11 Traffic Ticket Myths Debunked

Middle aged man writing on ticket with traffic officer standing by car

Traffic tickets are annoyingly common because everyone makes a mistake now and again. Luckily, our legal system allows you to fight. Ticket for a moving violation, ticket for speeding, virtually any traffic citation can be contested in traffic court. While you can plead your case, there are some traffic ticket myths floating around that can give you the wrong idea.

Many folks have misconceptions on how to get out of a speeding ticket and still end up still paying a fine or attending traffic school because they relied on a myth. There are even some “tips and tricks” that claim to lessen your chances from getting a speeding ticket, but they are just plain false.  It’s time to set the record straight and debunk some of the most common traffic ticket myths.

Myth #1.  If the officer makes a mistake on the ticket, the case will be dropped.

Everyone makes mistakes, even police officers. Unless it is a gigantic error, mistakes such as misspellings, wrong numbers, or other minor clerical errors won’t win your day in traffic court if you choose to contest. Traffic ticket mistakes such as the listing the wrong identity of the driver, giving an incorrect description of the vehicle, listing the wrong street where the traffic citation took place, and other material errors could help drivers win their cases, but little errors and typos don’t count.

Myth #2.  You automatically win your case if the officer fails to show up in court.

This myth is a half-truth at best. You will not automatically win if the officer who wrote your ticket fails to show up in court. Some states don’t require the officer to appear for traffic ticket hearings, so the judge may still try the case without the officer in attendance. In other states, the officer who issued the traffic ticket is required to appear otherwise the judge will throw out the case. You should research your local laws to see if this myth applies to your state. In either case, no one should automatically assume that the officer is going to skip court.

Myth #3.  Red cars will attract more traffic tickets than any other color.

While bold colors certainly get more overall attention from everyone, including police officers, there is no official study that confirms that red cars get more tickets than any other vehicle. While many theorize that this myth is true, there is no statistic that proves it.

Myth #4.  If you get a ticket in another state, your home state won’t know about it.

Among all of these traffic ticket myths, this one was once true but has now long been debunked. Most states in the U.S. participate in the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (DLC), an agreement where participating states will forward a reported moving violation or out-of-state speeding ticket to the recipient’s home state. The only states that do not participate in the DLC are Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, however rules and regulations are always subject to change. Even if you live in one of the states that don’t partake in the DLC, you shouldn’t count on that to get you out of paying a ticket.

Myth #5.  Good excuses can be used to get out of tickets.

The reasons why you were speeding are immaterial. The officer is still going to write you a speeding ticket. In fact, by coming up with an excuse why you were speeding, you are confessing to the officer that you were speeding. This will be used against you if you choose to go to court. The best bet when an officer stops you for speeding is to always answer “no” when the officer asks if you know why you’ve been pulled over. Just accept the ticket and you’ll have a better chance to contest it in traffic court.

Myth #6.  Radar detectors can prevent you from getting pulled over.

Radar detectors tend to give drivers a false sense of security that they can speed or commit a moving violation whenever they want without consequences. Yet radar detector users are often chasing new technology as law enforcement offices are continually upgrading their speed detection equipment which could surpass your detection device. On top of that, places such as Virginia and Washington D.C. have outright banned the use of radar detectors, while other states are pushing legislation for similar bans and prohibitions. It just isn’t worth the investment.

Myth #7.  If you don’t sign the ticket, it will be dismissed.

A traffic citation is still valid whether or not the police officer has you sign it. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt, but just acknowledges that you know you have a gotten a ticket and promise to appear in court. If you refuse to sign it, it will just agitate the officer and the judge when you contest it.

Myth #8.  Radar inaccuracy is an automatic “not guilty.”

While an officer’s radar malfunction can certainly help your case in court, you have to be able to prove it. Chances are you won’t have any solid evidence to support that claim to the judge. Even then, your best shot is being able to prove somehow that the officer’s equipment hadn’t been recently recalibrated. If you really want to pursue this defense, you’ll have to ask for the officer’s calibration records and hire a traffic ticket attorney to assist you, but that is more of a hassle and an expense than paying most fines.

Myth #9.  Passing another vehicle allows drivers to go over the speed limit.

If you go over the speed limit, you have gone over the speed limit. There’s no getting around that. If you are behind a slow-moving vehicle, you either need to be able to pass it within the speed limit or just stay behind until you are able to safely switch lanes.

Myth #10.  Driving with the flow of traffic is a valid reason to contest a speeding ticket.

“Well, he did it, too!” doesn’t work as a defense for a school kid standing in front of the principal and it won’t work in front of a highway patrolman. It doesn’t matter if the guy in the lane next to you did 50 MPH in a school zone and you only went five miles above the speed limit. If you get caught speeding, your traffic violation stands regardless whether or not others around you got away with it.

Myth #11.  Beating a ticket will require a lawyer.

Many traffic ticket attorneys claim that you cannot get a traffic citation overturned unless you have representation in court, but that’s just not true. If you are willing to do a little bit of research and homework, you have a decent chance of successfully fighting your ticket in traffic court. Besides, first time offenders for minor violations can usually negotiate a plea bargain with the judge. Even if this isn’t your first offense, the cost of hiring an attorney can often outweigh the cost of just paying the fines in full. However, if you truly feel that you need representation, some states have entire law firms dedicated to contesting traffic tickets at reasonable rates.

If you do end up in traffic court, you may have to provide proof of insurance. Get a free car insurance quote for affordable car insurance quickly and easily through Freeway Insurance.