Eight Popular Myths About Tickets and Traffic Rules Debunked

You might think you know the rules of the road, but misinformation can spread like wildfire. From getting a ticket to making excuses for speeding, it’s time to get rid of some of the traffic misconceptions once and for all.

Myth: Your ticket is automatically dropped if an officer does not appear in court.

This may be one of the most common ticket myths, probably because the truth is so complex. The idea is that you are challenging your ticket in court rather than paying it, then the officer who gave you the ticket will presumably be too busy with other things to worry about showing up at your court hearing. If they do not appear, you will automatically win and receive your ticket.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We consulted with Derek Bambauer , professor of law at the University of Arizona, and he suggested that the laws here differ from state to state and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In many states, like Massachusetts , a citation officer does not have to show prior to your initial hearing at all, and only needs to appear if you are applying for that initial hearing. In such a situation, it will be difficult for you to get a ticket if you do not have strong convincing evidence.

Technically, this strategy may work in some jurisdictions, but Bambauer explains that it’s probably not ideal even if an officer doesn’t show up:

In some jurisdictions, failure to appear may result in a rejection of the application, but the magistrate / judge / other official observing the hearing may also postpone it. This is gamble at best , as officers usually show up where required.

(Italics added.) If the judge decides to postpone the hearing, the officer will probably show up next time and you will have to spend more time in court. In addition, Kate Sachs with dmv.org site suggests that in some states, the presiding judge may continue to hear the case regardless of whether will be whether the officer. Overall, you probably shouldn’t try to dispute a ticket unless you feel you have a real reason to do so.

However, if you really want to try your luck, Attorney Le Trine of FindLaw recommends trying to reschedule the hearing yourself. The officers will try to schedule all hearings on the same day, so if you go to the hearing on a different day it may increase your chances of not showing up. Just make sure you check your state and local laws before gambling.

Myth: “Radar imprecision” is a good defense for traffic fines

While it is true that radars and other similar devices can fail, the chances that you try to inaccurate them as your defenses are against you. Jen Lamboy of dmv.org explains that a judge will most likely require proof that the radar was inaccurate, and simply claiming that the radar does not match your speedometer is not enough. At this moment, your word contradicts the words of the radars, and you won’t get far from it. Professor Bambauer agrees:

… this protection usually does not work. Some states accept a trained officer’s estimate of your speed; some only require annual certification or testing; and some courts admit technical violations in things like certificates. It is difficult to prove the radar is inaccurate, and even that may not result in ticket cancellation.

The best you can do is assume that the officer’s equipment has not been recalibrated recently. To do this, you will need to review the officers’ calibration records and this will likely require hiring a road attorney. You may still not even win, and at this stage you have to decide what will cost you less.

Myth: Refusing to sign a ticket and other clerical mistakes will get you off the hook.

First, always sign your ticket. As the Flex Your Rights website explains , your signature is only proof that you received it and has nothing to do with an admission of guilt. Some people also suggest that if you don’t sign your ticket, you can claim that you never received it. That won’t work either, because if you try to challenge it, it will just be your word compared to the records of the citing officer, and the officer has a lot of evidence that they stopped you and wrote the ticket.

Secondly, simple typos on the ticket do not change anything. The judges consider simple mistakes in tickets to be simple mistakes. So don’t miss the opportunity if they misspell your name, write down the wrong license plate, or say you got your ticket at a different time. The ticket is entered into the officer’s computer almost immediately, so there is no point in pretending that this was not the case. Professor Bambauer made it clear that the ticket is valid as soon as the officer quotes you and your consent is not required.

Myth: Matching “traffic flow” and travel are good reasons for speeding

While driving too slow in a traffic jam can be dangerous, the general concept of “go with the flow” of traffic will not save you from speeding penalties. Professor Bambauer explains that “everyone did it” can never be an excuse. Of course, Bambauer also points out that cops can’t and shouldn’t chase every criminal they see, but they can pick one speeder to set an example.

Basically, go with the flow at your own risk, but don’t expect to be let off the hook if you pull on a short straw. Even short-term overtaking of another car will also not be an excuse. Maybe the car in front of you is going a little slower than you would like, but to get around them, you know that you will have to exceed the speed limit. As noted by William Van Tassel, AAA National Driver Education Manager , you are not allowed to exceed the speed limit for any reason – even if it is just for a moment. Professor Bambauer calls the published speed limits “clear rules”:

This means that they are simple and straightforward. If the limit is 55, once you’re 56, you are potentially responsible – whether you are driving, distracted, or rushing to the hospital. The police may decide not to intervene, but you risk it.

In fact, when it comes to stopping, it is usually a bad idea to make any excuses for speeding. Aaron Quinn, director of communications for the National Motorists Association, explains that the reason why you were speeding is an open admission that you were speeding:

“Never admit speeding during a conversation. I would say to be polite to the officer. Reasoning with an officer is something that can help you if you are really going to the hospital. You can try to talk, just don’t admit your guilt. “

Overspeeding is overspeeding , regardless of the reason. Thus, excuses can only work if you have an emergency excuse. Things like rushing to the hospital if someone has a very deep cut that requires an emergency room, for example. However, there is no guarantee that this will work, so be aware of what you are getting yourself into when you try to apologize.

