You may be surprised to hear that in 2010, over four million traffic citations were written in the state of Florida. By 2013, that number was well over five million with the vast majority of those being speeding tickets. In fact, the National Motorists Association found that the state most likely to hand out a traffic ticket is the Sunshine State, followed by Georgia and Nevada. As a whole, Florida handles traffic tickets on a county level, and for the most part the traffic fines will not vary much from county to county. This means that if you receive a speeding ticket in the Southern part of Florida, then receive one in northern Florida, your fines are likely to be fairly consistent. Surcharges, or court-related fees, are added on to the speeding fine, and are set by the individual county.
Florida Statutory Penalties for Speeding Six to Nine Miles Over the Posted Speed Limit
If you receive a speeding ticket for driving six to nine miles above the speed limit, it could, in some ways, being even more dismaying than had you received a speeding ticket for going faster. This is largely because at the lower end you may not have even been aware you were speeding. Perhaps you were just driving with the flow of traffic, yet now you have a speeding ticket that is likely going to cost you both money and time. The fines for this level of speeding ticket are likely to be about $131 in Sarasota and similar amounts in other parts of the state. Further, should you simply pay this speeding ticket, you will also end up with three points on your driving record. While this may not sound like much, the points can add up fast, leading to serious, negative consequences. You must make a decision relatively quickly (you have thirty calendar days in which to satisfy the citation) regarding what you will do about your Florida speeding ticket. Your options include:
- Attend traffic school
- Pay the fine and have the points on your license
- Request a court appearance
- Contact an attorney to discuss your case
How the Police Officer Measured Your Speed
You may wonder how the police officer who ticketed you actually measured your speed—and just how accurate the method really is. Following are the various ways your speed may have been measured:
- Pacing means the police officer drives behind you, accelerating until his speed matches yours, and there is no more widening gap between his police cruiser and your car. When the officer is using the pacing method, he must follow your vehicle for at least two-tenths of a mile while maintaining an equal distance between the two vehicles. The officer then checks his speedometer and determines your speed. Unfortunately, pacing is a method which is much more prone to human error; after all, the officer must be a stellar multi-tasker in order to accelerate to the exact same speed as you are driving, then maintain the exact gap between vehicles for two-tenths of a mile. During this time, the police officer must also continue to engage in safe driving behaviors, watching the traffic around him. The officer may attempt to determine your speed while accelerating to catch up with you which makes the process much less than accurate.
- Your speed may be determined via aircraft which works by clocking the time a vehicle takes to travel between two fixed points on the ground. More specifically, two marks are placed on the highway, then when your vehicle is observed to be traveling faster than the cars around you, a stopwatch device is triggered from the aircraft when your vehicle crosses the starting point, and switched off when your vehicle crosses the ending point. Your exact speed is calculated by the time it took you to get from point A to point B. At speed limit offenses of 6-9 miles over the posted speed limit, it is unlikely aircraft would be used to measure your speed, however if your speed was calculated by aircraft, your attorney will have a couple of arguments regarding aircraft speed detection which will work in your favor.
- VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) is a small computer-like device which calculates your speed based on how long it takes you to drive a certain distance. The VASCAR device is hooked in to the speedometer of the police officer’s cruiser. If the police officer passed you at a high rate of speed, then was sitting further down the highway to issue you a ticket, he was likely using VASCAR. This method can be inaccurate, simply because the police officer triggers a switch to start and stop the timing device, and the officer is using a visual estimate when starting and stopping the timing device.
- Radar is the method of speed detection most of us are most familiar with; the radar sends out a radio wave signal, then waits for that signal to be reflected back to the radar machine and detecting your speed. One inherent weakness of radar detectors is that they do not distinguish a specific vehicle, therefore if multiple vehicles are traveling together, the officer must make the determination of which vehicle is registering a particular speed.
- Laser (LIDAR, light detection and ranging) has the benefit over radar of being vehicle specific. A police officer maintains a fixed position on the roadway, aiming the Laser device at your vehicle, and the resulting two readings are of your vehicle’s speed and the distance measurement of your vehicle from the laser device. Like radar detection, the accuracy of laser can be compromised at greater distances, and laser also requires frequent checks to ensure it is functioning properly, however by and large, laser is much more difficult to argue accuracy against.
