You may consider yourself a safe and responsible driver who follows the rules and doesn’t take unnecessary risks. It can be upsetting, then, to have to deal with the effects of getting pulled over and issued a traffic citation for speeding, changing lanes improperly, or another of any number of traffic violations. If this happens to you, make sure you know all of the options available to you.
What your options are
Your first option is to pay the fine as requested. If you pay the fine, you are admitting guilt, and you will assume all consequences for the offense – such as points on your driver’s license and increased insurance rates.
Your second option is to deny committing the traffic infraction. This will involve requesting a hearing and making your case for why the court should drop the infraction. If you wish, you can hire an attorney to prepare your defense for you and represent you in the hearing.
Lastly, you can also admit to the infraction but still request a hearing to explain mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances are elements that you think the judge should consider about the circumstances surrounding your alleged traffic violation because they explain or justify your actions. Sometimes, judges will lower or dismiss violations due to mitigating circumstances.
What constitutes mitigating circumstances?
The purpose of requesting a hearing for explaining mitigating circumstances is not to deny guilt. Rather, your goal is to explain why you committed the infraction and why the judge should lower your fine.
Mitigating circumstances could be anything from an emergency that made you drive above the speed limit to plants that partially covered signs and made them harder to see. Their purpose is not to excuse the infraction, but to give the judge justification for cutting you some slack.
Even the smallest of infractions can lead to great inconveniences, such as having to attend traffic safety school or getting points on your record. If feasible, and if you think you stand a good chance of getting the infraction dropped, it could be worth it to contest the charges, or at least to explain mitigating circumstances in your case.