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Traffic Ticket is the sixteenth episode of season 2 of Malcolm in the Middle. 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.


The opening scene has the family eating. Malcolm explains the house rules regarding dinner: you can't reach for seconds until you're finished with your first, but as soon as anybody's fork leaves the perimeter of their plate, all bets are off. Reese and Malcolm finish both their fried chicken wings, they both go for the last one on the plate. They fight using their forks, but then catapult it into the living room, landing under the couch. They still fight over it.

At the Lucky Aide, Lois tells an elderly customer named Mrs. Gunderberth which medicine she takes orally before the boys arrive. She tells the boys they're going to a barber at a local college to get their hair cut. Malcolm complains against going over there because they never get the cut right and wants to go to a real barber. Lois silences him by stating she likes to support education, and that it's free. Dewey fears of the barber taking his hair and planting an "Evil Dewey", Lois reminds him that every word that come out of Reese's mouth is a lie, she then dismisses the boys and tells them anything they break comes out of their allowance. Reese reminds her they don't get an allowance, she tells them their constant breaking things is exactly why not. Reese plans to get a haircut half shaved and half normal so he has a style for each profile that will fit whatever mood he is in. Lois rings up an police officer named Officer Stockton and tells him he needs to pay full $6.24 for his iced tea. However, the officer explains that he and Craig have an arrangement, Lois does not know what he is talking about. Craig notices the conversation and walks over to inform Lois of Officer Stockton's "policeman's discount" of 100% off, Lois refuses to oblige and still make him pay for it. When Officer Stockton leaves, Craig reminds Lois of the way it works: he lets Stockton have a take a few items from the store for free in order to give Lucky Aide protection. He also mentions that with all of the other free stuff he gets at the other stores, he can't be everywhere at once. Lois tells Craig off that it's wrong of him to do that because it's beneath them and reminds him that the store has been robbed five times in the past six months (including the earlier episode Robbery). She thinks that their boss at Lucky Aide needs to do his job by hiring trained security guards to do their job properly and not bribe police officers to do their job for them. Craig then reminds Lois that their boss can't afford it because of the strike he's facing with their previous security guards whom refused to return to work due to them being underpaid. She still maintains her stance against it and refuses to demean herself by bribing the cop with free stuff.

After her shift, Lois and the boys leave for the barber, Malcolm continues to rant about it and how he does not want to be given a haircut by the student who only has two fingers again, Lois tells him that those are the number of fingers needed to use scissors and to be polite as they are already nervous enough as it is. He still insists that they go to a real barber to get their hair cuts, 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 them. She is greeted by the same Officer Stockton, who asks for her license claiming when she pulled out, she impeded traffic by forcing the Volkswagen behind her to slam its brakes. Lois doesn't believe him and tells him that she has done nothing wrong. She gives the cop her license and telling him that this is about how he wanted her to pay for not giving him a free iced tea. Before leaving to run a computer check with Lois' license, he tells her to wait and it will take a few minutes. She tells him that he can do so and has a clean record. Later, Officer Stockton is handcuffing Lois because the computer check revealed that she has 16 unpaid parking tickets incurred in her name. She is angered by this and insists that the computer is wrong and that the parking tickets are not hers, and she vows to prove him wrong. Reese decides to tell Lois he was kicked out of shop class since it now pales in comparison to her being arrested. Craig volunteers to bring the boys back home safe, Lois wants them to behave for Craig. Dewey asks the officer to turn on the siren and does. The boys are glad they are no longer getting haircuts as Lois is being taken away to be arrested.

Later on, Hal bails her out of jail, but Lois isn't in the mood for a sultry situation. She sarcastically states that it was fine with what thoughts with the lack of concern the boys were showing her knowing she was in jail. Reese asks if Lois got tattooed and she stares at him in annoyance. Hal looks through the copies of the list of the unpaid tickets that Lois has in her name and that he can't understand how they amassed so many traffic ticket violations without any knowledge about it.

