Hire a Traffic Attorney to Fight Speeding Tickets in Illinois
Any brush with the law can be intimidating, especially if you do not fully understand the charges and consequences. Speeding violations can increase your car insurance rates and even result in the suspension of your license based on the points added to your driving record. If you receive a speeding ticket, seek professional legal help.
You may have a strong defense, but if you are unprepared or lack the confidence to present your evidence, a lawyer can take on your case personally and be your voice of experience in the courtroom. When choosing an attorney, select one who has experience with traffic court. Experienced traffic attorneys are great resources. Illinois traffic cases are heard in circuit courts, and traffic attorneys know the intricacies of those courts and have experience with rulings for those with cases similar to yours.
Understanding the Impact of Points
Do not stand alone. Find a reputable traffic lawyer with a successful track record of defending clients against speeding convictions. Here is a snapshot of the points associated with traffic offenses related to speeding from Section 1040.20 (c) of the Illinois Administrative Code:
- Reckless driving – 55 points
- Squealing or screeching tires – 10 points
- Speeding too fast for road conditions or failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident - 10 points
- Exceeding the maximum posted speed limit in a school zone – 20 points
- Aggravated speeding in a school zone - 55 points
- Exceeding the maximum speed limit in a construction zone when workers are not present - 10 points
- Exceeding the maximum speed limit in a construction zone when workers are present - 20 points
- Aggravated speeding in a construction zone - 55 points
- Speeding 1-10 miles per hour (mph) above posted limit – 5 points
- Speeding 11-14 mph above posted limit – 15 points
- Speeding 15-25 mph above posted limit – 20 points
- Speeding over 25 mph above posted limit – 50 points
These are just a few of the point assignments a driver can receive for committing a traffic violation. Speeding often carries hefty point values. Based on the points you receive for a speeding conviction, you risk the suspension or revocation of your license. It is possible to be charged with more than one moving violation, which increases the total points.
If you are convicted of three or more violations within a 12-month period that result in points being assigned, your driver's license will be suspended. Here is a list of the period of suspension you will face according to Section 1040.30 (a) of the Illinois Administrative Code:
- 0 – 14 points: No suspension
- 15 – 44 points: 2-month suspension
- 45 – 74 points: 3-month suspension
- 75 – 89 points: 6-month suspension
- 90 – 99 points: 9-month suspension
- 100 – 109 points: 12-month suspension
- 110 or more points: License revocation
If your license had previously been suspended or revoked within the past seven years, you will face a longer period of suspension, according to Section 1040.30 (b) of the Illinois Administrative Code:
- 0 – 14 points: No suspension
- 15 – 44 points: 4-month suspension
- 45 – 74 points: 6-month suspension
- 75 – 109 points: 12-month suspension
- 110 or more points: License revocation
If you are facing a speeding ticket, you should not take it lightly. If you plan to fight the ticket, there are several strategies to consider.
Maintaining Honesty When Facing Speeding Charges
Your defense against speeding charges begins the moment the police officer walks up to your car. Any statements you make can become a part of the court proceedings. It is important to be polite and truthful, but do not offer more information than is needed.
You are not required to agree with the officer's assessment, but it is in your best interest to be respectful and to comply with reasonable requests. If you feel that the charge was in error, contact an attorney to help build a solid defense. Even if you are not currently dealing with a speeding ticket, it is still a good use of your time to understand possible defenses and take a proactive stance to protect your driving record. An experienced traffic attorney can help you understand the best defense options based on your circumstances.
Understanding the Speeding Ticket
When you are issued a ticket, it requires action from you. If the ticket does not require you to appear in court, you have the option to pay the fine shown on the ticket. The ticket will provide instructions on how to properly pay the fine as well as the payment time constraints. Paying the fine is an admission of guilt, and the offense will go on your driving record.
If you wish to challenge the ticket, you must select the option to receive a court date and follow the instructions communicating your decision to the clerk of the court. This must also be done within the time constraints shown on the ticket. If you have any questions about time constraints or the process, call the number provided on the ticket. Make it your responsibility to know what is required. The Illinois courts will not accept ignorance as a defense.
Preparing to Defend Against a Speeding Ticket
Be prepared. It is simple advice, but it goes a long way. Contact a traffic lawyer as soon as possible to explain the details of your situation so they can be your voice in the courtroom. When choosing an attorney, remember to select one who has experience with traffic court.
To assist your attorney in building your defense, be sure to write down a statement as soon as possible so that you can remember every relevant detail. Also, be sure to:
- Take detailed notes about the area, condition of the road, weather, and driving circumstances
- Take pictures of the area to support your defense
- Prepare a diagram that illustrates what happened
- Prepare a statement about why you feel the ticket was not deserved
- Access any speed data from your global positioning system (GPS) unit or smart phone during the time of the cited violation
- Get statements from any witnesses or invite them to court
- Obtain a copy of your driving record if you have no prior offenses
- Obtain a copy of the filed police report for the violation
- Choose modest, appropriate clothing for court
- Arrive early for your hearing
- Present your case in a clear, loud voice
- Address everyone in a respectful tone
Challenging Visual Estimation
There are several ways to challenge the speeding ticket, depending on the method used to issue the ticket. Speeding tickets are generally issued based on the use of speed-monitoring equipment such as laser or radar units or by visual estimation, also known as pacing.
