If you have received a jaywalking citation, you may feel unfairly targeted by the issuing police officer. However, if you are confident that you did not violate any traffic rules, you have the option to contest the ticket in court. Even though jaywalking does not involve driving, it is still a traffic offense and usually requires a court appearance to challenge it. This guide will help you get away with jaywalking. We have also highlighted the procedures for contesting a jaywalking ticket, though it depends on the city or town, but the process is typically similar.
Also, make sure you review the information on the back of the ticket for details on your specific area.
How to get away with jaywalking
It is possible to beat the ticket. Do the following to get away with jaywalking ticket:
1. Gather your evidence immediately
You can begin the process by talking to any witness present at the scene of the citation. People who were in the vicinity when you received the jaywalking ticket (but whom you are unfamiliar with) may have departed before you had an opportunity to speak with them. Nonetheless, if you were accompanied by acquaintances, they can recount their observations to help you out.
I often recommend approaching people who are employed or work in the area; they may have witnessed the event.
For instance, if there were construction activities taking place at the intersection, one of the workers might be able to give a statement of the incident to help your fight.
Find out whether the witnesses would be willing to provide testimony in support of your case. Also, record their complete name and phone number to enable you to provide them with further details when arranging the court appearance.
If you have your cell phone, record the witness’s statement as they recount what they observed so you’ll have a recording of their testimony to review at a later time. It can also serve as admissible evidence in court.
2. Take photographs of the place where you have been cited
If you are contending that you do not deserve to be issued a jaywalking ticket due to the roadway or intersection conditions, you need photographs as your evidence.
Take photos immediately after receiving the jaywalking ticket. However, photographs can still be considered evidence if you revisit the location shortly thereafter.
Let’s say that a team was mending a pothole on the crosswalk, and you chose to walk alongside the sidewalk instead, resulting in a jaywalking citation. Just a photograph of the crew fixing the pothole and obstructing the crosswalk would demonstrate that you did not infringe on jaywalking laws as the crosswalk was impeded and hazardous at the time.
If you revisit the location several days after receiving the jaywalking ticket, the condition you intended to capture in the photo may have been fixed or removed. Even if the condition still exists, you’ll need to establish not just that it was present on the day you took the photograph but also on the day you were ticketed.
3. Prepare the relevant paperwork if you can’t afford the fine
Suppose your argument against the jaywalking ticket is unsuccessful. You may be able to obtain a waiver by providing evidence that paying it would be an excessive financial burden on you. Support this claim by presenting documentation that demonstrates your financial circumstances, such as your income statements or proof of receipt of public assistance.
If you are homeless or without any bank account, the mere mention of these details might be enough for the judge to waive your jaywalking fine. However, although the judge waives or reduces your jaywalking fine, they may mandate that you complete community service instead as a means of fulfilling your obligation.
4. Show up in court early
Don’t fail to respond to the date specified on your jaywalking ticket. Although the significance of this date may differ depending on where you received the citation, you will always be required to provide some form of response to the traffic court by that deadline.
The specifics of the date listed on your jaywalking ticket will typically be clarified on the citation itself. For instance, if the date denotes a deadline for payment, I recommend that you contact the court prior to that date to arrange for a hearing if you intend to dispute the ticket.
In some jurisdictions, your payment deadline will not be extended simply because you schedule a hearing that takes place at a later date.
Many cities and towns have a website where you can access additional information about your jaywalking citation. Some state websites even allow you to enter your plea, such as not guilty if you intend to challenge the ticket and schedule your hearing online.
5. Contest the ticket
If possible, consider contesting your jaywalking ticket via mail. In some states, you may be able to present your argument and evidence to the court through the mail instead of attending an in-person hearing. This contactless alternative is often more efficient and straightforward than appearing in court.
If you have evidence to present to the judge to get away with jaywalking, make sure you submit both the original document and photocopies. You may need to authenticate the copies by dating and signing them. Some states require you to provide an affidavit. Anything you disclose in an affidavit is treated similarly to courtroom testimony, and as such, you are subject to perjury laws if you provide false information.
Frequently, you will need to sign your affidavit in the presence of a notary public. You may also be able to present a written statement in place of appearing at the hearing in person.
6. Arrange for a court hearing
A hearing is typically not mandatory for a jaywalking ticket unless you explicitly request one to get away with jaywalking fine. When you decide to fight the citation, you usually need to attend a hearing, unless you have the option to contest it via mail in your state.
In most instances, pedestrian ticket cases are heard by the court on specific days and times each week. Typically, you will need to select a hearing window that best suits your schedule and arrive at the appointed time. Hearings are generally conducted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Sometimes, courts offer hearings during evenings or weekends if you are unable to attend on a weekday. However, they may charge you an additional fee to schedule your hearing outside of regular court hours.
7. Don’t miss your court date
I have attended courts on several occasions and observed that wearing neat and professional attire can give you an edge in court hearings. The court’s website will typically have a list of clothing and accessories that are not permitted. As a general rule, dress as though you are attending a job interview. Judges consider your appearance.
Also, try to organize all the evidence to present to the judge. Again, arrive early, even if that means at least 30 minutes before your hearing time to account for any potential delays related to security and finding the correct courtroom.
If you get confused upon your arrival don’t ask one of the security guards stationed at the entrance. If they are unable to assist, they will likely direct you to someone who can provide further guidance.
If the judge is conducting hearings on a first-come, first-served basis, it may be worthwhile to arrive even earlier to secure an early slot and expedite your process to get away with jaywalking fine.
If you have decided to make a witness call to provide testimony at your hearing, they have to be present in court on the date of the hearing. If possible, meet them beforehand so that you can travel to the courthouse together.
8. Present your evidence and argument
When your case is called, the judge will inquire whether the police officer who issued your citation is present in court. If the officer is not present, your ticket may be dismissed without the need for any further evidence. However, if the officer is in attendance, the judge will usually hear from them first.
You can rightfully cross-examine the officer with questions concerning their testimony. This is an opportunity to question the accuracy of the officer’s account which led to them issuing the jaywalking ticket and potentially raising doubts about their testimony.
Following the officer’s statement, you will have the opportunity to present your defense. Introduce your evidence and explain to the judge why you believe you should not have been issued a jaywalking citation.
9. Let the judge decide
The judge will typically render their decision promptly after you conclude your defense. If the judge agrees with your contention that you should not have been issued the citation, they will dismiss it, and you will not be required to pay any fines for jaywalking.
However, if you are unable to get away with jaywalking and the judge rules against you, you have to pay the fine, often immediately. You can pay the fine at the traffic court clerk’s office, and the judge will direct you to the appropriate location.
If the judge upholds the jaywalking ticket and you are unable to pay the fine, you may be able to present evidence of your financial situation to demonstrate that paying the fine would result in an undue financial burden. The judge may waive or reduce the fine in your case.
The judge may also have the option to mandate that you complete community service in place of paying the fine. Ultimately, the judge has discretion in determining the outcome of your case.
Read also: no-court way to beat red light ticket
How to avoid a jaywalking ticket
You should avoid jaywalking in the first place. Observe the following:
1. Follow all traffic control signals
When crossing a road with a pedestrian crossing signal, only commence walking when the sign displays a “walk” signal in solid letters. If the letters are flashing, this signifies that the signal is about to change, and you should wait until the “walk” signal appears again. In certain areas, you may be cited for jaywalking if you begin to cross the road when the pedestrian crossing signal is flashing, even if it still indicates “walk.”
Some locations even issue a jaywalking ticket if the “stop” sign is illuminated, even if no traffic is present. Always remain vigilant and obey all traffic control signals to avoid receiving a jaywalking ticket.
2. Only cross streets at designated crosswalks
Crosswalks are usually delineated by white or yellow lines painted on the pavement. If there are no painted crosswalks, the area at the corner of the street is still regarded as a crosswalk. Only cross streets at corners and not in the middle of a block to ensure safety.
Certain states may also require crossing on the right side of the crosswalk when feasible, as this facilitates the organized movement of pedestrians crossing in opposite directions. Unless there is a designated crosswalk painted for diagonal crossing, don’t cross a four-way intersection diagonally.
3. Yield to oncoming vehicles
In a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way, but outside of it, the drivers have the right of way. Thus, if you try to cross a road while a car is approaching and the driver does not have sufficient time to stop, the responsibility for the resulting accident would typically fall on you as the pedestrian, and not the driver.
4. Use the sidewalks
Walking on the road instead of the sidewalk in a location where a sidewalk is available may lead to a jaywalking ticket. In areas without sidewalks, it is safer to walk on the shoulder rather than on the road itself.
Always walk facing traffic and step aside when a vehicle approaches. However, some roadways, such as major highways and interstates, prohibit pedestrian access even on the shoulder. In such cases, a pedestrian may still receive a jaywalking ticket for being on the roadway, regardless of following other pedestrian regulations.
5. Don’t solicit for things while standing near the road
Soliciting drivers for money, help, or a ride while standing on the side of the road is typically against the law in most areas. This behavior can result in a jaywalking ticket or other citations for breaking local ordinances, such as those that prohibit panhandling.
Although exceptions are often made for charitable purposes, I still recommend that you seek permission from local law enforcement before soliciting drivers on the roadway for any charitable activity.
Should I just pay the fine?
Usually, it is simpler to pay the fine rather than contest the ticket in court. By doing so, you can avoid getting any points on your license, eliminate the risk of going to jail, and prevent the ticket from affecting your credit.
Just pay the fine. The process of taking time off from work to prepare and defend your case in court can be a significant inconvenience and may not ultimately result in any financial savings.
If you don’t pay the jaywalking fine, the court will assume that you are admitting guilt, and the unpaid fine may be referred to a collections agency. However, paying the fine will not result in a jail sentence, nor will it affect your credit score. Typically, the only repercussion for not paying the fine is that you may be asked to pay it.
Remember that if you can demonstrate that the fine would pose a significant financial burden, the judge may waive it or permit you to complete community service instead.
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