How to Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced

by Ralph Heibutzki
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Dealing with a traffic ticket can be difficult, particularly if you don't agree that you deserved it. Even minor infractions can spike your insurance rates by hundreds of dollars, and you can lose your license, depending on your driving record and the type of offense involved. However, if you study how traffic courts work, getting your ticket reduced can cut your losses considerably. Here are some options to consider.

Evalute The Situation

Step 1

Evaluate the situation honestly. In most cases, fighting a traffic ticket racks up additional costs and court time, especially if you wind up hiring an attorney. As indicates, chances of beating the ticket are slim to none if you have multiple moving violations, or a spotty driving record. This makes plea bargaining your next-best option.

Step 2

Prepare a plan of action before approaching the prosecutor. Explain that you had a good defense, but are willing to make a deal. A typical reduction, according to, may call for reducing moving violations to non-moving ones--such as from speeding, to not wearing a seat belt. This scenario works best with a clean driving record.

Step 3

Weigh all the elements, because some deals are better than others, according to In the two-ticket scenario, pleading to the lesser offense won't change your fines--but it leaves no points on your driving record. In some jurisdictions, you can earn a dismissal on costs--meaning the ticket goes away after you pay fines and court costs. Still others allow the conviction to drop off within a certain period, such as six months. Check with your local court for guidance.

Consult an attorney for criminal traffic misdemeanors, such as reckless driving. This differs from a civil infraction, which carries only the consequences of a fine and points on your driving record. Plead not guilty at your initial appearance even if you plea bargain later--you need to consider all your options, especially if you want to avoid the blemish of a criminal record.

Know The Procedures

Step 1

Bring a copy of your driving record to court. If the prosecutor doesn't accept a deal, you can still appeal to the judge. Explain that the ticket doesn't represent your driving habits. This is also your chance to cite evidence or conduct by the officer that doesn't support the ticket, notes.

Step 2

Keep your defense short. Your case is likely to be among numerous civil hearings on the day you're in court, so take those logistics into account. A judge won't have time to hear every point you're hoping to raise. Make your case coolly and calmly; as your courtroom demeanor will go a long way in deciding the outcome.

Step 3

Don't give up if your ticket costs you your driver's license. You can still seek a hardship license, which allows driving between certain locations--such as to and from work. Most judges won't want your livelihood affected, especially with fines and costs to pay, according to

Step 4

Never concede paying the full fine. If your driving record doesn't sway the judge into reducing the amount, request an installment plan. List your monthly expenses and income so the court can see how a large fine affects you. In most cases, a judge will approve the idea, as long as you keep up your end of the bargain.

If you still believe that you presented a strong case--and your best evidence was ignored--consider an appeal to the next higher level. According to, if you're found guilty in traffic court, you can request a second trial before another judge. This option gives you a second chance to defend yourself.

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