There are many potential driving-related civil infractions in Michigan that drivers can receive. For many people, their only contact with the justice system will be a traffic-related citation. One of the most common infractions is a speeding ticket.
Upon receiving a speeding ticket the driver has several options. The driver may simply admit responsibility and pay the fine. Or the driver may admit responsibility with the goal of mitigating the consequences of the civil infraction. Lastly, the driver may deny responsibility and challenge the speeding ticket.
There are two means by which to challenge a civil infraction, either by an informal hearing or a formal hearing. An informal hearing is where the driver represents him or herself and no city prosecutor is involved. At a formal hearing, the driver is represented by an attorney and will face a city prosecutor.
At the hearing, a civil infraction it must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, there must be at least 51% amount of proof for a finding of responsibility. This is not a high level of proof. Nevertheless, a driver still has a couple shots at getting the ticket thrown out.
First, the driver might be able to show that the police officer’s speed radar was improper.
At the hearing, seven items from the Interim Guidelines for the Use of Radar Speed Measuring Devices must be shown in order for evidence deriving relating to the use of a speed radar (speedmeter) to be allowed as evidence in the hearing. The requirement that this evidence be shown comes from the Michigan Court of Appeals case People v. Ferency. These are;
1. The officer operating the device has adequate training and experience in its operation.
2. That the radar device was in proper working condition and properly installed in the patrol vehicle at the time of the issuance of the citation.
3. That the device was used in an area where road conditions are such that there is a minimum possibility of distortion.
4. That the input speed of the patrol vehicle was verified. This also means that the speedometer of the patrol vehicle was independently calibrated.
5. That the speedmeter be retested at the end of the shift in the same manner that it was tested prior to the shift and that the speedmeter be serviced by the manufacturer or other professional as recommended.
6. That the radar operator be able to establish that the target vehicle was within the operational area of the beam at the time the reading was displayed.
7. That the particular unit has been certified for use by an agency with some demonstrable expertise in the area.
If the prosecution cannot show that all of these guidelines are met, then any evidence deriving from the use of the radar cannot be used in court, and the prosecution will have a difficult time showing that the driver was speeding.
A second shot at getting the ticket thrown out involves the police officer’s attendance. If the officer fails to show up at the hearing without a good reason, then the driver automatically wins.
There are several good reasons to challenge a ticket, such as to avoid getting points on your driver’s license or a belief that you did not commit an infraction. A finding of responsibility will not increase the amount of fines, although court costs will be assessed.734-883-9584 or at email@example.com to speak with attorney Sam Bernstein.