NEW YORK (MainStreet)Privatized traffic law enforcement systems are spreading rapidly across the United States. As many as 700 local jurisdictions have entered into deals with for profit companies to install camera systems at intersections and along roadways that automatically detect violations of traffic laws, take photos of offending vehicles and identify license plates. Typically, tickets are delivered by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle. Traffic ticket expert Steve Miller encourages drivers to fight back.
"You can't lose by contesting a ticket. The worst case scenario is winding up right back where you started," said Miller who founded TicketBust.com.
The National Motorists Association estimates between 25 and 50 million traffic tickets are issued each year. Assuming an average ticket cost of $150, the total up front profit from tickets ranges from $3.75 to $7.5 billion dollars. In California alone, 18 million tickets were issued, more than in any other state and with less than 5% of drivers contesting.
Miller receives an estimated 10 calls a day from drivers seeking assistance with a ticket in collections. Below are his tips for getting a ticket dismissed before it gets that far:
- 1. While each case and company is different, firms like Ticketbust.com charge about $249 to handle a ticket. "The average speeding ticket is $300 but every penalty is different based on city and county," Miller said. "Red light camera ticket are in the range of $500, texting while driving or mobile phone tickets are about $150 for the first time and $300 for the second."
- 2. When you get pulled over for a traffic ticket, don't confront the police officer or be argumentative, and don't provide any information law enforcement doesn't request.
- 3. The best way to contest a ticket is by filing a trial by written declaration (TBD), which allows a driver to contest without going to court. "If it's not dismissed after filing a trial by written declaration, you can still go to traffic court, request a trial or just pay it," said Miller whose office is in California.
- 4. When contesting in writing or in court, do your research with online maps. "Look at the intersection to determine if the officer could actually see if you violated a traffic law," Miller said.
- 5. Don't wait until after a ticket is in collections to contact a company such as TicketBust.com for assistance. "Contact us prior to going to court and prior to your arraignment date. We can then put together a proper defense," Miller said. "We know what to say and what not to say in a declaration to maximize your chances of getting the ticket dismissed. A lot of times it's what you don't say that's important."
- 6. Deal with the situation immediately. "If you let the ticket go, it will eventually become a failure to appear (FTA) then go into collection and once it hits your credit report, the ticket will affect you in more ways than just a point on your driving record and a fine," Miller said.
- 7. It costs your local municipality more money when you go into court than it does the fine for the ticket. "Your chances of getting a ticket dismissed are far greater with a TBD, because it doesn't take up court time," said Miller.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet