Kentucky Court Records
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Kentucky
According to section 431.450 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, peace officers in Kentucky issue traffic citations for all traffic violations—infraction, misdemeanors, and felonies. These citations contain information on the driver, the vehicle involved, and resolution options (paying the fines or contesting). The Kentucky Judiciary is responsible for handling traffic cases, processing fines, and conducting hearings for individuals who choose to contest tickets.
Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in Kentucky?
It depends. The rule of thumb is to contest the traffic ticket if the individual stands to gain more than they will incur in fighting the ticket. While losing a traffic case does not exacerbate the statutory punishment already imposed on the offender, deciding to contest a ticket is not a trivial matter. Individuals should weigh the pros and cons of contesting a ticket rather than paying the fines. At the very least, the individual must consider the following factors:
- Increase in insurance premiums
- The credibility of the defense
- Corroborating evidence and witnesses
- Ability to pay attorney fees
- Knowledge of traffic laws and ordinances
- Lost productivity due to court appearance
- Impact of the violation on the defendant’s criminal record
Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Kentucky
The citation will inform the recipient of the deadline to respond, i.e., pay the ticket or indicate the intention to contest. In some cases, however, the recipient will only have the option to appear in court for a scheduled hearing. Either way, there are two options to fight the ticket, each having unique pros and cons:
- Self-representation: In most situations, hearings for traffic violations take place before a judge. However, a trial by jury may apply in severe cases, such as those involving bodily harm. Either way, the defendant may choose to represent himself or herself in court. Individuals who choose this method must ask the clerk of courts for official resources for self-represented litigants, but he or she must prepare to take on the role of an attorney as well. Suffice to say, self-representation can be daunting without adequate preparation or for persons with social anxiety, which makes consulting or hiring a legal counsel a good investment.
- Hire a legal counsel: A first-time offender charged with minor traffic violations may successfully fight the ticket pro se. However, hiring legal counsel is a prudent choice for a habitual offender or an individual accused of a serious traffic violation.
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Trial
Kentucky does not allow individuals to submit a written statement, i.e., trial by declaration, instead of an in-person hearing. Thus, all traffic violators who wish to contest a citation must appear in court alone or with legal counsel. Missing the hearing is not an option; the judge may interpret the act as contempt and rule against the defendant. The other alternative to fight a traffic ticket without going to court is to make a plea deal with the prosecutor. Here, the defendant pleads guilty to a less severe offense and incurs lighter penalties like completing a safety education course or community service.
How Do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in Kentucky?
The individual has to request a mitigation hearing with the judge if he or she can justify the reason for the violation. Here, the judge may change failure to stop for a school bus violation, which is worth six (6) penalty points to failure to yield, which is worth three (3) points. However, reducing a traffic ticket is a skill. While a self-represented defendant may accomplish this, an experienced lawyer has more experience handling such cases. Besides reducing tickets, Kentucky also sets up a payment plan for eligible violators who cannot afford to pay a full fine at once. A person who wishes to know if they are eligible must inquire at the clerk of courts’ office.
Can You Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in Kentucky?
The outright dismissal of a traffic ticket depends on several factors. Usually, the defendant will need an attorney’s help to identify weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, errors by the issuing officer, or the strengths in the defendant’s case. With years of experience, a savvy attorney can spot such weaknesses and strengths in a case compared to a self-represented defendant. Some of the elements that the attorney or a self-represented defendant will look out for usually include:
- A missing element of the citation based on the statute cited
- Weaknesses in the officer’s subjective judgment
- Discrepancies in the officer’s objective observation
- Failure of the officer to show up in court
- The legal justification for conduct or violation
- An honest mistake of fact
What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in Kentucky?
When an individual pleads guilty to a Kentucky traffic ticket, they will be required to pay full penalties for the offense and bear any subsequent criminal and civil liability, including paying higher insurance premiums. Furthermore, the Division of Driver Licensing may revoke the defendant’s license if he/she has accrued too many points. According to the Kentucky driver point system, the DDL may suspend a driver’s license if they accumulate twelve (12) points within two (2) years. For drivers younger than eighteen years, the threshold is seven (7) points within two years. Besides, records of the traffic violation may become part of the individual’s criminal record. Per the Kentucky Open Record Acts (KORA), these records are available to interested members of the public, including prospective employers and government agencies.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Kentucky
A traffic ticket attorney’s role cannot be understated, primarily if the defendant seeks favorable adjudication, reduction, or dismissal of the traffic ticket. It is best to get referrals from close friends, family members, or trusted online sources and directories.