Sunday, July 02, 2006

Speeding Ticket Excuses: 12 weak ones and a couple that might work

I get a lot of calls about speeding tickets, and some callers have excuses. Most clients accept responsibility -- they know they were speeding and they just got caught.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. I like to reassure my clients that this is not about justice. It's an unfair tax, and I'm really just a tax lawyer, working to reduce their taxes (in the form of fines, surcharges, assessments, and insurance rates - that's the subject of another blog post someday).

But some of my clients have to tell me their story. It's almost never a good story. Below I list a few of my favorite speeding ticket excuses that I can remember. They're not in any particular order.

-Update: See my new post on Adrian Peterson's speeding ticket-

1. I was going downhill. -- Strangely, the highway people don't increase the speed limit on downhill sections of road.

2. I have oversized tires. -- These guys usually say they were going downhill.

3. I was passing a truck. -- I must have missed that exception in the Vehicle & Traffic Law.

4. I was late and my wife was waiting for me. -- I could see some cops buying this one, but not at 107 mph. One guy who told me this was a heart surgeon.

5. It was a rental car (or someone else's car) and I wasn't familiar with it. -- Are you telling me the car didn't have a speedometer?

As a brief interlude in our list, I saw this photo and had to add it to this post (update on 10/22/2011):

6. My car can't go that fast. -- One guy who told me this was driving a BMW 540, which has a top speed somewhere over 130 mph. He was charged with going 90. Almost every car on the road will go 90. Actually, the surgeon from #4 said this and I checked it out. According to the manufacturer the top speed was only 105, so maybe he was right, but 105 is still a bit illegal.

7. I was only going 78. Or another variation: No way I was going any faster than 80. -- I hear this one a lot. Still illegal folks.

8. I was just keeping up with traffic. -- Again, I hear this a lot. I could almost buy it at 75 in a 65, but not at 90 in a 55.

9. He pulled me over because my plates are from out of state. -- They write a lot of tickets to NY drivers.

10. I wasn't familiar with the road. -- So you were driving faster??

One excuse I've heard worked, but only because it was true. The Trooper followed the person after to make sure:

--I've got really bad diarrhea and I'm rushing to the next rest area.

No, that wasn't me. I heard it from a Trooper buddy.

Come to think of it, there is another one that works sometimes - if the speedometer was broken or there was some other equipment problem that might cause a speed problem. You have to back it up with an invoice from the shop that fixed the problem, and it won't always work. Don't expect this one to fly if you have a ticket over 90 mph. Even if your speedometer is broken, you should be able to recognize you're going that fast.

Update: Motivated by the Adrian Peterson speeding ticket, I'm adding a couple more excuses.

11. I didn't realize I was going that fast. This may make a little sense at 70 mph in a 55 zone, but it sounds idiotic at 125 mph. When you're going that fast, you should be paying attention.

12. I'm surprised I left this off my original list, but it relates well to #5 and #10. There's a bunch of variations:
I was lost.
I wasn't feeling well. - This is also often someone else in the car, like a kid, ... and one of my favorites:
It was foggy, I wasn't familiar with the road, I was lost, and I wasn't feeling well. (This guy was going 88 mph in a 45 mph work zone.) These are all good reasons to drive slower.
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