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A traffic ticket is a notice issued by a law enforcement official to a motorist or other road user, accusing violation of 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 violation, with the ticket also being referred to as a parking citation, notice of illegal parking or parking ticket.
In some jurisdictions, a traffic ticket constitutes a notice that a penalty, such as a fine or deduction of points, has been or will be assessed against the driver or owner of a vehicle; failure to pay generally leads to prosecution or to civil recovery proceedings for the fine. In others, the ticket constitutes only a citation and summons to appear at traffic court, with a determination of guilt to be made only in court.
New South Wales
The Roads and Traffic Authority of NSW maintains a database of all registered holders of a drivers licence in NSW, including the drivers traffic history.
Traffic Tickets are known as infringement notices in NSW. The infringement notice is written on 3 carbonised pieces of printed paper, known as Part A, B and C. Part A is the original and is sent to the Infringement Processing Bureau by the issuing officer, Part B stays in the book for accountability and Part C is given to the accused person.
In NSW all infringement notices are self enforcing to cut down on wasting Court time for people who wish to plead guilty, the accused person can either elect to pay/part pay the infringement by way of a number of online means or through Australia Post, this can be found on the ticket. If the Accused person pays the infringement, they are deemed to have plead guilty and any demerit points will be deducted.
If the accused person wishes to plead not guilty, they fill the reverse side of Part C out and mail it to the Infringement Processing Bureau. Once this is done, a Court date is set for hearing before a Magistrate and the officer is notified. The officer creates a brief of evidence and provides this to the Court and the accused person, this contains a copy of Part A, which includes the facts of the matter i.e. observations and notes.
Each province maintains a database of motorists, including their convicted traffic violations. Upon being ticketed, a motorist has a chance to plead guilty, not guilty or guilty with an explanation. The motorist or their representative must attend the court for the town or city in which the violation took place to do so. Though the back of the ticket states the motorist has up to 15 days to enter their pleas, the courts do not generally convict the accused for up to 45 days depending on the court.
If the motorist pleads not guilty, a trial date is set and both the motorist, or a lawyer/Paralegal representing the motorist, and the ticketing officer, are required to attend. If the officer fails to attend, the court judge will often find in favour of the motorist and dismiss the charge, although sometimes the trial date is moved to give the officer another chance to attend. In some provinces, officers are now paid time and a half to attend traffic proceedings. The court will also make provisions for the officer or the prosecutor 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 or Justice of Peace, 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 demerit points, under each province's point system. Jail time is sometimes sought in more serious cases such as Racing or Stunt Driving.
If a motorist is convicted, he must accept the penalties or try to appeal the ruling. An appeal will typically only be granted in cases where there were errors in the law or proceedings.
If a trial date takes more than a reasonable amount of time, and the accused had nothing to delay it, a Charter of Rights violation can be filed and pleaded. The reasonable length of time changes from court to court. In most cases, this is typically 1 year. A Charter of Rights Violation must be filed with the Attorney General of Canada, Ontario and with the courts themselves and then argued on the court date.
Some motorists seek assistance from lawyers who specialize in defending traffic cases. A company has been set up that offers a flat rate service to motorists like cab drivers and truckers who may be subject to many mistaken traffic tickets.
Traffic violations in India are listed out in the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988. The state government has the rights to decide on the officials who are to do traffic rule enforcement and how traffic citations are issued. Generally the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) and Traffic Police (which is part of the general law and order police force) are allowed to book traffic violations. Officers of and above the rank of Asst. Motor Vehicle Inspector (A.MVI) and Sub-Inspector in charge of the Traffic Police wing have the right to levy on-the-spot fines from the violators. This is known as compounding an offence. Fines would be paid on the spot and a Challan (receipt) would be given to the driver. Off late officers on Highway Police duty are also authorised to levy spot fines.
