Traffic Ticket is the 16th episode of season 2 and the 16th episode overall in Malcolm in the Middle. It was directed by Jeff Melman and written by Larry Strawther. The episode aired on February 18, 2001.
When Lois is cited for outstanding traffic violations that Francis got on her name, she orders him to pay for the tickets. Believing that she had been wrongly accused and arrested by a corrupt officer for refusing to give him a free iced tea, she decides to fight the violation in court.
Lois tells the boys they're going to the barber college to get their hair cut, despite Malcolm's complaints because they never get the cut right and wants to go to a real barber. At work in Lucky Aide, she rings up a police officer and tells him he needs to pay full price for his iced tea. However, Craig mentions that the officer gets 100% off, due to an arrangement in order to keep Lucky Aide safe. Lois reminds him that they've been robbed five times in the past six months (including the previous episode Robbery). She also mentions to Craig that offering free stuff to him as a bribe in order to keep Lucky Aide safe from robbers isn't going to work and the store need trained security guards to help watch the store. He attempts to remind her that they can't afford trained security guards because of the financial problems their boss is facing, but she is unmoved. Lois still makes the officer pay for the iced tea in full.
After her shift, Lois and the boys leave for the barber college when she unexpectedly is followed by the same cop. Despite Reese's attempt to convince her to make a run for it so the family could be on the news, she pulls over right away. She orders Malcolm, Reese and Dewey to behave themselves. Lois warns them that if they attempt to embarrass her in front of the cops by fighting in the car, making piggy noises, claiming to smell bacon and even attempt lying to them by claiming that she kidnapped the boys from their families, she will punish them when they get home. It's the same officer who asks for her license claiming she cut off a car. Lois doesn't believe him and tells him that she has done nothing wrong. She gives the cop her license and telling him that she has a clean record. Lois is arrested when he tells her that she has 16 unpaid parking tickets incurred in her name. She is angered by this and insists that the parking tickets are not hers. Lois vows to prove him wrong as the boys watch on in happiness to see her arrested. Later on, Hal bails her out of jail, but can't understand how they amassed so many traffic tickets without knowing.
A call home from Marlin Academy reveals that Francis got them all in Lois' name, which makes her furious. She furiously yells at him for getting all those violations without telling her that ended with her being arrested and jailed. Francis defends himself by blaming Lois for shipping him off to military school and mentions that when he is home, he has to make up for his social life that he doesn't have time to follow the traffic rules. Refusing to accept his excuses, she tells Francis off that he owes the family $747.13 for those violations he incurred in her name and refuses to let him come home until he's reimbursed the family. Hal suggests that Lois goes to traffic school instead as an attempt to avoid potential lawsuits. She refuses and tells him off that they're taking this case to court. Lois claims that the cop had it out for her because she refused to let him have a free iced tea by making him pay full price and pulled her over as payback. She still believes she is right and will make the boys testify in court as her witnesses. Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are horrified by this, but agree in order to avoid being punished by her. Hal tries to talk some sense into Lois by mentioning the family can't afford the lawsuit and is worried that the court might side with the cops. She remains resolute in her stance because she will prove that the cop is corrupted, along with having the paid parking ticket violations
Later on, Francis calls home and sends $20 as sign goodwill and hoping she will let him off his punishment by not paying for the traffic violations. However, Lois refuses to back down from her stance and reminds him that he still has $727.13 to go before he can come home. She points out that because of his irresponsibility and recklessness, the family van is impounded. Lois reveals to Francis that she and Hal are down to one car until he pays off the tickets so they can get her car out of the impound lot. He mentions that it's impossible for him to get the money because he has classes. When Francis doesn't have classes, he has homework. He mentions if he's not doing homework, he has to do uniform detail. And when Francis is in trouble with Spangler, he is often doing his time in detention. Lois maintains her stance by telling him that she's not going to let him renege his responsibilities any longer.
Malcolm visits Craig at Lucky Aide to gather evidence. He produces a tape from the parking lot scene, and learns that Lois is wrong as she had cut off a car when pulling out of the parking lot. Malcolm shows the tape to Reese, who is overjoyed as it proves she is wrong and they can hold it against her. They then show it to Hal, who is glad the boys showed it to him.
Meanwhile at Marlin Academy, Francis attempts to come up with the owed money by pulling dangerous stunts for his colleagues. Eric and Finley suggests that he jumps from the roof of Marlin Academy, naked and blindfolded. Later on, he calls home and learns from Malcolm that Lois was guilty and is overjoyed. Francis wants him to hold it against her, but Malcolm doesn't know what to do.
Hal and the boys show the tape to Lois, who states that the tape is wrong. The boys protest, but he tells them not to interfere and let him handle it. In the bedroom, Lois tells him that she saw the tape, but knows what happened. However, Hal finally convinces her to admit she is wrong, and she finally drops the case.
Lois calms down considerably, finally accepting that she can be wrong (which the boys use to shift blame to her which she accepts). Francis calls home again, this time in a wheelchair from a dangerous stunt he pulled. He tells Lois that he got some of the money to pay off all the tickets, but she tells him that he can use it to come home for a weekend. Lois leaves the house, and Craig arrives with a different tape from another store across the street. The tape reveals that the car Lois had cut off had performed an illegal u-turn right beforehand, revealing that Lois had been right the whole time. Hal, knowing Lois would revert to her old self if made aware of the evidence, immediately destroys the tape and orders Craig to remain silent, to which he nervously nods a yes to.
- This episode marks the first time Lois gotten arrested on her own. The next instances that will follow are Book Club, Monkey, Reese Comes Home, and Halloween.
- Hal: I heard they made traffic school really fun. There's bowling traffic school, comedy traffic. Remember when I took that comedy traffic school, god that was hilarious. A rabbi, a priest and a minister come to a four way stop....
- Lois: I am not taking traffic school.
- Hal: Honey, if you don't take traffic school, you'll get a point in your license.
- Lois: I'm not getting a point in my license because I'm taking this to court. I did nothing wrong and I got three eyewitnesses to prove it. They saw exactly what happened.
- [The camera comes up to Reese and flashbacks]
- Lois: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...
- [Reese is taking gum off his shoe. The camera comes up to Malcolm and flashbacks]
- Lois: Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack...
- [Malcolm is drawing a pirate on his arm. The camera comes up to Dewey and flashbacks]
- Lois: Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey, Dewey...
- [As Lois is saying his name, Dewey is driving the wheel as Lois is in the passenger's seat.]
- Malcolm, Reese, & Dewey: You're right, mom!
- Lois: Well, knock yourself out. My record is clean.
- [Scene changes to the police officer arresting Lois.]
- Lois: There is no way I have 16 unpaid parking tickets! The computer's wrong! You are not getting away with this!
- [After Lois tells Francis that he owes the family $747.13 for the unpaid parking tickets.]
- Francis: This is totally unfair! None of this would've happened if you weren't such a reckless driver!
- Lois: Excuse me??!!
- Francis: When I park too close to a mailbox, I didn't endanger anyone's life.
- Lois: I didn't endanger anyone. I was pulled over by a corrupt cop for a traffic violation that I didn't commit!
- Francis: [sarcastically] Oh, but when I say I've been framed by the cops, you send me to military school! Ironic, isn't it?!
- Lois: That cop was out to get me!
- Francis: Of course he was. Everyone's out to get you. And the neighbor's cat's the ringleader. Didn't you know that?
- Lois: Ha-ha, you can laugh all you want, Francis. But until you come up with the money, you are not coming home.
- Francis: Where am I supposed to get $700?! You're just using this to keep me here.
- Lois: Yeah, that's right. It was the cat's idea.