Can I fight my traffic ticket without going to court? Written Trial By Declaration

Anyone who has received a traffic ticket unfairly and had to contest it will tell you just how inconvenient and time-consuming the process can be. So it is no wonder that so many people want to know if it is possible to fight their traffic tickets without ever setting foot in court. In response to the questions there is good news and bad news. The good news is that “yes” there is a way of fighting a traffic citation without going to court – it is called trial by declaration or trial by affidavit. The bad news is that it is not possible to have such a trial by declaration in forty-two states and in nine of them, you can only have a version of such a trial.

A trial by declaration is whereby you write down exactly what happened and then let the judge decide on the validity of your argument. While it is very convenient to fight your ticket in this manner because you do not need to take time off work to show up in court, there are some disadvantages to actually contesting a ticket this way. The cons for opting for a trial be declaration are as follows:

  • You will not have a chance to question your ticketing officer.
  • There is no chance of ever getting your ticket dismissed because the officer did not show up.
  • Since you will not be there to defend your case in person the judge will have an easier time of finding your guilty if your evidence is not deemed sufficient.
  • By choosing a trial by declaration you give up your right to a regular trial.
  • Such an option is not available in all states.

The nine states that will allow you a version of a trial by declaration include: California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon and Wyoming.

The states that do not allow trial be declaration are as follows: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

If you are unfortunate enough to fall into anyone of these states, then you are better-off choosing to contest your traffic citation in the regular manner by waiting for your court date and presenting your evidence directly before a judge. Not only might you have the case dismissed outright should the police officer fail to show up, but you can also try to sway the judge in your favour by answering their questions and questioning the officer properly.

It would also be up to the judge to grant you permission to attend traffic school.


Traffic Tickets   |  May 3rd, 2010    | 

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