The written response is for when there are mitigating circumstances that the individual wants the judge to consider; if one is interested in actually challenging the ticket, they need to request a hearing.
So for example, the letter would be a sufficient avenue for an insurance offense-stating that one was nervous and could not locate the card, but that there was in fact insurance (and a card or a statement from the insurance company showing the policy was effective on the date of insurance is helpful).
As for the actual speed, when there is a radar used, an experienced attorney will challenge the actual radar-for example, were there any obstructions between the radar and the car, did the police have adequate training on this particular model, was the radar maintained according to manufacturer's instructions. All these can go to whether the judge will throw out the ticket.
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.