Traffic ticket

Traffic ticket
A motor officer writes a traffic ticket for a motorist accused of speeding.

A traffic ticket is a notice issued by a law enforcement official to a motorist or other road user, accusing violation of traffic laws. Traffic tickets generally come in two forms, citing a moving violation, such as exceeding the speed limit, or a non-moving violation, such as a parking violation, with the ticket also being referred to as a parking citation, notice of illegal parking or parking ticket.

In some jurisdictions, a traffic ticket constitutes a notice that a penalty, such as a fine or deduction of points, has been or will be assessed against the driver or owner of a vehicle; failure to pay generally leads to prosecution or to civil recovery proceedings for the fine. In others, the ticket constitutes only a citation and summons to appear at traffic court, with a determination of guilt to be made only in court.



In Australia, traffic laws are made at the state level, usually in their own consolidated Acts of Parliament which have been based upon the Australian Road Rules.

New South Wales

The Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW maintains a database of all registered holders of a drivers licence in NSW, including the drivers traffic history.

Traffic Tickets are known as infringement notices in NSW. The infringement notice is written on 3 carbonised pieces of printed paper, known as Part A, B and C. Part A is the original and is sent to the Infringement Processing Bureau by the issuing officer, Part B stays in the book for accountability and Part C is given to the accused person.

In NSW all infringement notices are self enforcing to cut down on wasting Court time for people who wish to plead guilty, the accused person can either elect to pay/part pay the infringement by way of a number of online means or through Australia Post, this can be found on the ticket. If the Accused person pays the infringement, they are deemed to have plead guilty and any demerit points will be deducted.

If the accused person wishes to plead not guilty, they fill the reverse side of Part C out and mail it to the Infringement Processing Bureau. Once this is done, a Court date is set for hearing before a Magistrate and the officer is notified. The officer creates a brief of evidence and provides this to the Court and the accused person, this contains a copy of Part A, which includes the facts of the matter i.e. observations and notes.


A speeding warning sign on Highway QEW in Ontario warning of a $10,000 fine, a roadside suspension, and a roadside vehicle seizure if the speed exceeded 50 km/h over the speed limit.

In Canada, traffic laws are made at the provincial level. Some serious violations are considered criminal (such as Drinking and Driving) and are located under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Each province maintains a database of motorists, including their convicted traffic violations. Upon being ticketed, a motorist has a chance to plead guilty or not guilty with an explanation. The motorist or their representative must attend the court for the town or city in which the violation took place to do so. Though the back of the ticket states the motorist has up to 15 days to enter their pleas, the courts do not generally convict the accused for up to 45 days depending on the court.

If the motorist pleads not guilty, a trial date is set and both the motorist, or a lawyer/Paralegal representing the motorist, and the ticketing officer, are required to attend. If the officer fails to attend, the court judge will often find in favour of the motorist and dismiss the charge, although sometimes the trial date is moved to give the officer another chance to attend. In some provinces, officers are now paid time and a half to attend traffic proceedings. The court will also make provisions for the officer or the prosecutor to achieve a deal with the motorist, often in the form of a plea bargain. If no agreement is reached, both motorist and officer, or their respective representatives, formally attempt to prove their case before the judge or Justice of Peace, who then decides the matter.

If the motorist pleads guilty, the outcome is equivalent to conviction after trial. Upon conviction, the motorist is generally fined a monetary amount and, for moving violations, is additionally given demerit points, under each province's point system. Jail time is sometimes sought in more serious cases such as Racing or Stunt Driving.

If a motorist is convicted, he must accept the penalties or try to appeal the ruling. An appeal will typically only be granted in cases where there were errors in the law or proceedings.

If a trial date takes more than a reasonable amount of time, and the accused had nothing to delay it, a Charter of Rights violation can be filed and pleaded. The reasonable length of time changes from court to court. In most cases, this is typically 1 year. A Charter of Rights Violation must be filed with the Attorney General of Canada, Ontario and with the courts themselves and then argued on the court date.

