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I am not, technically, a lawyer, but I did watch numerous episodes of 'Perry Mason', and on one occasion, when I got a traffic ticket, I represented myself in court, successfully pleading nolo contendere (Latin, meaning "Can I pay by check?").
Dave Barry, "Courtroom Confessions"

An absolute certainty in Sit Coms is that when a character gets ticketed by a cop for a traffic violation, he never just shrugs, says "Ah well," and pays the fine. (Unless, it's a Day in the Life episode which has a chain of bad luck happening, and getting ticketed is one of the events). Virtually every single time, the character will decide to take it to traffic court, fight in the name of the little guy, and do his best Perry Mason/Matt Murdock/other cliché lawyer technique. He'll always spend more money fighting the ticket than just paying it off and going about his business.

See also It's the Principle of the Thing.

Examples of The Trouble with Tickets include:


Live Action TV

  • Subverted in the Small Wonder episode "Vicki for the Defense": Ted parks illegally in hope of teaching Jamie a lesson about not perverting justice, and doesn't resist arrest.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Newman gets ticketed for speeding. He makes up a story about having to save a friend from taking his own life because he couldn't become a banker, and tries to get Kramer to follow along with it.
  • In one episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Lois fights a traffic conviction in the face of clear video evidence against her, because she refuses to admit that she could be in the wrong. When she finally accepts the verdict, Hal and the boys find a tape shot from another angle that exonerates her, but destroy it since they're tired of her always being right.
    • Not only that but They threaten the man who showed to them to never mention it. Dewey saying in a low voice "No one." acts as the stinger to the episode.
  • When Danny Tanner does this on Full House, he wins the case, but gets another ticket for where he parked during Court.
  • A sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus finds the defendant in a courtroom giving a stirring, impassioned, rather long-winded plea for his acquittal, only to have the judge chime in, "It's only a bloody parking offense".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Happens as a Funny Foreground Incident in the Musical Episode "Once More With Feeling" where a woman actually sings her excuses to avoid a ticket.

 I've been having a bad, bad day

Come on won't you put that pad away

I'm asking you please no

It isn't right, it isn't fair

There was no parking anywere

I think that hydrant wasn't there

Why can't you let it go?

I think I've paid more than my share

I'm just a poor girl don't you care?

Hey I'm not wearing underwear.

  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon has to go to traffic court after he was caught running a red light by a camera in Penny's car. He ends up getting locked up for pissing off the judge.
  • Mister Rogers, of all people, went to court for a parking ticket (he didn't have change for the meter and by the time he returned with the money, he'd already been ticketed). He lost and had to pay the fine.

Newspaper Comics

  • Roger in FoxTrot gets a parking ticket. His wife wants to just pay the fine, but he wants to do a Perry Mason impression.

Radio

  • Adventures in Odyssey: Whit is perfectly willing to just pay the ticket, but Connie and Eugene insist on him fighting his speeding ticket and go overboard preparing an overzealous defense for his case, involving numerous forensic and character witnesses.

Western Animation

  • Spoofed in the Animaniacs episode "La-La-Law": Dr. Scratchansnif gets a parking ticket, and tries to simply pay it off, but the Warner siblings insist on barging into traffic court and acting as his lawyers, spoofing as many courtroom drama tropes as they can along the way.
  • In Thumb Fun, an old Looney Tunes short, Porky Pig is charged $2 for a minor traffic offense. He considers it no big deal. An outraged Daffy Duck goes into court to argue against the "injustice" and the Judge promptly raises the fine to $50. (Keep in mind, that's 1950s money.)
  • In an early episode of The Simpsons, Homer is pulled over as he's speeding to get back home to Marge (after believing he only has a matter of hours to live.) He insists that the cops just give him a ticket so he can get going, but the cops decide that they don't want to give him a ticket and throw him into a jail cell instead. In another episode, Homer responds to Chief Wiggum's sarcastically asking him "Where's the fire?" by pointing to a massive conflagration in a nearby police station. In addition to the speeding ticket, Homer also gets a fine for "Pointing out police stupidity."

Real Life

  • A woman in Sussex, England was given a parking ticket and a fine for parking in a disabled bay without a valid disabled badge - but she had used a badge. She challenged it. They rejected her challenge - but this time giving a different reason for why she received the ticket. After asking around, she worked out that her badge had been judged as invalid because the council stamp was faded - despite the fact that A) it had been faded when she got it and B) she had parked over a thousand times and never received a parking ticket for that reason.
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