Every ticket is required to show the method used to detect speeding. If anything other than radar is checked, your attorney may decide to successfully challenge the method because it will be based on a person's perception rather than the use of equipment. Visual estimations rely on the officer's training.
Many variables impact the estimation, such as size, color and distance. In training scenarios, officers must compare their visual estimation with the reading from a speed monitoring device. During the hearing your attorney may ask questions that require the officer to establish his or her experience with visual estimation as well as the position they were in when making the estimation. Your attorney will establish how far they were from your car, whether there were obstructions present, and the level of expertise they have with visual estimation.
Additionally, they may inquire about the calibration certificate for the specific radar device used during their estimation training. If the equipment was not properly calibrated, then it casts doubt on the accuracy of the officer's training.
Visual estimation skills are learned over time and are often used in conjunction with speed monitoring equipment. Officers are trained to make an educated guess about the rate of speed using a basic equation:
Rate x Time = Distance
When asking an officer about this equation, your attorney will establish the time and distance used to estimate the rate of speed. If the officer is not sure, it may help your case, because it calls the estimate into question. If the time and distance cited is inconsistent with the speed estimation, it may also help your case.
When establishing the time they used for estimation, note that the longer they took to arrive at the reading, the slower the vehicle was traveling. When establishing the distance from which they made the estimation, note that the closer they were to the vehicle, the slower it was traveling. For example, it makes a difference if they were 200 feet away or 300 feet away and if they observed the vehicle for four seconds or six seconds.
Once the variables of time and distance are established in the equation, you can properly calculate the rate of speed. To calculate the rate of speed, divide the distance by the time to determine feet per second (fps) and then divide the feet per second by 1.466 (the rate at one mph).
Here is an example using this formula:
Distance = 200 feet
Time = four seconds
200 ÷ 4 = 50 fps
50 ÷ 1.466 = 34.1 mph
If the calculation from the testimony does not match the speed recorded in the violation, it may help your case and cause a judge to rule in your favor. Additionally, if the ticket was issued based on the officer's perception, your attorney can explain why it was necessary to drive over the posted speed limit. For example, you may have accelerated momentarily to pass a reckless driver. Your attorney will challenge every angle of visual perception evidence and defend the decisions you made while driving.
Challenging Speed Monitoring Equipment Readings
If radar or laser equipment is the method used to determine your speed, your attorney may challenge the accuracy of the reading. Even if a combination of estimation and speed monitoring devices were used, it is still possible to challenge the accuracy of the operation of the equipment or the equipment itself. All equipment must be properly calibrated as prescribed, and officers must attend training on the proper usage of such equipment. Your attorney may ask for proof of calibration and training.
Also, consider that speed monitoring equipment such as radar guns are subject to error because the radar waves may spread and capture the speed of other vehicles or be distorted by surrounding objects. This is why it is important to have a detailed account of the conditions and pictures of the scene.
Taking Advantage of Time Constraints
You have the right to a timely hearing of your case. Some violations require a court appearance, and the date will be set by the officer. Pay attention to the date of issue for the speeding ticket. Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 504, if the date of the first court appearance is less than 14 days or more than 60 days after issuance, your ticket is eligible for dismissal.
Even though the error was made, you still have responsibilities to fulfill. You must still appear in court for the initial date and comply with all of the directions on the ticket in a timely manner. When you appear, your attorney can request dismissal of the ticket, citing the rule.
Requesting Court Supervision to Avoid Conviction
You have the right to request court supervision when you receive a charge for a traffic offense. If you are over the age of 21, you can request court supervision without appearing in court, unless your ticket states that a court appearance is required. Drivers under age 21 must appear in court, and drivers under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. To be eligible for court supervision, you must:
- Not already be under court supervision or have a conviction for a moving violation within 12 months prior to ticket issuance for a moving violation
- Plead guilty, pay the fine, and comply with the requirements of the ticket
- Not receive additional tickets within 90 days of the offense
These are the main eligibility requirements for court supervision. If you are charged with more than one moving violation on your ticket, you may still be eligible for court supervision, but you must appear in court. If you are granted court supervision and comply with all of the requirements, the conviction will not be placed on your driving record.
To comply with court supervision, you should:
- Get supervision approval in writing from the court.
- Attend any required defensive driving classes within the defined period of supervision.
- Provide timely proof of course completion to the court.
If you fail to comply with the court supervision requirements in a timely manner, or if you receive an additional moving violation within 90 days of when the court supervision was granted, the offense will appear on your driving record.
Choosing Your Defense Strategy
If you feel strongly that the ticket was issued in error, you should exercise your right to challenge the violation. Hiring a traffic attorney to help you build your defense is a sound investment, because they are knowledgeable about traffic court proceedings, know what to expect, and have access to expert witnesses that have specialized knowledge about speed monitoring devices that may help your case.
A traffic attorney can help you choose the best defense strategy based on the unique circumstances of your case. At the Law Office of Francis J. Discipio, we will help you fight for justice and work to keep your driving record clean. Contact us at 630-574-2288 to schedule a free consultation.