What is a PBA Card and Will One Help Me Get Out of a Ticket?

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The Policy Benevolent Association, or PBA, is a municipal police union representing over 24,000 NYPD members. PBA seeks to protect its members, negotiate contracts, improve benefits and working conditions, and ensure fair treatment by the city and police department. Many consider the so-called PBA cards a real-life “get out of jail free” card, but these are relatively hard-to-get cards that do not always work.

You can still get a NY traffic ticket even with a PBA card. If this happened to you or someone you know, contact an attorney who can help you fight these charges. Weiss & Associates PC is an experienced NY traffic ticket attorney. Please send us a message or call us at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation.

What is a PBA Card?

A PBA card is often given to friends and family members of police officers. The card reads: “The bearer of this card is a supporter of the PBA, and you should try to extend every courtesy possible.”

Someone fortunate enough to have one might provide the PBA card when pulled over for a traffic violation or any other violation. Some people claim that having one has helped them receive a warning versus a speeding ticket. Eventually, stories like these earned the card’s reputation for assisting people in avoiding minor citations.

However, police unions have said the cards are a PR tool and are in no way providing actual immunity to the cardholder.

Can a PBA Card Get You Out of a Ticket in New York?

A PBA card does not entitle the carrier to any special rights. Some people have claimed that the card helped them avoid a red light or speeding violation. The truth is that PBA cards might work occasionally but are not guaranteed.

Some PBA cards have the name of the officer who issues the card. If the officer pulls you over, recognizes the officer’s name on the card, and you are polite and respectful, there is a chance you will not get a ticket. Sometimes the officer will issue a warning instead of a traffic violation ticket.

Are All PBA Cards Treated Equally?

Not all PBA cards are the same. If you receive a generic PBA card that does not have an officer’s name or badge number on it, you might not be able to get out of a ticket with this.

However, some offices will ask the drivers if they know the officer that issued the card or the jurisdiction where they are from. If the driver can answer these questions, they might still get out of a ticket.

The “best” PBA cards are those with a police officer’s name, badge number and signature, in my opinion.

Is It Illegal or Unethical to Use a PBA Card?

Trying to influence an officer out of a ticket or violation can be illegal or perceived as unethical by an officer. If you disrespect an officer, they may use their discretion to be harsher. That could result in additional tickets or arrest instead of an appearance ticket with a court date.

Police officers have much discretion. They can issue speeding tickets and minor violations like not signaling before changing lanes.

Using a PBA card in itself is not illegal. However, asking the officer to let you go without a ticket and handling the card may be constructed as trying to illegally influence the officer.

Remember, a PBA card is not a legal document or something recognized by law enforcement as a get-out-of-a-ticket card. Use your discretion when handing over a card, be respectful and polite and do not try to impose yourself on the officer.

My PBA Card Did not Work. What Should I Do Next?

As mentioned earlier, showing a PBA card does not guarantee you will get out of your traffic ticket. If anything, there is a low probability that showing a PBA card will help you avoid a speeding ticket or other traffic ticket. If you or someone you know gets involved in a NY traffic ticket, you can contact an attorney who works in traffic ticket law to help you see if you have a case against the ticket.

Weiss & Associates has experience in NY traffic ticket violations. Send us a message or call us at 212-683-7373 for a free consultation about your case.

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