My Au Pair got a speeding ticket

by cv harquail on March 1, 2010

Has your au pair ever gotten a speeding ticket? That you know of? Or that you found out about later, after several summonses arrived in the mail? How have you handled this?

Tell it to this Host Mom:

201002151558.jpgOur au pair got a speeding ticket– a surprise for her and for me. Now I have to figure out how to manage it, since there are some technical issues.

First, the background:

We have hosted over 6 au pairs and none have ever gotten a ticket. There have been minor dents and dings along the way, but no tickets. This particular au pair is an excellent au pair, mature for her age (she’ll be 21 next month) and very trustworthy.

Our au pair has been with us for 5 months, and usually is a careful driver. She is an excellent driver, and when she first started, she was very careful to observe every law. I think she has become too overconfident with her driving skills. This ticket was a surprise to both of us.

We don’t know how much the ticket will be. But, we do know that she has to go to court to conference with the A.D.A..

Now, here is the sticky catch- I work at the same court where she has to appear (although not in the same courtroom).

And there’s more….

201002151558.jpgThe ticket is defective- the cop forgot to write the speed on it.

From a legal perspective, it would be common for the person getting a defective ticket to enter a plea of not guilty and demand a supporting deposition on it if the prosecutor wanted to pursue the case. I don’t really want to give the cops or the court the chance to fix the error.

Many judges would dismiss the ticket as it is written. However, I have no idea what the prosecutor will do, or how the judge might react. For obvious reasons, I can’t even talk to them about it.

Given all of this, I am wondering whether to ask an attorney friend appear on her behalf. I am concerned that her ticket might affect our insurance (although I don’t know whether it will).

To top it off, since she has to come to court while I’m working, I will need to get a babysitter! So, do¬† you think if she has to pay a fine for the ticket, that I should also have her pay for the cost of the babysitter? :)

Really, though, I mostly want to hear how other parents have handled anything related to speeding tickets.

Clocked At 67mph/124km from Runs With Scissors
Speed Demon from Caitlinator [ note: photo is not the ‘actual’ au pair mentioned in the post. This photo is creative commons licensed from Flickr as are most of the phot0s I use as illustrations.]


Traffic Lawyer March 1, 2010 at 11:26 pm

You are right … the ticket is defective. Omitting to include the speed renders this ticket defecitve.

I don’t think your au pair needs to demand a supporting deposition as the ticket is defective as issued. You instincts are right about getting involved. Because of your conflict, you do not want to discuss this matter with any court personnel. Rather, I recommend that you allow your au pair to deal with it (or have her retain a New York traffic lawyer to handle it).

Unless your au pair is listed on your auto insurance policy, a conviction to this traffic ticket will not affect your insurance rates. Even if she is listed, if the speeding ticket is dismissed or reduced, it may not affect your auto insurance rates anyway.

I decline to offer any advice about whether you “dock” her for the cost of a baby sitter. This is up to you although I don’t understand why she’s displaying her speeding ticket with a thumbs up gesture; seems like she wasn’t too upset about it. I’d be concerned to allow her to drive my kids around.

Feel free to email me with any follow-up questions, and good luck with this one.


Matthew Weiss. Esq.

Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 12:00 am

The photos and art images used in this blog are normally credited to the source where CV obtains them: note the small blue print at the bottom of the posting. I’m quite sure that this is not the actual AuPair in question.

Two of our AuPairs have received tickets, not for speeding, but for (IMHO) more serious offenses: unsafe lane change and running a red light. Both were off duty at the time; the first one (a previous AP who’s now extending in another state simply paid the bail by mail, but thought that she was choosing to do traffic school, not realizing that at that time, our county was one of the few who didn’t allow online completion. My husband, an attorney, explained the process and procedure several times, but as she was soon to be moving and didn’t care about the point on her license for this state (esp. since SHE wasn’t paying the insurance!), she kind of just blew it off. We’re still awaiting the notification for the 2nd one; she was given a time and date to appear (in a city 100 miles from here) which would have been during work time, but luckily falls during our spring break when we’ll be on vacation without her (her choice), so she’s on her own (although I’m sure she’ll receive “fatherly” advise, also!

Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Does it render it defective if the ticket the driver gets does not have the speed on it, but the court copy does? Apparently, that is the case, and it did not show through on the carbon copy of the ticket our au pair got.

So, where in NY do you handle traffic matters?

Sara Duke March 2, 2010 at 12:15 am

Matthew, that’s not her au pair, the link to the picture is at the end of original post. These posts often have thematic illustrations. I can see how you would think it would be her, but that would be an egregious violation of the AP’s privacy.

We have had 5 APs in 9 years. We live in the metro Washington area, where there are plenty of red light and speed cameras. HD gets caught on camera regularly (to the point that when I drive with him, I say, “There’s a camera coming up…”). Almost all of our APs have gotten caught in one of these traps, as have HD and I. None have ever been chased and pulled over. I pay a speeding ticket IF the AP was working AND I know she was in a rush (usually to get my son to a distant camp in time for him to leave for a daycamp trip — after my daughter’s summer schoolbus shows up late yet again). I figure it’s an honest mistake not to see the camera ahead on the road or to wonder why everyone is suddenly driving 3 mph below the posted speed limit when you’re in a rush (or maintaining the same speed as the traffic around you because the camera is brand new).

I never pay a ticket for running a red light, however. There’s never a good reason to put my kids’ lives in danger. I never pay a speeding ticket when the AP has been using the car on her own time. I don’t pay parking tickets. The AP is in charge of all of those, and it is up to her how best to do it (give me the cash and I’ll write a check, have HD deduct it from the week’s pay and I’ll write the check, or figure out how to pay it in person). There’s no arguing with a machine, and no points go on a license since the photography isn’t sophisticated enough to say who was driving (just the time and place narrows it down). It’s expensive enough that most don’t make the mistake twice.

I don’t know what I would do if an AP had to tell it to the judge. I assume the speed limit, had it been put on the ticket, would have been egregious. You haven’t stated whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor ticket (or would have been). Either way, you may advise your AP as you would if you were any other HM who was not working in the court (or HD could do it). If she’s best served with a lawyer, then she should hire one. Don’t ask a friend to help if its a conflict of interest.

And finally, let her be the one in charge of finding a babysitter. We have let our APs trade time with neighbors and other APs in a crunch, with our advance approval. Or, you could give her a list of potential sitters and let her negotiate.

Since you obviously admire this AP, tell her what you are able, and tell her you are going to let her work it out, but that it must be done and that she should keep either you or HD in the loop.

Natt March 2, 2010 at 5:51 am

Sara – I am having trouble comprehending why you would pay for an aupairs speeding ticket, just because she was on duty. She did the speeding, she should pay imo. If you do nothing wrong, you don’t get caught…. I myself can’t condone speeding… for anyone. Rush or no rush.

Sara Duke March 2, 2010 at 7:58 am

Everyone has their personal preferences. If you read my post carefully, you will read that both HD and I have been caught by speed cameras. I don’t know if they have them in your jurisdiction, but they are cameras, not police officers in cars. They are much less forgiving than police officers, because they are machines. Do I write in the manual that I will pay for speeding tickets? No! I would not write, “It’s okay to speed.” Although, I’ll admit, all they have to do is ride with me once…

I always tell APs to follow the flow of traffic, because sometimes it’s safer than driving at or below the speed limit. My current AP tends to drive below the speed limit and aggressive drivers tailgate her. She is much more likely to be involved in an accident, even though it would not be her fault, by not “going with the flow.” None of our APs get behind the wheel alone or with our kids until their driving has been approved by HD.

If my AP had received a felony speeding ticket, I would not pay it, but then again, she’d be telling it to the judge.

Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 10:17 am

Having been hit by a speeder and incurred a lot of personal expense and emotional toll as a result, I’d like to point out another option: Slow the hell down.

