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How to Fight a Traffic Ticket

Every year, drivers have a 16% chance of receiving a traffic ticket, according to the legal database Avvo. If you are faced with a traffic violation, it is essential to hire an experienced traffic lawyer in Wisconsin who can help combat the ticket. Traffic attorneys work to decrease the points on your license and/or the cost of the ticket, depending on your situation. In Wisconsin, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2023, speeding intermediate (11–19 mph over the limit) was the most common traffic conviction recorded, with 11.91%. Operating while suspended was 8.91%, and no insurance was 7.81%. Overall, speeding tickets (11-19, 20+, and 1-10 over the limit) accounted for 24.69% of all traffic violations.

Demerit Point System

Wisconsin follows a demerit point system with driver’s licenses. If you accumulate enough points in a 12-month period with a regular driver’s license, then your driving privileges are suspended for an increasing amount of time the more points you accumulate. Points stay on your license for 12 months, so they can build up quickly, leading to severe consequences.

  • 12–16 points is a 2-month suspension
  • 17-22 points is a 4-month suspension
  • 23-39 points is a 6-month suspension
  • More than 30 points is a 1-year suspension

If you have a probationary license, then your license is suspended for 6 months if you have 12-30 points in a 12-month period. If you accumulate more than 30 points in 12-month period then your driving privileges are suspended for 1 year.

The more severe the charge, the more points on your license. The more points you have on your license, the more important it is to hire a lawyer to help you decrease the number of points a ticket will cost you. Some examples of common traffic violations and their accompanying points include:

  • Speeding 1-10 over: 3 points
  • Speeding 11-19 over: 4 points
  • Speeding 20+ over: 6 points
  • Reckless driving: 6 points
  • Running a red light: 3 points
  • Driving without a valid license: 6 points
  • Operating while intoxicated (OWI): 6-12 points
  • Points don’t just affect your license

Some insurance companies also utilize their own point system to determine the cost of your insurance premiums, thus adding even more costs to your traffic ticket if convicted.

Strategies to fight

Discrediting or disputing evidence

Police officers often use radar guns to check the speed of passing vehicles. However, to have an accurate read, the radar must be properly maintained and calibrated correctly. If a radar was used to assess your speed and you were then ticketed using the read on the radar, an attorney can request the radar’s calibration and maintenance records. Using the records, an attorney can argue that the resulting read was inaccurate or unreliable if they find that the radar was not properly maintained.

Mistake of Fact

A ‘mistake of fact’ is a mistake made that the driver honestly and reasonably believed they were following the law, and that the situation was beyond the driver’s control. For example, a ‘mistake of fact’ may have been made if the lane marker separating two lanes was so worn down that it blended into the road and could not be seen by the driver. So, if the driver receives a ticket for deviation from your designated lane, the driver can present evidence of the ‘mistake of fact’ and that they reasonably believed they were following the law because the lane marker was difficult to see. Another example of a ‘mistake of fact’ would be unknowingly driving the wrong way on a one-way street because the sign marking the street as a one-way had been recently vandalized and there were no other cars on the road. Again, if you are ticketed for what you believe to be a ‘mistake of fact’, it is essential to take pictures so you can present evidence to your attorney who can then present this information to the judge.

Necessary to prevent harm

This defense may be utilized if your ticketed driving was necessary to prevent harm or an accident. For example, if you received a ticket for unsafe lane deviation or deviation from designated lane but you were swerving to avoid a pedestrian falling off the sidewalk into your lane, then your attorney can help argue the necessity of your actions.

Traffic Safety Course

If you have points on your license, you can reduce the number of points on your license by 3 points by taking an approved traffic safety course. In addition, if your point total is 12, 13, or 14, by taking the course, your license suspension may be released. It is important to note that only one reduction is allowed in a 3-year period. See here for more information.


The cost of a traffic ticket is more than just the fine printed on your ticket; it is also experienced with the increase in your insurance costs and the increased risk of your license being suspended. Hiring an experienced traffic lawyer in Wisconsin can significantly change your chances of reducing the points on your license and/or reducing the cost.

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