Other Consequences Related to Your Florida Speeding Ticket
Aside from statutory penalties, there are a number of other consequences related to your Florida speeding ticket, even though you were not traveling much above the posted speed limit. Your insurance rates may rise, and if you accrue sufficient points, you could even have your license suspension. If you drive for a living and have a CDL license, you could even potentially lose your job simply for going a few miles over the speed limit. Further, enhanced penalties exist if you were speeding through a school zone or a construction zone, and you could end up with a reckless driving ticket in addition to your speeding ticket. While the fines will vary from county to county, speeding in a school or construction zone can increase your fines from $120 and more.
What are Your Options for Handling Your Florida Speeding Ticket?
You may choose to simply pay your speeding ticket, however you must be aware that by paying the ticket you have effective pled “guilty” to the offense and will receive three points on your driving record. You may decide to attend driving school, however you are only allowed to do so once every year, and only five times in your lifetime. If you attend traffic school you will not garner any points on your driving record, however you will still be required to pay the fines and fees as well as additional fees for driving school. You may be able to find an online traffic school approved by the Florida courts—otherwise you will spend valuable time away from work or other responsibilities taking your class.
Perhaps you decide to go before a judge and contest your speeding ticket. Again, you will have to take time away from work, school or other responsibilities in order to appear in court. Should you fail to appear before the judge as ordered, you will also end up with a Failure to Appear ticket. The police officer who issued your ticket will be present at your court appearance, and it can be extremely difficult for most people to speak on their own behalf unless they are skilled public speakers with a comprehensive knowledge of the law and a boatload of self-confidence. In fact, most people who represent themselves in court usually feel like they just got ambushed—and rarely prevail. If you are found guilty, the Court can assess points, impose a civil penalty (not to exceed $500), require you to attend traffic school—or all of the above. Your insurance rates may also increase, or, if you have sufficient points, could be cancelled altogether.
Fighting your ticket in court can be much less daunting with a Florida speeding ticket lawyer by your side; you can have your day in court, but you will be much more likely to prevail than by going it alone. With an attorney by your side you have someone who not only understands the Florida legal system but also has knowledge of all the necessary Florida laws pertaining to your case. Your Florida traffic attorney can make objections on your behalf—and has the legal background to back up those objections. In short, having a strong, aggressive Florida traffic ticket attorney by your side when you appear before a judge can make the difference between a positive and a negative outcome.
Possible Defenses Your Florida Traffic Ticket Attorney May Use
Of course the defense your Florida traffic ticket attorney will use on your behalf is dependent upon the specific circumstances surrounding your speeding ticket. Some of the potential defenses include:
- Depending on the method the officer used to determine your speed, your attorney may be able to challenge the determination of speed. Your attorney may also be able to question the officer’s proficiency in using the radar, laser or pacing, as well as whether the machines have been properly maintained.
- If you truly experienced an emergency which forced you to break the speed limit, this could be used in your defense.
- Your attorney might be able to show that the officer mistook your car for another car, particularly if the roadway was busy and your car resembles many others.
- If you were driving safely, given the specific road, weather and traffic conditions at the time, and were only going a few miles above the posted speed limit, your attorney has a good chance of showing your speed was safe and prudent.
- If you were driving in heavy traffic, your attorney might be able to claim that everyone was exceeding the speed limit and by driving slower than the flow of traffic you could have conceivably endangered yourself or others.
Why You Should Always Speak to a Florida Traffic Ticket Attorney Before You Pay Your Ticket
It is extremely important that you contact a Florida traffic ticket attorney, even in cases where your speed was very little above the posted speed limit. The attorneys of The Law Place have over thirty years’ combined experience helping people just like you. We have the knowledge and the experience to fight for your rights. We will do our best to ensure points are not added to your driving record by having your ticket dismissed, whenever possible. If you have received a speeding ticket, don’t simply drop a check in the mail, and don’t go to court without a skilled The Law Place lawyer by your side.