Some motorists seek assistance from lawyers who specialize in defending traffic cases. A company has been set up that offers a flat rate service to motorists like cab drivers and truckers who may be subject to many mistaken traffic tickets.[1]

The Demerit Point System in Ontario

In the province of Ontario, drivers whom are convicted of certain driving related offences result in demerit points recorded onto their driving records. It is commonly misconceived that drivers actually "lose" points due to convictions for certain traffic offences. In fact, a driver begins with zero demerit points and accumulates demerit points for convictions. Demerit points stay on a driver's record for two years from the original offence date. If a driver accumulates enough points, a suspension/loss of license can occur.

As a fully licensed driver in Ontario, the accumulation of six demerit points’ results in a “warning” letter; this letter advises the driver of possible future repercussions if the accumulation of offences continues. At nine points, the driver is scheduled a mandatory interview to discuss their record and give specific reasoning’s as to why the licence should not be suspended. If a driver fails to attend this meeting, their licence may be automatically suspended. At 15 or more points, a driver’s licence will be suspended for 30 days. Surrendering a licence to the Ministry of Transportation is mandatory at this stage; failure to surrender the licence may result in a suspension/loss for up to two years.

Demerit Points for out of Province Convictions

Ontario drivers convicted of a driving related offence in the State of New York, the State of Michigan or any Canadian province or territory, have home jurisdictional penalties such as demerit points and/or suspensions applied to their Ontario driver record as if the offence occurred in Ontario.

Examples of out-of-province convictions where Ontario demerit points and /or suspensions will be applied include:

Traffic: Speeding, Fail to obey stop sign, Fail to obey signal light, Fail to stop for school bus, Racing, Fail to remain or return to the scene of a collision, Careless driving. Criminal: Motor manslaughter, Criminal negligence, Dangerous driving, Failure to remain at scene of a collision, Impaired Driving, Driving while disqualified or prohibited.

Demerit Point System for Driving Offences in Ontario

7 Points

  • Failing to remain at the scene of a collision
  • Failing to stop when signaled/requested by a police officer

6 Points

  • Careless Driving
  • Racing
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more
  • Failing to stop for a school bus

5 Points

  • Driver of a bus failing to stop at an unprotected railway crossing

4 Points

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h
  • Following too closely

3 Points

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h
  • Driving through, around or under a railway crossing barrier
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Failing to obey a stop sign, traffic control stop/slow sign, traffic light or railway crossing signal
  • Failing to obey the directions of a police officer
  • Driving the wrong way on a divided road
  • Failing to report a collision to a police officer
  • Improper driving when road is divided into lanes
  • Crowding the driver's seat
  • Going the wrong way on a one-way road
  • Driving or operating a vehicle on a closed road
  • Crossing a divided road where no proper crossing is provided
  • Failing to slow and carefully pass a stopped emergency vehicle
  • Failing to move, where possible, into another lane when passing a stopped emergency vehicle
  • Improper passing
  • Improper use of high occupancy vehicle lane

2 Points

  • Improper opening of a vehicle door
  • Prohibited turns
  • Towing people — on toboggans, bicycles, skis, etc.
  • Failing to obey signs
  • Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing
  • Failing to share the road
  • Improper right turn
  • Improper left turn
  • Failing to signal
  • Unnecessary slow driving
  • Reversing on a divided high-speed road
  • Driver failing to wear a seat belt
  • Driver failing to ensure that a passenger less than 23 kg is properly secured
  • Driver failing to ensure that a passenger under 16 years is wearing a seat belt
  • Failing to lower headlamp beams
  • Backing on a highway
  • Driver failing to ensure infant/child passenger is properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system or booster seat.


Traffic violations in India are listed out in the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988. The state government has the rights to decide on the officials who are to do traffic rule enforcement and how traffic citations are issued. Generally the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) and Traffic Police (which is part of the general law and order police force) are allowed to book traffic violations. Officers of and above the rank of Asst. Motor Vehicle Inspector (A.MVI) and Sub-Inspector in charge of the Traffic Police wing have the right to levy on-the-spot fines from the violators. This is known as compounding an offence. Fines would be paid on the spot and a Challan (receipt) would be given to the driver. Off late officers on Highway Police duty are also authorised to levy spot fines.

Other officers issue a Vehicle Check report which lists out the violations noticed on the driver or on the vehicle. The notice would contain the relevant sections in which the driver is charged and also a date to appear in court. The accused can plead guilty by sending a Postal Money order (MO) to the court indicating that he is pleading guilty. Otherwise he/she can appear in person in the court and contest the case. The police officers who prepared the check report and charge sheet would be in the court. The court which handles these cases are the Judicial First Class Magistrate Courts and the trial is a summary trial (which means if a person is found guilty, he/she cannot appeal to higher courts).

For drivers who drive under the influence of liquor or other narcotic substance, on-the-spot fine cannot be levied. The driver would be taken to a hospital and a medical report made out. The accused should appear in court. A driver can also insist that he/she would not be paying the fine at the spot and the case have to be heard in the magistrate's court. In such a case the Police officer should issue a notice for appearance in the court.

In the city of Kolkata, certain traffic violations such as breaking a red light results in traffic police sending a ticket to the driver's home address. The ticket has to be paid to a state or central bank.

Indian Police forces do not have mobile credit card readers, so the fine is generally paid in cash.


In the Republic of Ireland, a traffic ticket (which is mailed out to the driver) is in the form of a notice alleging that some crime — traffic offences are all criminal offences — has been committed, but stating that if a payment of a certain amount is made to An Garda Síochána within 28 days, or the amount increased by 50% is paid within 56 days, the driver will not be prosecuted for the alleged offence. Some tickets carry penalty points as well as the fine.

United States

A parking ticket issued in Washington, D.C. in 2011.

In the United States, most traffic laws are codified in a variety of state, county and municipal laws or ordinances, with most minor violations classified as civil infractions. What constitutes a "minor violation" or infraction varies, examples include non-moving violations, defective or unauthorized vehicle equipment, seat belt and child-restraint safety violations, and insufficient proof of license, insurance or registration. A trend in the late 1970s and early 1980s also saw an increased tendency for jurisdictions to re-classify certain speeding violations as civil infractions.[2] In contrast, for more "serious" violations, traffic violators may be held criminally liable, accused of a misdemeanor or even a felony. Serious violations tend to involve multiple prior offenses, willful disregard of public safety, death or serious bodily injury, or damage to property.[2]

Each state's Department of Motor Vehicles or Bureau of Motor Vehicles maintains a database of motorists, including their convicted traffic violations. Upon being ticketed, a motorist is given the option to mail in to the local court or the court for the jurisdiction in which the violation is alleged—a plea of guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere within a certain time frame (usually ten to fifteen days, although courts generally provide leniency in this regard).

If the motorist wishes to contest a traffic infraction, a hearing can be set by the Court upon proper request. The hearings are before a magistrate or judge depending on the state or city. Hearing dates can often be continued and witnesses or police officers can be subpoenead. At any point, the motorist may retain an attorney to represent them in a traffic infraction. Retaining or consulting an attorney may be beneficial to the motorist because an attorney would better understand how to constest an infraction in any given state or municipality. The motorist may be given the opportunity to schedule a hearing for a time at which the subpeonaed ticketing officer is unlikely to attend. If the officer or representative fails to attend, the court judge will often dismiss the charge, although sometimes the trial date is moved to give the officer another chance to attend. Although each judge, state, county or municipality handle contested hearings a little differently, the court may make provisions for the prosecutor to achieve a deal with the motorist, often in the form of a plea bargain that may reduce the impact from that which would be incurred from pleading guilty without attending court.[3] If no agreement is reached, and the prosecutor feels it is worth his time to charge the motorist, both motorist and officer, or their respective representatives, formally attempt to prove their case before the judge, who then decides the matter. The motorist may, for example, put forward a reason their alleged violation was justified, such as to "get out of the way of an ambulance or avoid a collision with another motorist", and call into doubt the level to which the officer recalls the specific details of the situation among the many tickets they have issued.

If the motorist pleads guilty, the outcome is equivalent to a conviction after the hearing. Upon conviction, the motorist is generally fined a monetary amount and, for moving violations, is additionally assessed a penalty under each state's point system. If a motorist is convicted of a violation in a state other than the state in which the motorist is registered, individual agreements between the two states decide if, and how, the motorist's home state applies the other state's conviction. If no agreement exists, then the conviction is local to the state where the violation took place. In some instances, failure to pay the fine may result in a suspension to drive in only the city or state to whom the fine is owed, and the motorist may continue to drive elsewhere in the same state.

