Posted by Jim Yeargan in Speeding Tickets on December 5, 2016
I’m often asked, “How do you fight a speeding ticket in Georgia?
There are answers when it comes to how to fight a speeding ticket. Your best bet for beating a speeding ticket is to talk to the prosecutor, and ask him to reduce your speed to 14 mph over the posted speed limit i.e. 69 in a 55 mph zone.
This keeps the charge from appearing on your driving history and affecting your insurance rates. You still pay a fine, and in some instances, the fine is higher to secure the reduction.
However, sometimes you need to fight a speeding ticket tooth and nail. While these tactics do not guarantee your victory they do guarantee that you’re going to have every advantage possible. This article is going to teach you how to fight like Hell. This article is going to teach you how to beat a speeding ticket in Georgia.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: Disclaimer
The information contained in this post is for entertainment purposes only. It is not legal advice, and should not be construed as such. This information should not be taken in lieu of contacting an actual attorney who is license to practice law. This is advice in general in nature, does not apply in all situations, and may not apply to yours.
The best way to beat a speeding ticket in Georgia, or keep the charge off your driving history, is to hire a qualified attorney. Proceeding without an attorney is done so at your own risk. Further, any information contained in this article “How to fight a speeding ticket in Georgia” only applies to the laws of the State of Georgia. If your speeding ticket was issued in another state you need to contact an attorney in that state for advice.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: Discovery
A speeding ticket in Georgia is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 12 months in jail. O.C.G.A. 40-6-1. You are entitled to discovery in a speeding ticket case because the charge is a misdemeanor. You need to file your demand for discovery before, at, or within 10 days of your arraignment.
When you file your discovery you need to file the original in the clerk’s office, take a copy to the prosecutor’s office, and keep a copy for your records. You need to get your copy stamped when you go to the clerk’s and prosecutor’s office.
The discovery you receive from the prosecutor is not going to contain much information. All you will receive is a witness list with the officer’s name and a copy of the ticket. Unless you were arrested for speeding there will not be a police report, nor video. Also, the documents discussed below are not discover-able and will not be included in discovery.
Some prosecutors refuse to provide discovery stating that the copy of the citation you received is sufficient. This is not the case. If the prosecutor attempts to do this show your stamped copy of discovery to the judge. Ask the judge to suppress any evidence for a Brady violation, and/or for a reset.
Filing discovery is purely strategic. If the prosecutor fails to send you discovery 10 days before trial then you are entitled to reset your trial date if the officer appears in court. You can use this reset to get the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charge. You can use a prosecutor’s refusal to provide discovery to enhance your negotiating power.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: The Trial
The trial begins with the officer testifying about your speeding ticket. Most officers and prosecutors are not prepared for a defendant to know how to defend themselves in court. This means they are going to take shortcuts in the presentation of their evidence. DO NOT let them get away with these shortcuts! These shortcuts will lose your case! Instead, use these shortcuts to attack.
One of the first things the officer is going to try to do is state that he visually estimated your speed. Do not let him do this. Visual estimation of speed is enough for a conviction in Georgia, and it is admissible if presented properly. Brown v. State
When the officer attempts to present this evidence you need to object stating that the officer has not laid a “proper foundation for the admission of the visual estimation of speed.”
In order to lay a proper foundation the officer needs to testify that:
- he is trained in the visual estimation of speed for vehicles,
- how long he has been trained,
- how he was trained,
- how many visual estimations he has made in his career, and
- that he is accurate to within +- 5 mph on his estimations.
If the visual estimation of speed is admitted then the +- 5 mph margin of error is a powerful cross-examination question when it’s your turn to question the officer. If the visual estimation evidence is not presented then do not cross-examine the officer on the margin of error.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: The Prosecution Must Prove Many Things
The prosecutor has to prove more than your speed, and the maximum speed limit. As long as you were ticketed by a city, county, or university office the prosecution needs to prove about 14 things in addition to your speed and the speed limit. If you were ticketed by Georgia State Patrol the prosecutor only has to prove 4 additional things.
If you were ticketed by a city, county, or university officer the prosecution must prove:
- The department issuing you the citation has a permit issued by the Department of Public Safety to operate speed detection devices. The prosecutor may either admit this document into evidence or just have the officer testify that such a permit exists. O.C.G.A. 40-14-2.
- The prosecutor must prove that the location where you were speeding is on the Department of Public Safety’s list of approved locations for the use of speed detection devices. Many prosecutors think the officer’s testimony alone is enough to satisfy this requirement, but the prosecutor must admit this list into evidence. O.C.G.A. 40-14-3.
- The prosecutor must prove that the agency issuing the citation has a permit from the Federal Communications Commission to operate the device, and that device was inspected by a technician before it was placed into service and that the device is serviced by the technician annually. This provision only applies to citations based on radar evidence. This provision is not applicable to speeding tickets issued based on Lidar/laser, VASCAR, pacing, or other forms of speed detection. O.C.G.A. 40-14-4.
