Police Buffoonery

So, there I am cruising along a little too fast and decide it’s time to pass someone.

I swing out into the left lane and there he is. A city cop on a motorcycle sitting there in a speed trap.

Fine. Nailed. Guilty as sin. 100% not-not-guilty. Normally I can talk my way out of these things, but this is one of those cops on a mission. I’m pretty sure the only words he said the whole time were “License?” and “Your court date is June 30th”.

Eh. Shit happens. Like I said, guilty as sin.

So, last week, with my deadline approaching I decide it’s time to pay the ticket. First, however, I have to figure out how much it is.

I dial the number on the ticket.

AAS: Hello. You’ve blah blah blah, hit one for a traffic fine.
Me: 1
AAS: Thank you. For moving violations press one. For-"
Me: 1
AAS: Thank you. Please enter your six digit ticket number.
Me: 123456
AAS: Not a valid ticket number. Please enter your six digit ticket number.
Me (rechecking): 123456
AAS: Not a valid ticket number. Please enter your six digit ticket number.
Me (rerechecking): 123456
AAS: Not a valid ticket number. Transfering.
Unhelpful Girl: What do you want?
Me: I have a ticket number 123456. It doesn’t look like it’s in the system.
UG: Wait a second. Let me check something.
…About 15 minutes pass (no, not exaggerating)…
UG: Yeah, it’s not in the system.
Me: I knew that. What am I supposed to do about it?
UG: Umm…call back twice a week until it gets in the system.
Me: But my court date is only a week away.
UG: Just keep calling back.
Me: What happens after my court date? What then?
UG: Just keep calling back twice a week.
Me: Forever?
UG: It’ll get in the system eventually.

Well, here I am six hours before my court time…and it’s not in the system! Surprise of surprises!

I’d love to go to the court but I’m going to be about three hours away for work.

I wouldn’t be so concerned except my girlfriend got ARRESTED recently because of a ticket screwup involving a lost ticket and a suspended license notice being sent to her old address. The judge, being sympathetic, said, “Yeah, that’s about right. Thanks for the $600.”.

Bullshit. 100% pure, uncut bullshit.

-Speedin’ Joe

That’s not police buffoonery. That’s a screwup in the court system. The cop turns the ticket into the municipal court and they are responsible for entering it.

And why are you paying the fine? Does your state not allow you to get out of tickets by taking a defensive driving course? Just curious.

Actually this exact same thing happened to me a month ago. I got my first speeding ticket ever, and I was mortified. I was all set to pay the fine, and then pay to take a four-hour traffic school course so I wouldn’t get points on my license. I tried calling for weeks to pay it off, but my ticket number was not in the system. I tried their automated calling system, and I got through to humans more than once, to no avail. I even tried going through the Court Clerk’s website to pay the ticket online, but they had no record of my ticket number. Nobody was being helpful, and I couldn’t afford to miss an afternoon of work to go pay the ticket in person.

Finally, I called a law firm that specializes in traffic ticket defenses, the kind of law firm that represents everyone from the occasional speeder to drunk drivers. For a fee (which is about half of what paying the ticket would have cost me), they’ll go to court, try to find a legal loophole to get me out of the ticket, and guarantee me no points on my license (and thus, no traffic school). I wouldn’t even have to show up. This was not my original idea – I was all set to pay it off – but they made it so difficult for me to “do the right thing” that I decided fighting it would be easier.

This happened to me a couple of years ago. I got a red light ticket, got it in the mail, was ready to pay for it by phone. Call up, the machine said, “Please enter your six digit ticket number.” Well there was only five numbers on the ticket. So I enter those and wait. I get the same message and it just didn’t work. They didn’t give any way to talk to a live person at all so I had to pay by check, which got there late I’m sure but oh well.

Sorry I didn’t make that clear. I blame the police because I’m figuring that, for some reason, the cop never turned in the ticket.

An assumption, I know. But I figured it was most likely.


yes, i’m sure he had every intention on doing so, but was wracked by guilty dreams that night and in the morning threw your ticket in the wastebin.

I had the same thing happen for running a light (middle of the night, was taking a right at the light but didn’t stop before I did).
He says he’s going to cite me and gives me the ticket.

I check it later and there’s no freaking dollar amount on it. So I wonder “Is this really a ticket or some kind of warning citation?”
Read the fine print and it says to call and punch in your citation number.
Call it up, “Citation number not found”.
So I wonder again “Is this really a ticket or some kind of warning?”

But before I go and screw myself by disregarding it, getting my liscense suspended, pay a bunch of fines and fees to get it unsuspended,
I keep the ticket on my desk at work and call every day for the next month.

FINALLY, about a month later it’s in the system and I pay it by phone.

I swear people are getting screwed by this crappy system since you can’t even tell if and for how much your fined for.

Yeah, my speeding ticket, the one I decided to end up fighting, had no dollar amount either. I looked up what it would normally online, though, and it still seemed like the better deal to fight it. I’ll probably report back in when I find out the outcome, either in MPSIMS (good) or The Pit (bad).

Actually, it’s not. The court system, especially here in cook county, is filled to the absolute brim with buffoons, nitwits, boobs and outright morons (not to mention the fact that they’re completely overloaded).

The cop is accountable for that ticket he issues. Not turning it in, he could face official misconduct charges at worst, or at least get banged for 1-2 days suspension. Not worth it. It’s likely the court is where your malfunction is. It’s a bloody mess, the whole system

I have two speeding tickets outstanding, myself. I’m pretty sure my license is clear as of a month ago, thanks to a friendly cop, but… well.

