Everyone has heard from arm chair lawyers of potential defenses to traffic tickets beyond the actual facts of the traffic stop. However, for those who have litigated in Vermont traffic courts, the “defenses” suggested by those outside the litigation realm will often hold little or no weight in front of a traffic court judge. Before going in to raise these defenses, please take a moment to see if they fall into one of the below categories:
Speeding ticket “defenses”
“I was traveling with the flow of traffic”
No matter if your a single vehicle driving on a lonely Vermont country road, or one of several vehicles in a pack traveling down Interstate 91, speeding is speeding, no matter how many or how few motorists are doing it together. Making an argument in front of a judge that you were singled out of a group of speeders does not mitigate or excuse the conduct and, in many cases, will hurt your credibility in front of the judge, not a good way to start your traffic ticket trial.
“The police officer was hiding on a private road”
Once again, pointing the finger at something other than the violation will not assist you in your hearing. Although officer’s may technically be parked on a private road, local right-of-ways and town ordinances often give officers the right to do so. As for the hiding aspect, it is merely part of their training, they are out there to catch speeders, not to give them fair warning of their presence.
“The officer spelled my name wrong on the ticket”
Unless the officer misidentified you completely (John Smith instead of George Thompson), a minor misspelling in your name will not get you off the hook for a Vermont traffic violation.
“The officer didn’t issue me my Miranda rights when he pulled me over”
They don’t need to. Unless an officer takes you into custody (handcuffs you and puts you in their cruiser), the questions they ask on the roadside are not a custodial interrogation that trigger Miranda protections. However, keep in mind, that you hold a right not to answer questions that may incriminate you, such as “do you know why I pulled you over”. However, if you answer these questions, those answers can be admitted at trial.
Keep in mind, that there are numerous defenses to a traffic ticket that do in fact work at trial. Picking the right defense can make all the difference between prevailing and losing, but choosing random defenses not supported by Vermont law, will muddle the issues and will hurt your chances of reaching a positive outcome.