Otherwise, I will be that annoying person in front of you who refuses to go faster than 4 mph above the speed limit while you’re tearing through my neighborhood, crawling up my tailpipe. I may even wave Hi to you in the rearview mirror.

hostmom March 2, 2010 at 8:58 am

if our AP gets any kind of ticket – camera ticket, over meter limit or other – they are responsible. period. luckily this has only happened 2 times. And in the DC area you can just pay these tickets on-line. Our AP used her debit card and that was that….

I did not know you had to appear for traffic tickets. i thought you always had the option to just pay it unless you wanted to fight it. above eg i guess since the ticket was wrong, but i don’t think i would advise my AP to fight a ticket if she was in fact in violation…..If not, i would try to help support how i could, but ultimately it is her responsibility to take care of and very good learning experience how much trouble and cost this can be.

Former French Au Pair March 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

In our jurisdiction, it helps to go to court always. Usually the court will reduce the amount of the ticket and sometimes even points if you show up and further explain why you were speeding.
If the au pair happened to receive two speeding tickets during the course of her year, she could also choose to take defensive driving classes to get her 4 points back and avoid your insurance rates to go up! It is always a good refresher on local traffic laws and since the classes are usually given at a local technical college, they may even count for the educational component.
I agree with host moms about the au pair being responsible for their own actions and dealings with the law, but with the host parents advice and counsel.

Sara Duke March 2, 2010 at 2:23 pm

In some states, if the traffic violation is a felony, you must tell it to the judge. There is no option to mail-in the ticket.

StephinBoston March 2, 2010 at 9:34 am

I assume she’s listed on your insurance (I still think everyone should do that), if she is, your rates will go up and you don’t want that I’m sure. So have her fight it. But also make it clear that if she does end up not having to pay, it’s still s big deal and she should be very careful.

AnonDCHM March 2, 2010 at 10:06 am

I live in DC and I get caught by the speeding cameras, like Sara, once or twice a year. They are often in places where going 25 MPH doesn’t really make sense given the traffic flow. Anyway, because they do not know who is driving, it does not affect insurance. However, I should not be speeding and neither should the au pair.

My au pairs pay for the tickets whether on duty or not. They also pay for parking tickets. I have had some au pairs who have come home late and do not want to park a block away so park illegally on the street.

Anonymous March 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

In MD (on Connecticut Ave) the cameras CAN capture your photo and the judges have been known to zoom in and capture your beautiful mug while you are denying it was you driving. Saw it in traffic court once (not my case!)

My 2 cents March 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

IMHO the speeding ticket is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. I’m putting on my flame retarding suit now. I certainly don’t encourage our au pairs to speed, and would say something if one got a ticket, but honestly, I’ve gotten tickets and I know darn well I speed at about 5 mph above on a regular basis. Not that it’s right, mind you. But the context is important as always.

I must admit I’m a little confused on why a prosector needs or wants to meet with her at all. In my area, you just should up on the appointed day to plead your defense and hope the court dismisses, or fall on your sword to get the judge to issue a PBJ or at least reduce the fine and points. I don’t see how an attorney, and the expense of that, is necessary here. Can she not show up and point out that the ticket is defective and let the court handle it? The judge must be used to pro se, and young, defendants on minor traffic violations.

Yes, I would either request she pay for the babysitter or make up the time hours wise on another week when you need her services more or want to have a weekend night out with your spouse. She also needs to pay her ticket, and I don’t really care whether it’s on or off duty, it’s her ticket due to her actions. She pays.

anonmom March 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm

In our town, if the ticket was issued in a village with it’s own court, then the ticket is returnable there, and an ADA will be present to conference. This is a good thing, because for a 1st offense the ADA will offer a nonspeeing offense as a plea deal, so there will not be points on the license. I just found out from the court ticket, that the actual speed is in fact on the original ticket filed with the court, but it did not come through the carbon on the her copy. So, bummed about that!

