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Top 11 excuses drivers give to traffic cops

According to a small poll, not seeing a sign ranked first. Plus, men frequently gave different excuses than women did.

By Douglas Newcomb May 1, 2013 9:08AM

Photo by Flikr user woodleywonderworks.Police officers have heard all the excuses from stopping motorists, over and over again. At the top of that list is, “But, officer…I didn't see the sign,” according to's recent survey of the most frequent excuses drivers give to traffic cops.

The survey of 500 licensed drivers age 18 and older found that a driver’s "lack of information" -- from being lost to even blaming a GPS system -- was among the most common replies drivers give to police when they’re pulled over. And the old “But everyone else was doing it,” ranked in the top five.

The excuses men gave also varied widely from those of women.

Among the excuses people gave during a traffic stop, the top 11 are:

  1. "I couldn't see the sign telling me not to do it."
  2. "I'm lost and unfamiliar with the roads."
  3. "I didn't know it was broken."
  4. "Everyone else was doing it."
  5. 'I'm having an emergency situation in my car." (A spilled a hot drink, for example.)
  6. "I missed my turn/exit."
  7. "I had to go to the bathroom."
  8. "I didn't do anything dangerous."
  9. "I was on my way to an emergency." (To help someone who is ill or injured, for instance.)
  10. "My GPS said it was the right thing to do."
  11. "I'm just helping out; I wasn't even supposed to be driving." (Such as for an intoxicated friend.)

The survey also found that 90 percent of men justify hazardous behavior behind the wheel based on their own “altruism” (as in number 11), or they blame equipment failure such as a GPS system not working.

With women, just 10 percent said they were "just helping out" and only 18 percent  blamed a GPS system. But their top excuses were for being lost and needing to go to the bathroom (65 percent, compared with 35 percent of men).

See below for more on the gender breakdown. And check out's Uh-Oh! Calculator to discover the average insurance rate increases for the 14 most common traffic violations.

Top traffic ticket excuses. Image courtesy of


May 1, 2013 11:53AM
"Well you see officer, I was doing 110 in a 70 because my ex-wife ran off with a cop, and I was afraid you were trying to return her!"
May 1, 2013 12:05PM
I remember one conversation I had with a police officer in North Dallas.  It went like this in a nutshell:

Me "Good morning, officer"
Officer "Good morning, do you know how fast you were going?"
Me "55"
Officer "Do you know what the speed limit is on this road?"
Me "40"

Blank stare, I guess he didn't expect this to go so quickly

Officer "I am going to write you up at 50 since you cooperated".

May 1, 2013 1:02PM
I would rather  see the top 11 excuses that actually works?
May 1, 2013 11:32AM

As an ex-police officer, I can relate to this story.  However, the first thing that took my attention was the picture:  NEVER would an officer be trained to stand between his cruiser and the stopped vehicle!  On a traffic stop, one of the most dangerous things is for another vehicle to smash into the patrol car which will usually push the patrol car into the stopped vehicle.  This would crush the officer, and that is why you never stand or walk between the cars.  Of course, we can not see the "full" picture, so maybe there is another police car behind the Honda in the picture.


BTW, my favorite excuse I heard was this:  I stopped an older lady going up a hill within the city limits.  She was going about 20 mph over the limit.  When I asked her why she was driving so fast, she stated that her car was very slow and so she had to go fast to get up the hill!  The funny part?  Her car was the exact same Ford model as the police cruiser with the same engine and all!  Hmmmmm.

May 1, 2013 1:02PM

When I was young and dumb I was pulled over by a cop doing 135 + on a feeder road on a bike. 


The road was brand new and there where no driveways or other cars in the area.  I was at a light and took off full till up to that speed.  On a 1100 cc bike that is not much time!   After my short burst I slowed up to the speed limit of 40 mph.  When I got to the light about a mile away I had red and blue lights right behind me. 


I pulled over and the cop came up.  I gave him my ID and insurance info.  He said  - So tell me the throttle got stuck.  I said - No,  I just purchase this bike and I wanted to see what it could do. 


The cop was cool and handed me everything back and said slow down you will look like a bug on a windshield.  Then he walked off.    

May 1, 2013 1:07PM
I knew you were waiting officer, so I got here as fast as I could.
May 1, 2013 12:51PM
Everybody bad raps Ohio because the staties are everywhere.  Drive across country and you'll rarely see a state cop but Ohio is wall to wall.  But they seem to ticket stupid rather than just quick; tailgating, weaving, d.u.i., etc.  Excessive speed will get you but you can do 73 in a 65 all day and not worry.  But my favorite stop was in Ohio.  For speeding.  Stopped on a bridge and it was a rookie; the veteran stayed in the car.  Bridges bounce.  He didn't know that until I asked him if it was normal for the bridge to be bouncing.  He thought for a second and said 'I don't think so.  Slow it down and have a nice day'.
May 1, 2013 1:09PM

I asked a cop friend if anyone ever talked them out of a ticket and he said NO, but they have talked themselves into a ticket.

May 1, 2013 12:49PM
I'd rather see the accusations than the excuses.

"Shouldn't you be out catching murderers and rapists?"

May 1, 2013 1:47PM

"You know why I pulled you over, young man?"

"Because I'm in a Buick and there's no way you were gonna catch that Porsche I was racing?"

He knocked 7mph off the speeding ticket. 

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