Is It Worth Fighting a Speeding Fine?
If there is one thing that seems to annoy drivers more than anything else, it’s receiving a speeding fine. But is it worth fighting a speeding fine in court?
My name’s Dave, I’m a Brisbane Criminal Lawyer, and that’s what we’re discussing right now.
Let’s be honest. No one likes opening their mail and finding a speeding ticket.
For most of us, our first response is to go through the ticket and check the details.
When did it happen?
What speed was I going?
Was it even me driving?
After going through and checking that all the details look correct, most people will pay the fine and move on, even if it does leave a bad taste in their mouth.
But many people choose to fight their fines by taking them to court. In some cases, this is the best decision and it makes sense. However in a lot of cases, people are wasting their time by going to court over a speeding fine or, even worse, they are only making their situation worse.
There are lots of different questions you need to consider before choosing to go to court for a speeding ticket and I’ll go through some of these now.
Why do you want to fight the ticket?
If I’m asked whether it’s worth going to court over a fine, my first question is almost always – why do you want to fight it?
The way I see it, there are three reasons why a person might want to go to court:
- You want to avoid a possible loss of licence
- You genuinely believe you’re not guilty of speeding
- You don’t want to pay the fine out of principle.
Let’s go through these one by one.
First, you want to avoid a possible loss of licence.
For some people, they’re at risk of losing their driver’s licence due to demerit points or because of a high-speed offence, which is where you’ve been caught driving more than 40km/hr above the speed limit.
If you don’t have a valid defence, not only will you lose the trial but the magistrate might even disqualify your licence at court. This is only going to make things much worse for you.
If you’re worried about losing your driver’s licence, you should seek legal advice as there may be other options. For example, you might be eligible for a special hardship licence which will allow you to continue driving for certain reasons.
The next reason why a person might want to fight a speeding ticket is because they genuinely believe that they didn’t speed.
This is a valid reason to go to court but there could other options available. For example, you might be able to write a submission to the traffic camera office explaining the situation and asking for the ticket to be withdrawn.
However if you do go to court and you have a valid defence, you should have a reasonable chance of winning a trial.
Again, you should seek legal advice to discuss your options.
The last reason you might want to go to court is because you simply don’t want to pay the fine out of principle.
I think you need to be really careful if you’re taking this approach.
There is a lot of information available on the internet about how easy it is to get out of speeding fines, or explaining why it is unlawful for a person to be given a speeding fine. A lot of the sites that have this information suggest that you can follow some simple steps and the fine will magically disappear.
Unfortunately, a lot of the information out there is simply wrong and there just isn’t the evidence needed to win a trial.
If you want to fight a ticket out of principle, I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t. In the end, it’s completely up to you. However I just want you to be aware that there is a lot of false information out there so you should be careful what you read and what you bring up in court.
Regardless of why you want to take a ticket to court, you should be aware of some of the potential disadvantages.
First, it can take up a lot of your time.
Most people don’t realise just how much time it can take to fight a speeding fine in court.
You will need to allow for three or four days of being in court. This is because there will be a few court dates leading up to your trial date, and then there will be the trial itself.
To make matters worse, your trial might not even proceed on the day. The courts only list 4 or 5 trials to take place on the same day and if your case is a low priority, the court might not have time to hear it. This will mean at least another day in court.
The entire process itself can take many months from start to finish.
Another reason why you might want to reconsider taking a speeding ticket to court is that you could end up receiving a worse punishment.
If you lose a trial, the magistrate is likely to increase the amount of the fine. This is because you have required the police to prove their case against you. Therefore if you’re wanting to go to court to try and save yourself from paying the fine, be aware that it could end up being much more expensive.
In addition, and as I’ve mentioned previously, magistrates have the power to disqualify driver’s licences for offences such as speeding. If this happens, you could miss out on other opportunities to keep your licence.
The last thing to know is that speeding fine trials are actually surprisingly complex. Often, they come down to technical arguments about how particular radar devices work and how they are used by police officers. The police prosecutors who you’ll be up against have years of experience running trials for speeding fines and other traffic offences. Usually, they have also received extensive training in how radar devices work. They will therefore have a significant advantage over you.
I’m not telling you all of this to talk you out of fighting speeding fines. I also can’t tell you whether it’s worth going to court or not. You are the only person who can decide whether it’s actually worth it or not.
If you are at risk of losing your driver’s licence, there may be other options available to you so before you make any big decisions, I encourage you to get legal advice. There might be a small cost involved but you could end up saving yourself a lot of time and money.
Hopefully this has been useful for you. To stay up to date with Queensland’s traffic laws, make sure you subscribe.
Until next time, stay safe.