Can I fight any ticket?

Absolutely. Whenever the government attempts to impose fines and other penalties, you have the right to contest those actions.

How long do I have to contest, say, a speeding ticket?

Unless the paperwork you receive with your citation states otherwise, you have 30 days to notify the court that you intend to dispute the charge. If you receive multiple citations during one traffic stop, you can contest one, some, or all.

Initial hearings on contested traffic citations get scheduled 21-45 days after the court receives your notice that you will not be waiving your rights and accepting the penalties without a fight. Be aware that you must then appear in court and before a judge on the date ordered.

Should I contest my ticket?

This can be a tough call. Questions you need to ask answer before making the decision to go to court over a traffic citation include

  • Can I easily afford the fine and administrative fees?
  • Is there more than money at stake? That is, does the penalty for the alleged violation include points against my driver's license and possible jail time for a misdemeanor?
  • How will spending at least one day in court affect my job and family?
  • Do I stand a good chance of winning? That is, do I honestly believe the evidence is on my side?

Speaking with a Columbus, Ohio, traffic violations lawyer may help you weigh each of these considerations. Campbell Law provides no-cost consultations to first-time callers.

What can a traffic violation cost me besides money and inconvenience?

Three things may convince you to fight a traffic violation: points and the possibility of having your driver's license suspended, potential jail time, and your job.

  1. Points and driver's license suspensions: Ohio uses a points system to penalize moving violations. Accumulate 12 points in a two-year period, and you lose your ability to drive for six months. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has compiled this list of points. It is long, and it shows that points can add up quickly.
    If you cannot afford additional points, contest your new ticket. Don't risk a suspension.
  2. Possible jail time: Some traffic violations get prosecuted as misdemeanors. For instance, a third citation for the same violation within a single year will usually be prosecuted as a third-degree misdemeanor. This raises the possible penalties to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.
    If you want to avoid possible imprisonment, contest your charge.
  3. Your job: Having a traffic conviction show up on your driving record may cost you your current job and future employment opportunities. Most commercial driving jobs require a "clean" record.
    If your job is at stake due to your need to keep your CDL in good standing, fight a traffic charge.

If I decide not to contest a ticket and just pay a ticket, do I still have to go to court?

This will depend on the charge. Most of the time, accepting the fine excuses you from court. Mandatory hearings are set for exceeding a posted speed limit by 35 mph or more, multiple moving violations within the same calendar year, and violations that result in injury or property damage. Check your ticket, and call Campbell Law.

How does a traffic court hearing work?

Traffic courts operate by nearly all the same rules as criminal courts. You can be represented by a lawyer who can introduce evidence, witnesses, and testimony in your defense. You can also file motions, examine any evidence used by the prosecutor, and appeal a verdict that you find unjust or unfair.

What happens if I skip traffic court?

You could be found guilty. This can happen whether you were ordered to appear or filed a notice to contest.

You could also get an arrest warrant. If the alleged offense is serious enough, defendants who fail to appear in traffic court can have a bench warrant sworn out on them.

Is it true that my traffic charges get dismissed if the officer who ticketed me does not show up in court?

You may "win" if the officer does not appear, but you should never count on this outcome. Police officers take their duty to attend traffic court hearings seriously. When they must skip certain days, they often request continuations of their cases until dates when they can appear.

What are some defenses I can use to fight a traffic citation?

You will be excused if you can prove someone else was driving when the alleged traffic violation occurred.

You could also show that you only violated one traffic law in order to obey another. For instance, a ticket for illegally entering an intersection will be dismissed if you convince the court that you only did that to make way for a fire engine or funeral procession.

A third way to defend yourself against a traffic offense is to question how the evidence against you was collected and interpreted. You can, for instance, ask to have a radar device tested for accuracy or dissect the charging officer's dash cam video to demonstrate that you never left your proper lane. Putting together this kind of defense requires requesting all the prosecution's evidence, including the officer's notes, before trial and getting it expertly analyzed.

Can Campbell Law assist me in fighting a traffic offense charge?

Yes. The traffic ticket attorneys with our Columbus-based criminal defense law firm primarily focus on these types of cases:

  • Reckless operation
  • Speeding tickets
  • Physical control
  • Driving under suspension in Ohio
  • Hit and run
  • Marked lane violations

Before dedicating herself to defending Ohioans against poorly done investigations and overly harsh penalties, April Campbell represented the BMV during hearings on reinstating suspended driver's licenses and worked on thousands of traffic offenses in Columbus, Ohio.

April Campbell knows exactly how the traffic law system works, and she welcomes opportunities to make it work for you.