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I got pulled over in Ohio (with an Ohio license) a few weeks ago because one of my headlights was dim. The officer was clear that he was just letting me know.
He asked to see my drivers license, which had expired on May 12th. However, the Ohio BMV website says:

If your license, ID card, or vehicle registration (including plates and stickers) expired on or after March 9, 2020, your expiration date has been automatically extended until December 1, 2020.

I told him that and we discussed back and forth but he still said that he wasn't sure that was the case and wrote me a citation anyway, with a court date. He ended by saying "I'm sure they'll excuse you anyway."
I went to court, pleaded guilty because I didn't want to come back, but had to pay $25 for the fine and $115 for the court fee. I was told that if I had pleaded not guilty, I would have had to pay the court fee anyway.
I later went to the BMV to renew my license and the lady there told me I shouldn't have gotten the ticket in the first place.
I am frustrated because it seems like I have done nothing wrong and yet I paid $140 in the end. What should have I done differently and is there anything I can do now?

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    I think you should have pleaded not guilty, since "your expiration date has been automatically extended until December 1, 2020". You might then be able to recover such fees by incorrectly being summoned to court, or similar.
    – Ángel
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 23:11
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    That cop was a genuine jack ass. By writing you a ticket, he forced you to go to court where you had an opportunity to get infected with COVD-19 - clearly the BMV announced this policy because they wanted to reduce not increase the rate of COVID-19 infections. This more than just inconvenienced greatly OP it made our community as a whole less safe.
    – emory
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 23:49

2 Answers 2

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"I have done nothing wrong"

You got up in court and, when the judge asked if you had done anything wrong, you said: "yes" (guilty). So, in the eyes of the law, you are in the wrong.

Police are entitled to make mistakes and, when they do, the accused can either accept the consequences of that mistake by pleading guilty and paying the penalty or they can defend themselves and show that the police made a mistake. Unfortunately, while you have a right to a defence, you don't have a right to a defence at no cost.

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  • I appreciate your answer. Very straightforward. If I had pleaded "not guilty," would there have been an outcome where I don't pay anything at all? Where I don't pay court fees? Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 1:56
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    @spaghettibaguetti only if you can prove malice or gross negligence on the part of the police. This seems to be more of a case of genuine mistake.
    – Dale M
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 2:46
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    @DaleM: You've got to be kidding? Court fees for a civil case, I can see. But court fees when you win a criminal case? Paying for a lawyer is bad enough, but at least theoretically avoidable.
    – MSalters
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 16:07
  • @MSalters you have a right to a trial, you don’t have a right to a free trial. Requiring the police to pay costs if someone is proved innocent would stifle their arrests with unfortunate public policy outcomes.
    – Dale M
    Commented Sep 24, 2020 at 20:50
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    @MSalters it is not purely a European thing. I got a ticket with a face value of $30. All the lawyers I talked to wanted $1000+ to talk about it. No one at the court would answer my questions. Apparently by going to court and pleading not guilty, the penalty jumped from $30 to $200. The judge did not listen to anything I had to say. Who knows what the effects of these "points" will be on my insurance. I do not think it was very fair at all.
    – emory
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 13:08
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I do not think you did anything wrong - other than if you are going to go to court you should plead "NOT GUILTY." But the real wrong was committed by that officer who wrote you a ticket.

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