Excuses, excuses

What not to do when trying to talk your way out of a traffic ticket 

March 02, 2015

A likely story

Not much compares to the sinking feeling in your stomach when you see the flashing lights of a patrol car in your rearview mirror and realize you’ve been caught speeding.


How much will the ticket cost? How much is my insurance going to go up? Where the heck is my registration?!


In the face of this kind of fear and anxiety, many drivers start concocting a story that they hope will get them out of trouble. 


Insurance.com published a list in 2013 of the most common excuses that drivers use. Nearly half of all those surveyed admitted to using one of these top three stories:

I didn’t see the speed limit sign;

I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads; and

I didn’t know I was speeding.


If you want to have any chance of avoiding a speeding ticket, you need an original and compelling story that an officer hasn’t already heard a million times; something sincere and heartfelt that doesn’t insult the officer’s intelligence.


In other words, a story that is nothing like these.


A dry run

A 67-year-old man was pulled over recently in Alberta, Canada, for doing 180 kilometers per hour on a 100-kph highway. 


His excuse for driving nearly double the speed limit? He was trying to dry off his freshly washed car. 


In order to help the man keep his car clean and dry, a judge suspended him from driving it for 45 days and fined him $800. 


Off on the wrong foot

Last year a truck driver in Sweden claimed that a birth defect was the reason behind his driving 125 kph in a 90-kph zone.


When officers presented him with a $565 ticket, the 30-year-old man explained that he could not be held responsible for breaking the speed limit because he suffers from a club foot on his right leg.


A judge disagreed with the man’s analysis and forced him to pay the ticket anyway.


All mixed up

Matthew Cook was pulled over on a major highway in England after being clocked driving 103 mph, more than 40 mph over the limit. 


When police questioned the 40-year-old about his driving, he told police that he didn’t realize that he was going so fast because his dyslexia makes it hard for him to read his speedometer. 


The judge didn’t buy it and banned Cook from driving for three years.


Death wish

Some drivers will go to elaborate lengths to get out of a speeding ticket, but few can match Kimberly Du who went so far as to fake her own death.


In order to avoid paying $500 in outstanding traffic tickets, the 36-year-old Des Moines woman forged a letter from her mother telling a local courthouse that she had died in a car accident. She even included a phony obituary made to look like it had been printed off the Des Moines Register’s website. 


She almost got away with it, until she was stopped for yet another traffic ticket a month after she claimed to have died. Instead of $500 in tickets, Du is now facing a five-year prison term.


Where the sun don’t shine

Finally, here’s one excuse so ridiculous that it actually worked.


The Murfreesboro Post in Tennessee reported that police spokesman Kyle Evans, a former traffic officer, once stopped a man for speeding and asked why he was in such a hurry. 


“The reason I was going so fast is because I couldn’t see the speedometer,” the driver told him.


Evans peeked into the car and saw that the speedometer was visible and looked to be in working order. So he asked the man what he meant. 


“Sir, I had my head so far up my butt there’s no way I could possibly see how fast I was going,” the driver clarified. 


Evans said that after some laughs and a warning, he let the driver go without a ticket. 


“It was the most original excuse I’ve heard in my 10 years as a traffic officer.” R&B

David Matthews

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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