By Jordan W. Charness

“I think I got a ticket….” Peter said cryptically.

“What do you mean you think you got a ticket? Either you did get a ticket or you did not get a ticket. Whether you did what you are accused of may be questionable, but whether or not you actually got a ticket is pretty much a certainty,” I pointed out.

“Well, then I got a ticket.” Peter continued morosely. “But it wasn’t me!”

At this point I thought I was going to get the typical story I hear all the time. People claim they were pulled over for speeding, when it was really the (choose one) red car, black car, green car, grey car, in front of them, behind them, next to them. But Peter being Peter, his story had a whole new twist.

It wasn’t even a speeding ticket. It wasn’t even Peter driving. But Peter got the ticket!

Peter is very proud of his new Mini Cooper. In fact, he likes the car so much that he bought one for his son, who is not named Peter. (This last fact will be important, so pay attention.) Both cars, however, are registered in Peter’s name since he’s the one who pays for the registration, licensing and insurance.

Peter’s son Austin doesn’t even live with Peter anymore, since he is now a 27-year-old living on his own. Last week, Austin was pulled over by the police who alleged that he and his new Mini Cooper failed to come to a proper stop at a stop sign. Legally, a proper stop is considered coming to a full stop, looking both ways, checking for traffic, and then proceeding safely through the intersection. This whole process takes a few seconds.

When Austin was pulled over he tried to explain to the police officer that he really did come to a full stop but the cop wasn’t buying it. The police officer took his licence and registration back to his police car to check out the paperwork in the police computer. This police car was equipped with the latest in ticket issuing technology. The police officer enters the data into the computer that prints out a ticket complete with all the information about the alleged offender, the vehicle, and the alleged offence.

A few minutes later the policeman gave Austin back his driver’s licence which was issued in Austin’s name, the car registration which was issued in Peter’s name, and a ticket for going through a stop sign, which was also issued in Peter’s name!

Austin did not notice the name that was on the ticket until a day or so later when he presented it to Peter and asked him to call me to find out what to do. I told Peter to file a ‘not guilty’ plea and that he would likely win his case.

What probably happened was that when the computer search was done on the vehicle it came up with Peter as the registered owner. The policeman forgot to change the name of the accused to the actual driver and just punched the button that had the computer fill in the offender’s name as being the same as the owner of the vehicle.

Since a key element of any traffic ticket is the proper name and identification of the accused it will be easy for Peter to prove that he was anywhere else at the time of the alleged offence and that he could not possibly have been one who was driving and failed to come to a stop. Since the ticket falsely accused Peter, the ticket will likely be thrown out by the judge.

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