Traffic ticket

A traffic ticket is a citation issued by a police officer to motorists who fail to obey 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 ticket. Traffic tickets are generally heard in traffic court.

Generally, a ticket is a notification that one has committed a minor legal infraction, for which a fine must be paid, and/or an appearance in court must be made (See: summons). Typically this means a parking ticket for parking in an unlawful manner or allowing a parking meter to expire, or a traffic ticket for a moving violation such as speeding. The latter are usually issued after traffic stops.

United States
In the United States, most traffic laws are codified in a variety of state, county and municipal ordinances, with most minor violations classified as civil infractions. Although what constitutes a "minor violation" varies, examples include: non-moving violations; defective or unauthorized vehicle equipment; seatbelt 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.[1] In contrast, for more "serious" violations, traffic violators may be held criminally liable, guilty of a misdemeanor or even a felony. Serious violations tend to involve multiple prior offenses; willful disregard of public safety; death, serious bodily injury or damage to property.[1]

Each state's Department 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 -- the court for the town or city in which the violation took place -- a plea of guilty or not guilty within a certain time frame (usually ten days, although courts generally provide leniency in this regard). It has been estimated that approximately three out of every ten drivers in the United States will receive a traffic ticket within the timespan of one calendar year.

If the motorist pleads not guilty, a trial date is set and both the motorist, or a lawyer representing the motorist, and the ticketing officer, or a representative, are required to attend. If the officer or representative fails to attend, the court judge will often find in favor of the motorist and dismiss the charge, although sometimes the trial date is moved to give the officer another chance to attend. The court will also make provisions for the officer 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, 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 "points" demerits, under each state's point system. In the cases where the motorist is registered in a different state from where the violation took place, 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.

[edit] Ireland
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.

[edit] UK
In the United Kingdom parking tickets or, more formally, Fixed Penalty Notices are used to earn extra revenue for local authorities. Parking Wardens are used to hand them out. CCTV is now also used with a ticket sent out in the mail. Some authorities make more from parking fines than from Council Tax.[citation needed]

Parking Charge Notices issued by private companies are generally unenforceable under contract law and are no different from ordinary invoices. It is advisable never to pay such companies, no matter how genuine or threatening their paperwork appears to be.

[edit] Ticket superlatives
The fastest speeding ticket in the world allegedly occurred in May 2003 in Texas. It was supposedly 242mph in a 75mph zone. The car was a Swedish-built Koenigsegg, which was involved in the San Francisco to Miami Gumball 3000 Rally.[2] The fastest convicted speeder in the UK was Daniel Nicks, convicted of 175 mph on a Honda Fireblade motorcycle in 2000. He received six weeks in jail and was banned from driving for two years.[3] The fastest UK speeder in a car was Timothy Brady, caught driving a 3.6-litre Porsche 911 Turbo at 172 mph on the A420 in Oxfordshire in January 2007 and jailed for 10 weeks and banned from driving for 3 years. [4]

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 80km/h in a 40km/h zone. The uncommonly large fine was due to Finnish speeding tickets being relative to the offenders last known income. Salonoja's speeding ticket was not the first ticket given in Finland reaching six figures.[5]

One of the earliest speeding tickets was given in 1910. The ticket was issued to The Prime Minister of Canada's wife, Lady Laurier, in 1910 in Ottawa, Canada (the capital of Canada). She was speeding at 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. [2]

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