It's hard to believe, but police officers are human, and that means they make mistakes. This sometimes results in miswritten information on a traffic ticket.
Myth #1 - All Documentation Mistakes Are Equal
Don't start jumping for joy just yet thinking any error gets dismissed. Some mistakes hold more weight than others. For example, if an officer happens to write down information in the wrong field on the form, it's considered a clerical error, not an error of recounting the violation.
Mistakes about a violation are not taken lightly. Some common errors include:
- Driver's license information, such as a driver's license number, is incorrect.
- Wrong vehicle information, such as incorrect make and model.
- The wrong violation is documented. For example, the officer may have put down "rolling a stop sign" when it was actually a failure to yield.
If you have gotten a ticket with errors in the details written about the violation, you can contact an attorney to have the citation reviewed.
Myth #2 - Erroneous Tickets Are Automatically Dismissed
Though there are some errors that will usually end up getting a ticket dismissed, there aren't any that are a 100% sure thing. Also, even upon receiving a ticket with errors in the documentation, you must attend your court date.
If you end up not responding to the violation you were given, it can result in even more severe consequences than the original ticket came with. You may even get handcuffed. Therefore, you should always show up to court and state your case.
Myth #3 - Tickets in a Different State Don't Matter
This may have been true many years ago, but now technology has caught up. With digital information sharing, your ticket from another state will haunt you just as much as a ticket from your state of residence.
In the majority of states, tickets are forwarded right to your home address and show up on your driving record. There are a small number of states that do not participate in this program, but all states do keep track of who has their license suspended or revoked, no matter if you are in or out of state.
Myth #4 - Traffic Tickets Are Automatically Dismissed if the Officer Doesn't Attend Court
It's commonly said that a ticket gets automatically dropped if the issuing officer isn't in the court room on the court date, but this isn't always the case. While the court does recognize your right to face the accuser, it doesn't mean you're off the hook if the officer doesn't show. The judge makes the rules, and he or she may dismiss the ticket, or they may just reschedule the hearing.
Myth #5 - Making Excuses Helps Get You Out of a Ticket
It's natural to want to explain yourself if you get a ticket, which is especially the case when a cop pulls you over. The bad part about providing an explanation is that you may be admitting guilt without realizing it. The cop will definitely make note of this.
Unless you have a serious emergency you are trying to get to, try not to share too many details with the officer if you want any chance of fighting it.
Myth #6 - Signing a Ticket Means You're Admitting Guilt
Upon receiving a ticket, you will have to sign it to acknowledge receipt. It should be noted that this is NOT an admission of guilt. If you refuse to sign the ticket, you will likely face further penalties.
You should try to remember that police officers are only doing their job. They have their fair share of good and bad days like anyone else, and they may have been in the middle of a great day before they pulled you over. When all is said and done, as the driver, you have two options:
- Cooperate with the officer and sign the ticket. Remember, you're only acknowledging receipt.
- Be uncooperative, refuse to sign the ticket, and possibly face an arrest and be taken to jail.
So, even though traffic tickets with mistakes have a higher chance of being dismissed in court, it's not automatic. It is never automatic and depends on several factors, especially the severity of the mistake. Small mistakes like writing in the wrong field are not likely to be dismissed.
That being said, if you do receive a ticket with errors, it's always a good idea to contact an attorney to see if you have any options for fighting the violation.
The vast majority of the time, an officer does their job well, and the court supports them. While getting a ticket dismissed due to a technicality is not impossible, it's uncommon.
If you do end up getting a ticket, there's no reason to panic. If you attend traffic school that is approved in your state, you can have points removed from your record, and it may just be completely dismissed and not show up on your record at all. Not only that, but a defensive driving course will provide you with useful driving tips you can use to avoid tickets in the future.