You are off to a lousy start. Your alarm did not go off, you ran out of hot water in the shower and spilled your coffee in your lap getting on the interstate. Pushing the speed limit to make it to work on time, you notice the dreaded flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. After running your license, the officer is now handing you your ticket. All those little “tips” on how to beat a ticket start running through your head, and being in a foul mood anyway, you refuse to sign it. Did you make a wise decision, or was your action based on myth? Now, what happens?

Impact Of The State Laws

What happens now depends entirely on which state you are in. If you read the ticket carefully, you will see that the signature is not an admission of guilt. It comes after the date you are to appear in court and is your word that you will appear on the given date. It is the misdemeanor equivalent of personal recognizance.

  • Some states do not require a signature, while others, like Texas and California for example, follow this law to the letter.
  • If you are in a signature state, you are required to sign. A refusal to do so can result in a second ticket for failure to comply or a custodial arrest.
  • This means that you will be arrested, booked, and held in jail until the court date.

Claiming To Not Have Received The Ticket

Do not let anyone convince you that if you do not sign the ticket, you can claim you did not receive it.

  • Officers begin the stop by radioing in to dispatch the nature of the stop and your tags.
  • Then your license is entered into a computer in the cruiser which records time and date.
  • Finally, in today’s society, most officers have either a dash cam or body cam, both of which have the officer issuing you the ticket on video.

If you refuse to sign, and you are in a non-required state, the officer records the time and date on the ticket along with a notation of your refusal to sign.

Inter State Information Sharing

While you may be on vacation, your license is not. You can leave the beach behind when you go home, but you will not be able to leave that ticket behind. Yes, your home state will know due to the Driver’s License Compact, a state to state information sharing database.

No Show On Court Date

Another myth states that your ticket will automatically be dismissed if the issuing officer does not show up for court.

  • The fact is, many states no longer require the officer to appear unless the decision is appealed.
  • The flow of traffic excuse will not work either. As your mother used to say, it is what you are caught doing, not everyone else.

Over-payment Of Ticket By Mail

Some people say that over paying the ticket by mail will beat it. Payments over the ticket amount will be issued a refund check, but sitting on that check instead of cashing it will not delay processing. The transaction is closed upon issuing the refund, not whether it is cashed.

As you can see, there are many theories out there, most of which will get you into more trouble with arrest records and towing fees. In the end, it is just not worth the trouble and expense. You are not teaching the officer a lesson, nor are you admitting guilt. It is easier all around to simply sign, get on with your day, hire an attorney, and show up for your court date if you want to dispute the charge. Your best bet is to drive safely.


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Scott Desind

Scott Desind | Traffic Ticket Attorneys The Traffic Ticket Attorneys, Desind and Klijian, have over 25 years of experience fighting traffic tickets. Our attorneys are well respected and known for their experience in fighting traffic tickets, specialized knowledge of the law and procedures and results by the court personnel, officers, deputies, competitors and clients.