Is a speeding ticket valid if the officer writes the wrong date on it?

OK, I’m not trying to get out of a ticket here, this happened to me over 5 years ago, and the ticket I received has long since been paid. I was watching a TV show about people disputing tickets, and this one came to mind for me.

Back in college I got a speeding ticket on which the officer wrote the wrong date (I think he wrote the year wrong, but it might have been the month). Could (should?) I have been able to go to court and just say I wasn’t speeding on that day, and have that be the end of it? Or, would the court have just said that it was an irrelevant error and the real of the details remain the same.

By the way, not that it matters as far as my question goes, but I honestly* wasn’t speeding either. I really don’t know why the officer thought I was and pulled me over, I was just driving in traffic no faster than usual and no faster than anyone else. I chalked it up to either him getting the wrong guy, or just being flat out in error, but I figured that would be pretty hard to prove and my word against his. I did show up in court on my day and just pled no contest and didn’t explain myself at all, and I got the same deal the judge gave everyone else there (either pay the fine and keep the points, or no fine but lose the points).

*I also realize there are a lot people who swear they didn’t do whatever they did wrong, so there is no reason to take my word for it.

I would suppose that if you can prove that your car and you were somewhere else on the specific date and time of the ticket, that would introduce reasonable doubt and would get you off the ticket. I’ve done that with tickets in the past (not due to a date error, something else) and have gotten them tossed by the judge. But you have to have evidence to establish the reasonable doubt.

I have heard about people using any defect on the ticket as grounds to challenge the officer’s powers of observation (e.g., wrong make or year of car, etc.).

I don’t know if it works.

My father once got out of a ticket because the officer wrote down Cadillac instead of Oldsmobile. My father simply said he did not own a Cadillac & the records supported him. End of ticket.

My father did this once. He simply pointed out to the judge that he was elsewhere on the date indicated on the summons, and the judge summarily dismissed it without so much as a flourish. As my father turned away from the bench to leave, the judge asked him “on what day were you guilty, Mr. L******n?” My father replied with a sly smile “the day previous to that date, your honor.” The judge chuckled, and that was the end of it.

If there is anything technically wrong with a speeding ticket you should plead “not guilty” and show up in court. Your chances of getting it dismissed or pleading down to a much lesser charge are very great just by the fact that you are there to fight it. With they way states fine for speeding and the way that insurance companies use it to hike your rates you have to use every option.

Check out this letter written in response to just such a question.

The legal answer to the question is that the wrong date is not itself an impediment to a finding of guilt. Clerical error on official records does not preclude being found guilty of the offense.

Precisely. And some judges and magistrates may become irritable if they think you’re trying to be cute.

Having sat through a few traffic courts, I have to say it depends. Oddly the more far off the date is, the less likely it is to help you. If on Jan 1st 2009, the Officer wrote 2008, the Judge/Commissioner would likely laugh at you. But if it was just a day off and you just came in and could show you weren’t there at that time, it could work.

depending on the stage at which it’s raised, and the procedural statute that applies, the prosecutor may be able to move to amend an error such as the date. depends a lot on the local practice and statutory provision.

and note the comment from Elendil’s Heir, who has considerable professional expertise to back up his comment…

I’d love to hear more about this… link(s)?

I was in a mild fender-bender accident once. An officer showed up to write a report, but his report sounded like a totally different accident. He had details wrong all over the place.

He wrote that I did not have a passenger (I did)
He wrote that the accident occurred 1,000 feet from the intersection and that he measured it with a rolo tape (he never used a measuring device, and we were probably 300 feet from the intersection)
He wrote that the accident was my fault (at the scene, he verbally told us it was not my fault)
He wrote that there was an injury (no one was injured)

As soon as I got a copy of the report, I began calling the police station asking to speak to the officer so I could have him correct it. When I called, he was either not in, out on the field, or in training, and never replied to a call. When I spoke to his shift sergeant, he told me only the officer could fix the report. It took 2 months(!) for him to finally respond to me, and he said it’s too late to change the report.

So here I am with an injury accident on my record when it was no such thing.

(I’m just sayin, if they can get everything wrong on an accident report, and it still sticks, then I doubt a ticket would be very different)

Could you take the accident report to Court? That’s the difference. And you should have written letters instead.

He’s a traffic court magistrate in… Clevelandish, I think.

I would say it depends on the nature of the offense. In my jurisdiction, a summons for a moving violation can be amended. In other words, if it comes out at trial that the officer pulled you over on the 15th, but the summons says the 14th, the prosecutor can ask the judge to amend the summons, and the request will most likely be granted. I suppose you could protest that you came prepared with evidence based on the 14th, and I imagine this will get you an adjournment.

On the other hand, a parking violation in my jurisdiction cannot be amended. If the date is wrong (and you can prove it), it will be dismissed. If your car is misdescribed, the summons will be dismissed. etc.

A muni court magistrate in Cleveland, but yes, I often hear traffic cases.

I was written a ticket for abandoning my vehicle because I did not move it for 2 days. The cop wrote that it was a corvette. It was a jag XKE. I went to court and explained that it had snowed and I would have torn my exhaust off in the frozen snow and it was not a vette anyway. The judge said technically ,you can not leave your car unmoved for 2 days. He also said the cop was referring to my car. He made me pay the ticket. I think it was 35 bucks.

A friend of mine once got out of a speeding ticket because the officer wrote down her sex as “Male.” (She’s rather a tomboy type, but still clearly female.) I don’t know where or when this occurred, except that it was in the range of 20 years ago or more.

This is true in my limited experience. I was given a ticket for not having proof of insurance. The officer wrote up a ticket for $7.50 and gave me a photocopied brochure which listed that same fine and gave instructions on how to pay. I paid promptly. I later received a notice saying the ticket was actually $10, so I owed $2.50 plus an $18 late fee. After a small amount of hassle, I was able to get out of the late fee, but only because I showed up in person at the court house and was lucky enough to speak with a kindly person. A person I had previously spoken with over the phone told me I had to pay the fee or my license would be suspended. I didn’t try to get out of the $2.50.