without comfortably.
I understand I made a grave mistake and may be asking too much by pleading for a ticket reduction. My finance is not so good, and paying the whole ticket is too heavy on me.
I would be grateful if you grant my humble and honest request.
Note that judges can factor in your income and expenses when deciding the fine. Most of the time, a local lawyer finds a suitable option that saves money and protects your record. If there is a fine, the judge will not go below it.
Besides, only a few traffic violations carry minimum fines. In Orange County, for instance, judges reduce your fine by as much as they can. Besides, they know you’d be visiting to request a ticket reduction.
Keep in mind that when conviction financial cost goes on your record, it raises insurance. If you fail to convince the judge to reduce your ticket, you may request a hardship license. A hardship license permits you to drive between specific locations, including from home to work or school. Most judges would not want to obliterate your livelihood affected, considering the cost and fines you must pay.