A call home to Marlin Academy reveals that Francis got them all in Lois' name, which makes her furious. He tries to get her to calm down and let him explain, but she refuses. Lois furiously yells at Francis for getting all those traffic ticket violations and never telling her about it. She mentions it was his fault that she got arrested, taken to the police station to be booked and locked up. Francis defends himself by saying it's Lois' fault that he is stuck in military school. 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, Lois tells off Francis that his irresponsible behavior has caught up with him and that he will suffer the consequences. She tells him that he is going to pay back the family by paying those parking tickets along with the $145 to get the family van out of impound, adding up to a total of $747.13. Francis says it's totally unfair and that none of the incidents would have happened if Lois wasn't a reckless driver. He further explains that whenever he parked too close to a mailbox, he was not endangering anyone's life. Lois tells him that was not the case on her end, that she was pulled over by a corrupt cop for a traffic violation she did not commit. Francis then states it's ironic that karma has come back to haunt her in the end. He mentions that when he was framed by the police for an incident involving the neighbor's car, the result was getting sent to Marlin Academy. Lois points out he asked for it. She keeps defending herself that the cop was out to get her for not giving her a free iced tea. Francis says it's a fact that everyone's out to get you -- including the neighbor's cat who's the ringleader. Lois then repeats that until he can come up with the owed money, he is not allowed to visit home, Francis calls her out and asks her how he's supposed to get the $747.13 while stuck in Marlin Academy. He claims the punishment is just an excuse to keep him in military school. Lois ends the call by saying it was the cat's idea. Malcolm tells Lois that there's no way Francis can come up with the owed money, but she stares at him in anger, forcing him to take back what he said. Hal calms her down and claims that Malcolm is right and that Francis will find a solution and that everything will be fine. Hal understands that Lois will have to go to traffic school but hears about the fun courses including cooking, bowling and comedy traffic school classes. However, she interrupts and tells him off that she won't got to traffic school. Hal warns her that if she refuses, she will get a point on her license. Lois explains that she's not going and won't get that point because she's taking it to court since she did nothing wrong and she will make the boys testify in court as her witnesses as she believes they saw what truly happened. Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are horrified by this because none of them were paying attention (Reese was pulling gum off the bottom of his shoe, Malcolm was giving himself a pirate tattoo and Dewey was fantasizing about driving the car himself) but they agree in order to avoid making her angrier. Lois predicts a case of entrapment. Hal tries to talk some sense into Lois by explaining it's going to be her word against the officer's and how the judge usually rules in favor of the police's defense. Lois is sure that's what Officer Stockton is counting on, and how he'll be the one in serious trouble with his job for making an unlawful arrest. Hal sensing his loss in the argument accepts Lois' decision and says that he and the boys have their total support. Reese tells her that in a world full of lies, truth is her greatest weapon earning a confused look from all of them, Reese states he was only trying to be supportive.

The next day at the Lucky Aide, Officer Stockton revisits the check out counter. Lois taunts him with planting drugs on someone, the officer jokes saying he was about to do that after he pays full price for the iced tea. Lois tells him she is fighting the ticket. The officer says that he will look forward to seeing Lois in court, and to drive safely... when she gets her car back. Lois tells him off that he will be the one proven wrong when court begins and that he will owe her a serious apology for it.

Later in the day, Lois is trying to figure out how the cop could've seen her pull out into the road. Francis calls home and tells Lois he sent her $20 in good faith in hope she will let him off his punishment. 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 she will not let him renege out of his irresponsibility and recklessness any longer. Lois informs Francis that she and Hal are down to one car until he receives his next paycheck, so he can either come up with the owed funds, or he is not welcome back home. Francis explains how logically it is impossible for him to get the money because he is in school, when he doesn't have school, he has to do homework in his dorm, when he's not doing homework, he has detention given to him by Spangler, with any luck he has six hours of leisure time a week, and with the minimum wage he receives, he wouldn't be able to make it home until Thanksgiving 2010. Lois maintains her stance by telling him "You bring the yams" and hangs up the phone. Despite her anger towards Francis' actions, she does have hope he will find the money.

