A lawyer debunks five myths about beating traffic tickets


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What? These are false?

The next thing you know, some actual attorney is going to come along and tell us that the fact your signature on the ticket was written in ALL CAPS allows you to ignore it because it failed to address a SOVEREIGN PERSON.


I avoid most traffic citations by remembering to be white whenever I leave the house.


I showed up for a ticket hearing, and plead “Guilty With Explanation” (everyone who did that before me got PBJ and no points. When I did, the judge said “Officer Jones did not show up today, would you like to change your plea?” I said “Not Guilty”, and walked.


I think the best thing to do is respond to everything the copy says by loudly asking “AM I BEING DETAINED?”


Had a ticket. Went to court. Cop didn’t show up. I was let go.

Does it work every time? No idea. But it’s worth a shot because we all have either done it or know someone who has…

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I’ve never heard this one, but if I had I’d automatically assume it was too much of a bargain to be true. And while I’ve never assumed that your ticket will be dismissed just because the cop doesn’t show up when my mother challenged a speeding ticket she’d gotten the cop’s failure to appear meant she could point out mistakes he’d made without being challenged. The dismissal wasn’t automatic; it was just made a lot easier.


They were giving out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Awesome!


Back in the day, I had the same thing happen. Perhaps it’s a myth in some states, but not others?

Only time I got pulled for speeding I was in the US but driving on a UK licence. Pretty sure the cop decided the paperwork was too hard and let me off with a warning.

Another time I was driving a hire car with expired tags which I knew about but couldn’t be arsed to sort out (my previous employers paid for a hire car for me for 5 years…! Sometimes I had two), got pulled over, got let off, cop blamed the hire company. Which seemed fair enough.

I do know one person that tried to use his UK licence when he was pulled over but the cop knew he had a US license as well (not sure how). He didn’t get off.


Heck even worked with a WI license in CA… He actually said that he didn’t want to do the extra paperwork.


If the plantiff does not show up, the judge doesn’t have to dismiss the case immediately, but probably will, as long as the defendant NEVER says anything that admits guilt. I beat a ticket this way by offering “I am not guilty” as my sole testimony.

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Attorney Steve Lehto debunks these myths and more

You have us 4 of the 5 right here… shouldn’t this be “these myths and another” ?? :slight_smile:

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The cop showing up and (certain kinds of) errors on the citation aren’t an automatic dismissal of the fine. Though certain judges or busy courts might toss out the no-shows for expediency’s sake. All these situations really do is offer you a slightly better chance to argue the ticket was undeserved or a reduction of the fine/points. So there’s a small chance you’ll get out of it, and a pretty good chance you’ll come out better off if you challenge the ticket. If there happens to be the right kind of mistake, or the cop happens to not show you might have a better chance of getting it thrown out or reducing the fine. Though where I’m at the usual outcome tends to be a reduced fine and increased points on your license, so its kind of a wash. If you can afford the ticket, or it doesn’t risk you losing your license, in my area its usually better to just pay it.

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A friend of mine went to a US car rental place with a UK license. He was afraid of a lot of hassle, but instead the guy behind the counter looked at his license and said, “Hell, son, you’re probably a better driver than I am.”


I beat most traffic tickets by not having a car or license!

I did once get a ticket while walking, for crossing against a light, though (it was Sunday morning and no in-motion cars were in sight in either direction… but there was a parked police car, I couldn’t see if anyone was inside it but I thought it was legal to cross in such a situation (turns out in my area it’s legal to cross in the MIDDLE of a street under those conditions, but not at a light), and figured if I was wrong and there was someone inside, a cop wouldn’t be so petty as to write me a ticket for crossing an empty street against the light… lesson learned on both counts!).

The cop told me that since I didn’t have a license, if I didn’t pay the ticket nothing was going to happen to me. But I paid anyway. (He also said that crossing like I did is not a big deal just “don’t do it right in front of a cop.”)


I think either Douglas Adams or one of the Pythons used the same system. When in the US show your UK license and vice versa.

Combine that with a quick “I’m just on my way to the airport”…


While it doesn’t get me out of paying tickets, I always put “Civil Disobedience” in the comment section of my check. It at least gets a chuckle from the court clerks.

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Agreed that if your cop doesn’t show up to traffic court, the charge gets dismissed. Often at least. I just had the misfortune of going to traffic court, and a good half of the people there would be called and their officer wasn’t there and without so much as a second word the judge would bang his gavel and say “dismissed since the officer didn’t appear”.

So yes, its always worth it to request a trial, since the penalty isn’t any worse if they do appear.

Except in my area they give you a Faustian bargain: either pay the ticket immediately by mail and admit guilt or go to court and pay a bunch of extra fees that can more than double the cost of the original fine. Not to mention the cost of taking time off of work to plead your case.

The one time I did go to court to contest a speeding ticket the case was dismissed when the officer didn’t show up - so there’s one more anecdote to add to the pile.