Do cops have to personally present you a moving violation ticket?

First, I am not proposing, suggesting, or recommending any illegal behavior. Also, I haven’t actually done this, and am not planning to do so.

Also, I know that the answer will probably vary from place to place. Since I’m not planning on doing this, I don’t particularly care which jurisdiction’s laws you cite.

Let’s say a I run a stop light, or violate the speed limit, or commit some other moving violation. A cop witnesses it, but before he can pull me over, I (legally) park my car and walk into a store (for example). By the time the cop pulls up to my car, I am nowhere in sight.

Can he write out a ticket and leave it on my car, like a parking ticket? (I’m guessing not, since he has no idea who was driving.)

Can he wait until I come out and then give me the ticket? Can he go into the store and say, “Whose car is that?”

Or is he SOL as far as issuing a ticket for that offense is concerned?

I believe there are places in which there are cameras mounted at traffic lights, violators’ plate numbers are recorded, and a ticket is sent to the offender in the mail. The cop doesn’t need to find you personally or leave a ticket on your car. He can look you up using your license plate number.

I’m unsure of the location of said cameras, but I believe they are in place at intersections in Massachusetts. If it’s legal and legitimate to do that, surely a cop witnessing a violation wouldn’t be too far away from the law either.

Unlike the question I ask in the OP, I have personal experience with speed cameras, so I don’t need any advice on that score, thanks. :smiley:

In photo tickets they get a photo of licence and the driver’s face.

I would think the cop would have to identify the driver.

This is from New York’s criminal procedure statutes:

This is consistent with the experience of my friend’s father, who got in a traffic accident recently. A couple days later, the police showed up at his door and handed him a ticket.

I don’t think your example is consistent with the cite, because it speaks of “continuous close pursuit,” which was obviously not the case with your friend’s father. That section seems to be establishing that the police can make a stop outside the county, if necessary. [ETA: Sorry, on closer reading I see that it is consistent in that they presented it to him in person, rather than mailed it.]

Also, I suspect that the term “appearance ticket” refers to appearing in court, and isn’t related to the manner in which it is presented to the suspect.

Related to my question is the issue of “continuous close pursuit.” If a cop sees a red car speeding a hundred yards ahead, and goes after it, but loses sight of it around a couple of turns, then sees a red car ahead on the same road, can he be certain, if he didn’t see the license plate or some other obvious distinguishing characteristic, that it’s the same red car and pull it over? Or does losing contact, in some circumstances at least, mean he can’t issue the citation?

In two speed camera tickets I got, the camera shot from behind and did not get a picture of my face. All the speed and red light cameras I have seen shoot from the rear, not the front. IIRC, I think there was some issue about privacy when taking a picture of the driver.

This doesn’t always work.

New York City has a bunch of red light cameras. They take a picture of the plate and mail the ticket to the person who’s name is on the registration. A fine is imposed but no points are put on the driver’s record. Of course, the reason is that the owner of the car can contend that he/she was not driving the car at the time. Therefore, the red light cameras, under the guise of traffic safety, are actually revenue generators more than anything.

If they can’t put points on a license for this reason, then why can they fine the owner?

This “the registered owner is responsible” sounds like a bunch of kindergarten school nonsense to make revenue collection easier. What if I loan my car to a friend who uses it to rob a bank (unknown to me)? Should I go to jail for bank robbery?

It’s sort of like a super-parking ticket. It can be fought.

Most (in most areas, AFAIK) MV that have “points” require the cop to personally witness the violation. It is unlikely you wil be able to “get away” by any normal casual legal method. If they thought you were running away, they’d just pursue you, if you happened to get lucky and their car stalled or something, they’d likely just chalk it off.

I stipulate that I agree to all these objections about speed and red light cameras, but they’re off-topic. Any more info about the questions in the OP?

I’ll take a crack at the OP…California law…

Practically speaking, this is usually the end of it. Most cops are going to say, “Eh, on to the next one.”

Not in California. There are vehicle-specific “owner responsibility” citations for equipment violations, like an expired registration, but moving violations are particular to the driver. The thing to understand is that a citation is a written promise to appear in court at a particular time. That’s why judges can issue warrants if someone decides to blow off traffic court. The person being cited has to sign the ticket to show that they have been given notice, making themselves legally on the hook for failing to appear. So the policeman cannot simply throw the ticket under the windshield wiper and go about his day. Has to be signed.

Yes and yes. And if you say, “That’s my car and I ran that stop sign, but I’m not in the car now, pig, so fuck off!” the police officer will issue you the citation and write down your statement to present it in court.

Note: this is somewhat hypothetical, however. Practically speaking, as I mentioned before, most cops are going to let the matter go. Now if you turn into a business (as many people will) hoping that the cops will ignore you, or hoping you can get inside the store and be hidden, you have to realize the police are usually much closer than they appear in your rear view mirror. Probably as you open the door and step out, a police cruiser with blue lights on will come screeching up and park behind your car. And policemen tend to get much more interested when they get the feeling that someone is trying to shake them by turning into businesses.

Not in California. If he saw it, he can take reasonable steps to cite for the offense. This could include (as you mentioned) going inside a store and saying, “Who was driving the Pinto?”

