Speeding ticket but cop doesn't show up for the trial

Say you got a speeding ticket, and you go to court to face the judge. You notice, however, that the police officer who pulled you over did not show up to court. All it takes at that point is to say, “I plead not guilty, your Honor” and the judge would have to say “case dismissed” since there is no one there to contest the plea.

Would that be immoral? Or is it a case of “Mr. Highway patrolman…you snooze, you lose.”

Generally, I’d say yes, but if it was me I’d have a hard time not saying “not guilty,” simply because I received two speeding tickets unjustly in the past. The one was when I was a kid and didn’t know better. I was going slightly above the speed limit but not high enough to warrant a ticket (maybe 2-3 mph over in a 60 mph zone–I was literally the slowest person around). However, when I passed the officer I made eye contact with him and had a guilty look on my face. I knew I wasn’t going as fast as he claimed but I didn’t realize at the time that there was no way his radar gun could have clocked me under those circumstances (we were both moving and in opposite directions).

The other time I was out of town, had my cruise control set at exactly 55 mph yet was given a ticket for doing 68. There was no way I could return to fight the ticket (which I believe is what the officer was counting on), so I paid my fine by mail and took a 3 year hit on my insurance rates. It may not be entirely right, but I’d feel somewhat justified getting out of a ticket in those circumstances, especially if it was in either of the districts where I got those tickets in the past.

Whether the policeman is there or not makes no difference - you are morally obligated to speak the truth.
If you were speeding and you know it, then morally you must plead guilty.
If you were NOT speeding and you know it then you must plead not-guilty.
A third plea - “no contest” is possible if you are unsure, or simply wish to “get it over with”.


Why are you at court in the first place? Usually with speeding tickets you do not go to court. You pay. If you are contesting the ticket then you go to court. In your scenario I presume you were speeding. It is this kind of mentality that clogs up the courts and the officers time.

I was going slightly above the speed limit but not high enough to warrant a ticket (maybe 2-3 mph over in a 60 mph zone-

Was the speed limit 62 or 63? :wink: What does the law say about what is high enough to get a ticket?

The other time I was out of town, had my cruise control set at exactly 55 mph yet was given a ticket for doing 68.

This one I sympathize with. But your own personal cruise control is not a good source for what speed you were going. How would you prove that?

Sometimes I think the police write tickets because they can but more often than not I think people just do not take responsibility for their own actions.

Back in my younger days I got tickets all the time. I like to go fast. Once I got a bad bad bad ticket in montana when they had no speed limit at all. I was going 135. I had to take a course. We all got up and had to say why we were there. Would you believe that out of the 50 people in the class I apparently was the only one speeding?:shrug:

If you cant do the time…(pay the fine)

I would just pay the ticket.

The ones that get me are the seatbelt tickets. That is nothing more than a government source for revenue sold to the public as “hey, we are just looking out for your safety.”

With speeding tickets the only people who choose to go to court are those who will plead not guilty. That would mean person in your example has already made a choice to plead not guilty before knowing the policeman is not going to show up. Guilty people who are honest simply pay the ticket.
In your example then if the person is really guilty they have committed an immoral act by going to court to plead not guilty.

Any lawyer will tell you that the court system and justice are two completely different things. The rule of evidence are not there to discover the truth. Justice is what happens when the money runs out.
If you get off on the basis of a lack of accusers; put yourself in the same lucky category as the woman caught in adultery to whom Jesus asked Does no one condemn you?
Just realise that speeding kills.

I agree with most of what you say. With the new cameras set at just above the low speed limit,it is often a revenue issue. However I have seen many corpses after a high speed collision where there is no apparent external injury. The cause of death was the speed of deceleration that pulled the aorta straight out of the heart. Seat belts do save lives at high speed.

Here in Arkansas you’ll get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt, but if you want to ride your motorcycle without a helmet, that’s just fine. :rolleyes: Talk about messed up.

My husband works in local government - administrative, but he works with police departments. He has told me that radar guns are not that accurate and cops generally have to get a speed more than 5mph over the speed limit to know for sure that the driver is speeding. If your speedometer is accurate and you know you’re speeding, that’s one thing, but a ticket for 1 or 2 mph over could very easily be contested in court. Also, at least in our state, municipal police departments are not permitted to use radar - that is limited to state police. Non-radar methods are more prone to error.

Not to mention, 5 mph over in a 15mph zone is a lot different than 5mph over in a 65. There are several highways where I live where remaining at the speed limit instead of a few mph over is likely to cause an accident. :shrug:

I received a ticket once, and I was speeding, but I was also the slowest person on the road. :rolleyes: Easier to catch, I guess. When the officer gave me the ticket, there were so many mistakes on it that I wonder if he did it on purpose so it could be contested. But I went ahead and paid since I had in fact been speeding.

They do save lives, but shouldn’t it be a personal decision. Here in rural AR. some guy I know was pulling out of a parking lot just to cross a little traveled hwy, in his one ton farm truck, to the dirt road across, that’s about a 1/4 mile from his house. He didn’t even have to drive down the hwy, literally just across. Sheriff deputy saw him and he got a ticket. But, if he’d been on his motorcycle driving down the interstate without a helmet, no worries.

