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.


Anonymous said...

the "my car doesnt go that fast" excuse actually worked for me !!!!

Anonymous said...

One that worked for me was the sheer astonishment I showed on I90 in Wesmorland (SP?) The trooper pulled me over doing 80.

The trooper who stopped me informed me he had me on radar at 80MPH.

"I know I was doing 80 but, "when did you change the playbook?" I asked.
He gave me a "what are you talking about?" look. I explained that I had traveled from Albany to Syracuse the same day every week for over nine years. I further explained that I had been through speed traps, on the laser, clocked by being followed etc hundreds of times during that time and not one ticket.

So, again I asked. "When did you change the play book." He scratched his head and informed me that it is up to the discretion of the trooper how much speed they would tolerate before pulling someone over. He also told me there had been a lot of complaints about high speed in that area so they were clamping down.

He also kindly explained that 75 probably wouldn't get me in trouble but he had a rookie on board and had to write me, but understood my frustration since I hadn't been stopped in over nine years.

He wrote me for failing to obey a traffic control device. The DA and I agreed to a $30 fine once I drove the two hours over to court. The DA's comment. "What did he do, not think you stopped long enough at the red light before you turned right or something". I just nodded my head and smiled.

No points.. no big fine. Pure luck or a decent trooper who understood why I was perplexed. OH after that pretty much I kept it under 80 and right at 75 in that county.

Anonymous said...

i got a speeding ticket going down a steep icy bridge. 2 cops sitting at the bottom of the hill. like revenue agents taken money from a bunch of adults in high priced sleds. I intend to try to fight it, based on reasonability. I'm not supposed to hit my brakes on black ice. and its a steep hill. what am i supposed to do. just give you 150 dollars cuz i have to go over the hill? (insert cuss words here)

Anonymous said...

I got a speeding ticket as I drove by a cop driving out of a drive way (50 in a 35 mph zone). How could he possibly have clocked my speed as he was driving out of a driveway?

Anonymous said...

"I got a speeding ticket as I drove by a cop driving out of a drive way (50 in a 35 mph zone). How could he possibly have clocked my speed as he was driving out of a driveway?"

new technology, cops can even catch your speed if you are driving by each other going opposite ways, no matter what speed u are going

Unknown said...

That's not new technology. Radar works like that. It is far more sophisticated and has been for decades.

Anonymous said...

A cop pulled me over and said I was doing 95km/h, I interrupted an said 'How is that possible, I aint been driving fer an hour yet'. He didn't laugh, just asked for my licence and registration, I asked for his badge and number in return

Ryuu said...

what happens if your car really can't go that fast? I have a have a 1991 ford taurus speedometer saids 85 mhp. I was driving on the highway going 78 mph, but the cop said i was going 88 to 90 and he going by the speed of the guy passing me. can i fight it?

Unknown said...

Most cars can go faster than 85 mph. The speedometer does not limit how fast the car can go.

Britt said...

I got a ticket for driving 96 in a 70 & charged with wreckless driving & the officer checked my garmen & my max speed was 101 . I by no means was in a rush for real, I normally drive fast, but didn't even realize I was goin that fast. What's the worst that can happen, I got court & my ticket says non payable!