[Source] 5 MPH over could be a discrepancy in measurement equipment, and officers do not want to go to court to explain when and how their radar gun was calibrated, etc. If they see you doing 20 over and write you a ticket for 10 or 15, it's less hassle for them. This cuts both ways: if your speedometer is slightly miscalibrated (entirely possible), you might be doing 10 over when you think you're doing 5 over.

Would someone please explain and elucidate this? If you're speeding by 20 (any unit of speed), why's it 'less hassle' to 'write you a ticket for 10 or 15'? Per contra, would this weaken the officer's argument? It's easier to argue based on a discrepancy of 10 or 15 rather than 20?

  • 2
    Just because the ticket is for 10 or 15 over, doesn't mean the cop testifies that you were 10 or 15 over in court -- they can testify "my radar gun said 20 over, but at my discretion I issued a ticket for 10/15."
    – cpast
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 5:28
  • Do we get to know what country we're talking about? And how it relates to travel?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 5:36
  • @GayotFow Yes. The above is based on the link question. Does that help?
    – user13759
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 5:38
  • @cpast Thanks, but why would the cop testify that then?
    – user13759
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 5:38
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about means of transportation, not travel in a particular place. It could be made on-topic if it was asking about customs in a particular location. Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 10:09

3 Answers 3


It's less hassle because it's just a ticket and some paperwork, instead of a potential court appearance.

If they are kind to you, you may appreciate it and be less angry as well, not taking it out on them if they're doing you a 'favour'. And then they write up a ticket, probably record it back at the station, and that's the job done.

If it's a court appearance, they'll have to file additional paperwork, probably show up to testify, and they could instead be out on the street looking for more offenders.

So it benefits everyone in someways (although some would argue you're letting someone off of a crime) to reduce the level of the offence, and give you a stern warning and a ticket. They're more likely to do it if you don't have a record, of course - if it's your third this week, they might decide it's time to take it to another level (ie court).

  • Thank you! My English is imperfect, so I'm unsure if you say this explicitly, but are you assuming that a ticket for 20 will more likely cause a potential court appearance? But a ticket for 10 or 15 over => just ticket and paperwork?
    – user13759
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 9:12
  • I was trying to keep it general, because different countries and even states have different rules. But that can be the reason, or part of it. Have at least one friend who had this happen (99km in a 50, despite probably doing more than 100, but that would have meant court).
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 11:53
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    I heard long ago that if the officer fails to appear in court for whatever reason then the court rules in favor of the driver. And who knows what the reason might be - perhaps he will have to work on some serious accident and simply have no time to appear in court. If that's true it means that if the officer goes for something that doesn't require a court appearance then the driver is guaranteed to be punished but if he goes for something that requires a court appearance then there's a chance that there's no punishment. For minor offenses punishment guarantee is believed to be the key factor.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 10:17

Apart from the other good reason that the police officer will want to give you a ticket that causes him less work, there's also the matter of evidence. Measuring that you drove 20 over the limit doesn't necessarily prove that you did drive 20 over the limit; the slightest inaccuracy could mean that you actually only drove 19 over. But with a ticket of 10 or 15, a measurement of 20 over the limit is very strong evidence.

  • +1 In the U.S. (which is what the linked question was about,) crimes have to be proven "beyond all reasonable doubt." Reasonable doubt could be given for a 20 over citation if the measurement was 20 over (measurement margin of error or the like,) but if they clock you at 20 over, there's little doubt that you were doing at least 15 over.
    – reirab
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 17:01

In many states in the US, there is some threshold above the speed limit (+20-25 mph is common) that changes a speeding ticket to a reckless driving misdemeanor or felony. Plenty of people will just pay off a speeding ticket but would fight a reckless driving charge in court.

http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/features/a6310/50-states-speeding-laws-mobilefriendly/ has a summary, check the state's official site if you want to be sure.

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