ExAP March 2, 2010 at 11:04 am

I always was/am a careful driver, especially with kids in the car. But once, I drove through a school zone. It’s the way to the library and pre-school. Always when I was driving there, it was the 30mph time and not the school time (How do you call that again?). So this one time, it was only 20mph, since kids were getting off school. I hadn’t looked at the sign carefully, and I was driving 29mph. So a police officer caught me. As I’ve never had a ticket or anything in my home country or in the U.S., he was nice and just got me a verbal warning. I still told my HM about it and she was like “Oh well, don’t worry, HD often gets speeding tickets, it’s ok.”.
I think you should not have 2 mesures in this case for your ap and yourself. If you regularly speed, even with the kids in the car, and you’d be like super mad at him/her for speeding once, it wouldn’t be fair! Yes, you are the HM/HD, it’s a different responsibility and position, but anyhow, it wouldn’t be fair to make such a difference.
Still, I think if you get the ticket you pay!

CA Mom of Twins March 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I think if you have the insight to get her off the ticket, I would totally advise your AP on how to do it. However, I would emphasize the impact if the ticket does stick and what it would cost her and you financially. Your AP should be responsible for all costs related to this, including babysitter, attorney if you need one, etc.

NoCAMom March 2, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Our first au pair got a speeding ticket on literally her last day on the job – she was so upset! So was I, when I realized that she was on duty, with my young son in the car, and had been going 80 mph in a 55-60 zone. (She had been going downhill, on the freeway, zoning out – I understand it happens, but that wouldn’t be much comfort to me if she had flipped the car.)

We actually tried to address paying the ticket before she left town, but of course the computer system didn’t have it at all – so, when she left the US, she decided to forget about it. I finally called the county bill collectors to explain that she wasn’t going to pay so we would quit getting the notices (he was extremely nice, too).

I did explain to her that she could find this to be an issue when/if she wants to return to the US later – but she didn’t want to leave any cash. The ticket has more than doubled with fees to nearly $500, now. Sigh.

If she had still been with us, I absolutely would have kept it her responsibility to pay.

Sara Duke March 2, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Will you have trouble renewing your car registration? My DH once got a ticket in NJ (we live in MD), which he blew off thinking it didn’t matter. I discovered it when I went to renew the registration on the car, and couldn’t. I ended up having to pay the ticket, and the enormous fine, and then proving to MD that it had been paid.

Should be working March 2, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Whoa, never heard of this issue. That is a biggie, thanks for the tip.

NoCAMom March 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I actually checked specifically on that, since I would have covered the ticket later if it affected our registration. The (the CHP) confirmed for me that it was NOT linked to our car. Thank goodness!

Deb Schwarz March 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I’ve been to court twice with au pairs in my group and once the au pair’s host mom, an attorney, represented her.. The police love to pull over South American au pairs in CA and unfortunately the police don’t know the DMV code (they think that au pairs need CA Driver’s licenses which they don’t) and they assume the South Americans au pairs are here illegally. Our current au pair nearly got a speeding ticket (she talked her way out of it). I’d say protect your insurance rates by helping her find an attorney – and then step out of it.

Deb, LCC in CA

speding ticket AP mom March 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Original Host Mom here:

I just found out from the court that the court copy of the ticket, the original, has the speed written in it. So, I told her to ask for a supporting deposition, and hope it does not get done in time for the next court date. It was allegedly 49 in a 30 speed zone. She claims she was not going that fast, and she was merely going with traffic. Knowing the area, I tend to believe her (even though as a former prosecutor I used to hear that all the time!) Since then, she has made an effort to do exactly the speed limit, and now has other’s honking at her, and at both a stop sign and a light- had cars pass around her because she was going ‘too slow’- this also has happened to myself and my DH. Anyway, the matter is now postponed to a new court date. No, she is NOT listed on my insurance, but the ticket lists my address on it with her name.

D March 2, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I would make her responsible for the ticket & fees. But I wouldn’t charge her with babysitting fees. (thats like punishment) Give her 1/2 the day off for her to do her personal things & count it as her vacation time. She created the ticket its her time loss, not yours. Don’t punish her just make her responsible. :)

Hopefully this is just enough to enforce extra security in driving, no matter her speeding. Paying for the ticket & taking the time to resolve it the best lessson to accepting responsibility.

:) Best of luck!

PA Mom March 7, 2010 at 10:34 am

Agree with D. It’s a learning process and it sounds like your DH is still learning ;) too

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