Busting Common Traffic Ticket Myths

Don’t let these traffic ticket myths make your life more difficult than it has to be.

Most of us have fallen for traffic ticket myths at one time or another. We’d all like to believe that those expensive little documents can easily be “fixed” once they’re written, and hey, there’s always someone around who’s willing to share the method that worked for their great Aunt Ethel’s friend’s brother ten years ago.

Sadly, most of the ticket-dismissal methods that may have worked in the past have been stitched up nicely in the interim, thanks. In this article, we’ll look at a few leftover myths that may result in annoying expenses and extra fines if you’re not careful.

Myth 1: The ticket will be dismissed if there’s even a minor mistake on it.

It’s funny how we Americans have this persistent idea that a minor human error can cancel out the most official of government paperwork. Don’t let this traffic ticket myth run you down. It’s nothing more than hearsay, and you know how admissible that is in court.

Clerical mistakes, like misspellings and transposed numbers, will be overlooked by the court. Only egregious errors, like the officer completing fouling up the vehicle description or putting you on the wrong street at the wrong time of day, can help you win the case — and even then you’ll have to put up a fight.

Myth 2: It’s easiest just to pay the stupid thing.

Whether you consider this traffic ticket myth “true” or “false” depends on how you define “easiest.” It’s true that the simplest solution is to pay the ticket if you want to save time, but that will not only require a decent chunk of change, it may increase your insurance costs by hundreds of dollars over the next few years.
So ask the court about your options. You may be able to keep the ticket off your record by taking driver’s education, or by setting up deferred adjudication. In the later case you pay a fine, and if you don’t get another ticket in a specified number of days, the original ticket is dismissed.

Myth 3: I’ll win automatically if the officer doesn’t show up in court.

Maybe. The veracity of this traffic ticket myth depends on the jurisdiction, the court, and especially the judge. You do have a constitutional right to challenge your accuser, and you can’t challenge them if they’re not there. If you take the ticket to court and the citing officer fails to show, you may get off scot free.

But you may not. Some courts may have provisions for just such an event, so they can adjudicate a case without an officer’s presence. Some judges will happily reschedule the case so the officer can appear later. Some may just proceed under the assumption that you don’t know about your right to challenge.

Therefore, you need to be aware of the practices of the court you find yourself in, and you need to remain sharp and willing to stand up for your rights. Ideally, this traffic ticket myth can come true, if certain factors fall into place and you’re willing to politely press the point.