Commercial drivers rely on the validity CDL for their livelihood, so excessive moving violations will harm their income and career stability. Just because a commercial driver received a traffic ticket doesn’t mean they deserved it or they should pay it. Moving violations enforce public safety and driver accountability, but some ambiguous outcomes and circumstances empower drivers to legally fight the charges in court.
Judges are usually allowed leeway in reducing court fines or orders based on circumstances beyond the driver’s control. This depends on the drive being confident and educated enough to prove that they made an honest mistake and reasonable error. For example, a driver who failed to come to a complete stop before a pedestrian crosswalk could point out that it was faded and difficult to see in the weather or limited light. A driver who failed to pause at a stop sign could point out that it was hidden by overgrown branches or bushes.
Whenever possible, take pictures of the traffic sign, road conditions or environment to present to the judge as evidence. Use statements of witnesses like bystanders and simple diagrams showing key locations and objects. These should include traffic signals, other vehicles and the location of the police officer. These diagrams are especially important for tickets given at busy intersections where violations related to right-of-way and traffic light occur.
Challenge the Police Officer’s Opinion
Police officers are trained to be observant and objective, but they also make mistakes or intentionally exaggerate facts. Many state laws require a fact-based, non-subjective observation from the police officer in order to justify a traffic ticket. These observations are not a public safety decision about whether the action was safe or legal. In certain situations, the moving violation may come down to an argument about whose version of the truth is correct.
For example, drivers who were cited for turning on a red light can easily point out that they were actually waiting in the intersection to turn on a flashing yellow arrow. Drivers who are cited for speeding in a school zone can point out that there were no signs posted or any evidence of a school nearby. It’s important to acknowledge that part of what the police officer is true, but then present your own evidence. Be sure to cast limited doubt on their ability to accurately perceive what happened because of mitigating weather or circumstance.
The third legal argument that can be used is to challenge the police officer’s opinion of what may have happened. This is useful in situations where a police officer feels you violated the law because of unsafe behaviors. Drivers have the right to argue that their actions were indeed safe and responsible considering the prevailing situation, weather and traffic conditions.