Does that help? Follow-up questions?

Thanks Doctor. Very helpful. (Are you a lawyer? Cop?)

How about the question of losing sight of a pursued vehicle? Let’s say an officer sees a red Corvette run a red light, and goes after it, but doesn’t get the license plate number. The Vette goes around a corner or is otherwise out of sight for long enough that, theoretically at least, another identical car could have taken its place before he sees it again. (Obviously this couldn’t happen on a limited access freeway, but it could on city streets.)

Can he issue a ticket to this car, or does he have to maintain visual contact throughout the pursuit, unless he can positively identify the vehicle by license number or some unique characteristic (broken tail light, dent in the left fender, etc.)?

Conversely, if stopped in these circumstances, could a driver successfully challenge the ticket by saying, “You may have seen a red Corvette go through the light at 3rd Street, but I wasn’t there, and I never saw you until you came around the corner on Maple Street and stopped me. It must have been some other red Vette.”

Let’s assume that, whether the driver is lying or not, the cop will not dishonestly claim he saw the license plate of the first car and that it matched the car he stopped.

In your Corvette scenario, the officer can claim “hot pursuit” as a legitimate cause to pull over and site the driver of the red Corvette. If all it took was a few seconds or so out of the officers vision to make a claim that the officer could have pulled over the wrong vehicle, a lot of driving infractions could have been tossed out of court. I have heard this argument in court and it has never worked. All an officer needs is probable cause to make a stop, if he saw a red Corvette speed by and go around a corner, he could reasonably assume the red Corvette he found around the corner is the same one he saw speeding.

This is not true in all states. I keep a list of states that do not require signatures and I currently list 17 states, mine included. The only requirement for a signature in these states are tickets that have a mandatory court appearance. The question about signatures on tickets is asked a couple time a week on another forum I frequent. Each state has it’s own peculiarities when it comes to traffic laws and enforcement. In some state a traffic violation is a criminal offense, in mine and other states it is a civil offense. Police officers are not required to appear in court in my state and a few others, most others require it. There are many more.

My understanding is some Calif. cities if the drivers piture is not clear you can contest the ticket. I may be wrong just what I have read in the paper some time back. The camera’s thata I have seen in SF are on the far side ot the intersection.

You mistake the part of the statute talking about hot pursuit as being something required. That section of the statute is granting permission to the officer to continue in hot pursuit even if he has to leave his own jurisdiction to issue the ticket. But it does not require that the ticket be issued after a hot pursuit.

A ticket of the type you are discussing (as opposed to most red-light cameras these days, which have been made into civil infractions to avoid due process issues) is a notification that the state is charging you with commission of a crime. A very minor crime, but a crime nontheless. Thus, the normal rules about crimes apply. If the officer got your license plate, and had some reasonable indication of who you were (was able to see your face, etc.), he could theoretically give you the ticket anytime thereafter until whatever statute of limitations that applies expires.

Obviously, the main issue with a traffic ticket is knowing who the person driving was. You cannot just assume it was the owner. That’s the sticky point that gets states to turn redlight camera offenses into civil infractions; then they don’t have to bother with it, just as they don’t have to worry if a parking citation is issued as a result of the owner’s actions. The easiest way to know who the person is that was speeding is to follow them and pull them over.

I can refute that assumption as it happened to me. I was on the (then) new 87 FWY and some dudes were going very fast. I was driving a White Saturn Sports coupe and I was passed by another White Saturn Sports coupe going very fast (I admit I was going fairly fast). Seconds later around the curve came a Highway Patrol cruiser, who then pulled behind me, and put on his lights. He claimed he had followed me since where 87 connected to 101 (but I had got on after that) and had tracked me at speeds up to 90. We went to court where I said I wasn’t the White Saturn Sports coupe that he had followed, I couldn’t be, but he simply claimed he had not taken his eyes off the car he was following even for a second.:dubious: The judge did reduce the fine quite a bit, but I was still guilty.

In Ohio, police usually do - but are not required to - personally present you with a moving violation ticket. If you outrun the police car (unlikely), or the officer gets called away for something else (far more likely), and the officer got your license plate number, she can issue a summons which is sent to your address, as shown in the records of the BMV. The summons tells you what you’ve been charged with and your court date. You may certainly plead “not guilty” and say that you weren’t the person driving, or that the officer was mistaken as to the license plate number, but more often than not the judge or magistrate will believe the officer.

DrDeth, your example establishes something I didn’t doubt, that a judge will take the word of an officer over that of a suspect in most cases, even if there’s an alternative explanation.

My question is whether, if the cop had admitted that he had lost sight of the first white Saturn for a while, the judge would have been obliged to accept that as reasonable doubt (or whatever the appropriate standard is) and let you off. (Assuming all parties are acting honestly and in good faith.)

racer72 says no, because then everyone would use that excuse. That may be what the judge thought DrDeth was doing. So judges may be skeptical about such arguments, but that doesn’t touch on their actual legal status. Does the law require the cop to maintain contact throughout the pursuit, and does a break in contact create reasonable doubt as to the identity of the apprehended vehicle?

DSYoungEsq, I don’t know what mistake you think I made, and I’m not sure I understand your first paragraph. I think we agree about that part of the statute.