Expired vehicle registration
November 1, 2017 7:19 PM   Subscribe

I got cited for expired registration on my car (just plain forgot about it). I now have it registered. The court date is Friday. That officer said that if I show the judge that the vehicle is now registered, that the judge will probably drop the charge. If he doesn't ... I noticed that the citation lists the vehicle as a Subaru. It is not a Subaru, it is an Audi. Would it be worth mentioning this technicality to the judge?
posted by falsedmitri to Law & Government (8 answers total)
In my experience, no. The judge is just going to be exasperated and say "Was it registered?" and you'll say "No" and that'll be it. (My experience is that I had an accidentally unregistered car experience and the day I went to court I was literally the last case called, after probably 50 other cases. The judge rejected everyone's excuses of all sorts, and just wanted to ask about the most basic fact and rule from that.)(YMMV.)(Mine was in LA, and my car also got towed which was such a significant pain in the ass, and ridiculously expensive, so you should consider yourself lucky if you didn't have to go through that.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:22 PM on November 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

In NY, I was cited for not having a registered vehicle and gave the court the documents I received when I registered it later in the day in which I was cited. It was only a week or two past due. The judge said to me, "Did you learn a lesson? Will you ever let your registration expire again?" I said, "Lesson learned. Never again, sir." He said, "Case dismissed." That was it.

If the judge refuses to give you a second chance, at that point and only at that point, I do not think you have anything to lose by saying something like, "I know it is a technicality, but actually my vehicle is NOT a Suburu as listed on the ticket. It is an Audi. Does that obvious error invalidate the ticket?" The judge will either say yes or no. Why presume the judge will be a hard ass? You are no worse off by asking in a low-key way.
posted by AugustWest at 7:35 PM on November 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lawyer here. IofcourseANYL. This error is meaningless. It’s your car, you know it’s your car, your car was correctly cited. This traffic jusge hears about 8,683 cases per day and does not want to hear about this. I would follow the officer’s advice.
posted by kerf at 8:46 PM on November 1, 2017 [8 favorites]

Contact the court clerk today (Thursday). Some courts have a standing order that expired registration/license/insurance tickets are to be dismissed if you show proof of compliance to the clerk prior to the court date, so you just go to the courthouse, show your documentation, and you're done.
posted by wierdo at 10:03 PM on November 1, 2017 [11 favorites]

The only way a technicality like the car model can get you off is if the crime you're accused of is somehow related to that incorrect value, and even then if evidence presented in court proves the correct value, nobody cares what was written on the citation.

Also, in traffic court like this, excuses don't matter: it's "did it happen" or "did it not happen", and if it did happen, you're guilty; your best bet is to impress upon the judge that once the infraction was brought to your attention you immediately remedied the situation and you won't ever let it happen again (this also works for burnt out lights, driving without seat belt, etc., although probably not being on your celphone since it's such a hotbutton issue nowadays). This doesn't guarantee you'll be let off without punishment, but it's your best option; trying to prove "not guilty" isn't going to help, since you've already admitted to us you're guilty, and traffic court has better things to do than determine "technically" not guilty when guilt is already pretty clear.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:31 AM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Based on the time I've spent in traffic court, trying to get out of the ticket with a meaningless technicality like that is more likely to get them to hit you with the maximum fine than reduce it.
posted by Candleman at 6:53 AM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

In my experience judges are pretty favorable to people who bother to show up. Don't be the asshole trying to get out of it on a technicality. That will likely annoy the judge.
posted by shoesietart at 4:18 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Charge dismissed.

I showed the judge the current registration. I spent no more than 30 seconds in front of her. Ironically, I didn't have to point out the technical error, the judge noticed it herself (with just a touch of consternation in her voice).

I watched her deal with a couple people before me. What an awful job. I actually felt sorry for her. She must be thinking "I went to law school for this?"
posted by falsedmitri at 9:49 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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