- The prosecutor must prove that the officer tested his speed detection device for accuracy at the beginning and end of his shift and that he recorded the results in a logbook. This may be proven through oral testimony, or the prosecutor may admit the logbook into evidence. O.C.G.A. 40-14-5.
- The prosecutor must prove that there are signs at least 24 by 30 inches when you enter the county, city, etc. warning that there are speed detection devices in use. O.C.G.A. 40-14-6.
- The prosecutor must prove that the officer was not using the speed detection device within 500 feet of these signs. O.C.G.A. 40-14-6.
- The prosecutor must prove that the officer was not using the speed detection device within 500 feet of a change in speed limit sign. O.C.G.A. 40-14-6.
- The prosecutor must prove that the officer operating a stationary speed detection device was visible for at least 500 feet to traffic. O.C.G.A. 40-14-7.
- The prosecutor must prove that your speed was more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit unless you are in a school zone, historic district, or residential zones all of which must be properly marked. An area with a speed limit of 35 mph is not automatically a residential zone. The area must be properly marked as a school, historic, or residential zone. O.C.G.A. 40-14-8.
- The prosecutor must prove you were not within 300 feet of a change in speed limit sign (if inside a municipality) or within 600 feet of a change in speed limit sign (if outside a municipality). O.C.G.A. 40-14-9.
- The prosecutor must prove that there was not a change in the speed limit in the 30 days prior to your being issued the ticket at the location where you were given the ticket. O.C.G.A. 40-14-9.
- The prosecutor must prove the location where you received the ticket is no on a grade in excess of 7 percent. Just because a location is listed on the Department of Public Safety’s list of approved locations for the use of speed detection devices this does not mean the location has been measured for the grade. This is an excellent source for cross-examination. O.C.G.A. 40-14-9.
- The prosecutor must prove the officer issuing you the ticket has a permit to operate speed detection devices. This may be proven by admitting the permit or having the officer testify that he is certified. O.C.G.A. 40-14-10.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: The Charging Document
Before proceeding to trial you need to examine the ticket you were given. Many jurisdictions use the ticket the officer gave you to prosecute you. However, other jurisdictions will issue an accusation. The accusation is simply the charges against you typed formally, signed by the prosecutor, and filed with the clerk’s office.
If issued, an accusation supersedes the ticket, and the accusation will be the charging instrument the prosecution uses to prosecute you.
You need to make sure that the charging instrument, whether it is a ticket or an accusation, states your speed, the maximum speed allowed by law at that location, and whether the ticket was issued on a 2 lane road or a highway. O.C.G.A. 40-6-187.
If information is missing from the charging instrument you need to file a general and a specific demurrer when you file your discovery motions. Your demurrers need to explain what information is missing from the charging document. Also, I do not recommend telling the prosecutor about the missing information before the trial.
If you tell the prosecutor he may amend the charging document, and add the missing information. The prosecutor may amend the charging instrument anytime before the trial begins. O.C.G.A. 17-7-71(f). If the prosecutor does amend the charging instrument you are entitled to reset the case even if the prosecutor’s witnesses are there.
Instead of telling the prosecutor about the missing information you may wait for the trial to begin, and jeopardy attaches. This means the prosecutor may not amend the charging instrument, nor may he refile the charges if your case is dismissed. Double jeopardy bars the prosecution from doing this. Jeopardy attaches in a bench trial when the first witness is sworn. Jeopardy attaches in a jury trial when the jury is sworn. Once jeopardy attaches you may let the judge know about the missing information, ask him to grant your demurrers, and dismiss the case.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: File Pretrial Motions
When you file your discovery motions, and demurrers, you should also file motions to suppress evidence and dismiss the case. When you file motions your motions are deemed valid until the prosecution overcomes them. When you file motions you need to include list above of what the prosecutor must prove.
State each element as in the negative or positive. Say the police officer and device were not visible for at least 500 feet to oncoming traffic, and that the officer was within 500 feet of a change in speed limit sign. If the prosecutor cannot overcome your motions he will lose the case.
Remember, you need to file your discovery motions, demurrers, and pretrial motions either before arraignment, at the time of arraignment, or within 10 days of waiving the arraignment. I always recommend filing motions before waiving the arraignment.
How To Be A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: Cross Examination
As you prepare for trial you need to prepare the questions you are going to ask the officer on cross-examination. Use the list above of what the prosecutor must prove as a place to start. Remember, questioning the officer can be difficult. He has likely testified in speeding tickets hundreds of time, and ha answers prepared. You need to make to not only have your questions prepared, but also your follow up questions.
How To Fight A Speeding Ticket In Georgia: Closing Thoughts
Remember that beating a speeding ticket in Georgia is extremely difficult. Speed detection devices are deemed scientifically accurate once a proper foundation has been laid. The best way to beat your speeding ticket is to have the prosecutor reduce your speed, or charge, to a non-reporting violation. However, if you are truly going to fight your ticket use the tactics above to give yourself an advantage.