The Seatbelt Ticket Switcheroo

Yesterday I got pulled over for speeding. I’ll admit that I deserved it. As a result, I am totally suprised when the officer says he’ll “give me a break” and writes me a seatbelt ticket instead of a speeding ticket. Apparently a seatbelt ticket is not a moving violation and therefore will not raise my insurance rates (This is what the officer said. This is my first ticket so I don’t have any experience with this.)
The only thing is I was wearing my seatbelt. So I got out of a ticket I deserved and got a ticket for something I didn’t do. I need some advice.
Can I plead innocent to the seatbelt ticket? If I plead guilty, is that not perjury? Or should I just be thankful I got a break, suck it up, and pay the fine? Is there even any chance of getting a seatbelt ticket thrown out?
Finally, was the officer within his power to switch my speeding ticket with the seatbelt one? It just seems odd that he would be able to ticket me for something I didn’t do.

I live in New York state if it helps.

What’s going on with NY and the seatbelt tickets all of a sudden!?!?

(See lucwarm’s recent thread.)

I do not know about New York, but in Massachusetts a seatbelt violation is a secondary offense (although that may have changed with the new “Click it or Ticket” campaign)…in other words, you cannot be pulled over if a cop notices that you are not wearing your seatbelt without having a primary moving violation (speeding, running a red light etc.). So if it is the same in NY I can’t see how you could get written up just for not wearing your seatbelt and nothing else because in the absence of a primary offense the secondary is invalid…although I could be completely wrong.

But dude, you admit to speeding and he did give you a break and will probably be less likely to hand out breaks in the future if you take advantage of his gift.

Suck it up, pay the fine, get over it. Fighting a seatbelt ticket is pointless – it’s your word against that of the ticketing officer, and you will have lost that battle before you begin it.

Yes, it was within the officer’s limited discretion to “switch,” although it sounds to me as though he had you pegged for a “seatbelt scofflaw” when he nailed you.

It’s interesting to hear of an instance that is exactly opposite of the typical police ploy. Normally, you’ll be pulled over for something you didn’t do, in order to allow the cop the opportunity to bust you for something he suspects you are doing. This is the classic method used in late-night pullovers – “Sir, I stopped you because I observed you driving your vehicle outside of the marked lanes… (Sniff, sniff, sniff…) Sir, have you been drinking? Sir, would you step out of your vehicle…?” You can read this: “Sir, you weren’t doing a single thing wrong, but it’s 3 a.m. and I think you might be drunk, so I pulled you over on a completely unfounded charge. Now I’m going to shove one in you and break it off.” The “driving outside marked lanes” or whatever charge the cop uses is called the “throwaway” charge, the one they always dismiss in court, used only as a basis for probable cause for pulling you over in the first place.

Been there, done that, fuck that T-shirt.

How fast were you going? How much would the ticket have been in comparison to the seatbelt ticket?

Here in Texas, seatbelt tickets are pretty expensive (about $100)and speeding tickets can be relatively cheap (starting at about $50) and can also be removed from your driving record!

Hmm…food for thought.

Snetho, perhaps it was similar to my expierence. I was pulled over for running a red light, I quickly put on my seatbelt and pulled over. I explained my reasoning (surprisingly got out of the ticket) and he mentioned that he saw me putting on my seatbelt. He just gave me a seatbelt ticket. I can only guess that if I had been wearing my seatbelt, I would have gotten the ticket for running the light.


Of course you can plead not guilty. Then one of three things happens. Either the cop doesn’t remember you, and has to testify based on what he wrote at the time, which is that you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, or he does remember you and testifies that you were wearing your seat belt, but were speeding.Or he doesn’t show up, ever. I don’t know how good the chances are of him not showing up, but the chances of him remembering a few weeks later that you really were speeding with your seat belt on are just about non-existent. It’s probably not within the officer’s power to write a ticket for a seatbelt violation instead of a speeding ticket, but I’ll bet if he had written the speeding ticket, it would be within someone’s power to let you plead guilty to either a different violation altogether or a less expensive speeding violation. Happens all the time in criminal cases, no reason why it shouldn’t happen in traffic cases, too.

When I got a seatbelt tickets, i didn’t get any points and it didn’t raise my insurance rate. Speeding tickets definitely do both. I’d just be happy I got the break and pay the fine. But since the fine for a seatbelt violation is about $70, I’d probably pay it even if I wasn’t guilty of anything. It’ll cost me more than that to take a day (or two or three) off work to fight it.

BTW, in NY you can not only ticketed for a seatbelt violation without committing any other offense, they actually sometimes post officers on corners to check the cars going by. That was how I got caught.


Well, I guess I’ll just pay the ticket then. The wierd thing is that I’m the kind of guy who always wears his seatbelt. Now I’ve got a ticket that should have been for something else. Since I just got the ticket, I’m not sure what the fine will be, but it will probably not be as bad as the one for speeding. And I’ve decided to drive slower from now on. And wear my #@%@ seatbelt.

Don’t know about NY, but a couple years ago I was pulled over in NC. I was going down I-40 and an officer pulled along beside me and noticed that I didn’t have a seat belt on. It had failed just before, and I even had a recall notice, but he still gave me a seatbelt ticket. While we were on the side of the road, traffic stopped flowing. A motorist came up and reported a serious accident behind us.

I still think stopping me caused the accident.

You look like Fabio and the guy gave you a break?

Wish I lived in New York.