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What If The Police Gave Everyone A Ticket? April 6, 2009

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in Motorcycle Collisions, Personal Injury Law, Wisconsin Auto Accidents.
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Phil Berenz of www.counseloroffices.net (an Illinois Attorney) wrote a good blog post on what happens when the injured party who was not a majority at fault receives a ticket.  I get this question a lot.  Let’s say the police give tickets to both drivers who are involved in an auto accident.  In Wisconsin this fact is NOT admissible at trial.  The jury isn’t going to hear about the tickets.  Why?  Because it is up for the Jury to decide negligence, period.  The fact that a police officer gave a ticket may influence the jury one way or another.  So, a judge won’t allow the parties or police officer to talk about tickets.

Check out Phil’s blog. He is a good guy and good attorney.  Here is his opinion on Illinois’ trial practice.

Many individuals who are in accidents often ask me whether the jury will hear that the defendant received a ticket in relation to the accident. They would love for the jury to hear that! They are often surprised to hear me say “absolutely not.” In fact, I tell them that the Judge–prior to the trial even beginning–makes decisions on whether such issues will ever be heard by the jury. These decisions by the Judge are based on what are known as “Motions in Limine.” Motions in Limine are specific requests brought by both parties to prevent the mention of, question of, reference to, inquiry of, suggestion of–directly or indirectly–certain evidentiary issues. The rationale for excluding certain issues such as traffic tickets is, among other reasons, to prevent unfair prejudice to a party. Defendants routinely demand that evidence of traffic tickets be excluded from admissibility before the jury unless, generally speaking, a proper foundation is made as to a defendant pleading guilty (as opposed to being found guilty) and a certified copy of the guilty plea being made available at trial time. Even then, there is no guarantee a Judge will allow a guilty plea to a traffic ticket to be heard by the jury depending upon the specific circumstances of the situation. If the Judge rules that no evidence of traffic tickets will be admissible and a plaintiff (or his attorney or potentially other witnesses) mentions the ticket, the defendant’s attorney will most likely move for an immediate mistrial!

If you have questions about an accident where you were not at fault but received a ticket or whether someone is simply “at fault” in Wisconsin feel free to contact me.  I’d be happy to discuss your situation.


Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in Wausaukee, Kenosha,  Janesville and Wauwatosa.


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