The practice of ticket fixing by police officers is a recurring source of controversy in the United States. Police officers in many jurisdictions surreptitiously cancel tickets as a "professional courtesy" to the friends and family of other police officers. This practice is not legal in most jurisdictions, but enforcement is often lax, leading to periodic scandals.[4][5][6][7]

Ticket superlatives

The fastest speeding ticket in the world allegedly occurred in May 2003 in Texas. It was supposedly 242 mph (389 km/h) in a 75 mph (121 km/h) zone. The car was a Swedish-built Koenigsegg CC8S, which was involved in the San Francisco to Miami Gumball 3000 Rally.[citation needed]

The fastest convicted speeder in the UK was Daniel Nicks, convicted of 175 mph (282 km/h) on a Honda Fireblade motorcycle in 2000. He received six weeks in jail and was banned from driving for two years.[8] The fastest UK speeder in a car was Timothy Brady, caught driving a 3.6-litre Porsche 911 Turbo at 172 mph (277 km/h) on the A420 in Oxfordshire in January 2007 and jailed for 10 weeks and banned from driving for 3 years.[9]

The most expensive speeding ticket ever given is believed to be the one given to Jussi Salonoja in Helsinki, Finland, in 2003. Salonoja, the 27-year-old heir to a company in the meat-industry, was fined 170,000 euros for driving 80 km/h in a 40 km/h zone. The uncommonly large fine was due to Finnish speeding tickets being relative to the offender's last known income. Salonoja's speeding ticket was not the first ticket given in Finland reaching six figures.[10]

There are many competing claims as to the first speeding ticket ever issued depending whether the claim goes by the first traffic violation or the first paper ticket ever issued. Great Britain may have the earliest claim with the first person to be convicted of speeding, Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent, who on 28 January 1896 was fined for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h) in a 2 mph (3.2 km/h) zone. He was fined 1 shilling plus costs.[11][12][13] A New York City cab driver named Jacob German was arrested for speeding on May 20, 1899 for driving 12 miles per hour on Lexington street in Manhattan. In Dayton, Ohio, police issued a paper ticket to Harry Myers for going twelve miles per hour on West Third Street in 1904.[14]

Another early speeding ticket was issued in 1910 to Lady Laurier, the wife of Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada, in Ottawa, Canada, for exceeding the 10 miles per hour speed limit.[15]

Among the most unpopular tickets, a mention is deserved of the small municipality of Segrate arranging to put a speed limit between two near-by traffic lights synchronized such that drivers were forced to either break the speed limit or pass with the red. It took months before the hated machines were eventually dismantled by the Guardia di Finanza.[16]

Countries that use a point system

See also


  1. ^ Mike King (August 4, 2006). "Ticket defence now available for individuals". The Gazette. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  2. ^ a b Ruschmann, P.A. (1979). An Analysis of the Potential Legal Constraints on the Use of Speed Measuring Devices.. University of Michigan , Highway Safety Research Institute. Original from the University of Michigan Digitized November 23, 2005. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ticket-fixing probe rocks Georgia. Henderdson Times-News. September 17, 1986.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Traffic ticket-fixing alleged in Alabama," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. October 7, 1999.,1734224
  8. ^ "Biker beats cops at 170mph". 
  9. ^ "Jail for 172mph Porsche motorist". BBC News. 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  10. ^ BBC world, Finn's speed fine is a bit rich.
  11. ^ "Motoring firsts". National Motoring Museum. 
  12. ^ Adam Hart Davis. "The Eureka Years". BBC Radio 4. 
  13. ^ John Townsend (September 2005). Crime Scenes. Heinemann-Raintree. pp. 45. ISBN 978-1410911711. 
  14. ^ "Ohio History Central". Ohio History. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Italy: Prosecution Advances in Red Light Camera Fraud Scandal". 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2011-03-01. "Mayor Adriano Alessandrini is now accused of shortening the duration of yellow lights to boost the profits of the red light camera program. The move paid off, with 2,425,801.60 euros (US $3,206,078.01) in revenue generated from motorists who did not have adequate time to stop, according to prosecution documents." 
  17. ^ Traffic Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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