Traffic tickets are facts of life for most North Americans, whether you hail from the United States or Canada. No matter how careful you think you are, at some point, you'll likely stumble and exceed the speed limit, park in a spot for too long, or make a mistake while driving. When that happens, it can hurt, but here are some traffic ticket trivia and other facts to help lighten the mood.
States That Give Out the Most Tickets
While you'd think this list would be organized from the most populated states to the least, it's not that straightforward. In actuality, Ohio leads this list, followed by Pennsylvania, New York, California, and Texas.
The First Men Convicted of Speeding
Speeding tickets are almost as old as cars themselves. In 1896, Walter Arnold of Kent, U.K., was fined for going 8 mph in a 2 mph zone and fined 1 shilling plus court costs. The first American speeding conviction goes to Jacob German, a New York taxi driver for going a blistering 12 miles per hour ... 4 over the speed limit of 8 mph! Punishments were a bit harsher back then, too. Instead of a simple fine and points on his record, Mr. German was arrested and sent to prison. The first paper ticket, though, went to Dayton, Ohio, resident Harry Myers, who received a fine equivalent to $250 today for traveling at 12 mph.
Fastest Speeding Ticket Ever Issued
In 2003, a Texas man was arrested for driving his Koenigsegg CC8S 242 mph in a 75 mph traffic zone. But speeding tickets nearing 200 mph are fairly common in Texas.
Number of Traffic and Speeding Tickets Issued Each Day
Out of nearly 200 million drivers in the United States, 41 million will receive a speeding ticket, totaling 112,000 tickets per day!
Canada Isn't Playing Around With Street Racing Tickets
In 2007, Canada introduced a specific penalty for speeding, even for those not racing anyone. Drivers caught traveling at least 50 kph (31 mph) over the posted speed limit will trigger a "street racing" fine of $10,000 CAD and up to six months in jail. The officer also has the right to confiscate the car and the driver's license for at least a week. There is also no appeal form or right to be heard before the vehicle is taken!
Traffic Tickets Are Big Business
Most police officers are good public servants whose job is to enforce the law. However, there's no debate that legislators use traffic tickets to raise money to fund government services. The actual number of tickets handed out isn't easy to discern, because local municipalities as well as state authorities can dispense tickets. However, based on a quick estimate of $150 per ticket multiplied by 41 million tickets per year, that equals more than 6 billion dollars in revenue. When you consider that these tickets also often increase your insurance costs regardless of whether you're at higher risk of damaging the car, the amount of money generated for the insurance industry is even larger.
How to Fight Back Against Traffic Tickets
Most traffic tickets are issued fairly. However, there are some things you can do to fight back.
- Check for errors in your ticket, such as improper vehicle position recorded or time of the infraction.
- Take photos of the area to indicate hidden or missing signage, and use that as evidence in court. Similarly, if you have a dashcam video, make sure to back it up to reduce your risk of losing that record.
- Get professional help from a lawyer or companies such as Canadian company X-Copper, which specialize in helping you fight traffic tickets. This is especially important for guys going on north-of-the-border road trips who don't know the intricacies of Canadian law.
- Always remain calm and professional. Whether it's a meter maid or military police, if you are getting a ticket, there's nothing you can do to fight it immediately. The only result from losing your cool or becoming belligerent is to make things worse.
- Regardless of whether you think you're innocent or guilty, plan to show up in court and fight the charges. In my experience, I've found that simply showing up can result in charges being dismissed or reduced considerably. However, if this isn't possible due to distance or work schedule, then make sure to engage a representative to help on your behalf.
Hopefully, this helps keep you amused the next time you get a traffic ticket. But remember to stay safe out there!