The excuses: How some Sonoma County drivers try to get out of traffic tickets

Swarming bees in your car is not an excuse for speeding.

And your unborn child does not count as a passenger when you drive in the carpool lane.

Both explanations came up in Sonoma County traffic court, where it appears some people will say anything to get out of a ticket.

Traffic Court


"You just can't make this stuff up," said Commissioner Lawrence Ornell. "Some of it is really bizarre."

The zingers are offered by some of the 250 people who appear each week before Ornell to challenge their tickets, ask for reductions or get more time to pay fines.

They serve as little more than amusement for Ornell and his court staff, who are compiling an unofficial record of the best stories.

Ornell warns ticket-getters at the start of each morning's session that he's heard them all.

"A medical doctor on the way to the hospital to perform a life-saving procedure is allowed to speed," Ornell said. "Other than that, there just aren't a lot of excuses that work."

Still, people try.

Common tales involve wrong-size tires, faulty speedometer cables and inaccurate clocks that have people driving solo in the carpool lane when they shouldn't be.

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