Why You Might Receive a Speeding Ticket
Of course, technically, you’re violating the law any time you exceed the speed limit, whether you are going two miles over the speed limit or thirty miles over the speed limit. Police officers generally don’t stop those who are going just a few miles over the speed limit, largely because speed can vary, depending on hills and curves, and, because no guidance or law dictates how much leeway the officer should give you, it becomes up to his or her discretion. Some police officers get a number in their mind regarding how fast is too fast, and will give anyone going that amount over the speed limit a ticket. Others are more inclined to issue warnings unless your speed is really excessive.
Of course the police officer will also take the circumstances surrounding the stop into account: was a life in danger, were you in a school or construction zone, or did you blow through a stop sign or stop light? If so, you are much more likely to receive a speeding ticket. The officer may be open to listening to why you were speeding—if it is a valid excuse, although some police officers believe there is no good reason for exceeding the speed limit. Despite the variances from officer to officer, the majority of speeding tickets given are for those going ten to twenty miles per hour over the posted speed limit. If, however you are going ten to fourteen miles over the speed limit your fine and penalties are likely to be less than if you are going fifteen miles or above. Florida had the dubious honor of handing out the most speeding tickets, according to a 2012 study, so whether you are on your daily commute or just passing through, watching your speed is a good idea. If, however, your foot got a little heavy, you may need some legal help to minimize the consequences a speeding ticket can bring.
Florida Statutory Penalties for Speeding Ten to Fourteen Miles over the Posted Speed Limit
All traffic tickets in the state of Florida are handled on the county level, meaning the fines you pay will not differ substantially from county to county across the state. Surcharges will be added on to your speeding fines, and these can differ somewhat as they are court-related fees, set by the individual county. When you receive a speeding ticket for going ten to fourteen miles above the posted speed limit, you were likely at least peripherally aware that you were exceeding the speed limit. You may, however, have been simply driving with the flow of traffic, and feel the ticket you received is unfair and that you should plead your case to a judge.
Be aware that even if you were going with the flow of traffic, if you were exceeding the speed limit, this excuse is not going to get you very far in a Florida courtroom. The fine for speeding ten to fourteen miles above the posted speed limit will be approximately $200-$235—almost a hundred dollars more than a ticket for going six to nine miles above the limit. You have only thirty days to make a decision about how you will handle your ticket. You have the option of paying your ticket in full, pleading your case before a judge, attending traffic school (only in certain cases) or hiring an attorney to help you with your ticket. Many people feel like having an attorney handle their speeding ticket doesn’t make much sense, but, in fact, it makes much more sense when you understand the facts.
Understanding Your Options Regarding Your Florida Speeding Ticket
Your first option is to simply pay your speeding ticket—write a check, drop it in the mail and forget about the entire thing. Unfortunately, paying your ticket is the same as pleading “guilty,” to the offense of speeding, meaning you now have a conviction which will add three points to your driving record. That may not sound like much of a penalty, but if you happen to get several tickets over the course of a year, you could actually have your driver’s license revoked. If you accrue twelve points within a one-year period, you will lose your license for a month; eighteen points within eighteen months and you could lose your license for three months, and twenty-four points within a three-year period could cause you to lose your driver’s license for a year.
Your next option is to attend driving school, however you are only allowed to do so once every years, and only five times total in your lifetime. Attending driving school saves you from having the points added to your driving record, but you are still required to pay all fines and fees associated with your speeding ticket as well as the fees for driving school. You may be able to find an online driving school that is accepted by the Florida courts, or you may have to attend driving school in person, in which case you will likely have to take off work or school in order to meet your obligation. So, while driving school will save you from having points added to your driving record—and having your insurance rates go up—it will not save you from paying your fines and fees and taking time to attend the school or take the online class.
Your third option is to go before a judge and contest your speeding ticket. Be aware that pleading your case before a judge—with the police officer who gave you the ticket testifying as well—can be a very daunting task. Unless you are a gifted public speaker, speaking before a judge can be intimidating—you may be directly contradicting what the police officer says, and, in the end, the judge is simply more likely to believe the police officer who may have been in the courtroom many times before. You would also have to have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the law in order to keep from feeling as though you have just been ambushed. If the judge finds you guilty—a very likely outcome—the Court can assess points, impose a civil penalty, require you to attend traffic school and you will still have to pay your ticket fines and fees.
Your final option is to fight your ticket in court with an experienced Florida speeding ticket lawyer by your side. Your attorney will have a solid understanding of the Florida legal system, will likely have at least a passing acquaintance with the judge in your case, will have the necessary knowledge to make objections on your behalf, and will be on your side from start to finish. The judge is much more likely to listen to your attorney’s account of your side of the story than to listen to your own and your attorney knows the right questions to ask the officer in order to determine why you were pulled over and if all rules were properly followed. Your Florida traffic attorney may be able to have your ticket dismissed altogether, leaving you with no points on your driving record.