Miles or kilometers per hour!?!? :eek:

Absolutely they save lives. But that is not why it is a law. Revenue. Period.

In my state motorcyclists don’t wear a helmet and kids on a school bus have no belt. Even sillier is the law that states a 7 year old must be in a carseat, well unless you drop them off at a bus stop then they do not even have to wear a seatbelt!
So, a guy in an F350 hits a motorcyclist doing 60 and the government says, the guy in the F350 must have a belt on so he gets a ticket. Guess what the government gets. Money.
Guess what the motorcyclist gets. A casket.

Still the same principle applies as to this thread. When you get behind the wheel of a car you are entering into an agreement with the government. If they fine me for a seatbelt I do not go to court and whine about how it is unfair that a motorcyclist does not get one. I knew the law, I broke it. I pay the fine. I don’t go to court and battle the cop just because I might get lucky and get away with something.

Montana. It’s in Merca. I don’t know what a KPH is and I don’t I want to.:smiley:

And yes… I am quite proud of that little (ok HUGE fine) I still have the ticket somewhere and that was almost 20 years ago.

Not many people can get speeding tickets when there is no speed limit!

My minivan does not nearly go that fast now…:wink:

You are obligated to not lie. You are not obligated to voluntarily offer information that another party has no right to. It is the state’s burder of proof to demostrate your guilt. If asked directly, you can decline to respond. You may enter “no plea”. Just don’t lie.

. . . and yes, I am a lawyer and have taken these issues to my spiritual director on numerous occasions.

It is a fine line but one that St. Thomas More walked frequently.

That’s not quite how the law reads. Perhaps I am splitting hairs, but in the state of Arkansas you have to wear a helmet on a motorcycle if you are under the age of 21. Over 21? Well anyone that’s rides a motorcycle regularly knows all the helmet does is give the coroner a convenient container to put the loose parts in, but by having that “age 21” distinction in the law, you are considered old enough to make an informed decision. Arkansas does need to pass a statue similar to Florida’s, which states that you can go helmet-less, but buddy you best have the extremely high insurance on your bike to pay your medical bills. Arkansas is maybe 20 years behind most of the country on laws to protect motorcyclists, but at least there are some laws in place (seat belts, car seats) to protect the children whose parents lack the intelligence to know to do these things themselves.

Second, I never depend on the cruise control to give me an accurate reading of my speed. My truck has oversized tires and that throws the accuracy of the speedometer off. I know this because both my truck and the jeep I had before it have been radar tested in my own driveway. Neither vehicle’s speedometer was accurate.

As for the cop not showing up in court? Gee, I dunno. Maybe he was too busy holding a rapist at gunpoint waiting for his back up to get there, maybe he was helping the paramedics lift your grandmother onto a stretcher after she fell in the bathtub, maybe just maybe he was performing CPR on a friend of yours that chose not to wear a seatbelt and went through the windshield of their car. Ever seen a head after it’s been through a windshield? I have and heads through a windshield are the real reason for seatbelt laws.

I never speed, but if I did and got caught at it I’d suck it up and pay my fine instead of wasting the court’s time and money to hear me give my lame excuse.

Why don’t I speed? First, I can’t bear the thought of my speeding causing injury or loss of life to an innocent person or animal. Second, because I know if I did my husband would hear about it from at least three different LEOs (law enforcement officers) before I could even get home to tell him myself, but the main reason I don’t speed is because it’s against the law and laws exist for a reason.

I’ll disagree with most others here and say “no.” First, often police officers do not show up for routine traffic stops especially if the person who received the ticket was compliant, helpful, etc. So it is not necessarily the case that he failed in his duties by showing up or was lazy, etc. He may simply be helping you out by giving you a way out of a ticket.

Moreover, a “not guilty” plea does not necessarily constitute an admission that you are in no way culpable for wrongdoing but a claim that the evidence against you does not merit a conviction. You can be completely culpable and still plead not guilty on the grounds that there is no case, i.e., because the sole witness didn’t show up!

So by all means, plead not guilty, get the ticket voided, then “go forth and speed no more.”


My husband once got a ticket from an officer that retired before the court date.

There were a bunch of people there for tickets. The judge told everyone that the officer had retired. And when he called for your case, if you pleaded “not guilty” the charges would be dropped, no questions asked.

The first guy called up, said, “I’m not sure what to say.” And the judge repeated himself. The guy tentatively said, “not guilty.” “Case dismissed, you are free to go.”

They moved through everyone else, pretty quickly.

DH is kind of a precision freak, so he used to measure the time it took us to travel between mile markers on the highway to determine his speed. Now he just compares the speedometer to the GPS. Not nearly as much fun.

I can’t help myself, I find myself counting out the the 2 second rule (1 one thousand, 2 one thousand) to make sure I’m following at a safe distance. I think I would get along just fine with your husband. :smiley:

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