Malcolm visits Craig at Lucky Aide because Lois and him agreed to have him drive Malcolm to his study group, he catches Craig looking at surveillance footage of female customers shopping, in which Malcolm conceives the idea to gather evidence. He reviews footage 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, both he and Craig are shocked that she actually is guilty. At home Malcolm shows the copied tape to Reese, who is overjoyed as it proves she is wrong and they can hold it against her whenever she gets mad at them. Malcolm wants to show it sooner, but they can't due to them not being able to contain their excitement.

Hal comes home from work telling Lois about his day. Lois asks who Susan King is, Hal thinks for a moment, and then he asks Lois if she knows the answer already. Lois tells Hal that she is an insurance agent who called the house about quotes in the case she gets a point on her license, and wonders why. Hal explains he made a call to her for a simple inquiry, Lois then follows up with the hypothetical about Lois losing the case against the officer, Hal says that he is just looking for the worst-case scenario. Lois then states that there are no "what-ifs" and Hal agrees with her, regardless how high their insurance rates will increase. Hal mentions the family will not be able to afford two cars, they can sell one. Lois' stubbornness tells her Hal is expecting her loss in court and he passes it off as support. Hal tells her he does support her, but needs to know what must be dealt with and whether or not the litigation will be worth all the trouble. Lois once again keeps her stance and says standing up for herself with being right is worth it, and is disappointed with the little faith her own husband has in her. Hal then states that the justice system may be corrupt, if that were not true, they would not be dealing with their current issue. Lois knows it will be hard to prove her innocence, but swears on her childrens lives she is right. Malcolm comes into the kitchen, walking in on Lois' conversation, he backs out concealing the videotape in his hands.

Back in the boys bedroom, Reese berates Malcolm for being too afraid to show their mother the tape, Malcolm blames Reese for not accompanying him. Malcolm understands that the person who shows the tape will be yelled at, Reese constantly keeps saying that he's not it.

Meanwhile at Marlin Academy, Francis attempts to come up with the owed money by pulling a dangerous stunt for his colleagues. Eric and Finley agree that everyone will pay Francis $50 if he jumps from the roof of Marlin Academy's dormitory, to the roof of the gym building on the school's riding lawnmower, Joe mentions the bagger attachment but Francis claims it would add too much drag, Joe still finds the idea too easy, Francis tells them if they each pay an extra $5 he'll do it blindfolded. At that moment, he receives a call from home and tells them to give it some thought. Once he learns from Malcolm that Lois was guilty he is overjoyed. Francis wants him to hold it that incontrovertible evidence against her, but Malcolm doesn't think it is a good idea to shove it in her face. Francis tells him that from now on, whenever Lois gets all high and mighty by berating them or attempting to punish them, they can show her the clear wrong-doing and get off the hook. Malcolm still refuses, anticipating the angry outrage he will have to deal with, Francis says he should be brave and take one for the team.

The boys show the tape to Hal, believing it was best if he saw it first. Hal tells them they did the right thing, and that they should ease her into the truth at the right moment as it is a very delicate matter. Just then, Lois comes home paranoid that the cop that put her in jail is stalking her. Hal tries to comfort her by saying the officer has more important things to tend to. Officer Stockton arrives at the front door, informing her of her request to look at his records, so he drove over and personally deliver them and compliments her house. Lois believes it's an act of intimidation and does not fall for it, and that he shouldn't threaten her. He assures her it wasn't a threat, merely a compliment before leaving. After Lois rants on about how she is right, Hal and the boys realize she has gone off the deep end. Hal and the boys show the tape to Lois, she states that the tape is wrong. The boys protest, but he tells them not to interfere while he handles it.

