I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
The fact that the highway was pitch black is not a defense to speeding - and actually could lead the judge to suggest that, due to conditions, you should've been going below the speed limit. So that's unfortunately not helpful. It's not a defense to a speeding ticket that you could not see the officer. LASAR tends to be much more reliable than RADAR at picking up the specific vehicle that it's pointed out. So, for it to be worth fighting the ticket, you'd have to be able to testify under oath that you were NOT speeding - and you'd have to convince the judge to believe you, not the officer. That's tough.
It is true that the police officer sometimes doesn't show up for the hearing, and that when that happens, the driver automatically wins. But in my experience, that happens less than 1% of the time (despite all the stories on the internet), so you really can't count on that.
If your primary concern is the fine, you may be able to go to the traffic court and negotiate to have it reduced significantly if you're willing to plead guilty. You could also ask for permission to pay in monthly installments instead of a lump sum, or to do community service until it's paid. If your driving record is otherwise clean, you can also negotiate with the prosecutor to try to get the ticket reduced to a violation with fewer points. You may also want to call your insurance company and see if they'll allow you to reduce your premiums with an approved defensive driving course (most will, you just want to make sure the course you take is approved). Once you plead guilty, you can't take the course to remove the points, though, so talk to the DA before paying the ticket.
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