When Dutch police stopped a car for a broken headlight and noticed the driver was accompanied by a prostitute, they gave him a break and let him pay the traffic fine in cash rather than sending the ticket to his home.

"In the spirit of Christmas ... the man was allowed to leave the police station euro50 ($75) poorer but with an easy heart," a statement by Utrecht police Friday said.

The 40-year-old man, whose identity wasn't released, acknowledged the woman was a street prostitute after being stopped Thursday evening, the statement said.

Regulated prostitution in brothels is legal here, while street prostitution is illegal.

The officer wrote the man a ticket for the headlight and said it would arrive in an official police envelope.

The man "wanted to pay immediately because otherwise his wife could have seen that he was ticketed on the Europalaan (a well known pickup strip) in Utrecht, with all the consequences that would bring," the statement said.

After the man begged for mercy, the officer relented and took him to a nearby station to pay cash, it said.

Utrecht police spokeswoman Ellen de Heer said the statement was intended to show that police aren't the unbending rule-followers they are often made out to be.

"We have some feeling for people's individual situations," she said.


Dutch cops let man off the hook(er)

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 38 minutes ago