That time my last name saved me from a speeding ticket…

Jennifer Hnat, RDN
5 min readJan 14, 2022


I kid you not.

Or in my case, Hnat!

It’s a story I’ve told many times at dinner parties and social events, and I am still amazed that I talked my way out of a citation speaking my truth. In full disclosure, this was not my first speeding ticket. No sir, I was first pulled over at the age of 16, a puddle of tears flowing out the window when the officer asked for my license and registration.

Tears don’t work.

In my defense, I was born with my grandmother’s lead-filled right foot and that used to get me into trouble when I was in the driver’s seat. We all have our own personal struggles in life, right?

Here’s another one: my unusual last name. And when I say unusual, I mean impossible to pronounce for 99.9% of the population when they first lay eyes on it. In fact to date, only four people in my entire existence have looked at my last name and and pronounced it properly.


It’s Czech. Here’s the trick: it’s spelled H-n-a-t but the pronunciation is “not”.

As in “I am NOT surprised that you want to pronounce Hnat like ‘gnat’ because almost every single person does.” One of my high school besties used to call me “Not Gnat Hnat” because I was constantly correcting people when they would slaughter it like a butcher does a carcass.

Being blessed with this last name obviously garnered me a slew of nicknames that rhyme with not, so go ahead, have a field day.

Now that you understand perhaps more than you need to about my last name without me launching into the subsequent PTSD that occurred each time a teacher would start to role-call the H’s…. oh that’s a great story about getting kicked out of biology 101 at UGA for another time. Promise.

But I digress…back on topic.

I’ll set the stage for you about how I spoke the truth and did Hnat receive a ticket.

  1. I was in my 30's.
  2. I just leveled up from a Honda to a 325i BMW. So while this isn’t their premium model, this was a big deal for me. I have coveted the “Ultimate Driving Machine” ever since my 16th birthday but was gifted my grandmother’s Ford Grand Torino (nickname: the Brown Bomb). Yes, the same grandmother with the lead foot so it literally begged for speed.
  3. I flew up to Connecticut to pick up my new lease-to-own car because this was the color I wanted with all the fancy bells and whistles!
  4. I was driving back from Connecticut to Georgia and my grandmother’s lead foot kicked into high gear somewhere in the Carolina’s, intoxicated with the power it was feeling from the massive engine upgrade.
  5. I felt invincible and sexy, like I was in an auto commercial, that is until I spotted red flashing lights in my new rear view mirror. Ugh.

Unfortunately I know the drill, so I’m dutifuly grabbing my driver’s license and insurance card while sweat is beading up on my brow and under my arms. Actually I didn’t even have a card yet, everything was being transferred over but I did have some sort of documentation from my insurance company because, well, just because I didn’t want to push my luck like that.

Speeding, yes, breaking the law of driving without insurance out of state in a brand new car, nope.

I’m watching all of this transpire in slow motion, this tall, strappingly handsome black male of a police officer confidently striding to my new 325i with a fresh ticket book in hand. As I open my window, he is blasted with a pungent whiff of my new vehicle. All ten of his fingers instantly itchy to write me a ticket.

“License and registration, ma’am.”

I hand it over to him, calculating the cost of my misdemeanor on the horizon.

He looks at my license, inquisitively, and asks in a strong Southern drawl, “how (the hell) do you pronounce your last name, ma’am?

He didn’t say, “the hell” but his tone sure did.

Now what happens next still baffles me to this day. I responded, deleting all last-name-associated-trauma of the past, “it’s pronounced not, rhymes with HOT.”

You read that right, I said, it rhymes with hot.

I had never said that before but it became my catch phrase when I’m feeling flirty. And I plan to until I reach each major milestone birthday from here to one hundred. Upon hearing my response, the words lingering on his ears like an Ally Wong Netflix comedy special, he just about dropped his ticket book as he bent over in an unexpected combination of disbelief and full body laughter.

He quickly gained his professional composure, and then inquired about my speed.

Ma’am do you know how fast you were going?

Now here’s where honesty replaced tears. I said, “oh, yes sir, probably really fast since I just upgraded from a Honda to a BMW. And to add insult to injury I’m cursed with my grandmother’s lead foot so I really wanted to see what was under this hood!”

He shook his head, eyes as big as saucers behind his mirrored sunglasses, again a wave of disbelief washing over him. Up until that point in time he has probably heard every story imaginable, people trying to wiggle their way out of a speeding ticket with the most ludicrous lies and fabrications.

Except for 100% brutal, human honesty.

I remember reading a story somewhere on social media that if you make a cop laugh, they won’t write you a ticket. In hindsight, that wasn’t the intention or tactic. But in my case, somehow it worked.

The reality is I was so d*mn giddy about my new car that I didn’t want to lie about why I was speeding. And my honesty must have touched his heart and soul because he made the judicial decision not to write me a ticket.

I mean, HNAT write me a ticket!

For that, I am forever grateful because it’s one of my life stories that never ceases to bring a big smile to my face. Thank you Mr. officer, and you’re welcome because you were also blessed with a great story to share with your fellow colleagues about that sassy Southern Georgia girl with the crazy last name and lead foot who went flying by you without receiving a speeding ticket!

P.S. The author doesn’t speed anymore but still practices radical honesty.



Jennifer Hnat, RDN

Non-diet dietitian | Food | Nutrition | Mindfulness | Magnetism | Loves animals | Yoga | Travel | Hi vibe green juice | Eats mostly plants | Humor is medicine |