I have had two tickets in my life - one in 1984 and one in 2009. In 1984, I knew that I was speeding and the officer showed me the radar evidence and I politely paid my tab and went on with my life. In 2009, I knew for certain that I was not speeding, and at the roadside chat with the officer, he admitted that his radar showed this, but said that he observed me slow down (from over 4/10 of a mile away as I headed directly at him!). Based on this, I figured I had a reasonable chance to fight the citation, but wanted to research the matter further before deciding to take a day off work to sit in traffic court. I should also note that, if I had been guilty, I would have simply paid the fine and moved on.
After reviewing lots of web sites and book excerpts, I settled on "Beat Your Ticket: Go to Court & Win" because it was written by an attorney with practical experience and because the excerpts illustrated a well-reasoned approach to legal theory regarding traffic citations. I bought the book, which arrived exactly when Amazon promised (what else would you expect?) and read it cover-to-cover, taking notes along the way. I followed all the advice that was pertinent to my particular situation, formulated a strategy, made stunning diagrams with photos, satellite views of the area and included certified affidavits from witnesses. I felt that the teachings in the book were solid and that I had a fabulous chance of casting reasonable doubt on the officer's assertions about what he alleged, which would result in a dismissal, or at the very least, a reduction of the spurious charge.
So, where did it all go wrong? Firstly, traffic citations, while designed as a deterrent to reckless behavior, are primarily a source of revenue for the various municipalities in a given jurisdiction. In my case, this was made very clear by the language in the options on the back of my citation which heavily suggested that just paying the fine and sitting through a 4 hour class (another source of revenue) would be my most attractive option. While the option to show up in court and contest the charge was listed, it clearly announced that I would face what amounted to a doubling of the fine and the awarding of "points" which may have the impact of tripling my insurance rate for the next x-number of years--lovely stuff really.
On the day of the civil hearing, the Judge started the morning out by strongly reiterating what the back of the citation said and encouraging anyone who still had the audacity to act on the notion that we are innocent until proven guilty to take him up an a final offer to pay the fine and move on with their lives. Armed with the courage that I had a lot of facts that would cast reasonable doubt, as suggested and cultivated in this book, I declined this offer. I was, after all innocent, and the municipality had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was guilty.
The judge expressed his impartiality to the group, and then dismissed three or four of the first cases because the officer in question was not present. I on the other hand, could plainly seem my guy sitting over in the jury box with all the other patrolmen. My case was called, the complaint summarized by my patrolman and I had my chance to tell my side of the story. I presented my diagrams, the judge seemed interested, but the patrolman denied everything he had said to me in person, as well as introduce some other "facts" that "proved" I was guilty. After hearing this, the judge pointed out that the officer's credibility was unquestionable, and that I was guilty, and offered a brief seminar to me on how silly I was to argue against the point--"The esteemed officer said your were speeding, and that is enough for me." He imposed the same fee listed on the citation, with the addition of court costs, the 4 hour sermon on "Why I am a scumbag for speeding" and sent me on my way, a bit poorer and with one less day of vacation time.
My advice is, if you have been issued a citation for a minor traffic violation, whether you are guilty or not, pay the fine. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may get a fair shake, but I would think long and hard before taking the gamble. In the jurisdiction in which I was cited, they demonstrate a heavy bias against anyone with the sheer nerve to contest presumed guilt. Hey, I know I did nothing wrong, the universe knows it, but the system of writing tickets to generate much-needed revenue does not care. If you have been cited for a more serious offense, like driving while impaired, go ahead and buy the book so that you will know what your attorney (you definitely should hire) is going to tell you and so you will know what to expect. I have rated the book, not on its technical execution, but on the failure to deliver on its promise of going to court and beating a ticket. Could you? Sure. Will you? Probably not.