In the bedroom, Lois tells him that she's not stupid and she saw the tape, but knows what happened and that it's wrong. Hal says he believes her but Lois knows he doesn't and expected him to believe her. Hal and that he and the rest of the world tend to believe what their eyes see and explains the facts, her loss in the argument being universally clear and it's time to give up. He also mentions how being right all the time can be a terrible burden for someone. Hal reminds Lois that in the last 20 years she has never once admitted to being wrong because she has never needed to, but now there is proof and understands that it will be hard because of how much pride she'll have to swallow because of the cop but the time has come to let go. Lois, seething with rage and snarling through gritted teeth, states she hates that cop and refuses to give him the satisfaction of knowing he won. Hal finally convinces her to admit she is wrong, and she finally drops the case.

That night Hal and the boys are playing the boys homemade board game "Crap-opoly" when Lois yells at them about leaving the fridge open, Dewey says she did it, and drops it since she may have. Lois calms down considerably, finally accepting that she can be wrong (which the boys use to shift blame to her which she accepts). Malcolm says that it's nice to see their mother like this. Francis calls home again, this time in a wheelchair from the dangerous stunt he pulled. He tells Lois that he got $192 out of the remaining $727.13 owed to pay off some of the tickets, but she apologizes for her anger, and suggests to him he can use it to come home next weekend. Lois leaves the house to attend a traffic school class.

A few minutes later, Craig arrives with another videotape from the mini-mart across the street as part of an arrangement to understand each other's security needs for their customers. One of the mini-mart's exterior cameras recorded from a different angle reveals that the Volkswagen Lois had cut off had performed an illegal u-turn beforehand, proving that Lois had been right the whole time. Hal, knowing Lois would revert to her old self if made aware of the evidence, removes the tape from the VCR and immediately stomps on the tape. Hal and the boys order Craig to remain silent, to which he nervously nods a yes to.


  • Jane Kaczmerek as Lois
  • Bryan Cranston as Hal
  • Christopher Kennedy Masterson as Francis
  • Justin Berfield as Reese
  • Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey
  • Frankie Muniz as Malcolm

Guest Stars[]



  • Sam McMurray as Officer Stockton


  • 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.
  • Francis' arrest in Pilot is mentioned here. This confirmed that it was his burning of the neighbor's car that lead to the police arresting him and the reason Lois shipped him off to Marlin Academy, not his nose piecing fiasco in Home Alone 4
  • If Craig had delivered the tape to Lois sooner, then she would have easily won the case prosecuting Officer Stockton of an unlawful stop and false arrest. According to the law known as the "Police Misconduct Provision", Lois' false arrest would have been an isolated incident... unless the prosecuting side discovered the officer's drug planting and off-screen misconduct. All of this would reveal a "pattern or practice." Lois would be exonerated of the charges while Officer Stockton would either be suspended from duty or fired
  • The parking lot used for this episode is located at 12039 Ventura Place, Studio City, CA 91604.[1]
  • Lois gets arrested at 12069 Ventura Place, Studio City, CA 91604.[1]
  • This is the 2nd time Hal's confronted Lois for her controlling ways. The first time was actually in Funeral. The next times are in Clip Show 2, Thanksgiving and in Softball
  • When Malcolm and Reese were trying to stop laughing before showing Lois the tape the dialogue between them was ad-libbed by their actors.


Hal: I heard they made traffic school really fun. There's bowling traffic school, cooking traffic school, 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 police, 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.

[Francis has just called home and it's revealed that he got the unpaid parking tickets in her name]
Francis: Mom, just calm down.
Lois: I was in jail, Francis. Jail! All because you didn't pay your parking tickets. How could you have gotten 16 unpaid parking tickets and not tell us about it?
Francis: Well it isn't my fault, mom. You keep me stuck here. When I come home, I have so much living to do that I don't have any time to look for legal parking.