How To Refute A Traffic Officer's Observations In Court

25 April 2018
 Categories: Law, Blog


If you have been arrested for a traffic violation, you shouldn't assume that the traffic officer's observations are cast in stone. There are strategies for refuting such observations, and they can help you overturn the charges. Here are some strategies for doing that:

Challenge the Subjective Conclusion

There are cases where the preliminary liability assessment is based on an officer's subjective observations or conclusions. For example, if you were arrested for driving at a dangerous speed in reduced visibility, you are dealing with a subjective observation. Therefore, it's up to you to prove that your manner of driving couldn't have injured anyone despite the prevailing circumstances.

This defense is especially viable in states where speed limits aren't absolute limits but rather more or fewer guidelines on what is considered safe. If you are arrested for speeding in such a state, you need to prove that even though you had exceeded the speed limit, it was safe for you to do so. You can do this, for example, by claiming that visibility was excellent, the road was perfect, and there were no other road users.

Prove That You Were Avoiding a Greater Harm

In some cases, you may also avoid a conviction or get your sentence reduced by proving that you had violated a traffic law to avoid a greater evil. For example, if you have been ticketed for speeding, you can justify it by claiming that you were avoiding a dangerous driver who would have hit you from behind. Another example is when you are accused of driving over the centerline; an example of a justification is that you wanted to avoid hitting a pedestrian who had suddenly jumped onto the road. This is because it is better to exceed a speed limit than to cause a collision and it is better to drive over the center line than to crush a pedestrian.

Use the Mistake of Fact Defense

A mistake of fact defense applies when you unintentionally commit a crime because you mistook a fact or facts regarding the prevailing circumstances. This defense is typically suited for mistakes that were beyond your control. For example, if you did not stop because the signs were malfunctioning, you can use the mistake of fact defense because there was no way you could have known about the malfunction. Another example is if you fail to stop for pedestrians because the relevant markings are faded.

Of course, this is just one way of dealing with traffic offenses, and they may not apply on all situations. Consult a traffic lawyer for legal services and for further guidance on how to deal with traffic violation charges.