Other officers issue a Vehicle Check report which lists out the violations noticed on the driver or on the vehicle. The notice would contain the relevant sections in which the driver is charged and also a date to appear in court. The accused can plead guilty by sending a Postal Money order (MO) to the court indicating that he is pleading guilty. Otherwise he/she can appear in person in the court and contest the case. The police officers who prepared the check report and charge sheet would be in the court. The court which handles these cases are the Judicial First Class Magistrate Courts and the trial is a summary trial (which means if a person is found guilty, he/she cannot appeal to higher courts).
For drivers who drive under the influence of liquor or other narcotic substance, on-the-spot fine cannot be levied. The driver would be taken to a hospital and a medical report made out. The accused should appear in court. A driver can also insist that he/she would not be paying the fine at the spot and the case have to be heard in the magistrate's court. In such a case the Police officer should issue a notice for appearance in the court.
Indian Police forces do not have mobile credit card readers, so the fine is generally paid in cash. |date=August 2009}}
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. Some tickets carry penalty points as well as the fine.
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, seat belt 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. In contrast, for more "serious" violations, traffic violators may be held criminally liable, accused of a misdemeanor or even a felony. Serious violations tend to involve multiple prior offenses, willful disregard of public safety, death or serious bodily injury, or damage to property.
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 jurisdiction in which the violation is alleged—a plea of guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere within a certain time frame (usually ten days, although courts generally provide leniency in this regard).
If the motorist pleads not guilty, a trial date is set and both the motorist, or a lawyer/representative representing the motorist, and the ticketing officer are required to attend. The motorist may be given the opportunity to move the hearing for a reason such as "a work conflict or travel", and reschedule the hearing for a time at which the ticketing officer is unlikely to attend. If the officer or representative fails to attend, the court judge will often 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 or prosecutor to achieve a deal with the motorist, often in the form of a plea bargain that may reduce the impact from that which would be incurred from pleading guilty without attending court. If no agreement is reached, and the prosecutor feels it is worth his time to charge the motorist, both motorist and officer, or their respective representatives, formally attempt to prove their case before the judge, who then decides the matter. The motorist may, for example, put forward a reason their alleged violation was justified, such as to "get out of the way of an ambulance or avoid a collision with another motorist", and call into doubt the level to which the officer recalls the specific details of the situation among the many tickets they have issued.
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 assessed a penalty under each state's point system. If a motorist is convicted of a violation in a state other than the state in which the motorist is registered, 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.
The fastest speeding ticket in the world allegedly occurred in May 2003 in Texas. It was supposedly 242 mph in a 75 mph zone. The car was a Swedish-built Koenigsegg CC8S, which was involved in the San Francisco to Miami Gumball 3000 Rally. 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. 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. Also, in the UK visiting from Japan, Kazuhiko "Smokey" Nagata did 324 km/h (201 mph) on the A1M in a RB26DETT powered Toyota Supra tuned by the company he founded, Top Secret. He was arrested, fined, and banned from driving in the UK. Numerous videos on YouTube show the top speed run, which was filmed by Video Option reporters. One of the reporters hid the tape in his jeans to avoid it being confiscated and being used as evidence against Smokey.
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 80 km/h in a 40 km/h zone. The uncommonly large fine was due to Finnish speeding tickets being relative to the offender's last known income. Salonoja's speeding ticket was not the first ticket given in Finland reaching six figures.
There are many competing claims as to the first speeding ticket ever issued depending whether the claim goes by the first traffic violation or the first paper ticket ever issued. Great Britain may have the earliest claim with the first person to be convicted of speeding, Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent, who on 28 January 1896 was fined for speeding at Template:Convert/mph in a 2 mph zone. He was fined 1 shilling plus costs. A New York City cab driver named Jacob German was arrested for speeding on May 20, 1899 for driving 12 miles per hour on Lexington street in Manhattan. In Dayton, Ohio, police issued a paper ticket to Harry Myers for going twelve miles per hour on West Third Street in 1904.
Countries that use a point system
- Australia - see also List of demerit points in New South Wales
- Bosnia and Herzegovina 
- Canada (some provinces)
- China, People's Republic of - see also Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China
- China, Republic of
- Czech Republic
- Ireland, Republic of
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States - Only the following states:
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- Traffic Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina