By Eric Joranson
It's another one of those hot, sticky summer afternoons. The weatherman calls it "humid," but you call it unbearable. You're stuck cleaning the attic when your friend calls about that pool party. Sounds a lot more fun than sorting piles in the attic, right? Bocce ball, beach volleyball, and backyard bonfires. Game on.
You hop in your Hyundai. Pedal to the metal. Windows down - thank goodness - and the radio up. You speed across town as fast as you can, before you begin to melt. What did that sign say? 35 MPH? No matter - you've driven this route before and never had trouble.
Except for now.
Lights. Siren. And some big dark glasses peering in your window. Better crank the AC, it may be awhile.
license and registration, ma'am
Here are some secret tips on how to help shrink your punishmentGetting pulled over for speeding is one thing. Everything after is what's the pits. A citation with a bunch of mumbo jumbo, the embarrassment of cars driving by and looking at you like you just ran over a cat.
Do you have to appear in court, or can you just mail this thing in? Does my state use a demerit point system, and if so what are demerit points and what happens if you get too many? Can you really get a speeding ticket thrown if you knew you were speeding? Will your insurance company drop you?
Read on to understand some of the basic legal and financial implications of speeding tickets. It may help you make informed decisions from the minute you roll down your window to the minute the judge rolls up his sleeves.
first things first
If you see cherries rolling, pull off to the side of the road immediately as safely as possible. Whether he's after you or the other guy, police appreciate cars getting out of the way so they can safely and effectively execute the stop. You'll be on his good side from day one.
Expect the cop to come to your door and maybe ask you some questions. Know this - unless you are getting arrested, your 5th Amendment right to remain silent does not kick in. So what you say (or don't say) is very important. Before you open your mouth, picture the Judge sitting shotgun next to you. So if you say to the cop "Yes sir, I was going 22 over, I knew it, and I did so deliberately," congratulations, you may just drastically hurt your chance of challenging a speeding ticket in court. The best thing may be to just sit tight and stay calm. Generally, it's always a good thing in life to be honest, you may want to consider carefully what information you volunteer.
know the rules of (the shoulder of) the road
Unless you're getting arrested, your 5th Amendment right to remain silent does not kick inAlways know the laws that apply to your situation. This includes federal law, state law, and local law. You can get to know some of the basics by grabbing some tips from your local Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation. Glance over them on a lunch break or between classes. You'll be happy you did; knowing the laws of your locale helps keep you safe and may save you money.
In some states, you lose your driving "privileges" when you get a certain number of violations within a certain time period. For example, in Wisconsin, 12 demerit points in a 12-month period will do it. Here's a breakdown of how many points attach with some of Wisconsin's basic violations.
- 3 demerit points for exceeding the lawful speed limit by 10 or fewer miles per hour;
- 4 demerit points for exceeding the lawful speed limit by more than 10 or fewer than 20 miles per hour; or
- 6 demerit points for exceeding the lawful speed limit by 20 or more miles per hour.
After you see how much moola you owe, look at the ticket to see if there are any demerit points. The ticket might also say whether you have to appear in court or if you can just mail in payment. This can vary depending on the circumstances, jurisdiction, and severity of the citation. Even if you're not required to show up at court, it might be smart to do so anyway. Sometimes judges will go easy on you if it's your first one. And prosecutors are sometimes willing to wheel and deal you down to a smaller offense.
Here are some tips on how to help shrink your punishment. Depending on the law that applies to your situation, these tips will vary. Always consult the laws that apply to your situation. If you don't know what laws apply, then consult an attorney that practices in that area of law.