True or False: Police error on a traffic ticket voids the ticket

By Carolyn Hauck

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Getting a traffic ticket, especially an expensive one, can be extremely frustrating. Certainly if you know you were speeding, or violating a traffic law, it’s hard to get too frustrated; however, sometimes there can be grey area in determining whether or not you violated a law. Either way, our instincts are usually to contest the ticket, which in some cases can save you lots of money. Reviewing a ticket for errors made by a police officer is one way to get off a ticket. At least that’s an idea you’ll find if you search around on the internet. Many answer sites, chat rooms, and even blog articles on attorney sites out there suggest that errors on a traffic ticket, made by a police officer while writing it, can void the ticket altogether. We decided to ask legal expert Zoey, J.D., if errors on a traffic ticket really can dismiss it in court. Here’s her response:

“The answer is that it depends on what the mistake is and whether the mistake goes to the nature of the act charged. If the officer misspells your name, for example, the court is almost certain to consider that a simple transcription error and will allow the other side to amend the ticket.

On the other hand, if this is a traffic ticket and your car is a black sedan and the ticket says it's a white SUV, that's a substantive error and the defendant can argue that the accusatory instrument is jurisdictionally defective, that the case must therefore be dismissed and that the state should not be allowed to amend the ticket.

If it's a sound legal argument, it should work. Unfortunately, however, traffic matters raise a lot of revenue for the county, and some magistrates will amend the ticket anyway and force the defendant to take it up on appeal.”

That’s mostly lawyer speak for it’s probably not going to work.

Final verdict? False. Errors on traffic violations don’t dismiss the ticket.