Myth: You are more likely to get a ticket at the end of the month due to ticket quotas.

People often say that you are more likely to get a ticket at the end of the month because law enforcement officers have certain quotas that they must meet each month. While many police departments in the United States do not set any quotas at all, some may have minimums to ensure that officers are actually there doing their job. Professor Bambauer gives an example:

Tucson cops have quotas, but they are absurdly low. Some police forces do not have any at all. And some, like TPD, calculate how many tickets an officer writes out for a promotion.

So in a way, yes, the quotas may be real, but the officers are probably in no rush to meet them at the end of the month. On Quora, former police detective and criminal justice professor Roger Curtiss explains that “quota” is actually a dirty word in law enforcement:

Instead, it is referred to as the minimum performance standard, which can vary from department to department. I worked in a department with 10 and 10 people. Ten movers / ten valets per month.

Assuming that other departments have a similar standard, usually “10 and 10,” this is less than a ticket per day for a full-time road safety officer. So the concept of most officers trying their best to meet such a low quota in the last days of the month does not hold water. However, Curtiss also noted that internal affairs could quickly change this policy:

Another department assigned 10 movers (references to accidents do not count), but the boss preferred you not to issue parking tickets as he received more complaints from them than from anyone else. I also worked for a while in a very small department that did not have a tax base for the business, but a small stretch of freeway passed through it. Thus, the police department was mainly funded from citation revenues. You were not paid directly for the number of tickets issued, but it was tacitly understood that if that revenue stream dwindled, the department would face staff cuts.

So there are places where you are more likely to get a traffic ticket, but that probably has nothing to do with the crazy quoting urge at the end of the month. All of this is to say that there is no real way to predict when your odds will rise. Your best bet is to just follow the traffic rules to the best of your ability, no matter what day of the month it is ( or what you’re driving ).

Myth: travel tickets are not transferable to other countries.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t get away from your traffic fines – at least not in most states. A whopping 44 of the 50 states are party to the Non-Resident Offenders Treaty , and 45 states are party to the Driver ‘s License Treaty , which means they all share ticket data (and even some non-member states will share data as well). Ticket and driver license data means there is nowhere to hide, so points and fines will follow you everywhere.

However, Professor Bambauer notes that very small violations can be lost in the process:

… a number of states will enforce out-of-state violations only if they meet a certain minimum threshold, or if the crime is also a violation under the laws of the state of origin. In short: it is difficult and your experience may be different.

For example, if your state does not have a reckless driving law, but you receive an out-of-state fine for reckless driving, there is a good chance it will not get transferred if you challenge it in court. Generally, however, you will not want to throw this ticket away. If the charge can be carried over, ignoring an out-of-state ticket could still result in suspension of your license and other penalties. After all, never assume that you are neat and either pay your ticket or go to the appropriate legal advisor.

Myth: It’s illegal to ride barefoot.

For some reason, many people think it is illegal to ride without shoes, but this is also a serious misconception. As noted by Mike Chark, Michigan Police Sergeant , there is no state law against barefoot driving:

“This is a common textbook traffic myth. To be honest, I don’t know what the security issue would be. I don’t know why there is a law against it. “

That being said, not all vehicle types in some states will allow you to ventilate smelly feet. Alabama has a law against riding a motorcycle. Otherwise, start whatever you want. However, Professor Bambauer cautions that barefoot riding could potentially be subject to other laws:

I have not found another state that explicitly prohibits riding barefoot. BUT in many states there is universal reckless driving or driving that jeopardizes laws and can get fines or arrest if an officer thinks driving barefoot violates those laws. Look, Maine .

Therefore, if you want to take off your shoes while driving, take them off before driving to avoid distractions. Also, make sure that the shoes do not sit at your feet, where they could accidentally get caught in the brake pedal. Riding barefoot is legal, but you don’t want your shoes to cause any problems.

Myth: You don’t have to write down a ticket by paying a little more.

It’s hard to say where this urban legend came from or if it really worked at some point, but it’s one of the most ridiculous myths around. Basically it works like this, according to Edmunds : you get a speeding ticket; pay the fine by mail, but add a little to the ticket price (from a penny to a few extra dollars); then you wait for a refund to be sent for the additional amount you paid.

Presumably, if you never cash a refund check, the ticket will never complete processing and will never appear on your record. Professor Bambauer expresses the absurdity of this myth:

It looks like it’s the biggest hulk. If you pay more and are lucky, you will receive your overpayment refund in time. The ticket is registered (and usually increases insurance premiums) as soon as it is entered into the system.

Sorry, there are no loopholes or processing ambiguities you could try with. Sure, it seems a little silly that people initially thought this trick was possible, but if you’re desperate to break the deadlock, you might be willing to believe anything.


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