Written by Gregory Monte.
If you get a ticket, there are three steps to take to determine if it is worth contesting.
- Read/Understand the statute you allegedly violated – that’s pretty straightforward.
- Interpret this statute to see if you really violated it. This means looking for possible technicalities in the way the law was written that you can take advantage of. Although it may seem strange, the fact that laws are vague leaves open many possibilities for contesting them.
- Find case law to either support or reveal any technicalities that you identified from step two.
I can’t stress enough that part three of the method is the most important, and yet most traffic help websites don’t talk about this much at all. This is why I am a harsh critic of these websites which are, in reality, just “fronts” for law firms who don’t want you to fight the ticket on your own. Instead, they want you to hire them (which is why they don’t tell you all that you need to know).
Another important purpose of using case law is that it is serves as precedent. If you can actually find a case with circumstances similar to yours, you are most likely going to win in court. You may not be successful at the lower court level (my son lost in Magisterial Court) because the judges there are probably friends with the cops (and are not as well-read about the law), but in higher courts of appeal, you stand an excellent chance of coming out on top. That was my son’s experience in the Court of Common Pleas. There, the judge could not ignore the case law he cited so she found him not guilty.