The key to success in a speeding ticket trial
We have a major focus on driving law. Many lawyers don’t take the types of cases that we defend because they’re not interested in this type of work. For the lawyers in our office this is the work that we enjoy and as a result we’ve gained real expertise in defending driving cases and particular expertise in defending speeding tickets. We defend a lot of speeding tickets. And we’re often asked what is the key to success in a speeding ticket trial.
This is a complex question that requires a complex answer. Every case is different, and each speeding ticket requires a different approach. Although each of us deals with some aspects in a similar way, no two lawyers will approach the same case the same way. We have, however, identified characteristics of our approach that work. We do well because we know the key to success in a speeding ticket trial. Generally speaking we break it down like this:
At the outset, the police have the force advantage. They are trained to issue tickets, to detect and ticket speeders and to testify in court. If you defend your own ticket, the police will enjoy this advantage to the end of the case. But it doesn’t need to be that way. By having your own army, i.e. a lawyer with the training to defend your speeding ticket, you can overturn the force advantage.
If you’re in a military campaign, size matters. Large, well-equipped armies, like the US Army, have little difficulty running through a smaller country such as Iraq. The doctrine of overwhelming force is very effective in a speeding ticket trial situation. Luckily, unlike a military campaign, lawyers don’t need to occupy a country.
A bulldozer is more effective than a shovel. Overwhelming force arises when you have all the tools, skills and preparation you need to mount the defence of a speeding ticket. Overwhelming force can win the day if it’s clear to the prosecutor (typically the officer) that you’re so well-prepared and equipped that a confrontation is futile. To be prepared and equipped you require intelligence.
In a military campaign and in a speeding ticket trial intelligence is key and it’s often tricky. Firstly, you need to know the other side. Dealing with police officers day in and day out gives us the insight we need to assess what we’re up against. But that’s just scratching the surface of the intelligence needed to succeed defending a speeding ticket.
We recognized long ago that we need to have the police training material, manuals and equipment to have the greatest insight into the case against each of our clients. So we acquired manuals, radar and laser devices, training material and maintenance records of the equipment that the police use.
At trial, we have the manual in front of us when we cross-examine the police. The police officer on the witness stand doesn’t have that resource. Intelligence. It’s one component in the key to success in a speeding ticket trial.
Fortitude / Tenacity
People who defend their own speeding tickets without a lawyer often walk out of court feeling crushed. We see it regularly, particularly in the courthouses in Richmond and Vancouver. The problem is that, as a self-represented accused, the overwhelming force presented by the prosecution often leaves people feeling beaten before the trial has begun.
Fortitude in a speeding ticket trial is the strength to stand up and assert legal rights. Tenacity is the strength and will to see the trial through. They fall under one category because they both speak to attitude and skill. A lawyer with the expertise in defending speeding tickets will generally have both the fortitude and tenacity to see the matter though. This is part of the doctrine of overwhelming force. If it’s clear to the opposition that your defender will take it all the way though a tough trial, it will impact the way that they run their case.
Fortitude and tenacity can get you far, with the right skills. In the end, however, you need to know how to run a trial to succeed in a speeding ticket trial.
Skill in running a trial
Some things can only be learned through experience. Cross examining witnesses is one such thing. Trial lawyers who are in court on a regular basis know how to draw the right evidence from the witnesses, how to control the witnesses and when to stop following a line of questioning that harms the case. Book learning is essential, but the rubber hits the road when you stand up to cross examine a police officer.
Self-represented drivers handling a speeding ticket trial risk alerting the court to deficiencies in their own case through their cross-examination of the police officer. In many cases the best defence in a speeding ticket trial is to identify failures in the police investigation while providing no information to the court concerning the perspective of the driver. This is one of the explanations of the famous proverb, “He Who Is His Own Lawyer Has a Fool for a Client.”
Another of the exceptional difficulties in traffic court is that the police are not required to provide a detailed account of their evidence to the accused before testifying. The only way to compensate is to have the knowledge and skill to handle the case on the fly and by having the intelligence (see above) ready and accessible in a way that it can be relied on at the precise time it is needed.
The key to success in a speeding ticket trial
Every speeding ticket case is different. The evidence is different, it is presented to court differently, and it arises from a unique set of facts. Nevertheless, there are characteristics of our approach that forms the key to success in a speeding ticket trial. Lawyers with the skill running a speeding ticket trial will typically have the fortitude and tenacity to get the job done. The particular intelligence is necessary to challenge the evidence and succeed in the process. Put together, you can enter the fray with overwhelming force and you have the greatest likelihood of success at trial.