Hypothetical Facts
  1. A driver is pulled over for speeding.
  2. The officer writes a ticket and asks the driver to sign it.
  3. After questioned by the driver, the officer explains a signature is not an admission of guilt, but only indicates "acceptance" (receipt) of the ticket.
  4. The driver refuses to sign the ticket.

What will most likely happen next?

  • 2
    The officer will probably annotate that the driver refused to sign.
    – Pat W.
    Nov 25, 2015 at 20:32
  • 1
    @PatW. Unless you're in Texas, then you get tased. mercurynews.com/politics/ci_12563043 How you refuse to sign is probably a factor.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 25, 2015 at 23:56
  • 1
    @ColleenV Wow; seems a little over the top on both sides. I watched an octogenarian hit a car with her cane after it ran a red. But in that case, all the bystanders were rooting for the old lady....
    – Pat W.
    Nov 26, 2015 at 0:04

2 Answers 2


It depends on the jurisdiction. Some states don't require a signature. In California refusing to sign is grounds for arrest:

CA Codes (veh:40300-40313)

40302) Whenever any person is arrested for any violation of this code, not declared to be a felony, the arrested person shall be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed and who has jurisdiction of the offense and is nearest or most accessible with reference to the place where the arrest is made in any of the following cases:
(a) When the person arrested fails to present his driver's license or other satisfactory evidence of his identity for examination.
(b) When the person arrested refuses to give his written promise to appear in court.
(c) When the person arrested demands an immediate appearance before a magistrate.
(d) When the person arrested is charged with violating Section 23152.

  • Is a ticket for a moving violation considered an arrest in California law? The passage you cite otherwise seems to be irrelevant.
    – phoog
    Nov 26, 2015 at 6:21
  • 1
    @phoog, my understanding is that a traffic stop counts as an arrest in this context. Once an officer has pulled you over to issue a ticket, you are not free to go. You have to remain with the officer until he has finished processing the warning or the ticket. This too is likely jurisdiction dependent. Nov 26, 2015 at 19:36

There's no need for a signature. The officer has made the arrest and the ticket is for the driver to know how the officer has viewed the crime. The officer knows that they passed it to the driver. The signature is simply perfunctory, perhaps even a move of power.

At that time, within some fixed amount of time, the driver should show up to the Court house and schedule a time and date to hear the case, if they don't want to plead guilty and simply pay the fine.

In the case where a citizen throws away the ticket, it remains on record and the citizen knows this. It be a potential contempt charge on them.

  • 2
    -1 In some jurisdictions the motorist is required by law to sign as evidence of receipt of the ticket. Failing to do so may be a separate offense, and may well lead to the motorist being taken to a police station and then brought before a magistrate or judge. If the stop did not constitute a formal arrest (this varies by jurisdiction) then failure to sign may well lead directly to an arrest., Jul 9, 2022 at 20:30
  • @DavidSiegel: "...is required by law", but you failed to state WHAT law. Is it federal law? Also, making a separate offense for not signing for the officer is petty at best and possibly gives too much power to the Government. Remember the government needs to be balanced with the People. It does not have absolute power over its citizens -- even after they broke a law. Where, then, will go to find the laws/rules to do that? Dec 30, 2023 at 4:41

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