Skip to main content

If you drive over the speed limit in your car and get pulled over, there’s usually a great deal of uncertainty if a police officer will give you a ticket — or only a warning. However, if you’re lucky enough to hold a secret PBA courtesy card from the police, then the chances of the cop letting you off the hook significantly improve.

What is a police PBA courtesy card?

Flashing lights of police car, highlighting secret police PBA courtesy card for getting out of a speeding ticket
Police car | Michael Förtsch via Unsplash

A police PBA courtesy card is a card given to family, friends, and co-workers of police officers. The cards aid people in getting out of speeding tickets and other violations, such as driving through an intersection with a red light. A PBA courtesy card is also helpful for getting out of random searches by police officers. 

PBA stands for Police Benevolent Association. Nearly every police officer in the United States is a member of the PBA. Typically, a PBA card has the following words written on it:

“The bearer of this card is a supporter of the PBA and you should try to extend every courtesy possible.”

– PBA courtesy card

When pulled over for speeding or other lawbreaking behavior, the driver hands the PBA card to the police officer. Also, like most traffic stops, a driver also hands over their license and registration. 

Can a police PBA card really get you out of a speeding ticket and other violations?

Front view of police car with flashing lights, highlighting secret police PBA card for getting out of a speeding ticket
Police car on a street | McGill Productions via Unsplash

Many holders of a PBA courtesy card reported that it successfully enabled them to get out of speeding tickets and other violations. When accompanied by polite and respectful communication, the PBA card will usually result in only a warning. Also, as detailed by Rosenblum Law, sometimes an officer will just say something like, “Okay. Drive safely and have a great day.”

However, a PBA card is not a guaranteed “get out of jail” free card, as some people believe. If the speeding is excessive or a person engages in other reckless and dangerous driving behavior, such as drunk driving, it’s unlikely that they will be able to get away with it.

Factors that improve — and hurt your chance of success with a PBA card

Also, not all PBA cards are equal in the eyes of a police officer at a traffic stop. If the PBA card has the name and badge number of the issuing officer — and the police officer for the traffic stop knows them, it will improve a driver’s chances. If the police officer on the card is highly respected in the community, your chances improve even more.

Additionally, having the same surname as the officer that issued the card is helpful too. However, if the PBA card doesn’t have any name or other details on it, you might not have much luck in getting out of an expensive speeding ticket or other violations. 

Furthermore, one’s attitude toward a police officer at a traffic stop makes a big difference as well. Courteous communication works wonders. However, rudeness, arrogance, and a sense of entitlement will hurt your cause.

Additionally, a PBA card might not last forever. Usually, the police officer will return the PBA card. However, some users reported that even though they got out of a traffic ticket, the cop confiscated their card. 

As you can see, there is no formal system in place for the PBA card. There are multiple factors in play. The one factor that has the most impact on a successful outcome, though, is how close of a connection you have to the officer that issued the card. 

Is a PBA courtesy card unethical or illegal?

The question of the ethics and legality of PBA courtesy cards is a tricky issue, especially in the wake of controversial police behavior in recent years. In a country that, at least on paper, declares equal rights, PBA cards contradict this and raise questions of nepotism and favoritism. 

Unsurprisingly, as reported by The Sun, police unions are very “tight-lipped” about the PBA cards and said that they “serve a public relations tool and are in no way offering actual immunity.”

It’s not illegal for a driver to show a PBA card to a police officer in and of itself. However, it could be considered illegal if a driver tries to influence the officer by saying something like, “Can you let me off the hook,” while handing over the PBA card. With this in mind, drivers should use extreme caution when using a PBA card, whether it’s for getting out of a speeding ticket or any other lawbreaking behavior. 


Anti-Speeding Tech for New Cars Is Now Mandatory in Europe: Is the US Next?