How Speed is Measured
You may wonder how your speed was measured by the officer who ticketed you. There are a number of ways speed is measured, the most widely-used being radar, followed closely by laser. Following are the potential methods of measuring speeding vehicles:
- Radar has been used since the 1950’s, however there are several different “bands” of radar which are used, making it more difficult to detect the newest band the police happen to be using. X-band frequency dates back to the first radars for measuring speed, and is the easiest to detect using a radar detector due to lower frequency and higher power output. While X-band radar can only accurately measure speed from a distance of ½ mile or less, a radar detector can detect X-band for two-four miles, making it almost obsolete. K-band frequency appeared in 1978, and is the most commonly used radar frequency as it has a relatively small wavelength and can be used from a stationary “gun” or a moving vehicle. Like X-band, a radar detector can pick up the signal, but only from ¼ of a mile to two miles. Ka-band combines a radar gun with an automated camera, and the “stalker” radar gun can be licensed for any frequency in the Ka-band, meaning it cannot be picked up by radar detectors designed for X, K, or photo radar. Stalker guns are presently used in well over half the country. The primary weakness in radar detection of speed is that it does not necessarily register a specific vehicle, meaning your attorney may be able to challenge the radar reading if there were multiple vehicles around you at the time you were ticketed.
- Laser or LIDAR(Light Detection and Ranging) guns are the newest way for police to clock your speed. The primary difference between laser and radar is that laser uses much shorter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Police laser uses light pulses rather than radar radio waves, and at least half the state and local police across the country are now using laser or LIDAR. The laser gun is much more accurate in pinpointing a specific vehicle than radar, plus laser can capture your speed in less than half a second, versus two to three seconds for radar. There are drawbacks to laser speed detection: they are very expensive, accurate aiming requires a tripod or extremely steady hand, and they cannot be used from behind glass or from a moving vehicle. The accuracy of laser can be compromised at greater distances and the laser guns require frequent maintenance to ensure they are working correctly. Laser can be difficult to argue against, however your attorney may be able to challenge whether the officer was properly trained in using the laser gun or whether the laser gun had been maintained properly.
- Pacing is not used as often any more, although some police officers will still use pacing, depending on the situation. Using the pacing method, the police officer will drive behind you (after he has made the assessment that you are exceeding the speed limit), accelerating until the speed of his car matches the speed of yours, with the same gap between the two vehicles. When an officer uses pacing, he must follow your vehicle for at least two-tenths of a mile, all the while maintaining the same distance between your vehicle and the police cruiser. The officer will then check his own speedometer in order to determine your speed. The pacing method comes chock full of the potential of human error. The police officer must be able to maintain the exact distance between the two vehicles, while looking at his speedometer and odometer as well as watching the traffic around him. In other words, the officer using the pacing method must be an amazing multi-tasker and your attorney may have some valid challenges to this method.
- Finally, your speed may be clocked using aircraft. You may have seen signs in some areas which state that speed is being monitored via aircraft. This is done by placing two marks at two fixed points on the highway; when a vehicle is observed to be traveling faster than the cars around it, a stopwatch-device is triggered from the aircraft when the vehicle crosses the starting point and switched off when it crosses the ending point. The exact speed is then calculated based on the time it took to travel from one point to the other.
- A much-less used technique to measure speed is VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) which calculates speed based on how long it takes you to drive a specific distance. The VASCAR device is hooked into the police car’s speedometer; if you were passed by a police officer driving at a high rate of speed, then found that same officer waiting down the road to issue you a speeding ticket, he was likely using VASCAR. The device works by triggering a stop and start switch, with the officer using visual estimates, so may be less-than-accurate.
Consequences Other Than Statutory Penalties of Your Florida Speeding Ticket
If you pay your ticket, plead guilty or go before a judge and are found guilty, you will receive three points on your driving record, and it is likely your insurance rates will rise. If you have a CDL license and make your living driving, you could potentially lose your job just for going a few miles above the speed limit. Should this ticket conviction happen to push you over your twelve-point limit, you could lose your license for a time, making it difficult to get to work, school, or to run your normal, everyday errands. If your speeding ticket was issued in a construction zone or a school zone, you could potentially end up with a ticket for reckless driving in addition to your speeding ticket, resulting in higher fines and more points on your driving record.
Defenses Your Florida Traffic Ticket Attorney May Use on Your Behalf
The specific defense your Florida traffic ticket attorney may use depends on the circumstances surrounding your speeding offense. Some of the more common defenses used by traffic ticket attorneys include the following:
- Your Florida traffic ticket attorney may challenge the method used by the officer to determine your speed, particularly if radar or pacing methods were used.
- Your attorney may question whether the police officer was adequately trained to use the specific speed-measuring device, and whether the device was properly maintained.
- If the police officer clocked your speed in heavy traffic, your attorney may make the argument that you were driving with the flow of traffic, and had you slowed down you might have endangered other drivers.
- If your attorney can show your speed—while above the posted speed limit—was nevertheless safe and prudent for the road, weather and traffic conditions, this may be a valid defense.
- If you drive a car that looks like many other cars, your Florida traffic attorney may be able to show your ticket was a case of mistaken identity.
- If you were speeding due to a true emergency, this fact can be used in your defense.
Don’t Pay That Ticket—Talk to an Experienced Florida Traffic Ticket Attorney
It is extremely important that you contact an experienced Florida traffic ticket attorney before you decide to simply pay your ticket. The Law Place attorneys have been helping people like you for decades. There are many good reasons to choose our law firm over others, primarily the level of experience our attorneys have, coupled with our knowledge of local, state and federal laws. The attorneys of The Law Place work together in order to provide you with the best defense possible. As your highly skilled Florida speeding ticket attorney, The Law Place will fight aggressively on your behalf, with a goal of preventing your speeding ticket from marring your future.