Transportation and Vehicle Safety/Traffic Violation


I got a traffic violation ticket yesterday afternoon. I stopped at a stop light on the left turn lane. My mom called me (I had one earphone on). She was frantic on the phone about some emergency. I am always helping my parents lately about numerous problems, so I was a bit frantic and stressed too. So as I was talking to my mom, the light turned green & a copy pulled me over. I guess I was distracted since my mom was crying on the phone. I wanted to pull over to concentrate on her problem but I got pulled over immediately. He said that there was an ambulance with sirens. I told him that I did not see or hear it. I also did not have my proof of insurance nor my proof of registration. My husband does not like it in the car since it shows our home address plus I do not carry a purse due to my neck, shoulder & back pains. So, my ticket included 3 violations.

A friend told me that I can fight it. Just show up at the court and deny that there was an ambulance (which I did not see or hear). She said that most of the time the cop is too busy or on days off & don't want to waste their time showing up at court. If the copy shows up, what happens then? My friend said they can even lower the amount drastically (50% off) of the ticket.  But, she was not sure if the cop shows up, will I still be able to sign up for traffic school after court.... or is it too late. I need to make a decision. I do not want my insurance to go up yet I cannot afford to pay a high priced ticket either. Which is the best option to do?  Take traffic school?  Fight ticket then take traffic school & possibly lower ticket & possibly have ticket dismissed if cop does not show up?  Please help.....

Thank you so much.....

Hi Mary,

Unfortunately, the odds aren't really on your side for fighting this.  By your own admission, you were driving distracted.  It doesn't matter you didn't have the phone in your hands - that particularly emotional conversation left you completely unable to operate a car safely in traffic.  Claiming "there was no ambulance" isn't really a defense to operating a vehicle while distracted.  It's also against the law in all 50 states to operate a vehicle without proof of registration and insurance.  I understand your privacy concerns, but you'll have to find a way to appease them within the territory of the law.  Most people keep these documents in a lockable glove compartment or something to that effect.

Trying to fight the ticket comes across as refusal to uphold the law or understand why such laws are important to the common good.  Instead, produce your registration and insurance cards, explain your privacy concerns and ask for recommendations.  Because you do have valid documents, they may drop these two charges down to a written warning.  The distracted driving charge is another matter.  If you can find a good traffic school, this might be a good option to refresh yourself.  The roads and traffic have changed a lot over the last 10 years - there are more drivers than ever before and people are more distracted than ever.  Remember, ten years ago nobody had a cell phone or GPS in their car.  

Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions.


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Michael Mercadante


Questions on traffic safety, safe performance and operation of a motor vehicle in traffic, about driving with special needs, learning/behavioral/developmental disabilities, understanding vehicle laws, understanding safety equipment on vehicles, defensive and precision driving techniques, driver education and instruction and driver exam preparation.


Owner and sole driving instructor for Modern Driver Institute. Eight years in traffic safety research on contracts for NHTSA, FMCSA, AAA, MDOT and PennDOT. More than 1,000 hours as a professional driving instructor. Licensed driving instructor in the state of PA. Certified Defensive Driving Instructor for the National Safety Council. Precision driving for Hollywood and independent films. Expertise in virtual-reality driving simulators and teaching students with developmental/intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and more.

member, Teen Safe Driving Coalition; member, PA Safe Kids coalition; service provider, PA Bureau of Autism Services; service provider, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

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Licensed driving instructor, PA Department of Education Certified Defensive Driving Instructor, National Safety Council B.A. in American History (cum laude), Temple University (earned 2007) M.S. in Psychology, specialization in Educational Psychology (2015) Ph.D in Psychology, specialization in Educational Psychology (expected 2019)

Awards and Honors
Scientific Paper of the Year (2003), Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine.

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