Crime & Law Enforcement Issues & Death Penalty/Is it worth going to court?
I know I can't expect a definite answer since every court is different, but I just want some honest feedback. I'm 20 years old. I've had my drivers license for 4 and a half years, and had never been pulled over until a few days ago. I'd never been cited/arrested for anything, and I never even got any kind of warning for anything. I'll be totally honest. What happened is this. I was on my way from Wisconsin to Michigan. I left at about 7:30 in the morning. I was on the interstate, where the speed limit was 65 mph. I understand that normally the left lane is just for passing. However, traffic was pretty light, and there seemed to be a lot of trucks in the right and middle lanes, going well below the 65 limit. So I was driving in the left lane just to avoid the trucks, with the intention of just moving back into the center lane if someone really wanted to get ahead. I'll admit I was going more than 65. I was going between 70 and 75, but pretty much keeping with the flow of the rest of the cars. I wasn't flying past anyone. I was driving along when I noticed a black SUV coming up behind me pretty quickly. I wanted to move into the center lane to let them pass, but there were a couple cars there, too close together for me to comfortable merging in. So I sped up a little, wanting to put some more distance between me and the SUV, which seemed awfully close. I sped up a little, but so did they. So I looked a short ways ahead and picked out a certain car and told myself once I got past that car I would merge in. I sped up again and the SUV did too. I thought to myself "Gee, how fast does this guy want me to go!?" but consciously decided I would NOT go over 80 mph because it was a bit wet out and they didn't need to be in THAT big of a hurry. But as the needle got up toward 80, the SUV turned on flashing lights. I had no idea it was an officer before then. I pulled over once I was able to get to a safe spot and the officer said I was going 81, and gave me a $250 ticket. I never admitted any guilt, and he thanked me for being polite. I have the option to go to court or just pay it before the court date. $250 is a HUGE fine to me. That's more than I make in a week. And I don't feel that I deserved it, because I had a perfect record as long as I've been driving, and I honestly thought the SUV was just someone in a hurry and all I wanted to do was get out of their way. I also don't believe I was going 81, because my car and my GPS both said I never went over 80. And I know my car is pretty accurate because I regularly drive by a speedometer on a light post near my house and compare it to the one in my car, it seems to be right on. And, on my ticket, it says that I was going 81 for a distance of 867 feet. That would mean I was going 81 for over 7 seconds, but even if I accidentally crept up to that speed, it would have only been for a second or two. I admit I was speeding, and hindsight says I didn't HAVE to speed up just because someone was behind me, but at the time it seemed logical. It was bad judgment on my part, but I didn't do it intentionally. It wasn't that I was in a hurry or just being careless. I don't think I deserve such a harsh penalty when my history clearly shows I'm a cautious driver. I guess I'm wondering, is it worth going to court over? If I have a good, honest "defense" is it likely to get reduced? I'm not familiar with any of this, but I suspect a lot of people bragging about getting tickets dropped or reduced are just making it up. I'm just looking for an honest opinion.
Yes, it is absolutely worth going to court over. My suggestion would be to tell the Judge exactly what you stated here. Make sure to emphasize what you stated about feeling pressured to drive faster with the black colored SUV on your tail. Make sure to mention that you were flowing with traffic and that you had to go that fast for your own safety. Last, in court, mention your clean driving record and the fact that $250 is more than you make in a week.
What you stand to lose is your car insurance premium being jacked up by probably +10% or more or even cancelled during your next audit in a year or two due to this citation. This could have easily been a written warning in my opinion.
Hopefully you will appear in front of a reasonable judge. Good luck!