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To Sign or Not To Sign the UTC?

Posted by Sean A. Black | Jan 14, 2022 | 0 Comments

You should always sign the traffic citation when requested by the officer.

From time to time, I encounter prospective clients or clients who have refused to sign the uniform traffic citation when the officer requests it.  The explanation is almost always that they disagree with the officer giving them a ticket.  Signature does not mean that you agree that the officer was right to give you a ticket.

In bold letters, the language on the Uniform Traffic Citation states:  "Signature acknowledges service of this summons and receipt of copy of same."  That's it.  That is all that signature means.  It does not admit any guilt.  It cannot be used as an admission of wrongdoing.  It just means that you agree that you got a copy of the citation. 

Service of the citation communicates to you what you are accused of doing, the statute  that makes it an offense, and the court date.  It also advises you that failure to appear in court or to resolve the citation prior to court can result in action against your driver's license, including suspension of your Georgia drivers license or nonresident driving privilege.

For most traffic offenses, a driver can display their license in lieu of bail.  That means that they do not have to be arrested, transported to jail, have bail set, and then post bail.  This applies as well to out-of-state drivers whose state or foreign country have entered into a reciprocal agreement with Georgia regarding display of license for bail.

OCGA 40-13-2.1 provides that the officer shall request signature of the citation and tell the driver that signing is not an admission of guilt and failure to sign will result in the person having to post a cash bond.  And, here is the important part, "If the person refuses to sign the citation, it shall constitute reasonable cause to believe that the person will not appear at trial and the officer may bring the person before a judicial officer or traffic violations bureau to post a bond as is otherwise provided by law."

So, refusing to sign the citation can may your bad day even worse.  Some officers will let it slide, others will not.  So, you can end up in jail just because you thought you were making a point that you were not.  And, once you are at the jail, you are on their schedule.  

So, do yourself a favor, just sign the ticket and realize that you are just agreeing that you were given the ticket and that you have to sort it out with the court.

About the Author

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

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