The hardest Vermont speeding ticket to win or reduce

There are certain speeding tickets where the odds are heavily stacked agains the driver facing the violation.  Of these tickets, the violation that takes the proverbial most difficult to defend title, is the speeding in a work zone on an interstate highway violation.  Here is why:

1)  Points:  No matter how fast or slow you are going on the highway, Vermont speeding tickets on the interstate carry with them 2 points.  This means that unless the police officer is willing to dismiss the speeding ticket, then there is no room to negotiate the violation downward to mitigate the damage done.

2)  Fine:  Police officers are authorized to double any speeding violation in a work zone.  As a result of being able to impose such a hefty fine, Vermont State Police, who are customarily the agency who issue these tickets, come to their hearings more often then when dealing with local violations.  They also come more prepared, as they know that a substantial amount of revenue is on the line.

3)  Use of the Lidar radar instead of the Doplar.  Lidar radars are inherently more accurate and easier to use then the Doplar, which is customarily used by local police agencies.  Given that there is no annual maintenance needed on the Lidar, it becomes more difficult to challenge its reliability.

4)  Unwillingness to negotiate:  Given the fact that the points being issued are as low as they can be for a Vermont violation, the steep fine imposed and the severity police officers look at speeding in work zone violations due to the numerous fatal accidents that occur in these zones each year,police are less willing to budge off their position if they feel they have a strong case.  Judges are also more compelled to tack on additional fees if the motorist takes the case to trial and looses.  This puts the motorist at a higher exposure then if they elected to just pay the ticket

If a motorist receives a Vermont speeding ticket in a work zone, they must contemplate all of these issues before determining what is best for them.

Beware the Vermont criminal/traffic ticket combination

For Vermont police officers, speeding on a local road is one thing, but speeding at over two times the legal limit brings about a totally other set of circumstances.  In many cases, those motorists who are found to have been driving 30mph or more over the posted speed limit can not only face a hefty fine and up to 9 points issued on their license, but also a criminal citation to appear in court to answer to the charge of excessive speed.

In these such cases, it is important to contest both the ticket and the criminal charge, as there may be a way to resolve both for something far less than what the law prescribes.

The most common places for these double penalties to occur are in the following areas:

1)  Town center with a speed limit of 30mph or less;

2)  School zones;

3)  Hospital zones;

4) Dangerous roads that have a series of sharp curves.

A police officer holds some discretion in determining whether or not to arrest a motorist while also issuing them a ticket.  If the speed is close to the 30mph over threshold, they may cut the motors a break if the motorist is polite and their record shows few previous traffic violations.  However, do not be shocked if the officer asks you to step of your vehicle and handcuff you for this type of Vermont traffic violation.

The path to a jury trial for a Vermont traffic or CDL ticket

You have filed your notice of denial with the Vermont Judicial Bureau and have received a notice of hearing to appear in a Vermont court, so what happens next?

The process in defending your Vermont CDL or traffic ticket can be multi-faceted depending on the resolution that is reached at each step of the process.   In sum, the more times you ask for a review of a judgment, the more formal the process gets.

The initial hearing: Here is where the record is made, where an initial argument is heard by an assistant judge and is the first place where those facing a traffic infraction can get the result they are hoping for.

These hearings are governed by the Vermont Rules of Small Claims Procedure, a summary procedure to resolve disputes of $5,000 or less.  In an effort to keep these hearings as cost effective as possible, there are numerous exceptions to the Vermont Rules of Evidence that allow Defendants to introduce hearsay evidence that is customarily inadmissible in more formal court proceedings such as statements of third parties, pictures, business records etc…

The initial hearing is where most cases are resolved either by negotiations or through the summary trial procedure.  These hearings are recorded so as to preserve the record in the event an appeal is taken

Appeal to District Court:  If a case is resolved in a fashion not to the Defendant’s liking, they can appeal the decision to a Vermont District Court Judge.  There are certain procedures which must be followed and certain documents that must be filed within a 30 day time period in order for a judge to hear the case on appeal.  In a direct appeal, the Court will review the record and evidence presented at the initial hearing and will issue an order either affirming or overturning the lower court’s decision.  The Court will schedule a time for oral argument to be made unless both side agree to submit the case solely on the record presented.

Option for Jury Trial:  If a defendant desires they can demand a jury trial on their appeal.  This process opens up further avenues to contest the allegations based on legal or procedural grounds that are not afforded at the initial hearing.  Motions to suppress or dismiss may be filed with the consent of the district court judge and may be argued prior to the jury hearing the case.  This may also open up further ways to resolve the case through negotiations that were not afforded at the initial case hearing.

The bottom line is that for many drivers facing a Vermont CDL or traffic ticket, there may be several ways in which they can fight a ticket, which opens up many more ways to reach a resolution that meets both their short and long term goals.