One of them was for me being a moron, and the other was for being a commuter in the wrong place in the wrong time.

I believe I can fight them both and maybe even win. (More chance of the commuter one. I think the cop actually got the other car, same make and model and color, but who got off the road on the exit about half a mile before the cop pulled me over)

I’ve been waiting for a court date for three years on one and two on the other.

Isn’t there some kind of right to a speedy trial?

Sounds like the “one-armed man defense”. :wink:

And I’ll bet you used to mock Richard Kimball.

-Joe, bored

So…after an hour of waiting we get to my turn.

Judge: No swear. You’re free to go.
Me: Thanks.

About one in three people there had the same thing. Go court system!


Well done on getting it dismissed. But then there’s this:

Did he say what year? I sure hope THAT doesn’t come back to bite you on the butt. :smiley:

If nothing else, this is one thing I love about Japan.

After being pulled for going the wrong way up a one-way street (guilty, but after searching forever for where I was going, I finily found it byt had to go through a one-way street that was only 20 meters. This was in pre-GPS days)

Officer: Nanda, amerikajin ka? Nihongo hanaseruka?
      (Oh, an American. Do you speak Japanese?)
TP: (In very-fast English) Ohhiofficerhowareyoudoingihopethatiwasn’tdoinganythingwronghere.boydon’tyouhateitwhenyoucan’tfindwhereyouarelookingfor?
TP: smiles
Officer (in English now): no go here!
TP: (in slow English) OK! I will be safety driver! Bye!
Officer: Bye

IANAL, and this is only what I would do in this case. (I’m a bit of a smart-ass and love pushing the limits, especially when it’s nothing that will get me in more trouble than I’m already in)

Given that the ticket is really a legal document, and the court date was set, why not show up for it? You’re the accused, you have a right to your day in court. And the accusing agency already told you what the day would be. Get there! If the agency isn’t aware they will prosecute you that day, fuck 'em!

Show the ticket to the judge. Tell him, “Hey, they told me to be here today to answer for this crime.”

It’s up to the accusing party to present the case to the court at the slated time. Even if the DA or city prosecutor is there, he’ll have no evidence, affidavits, witnesses, nor testimoy to present a case. YOU were there, but you can’t be forced to testify against yourself.

And the ticket written in your name stating the crime you’re accused of? Somebody better prove the ticket book wasn’t stolen that night. At the very least somebody better be able to show that it wasn’t a bogus ticket given as a prank. (Loopholes? LAWYERS WRITE THE LAWS!)

How this wouldn’t be thrown out for lack of evidence would be very entertaining to hear.

Now for a true real-life piece of advice given once by the top traffic defense lawyer in the region. Always go to a court appointment. ALWAYS! (Unless it’s a parking ticket you don’t give a shit about. But even then, if you have a day off and want to watch some cases IRL, it can be fun)

The reasoning is the cops and prosecutors simply don’t have the time to actually prosecute every ticket. Even if the judge grants an extension, the two parties still have to try to coordinate the timing to present the case.

Put simply, for minor traffic violations, the cops know most people will simply pay the fine and be done with it. Fighting it gives you a huge advantage in the prosecution just letting it go.

It’s a shitload easier to pay the fine, granted. Especially if it won’t affect your license or insurance rates. But every now and then it’s so satisfying to be able to, guilty as sin, get one over on The Man.


I now have a photo of me driving side by side with said car within a hundred yards of the location. Different day, but better than nothing.


The cops have to sign for the citation books and the number range of the citations is logged. They have to turn in every one of those citations. If they turn in a partially used book with all remaining citations still blank and attached, no problem. If a citation is marked on in any way, it has to be accounted for, either by filing with the court or a written report explaining why the citation was not completely filled out. Since the cops are buried up to their necks in paperwork already, it’s a pretty safe bet that they are NOT going to do anything that causes them to write an extra report, so the citation probably did get turned in and the court dropped the ball. And that is not uncommon.

At least, that’s the way it was when I was a cop, and I doubt that basic procedure varies much from department to department across the country.

No joke. I was in Austin Municipal Court one morning back in the late 70s, having been called as a witness on a traffic accident citation. I was waiting for my case to be called and the clown who was called right before my case really ate the big one.

He was arguing a red light ticket, tried everything under the sun, including arguing that the city did not have the legal or moral right to put up traffic lights. After all the rhetoric, he was found guilty. His response: “Fucking kangaroo court!”

Bang! goes the judge’s gavel and he says, “Contempt of Court. $250 fine.” The clown sputters and the judge decides to let him work the fine off. He has to apologize to the judge, the cop on the stand, the assistant City Attorney and everyone in the courtroom. Personally. He has to come stand before them and say, “I apologize for violating the peace and dignity of this court.” He starts doing so. I then notice the judge talking to the bailiff, who disappears out into the hallway. Shortly thereafter, more people start coming into the courtroom until it’s bulging at the seams. Yep, the judge asked the bailiff to go out and explain what happened and ask folks to step into the courtroom for a short while and be apologized to.

There were probably 80-90 folks in the room when he started and more than 200 when he finished. Some of them actually got apologized to, left for a while and came back and got apologized to a second time. I found it highly amusing.

It was a given in the Houston Municipal Courts for some time that if you want to get out of a ticket, show up in court, then plead not guilty and request a jury trial on a later date. More than likely, they will simply pitch the ticket. However, I hear that lately, they have been tightening up and going to trial more often.