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Reasonable or not?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by az3579, Jan 10, 2010.

    • Member

    az3579

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    So far the New Year hasn't brought much good luck to me. In fact, it's been one thing after another, sometimes simultaneously. But anyway, on to the point of this thread...


    I was heading home tonight after visiting someone. There is a road that runs perpedicularly to his street. I turn onto the street and continue down the street doing between an indicated 25-30mph (BMW speedo's lie, so it's less than that) and approach an intersection, at which I intended to make a left turn. Just as I'm about to make my left turn, the light turns yellow. At this point, it is unreasonable for me to slam on my brakes because that would have ultimately led to me skidding into the intersection (ABS doesn't work), so I go for it. It is a rather sharp left turn, but I take it, perfectly in control and at a reduced speed to stop if something was around the corner. At this intersection, there is a building right on the left corner. I saw that the walkway where I was going to turn was clear, so I make my move before the light turns red, so by the time I enter the intersection, the light is still yellow.

    I complete the turn and there is a police car standing behind another car that is waiting on the red light to turn green. I think nothing of it and head down the street doing an indicated 23mph, which once again in BMW terms is less than that. At this point I know this was my speed because I know this is a frequently walked road and that there are lots of police around, so I frequently check my speedo on this street every time I go here. This is a tight street that is frequently walked by pedestrians, but at this point there aren't really many pedestrians anywhere, and there are definitely none on the road with the exception of one person. This one person was getting into her car that was parallel-parked on the right-side of the street, down the road. By the time I approached her, she was halfway in the car with her car door fully extended, and at this point I'm still doing about 20-23mph indicated, giving her enough room to get in the car.
    I make it another 100 or so feet down the road and I see the lovely christmas-tree twinkling of lights behind me of Beacon's finest. Great, I think. I pull over.

    The officer that pulled me over said I ran a red light and was travelling at an unreasonable speed down the road.

    To me, this didn't make sense. Let's start with the red light.
    If you're in an intersection already by the time the light turns red, does that still qualify as running a red light? If so, is that so even if it's unreasonable to stop?
    Second, how could an officer correctly identify if a car is in an intersection by the time a light turns red if his view is obstructed by a vehicle in front of him and the corner of the building on the right of him (behind which I am coming from)?

    Second, is 23mph an unreasonable speed to travel on a road that has a 30mph speed limit, there is no ice, snow, or any wetness on the pavement, and no pedestrians on it? What about if a pedestrian is already in a vehicle parked on the side of the street, and plenty of room given for the pedestrian to enter the vehicle and clear the vehicle's door?



    I want to know, what do you all think: is it reasonable for the officer to have stopped me for these things?
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    Hrrm.. well.. in a sense it doesn't matter if it's reasonable or not, you have a ticket you're stuck with and you have to decide whether to try to fight it or pay it and live with the points, the ticket on your record, and possibly the insurance ramifications (your insurance company may do nothing, jack your rates, or drop you, for instance).

    Then there's the question of lawyer or not, and or if you want to spend the money on a lawyer, which could probably pretty easily rack up to $500 or $1k, and then you could lose and get stuck w/ court costs on top of that. And don't forget your previous driving record, you might have a prosecutor drag that out. Or you might be in your typical small town mayor's kangaroo court where you don't stand any chance of a verdict in your favor regardless of how right you are or how much proof you have. So part of the consideration is, is it a two-pt. moving violation, or more... and how much is the fine... and what are the insurance consequences...how much is it going to cost to fight... do you stand any chance or have any credibility if you don't hire a lawyer... (never mind the lack of legal knowledge and rigamarole)....

    Then there's the proof of the matter - how did the officer determine your speed? Unless he clocked you with radar, a lawyer might be able to argue the point that it might be difficult to determine whether you were speeding or not just by distant visual observation. Your strongest point might be, exactly how did the officer see where you were and at what time? Could the officer see the status of the signal lights from his position? If so, unless his view of you was totally obscured, it may be that he could easily see your position in the intersection or approaching it relative to the timing of the signal lights... If the officer is asserting that your speed was unreasonable but he clocked you doing less than the speed limit, I think the point could be made that you weren't exceeding the city-specified MAX speed limit, and since there was no accident caused, or nearly caused, no evidence of you losing control of your vehicle at any time, it's course of direction changing due to how you were driving or the speed you were driving, then weren't you operating your vehicle within the scope of the law, normal operation, and any reasonable expectations? BTW, it's ez to shoot yourself in the foot in a court of law, that's why we need lawyers! Good luck whatever happens!
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    epbrown01

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    You're describing almost the exact scenario of my first ticket as a teenager. Rather than screech to a halt, I drove through a yellow to make a turn. Half a mile later, the cop stopped me saying I ran the red.

    "What took you so long to stop me?"
    "I had to wait for the light to change."
    "If I ran a red light, didn't you already have a green?"
    "...okay, you were speeding."
    "But then-"
    "Young man, I can just keep adding them on, so be quiet."

    You can't win - just let it go, pay the fine, and consider yourself lucky; sometimes when the police make a mistake, you get shot 20-30 times for holding a cell phone.
    • Member

    az3579

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    Marshall -
    I'm screwed either way, because if I plead guilty, I'll get screwed in insurance for another few years. If I don't plead guilty, then I have to take a day from work to go in, and I don't get sick or personal days, so if I don't go to work, I don't get paid.

    I'm fighting it because him stopping me, in my opinion, was unwarranted. I'm going back there on Saturday to see what kind of viewpoint he had while sitting at that light, and to check to see how long that yellow light really is on the side I was approaching from.

    He wouldn't have had anything on me. He didn't clock my speed, and the only thing that he could have possibly had to measure was his own speedo, but that would have been useless because he was speeding up to catch up to me, and by the time I noticed him, I was off the throttle doing about 25 (well past the pedestrian) and was slowing down by the time he matched my speed, so he really has no idea how fast I was going. I had nothing else he could get me on; I don't drive with a cell phone (I have a bluetooth headset that wasn't in my ear), all of my lights were working and being used (I signaled when pulling aside), put on hazards when pulled over, pulled to the side to not be in the way, and didn't do anything stupid anywhere in the process. My car isn't loud, doesn't have tints, doesn't had annoying HID lights, and yes, only one license plate light works but it clearly illuminates the license plate. I have plates front and rear. There is absolutely nothing else he could have stopped me for, so I do believe that making the points I made in my original post (and some of the points on Marshall's post) that I could fight this.

    I was just looking for opinions to see what the counter-arguments could be.
    • Member

    CRKrieger

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    Always plead 'Not Guilty'.

    There. That's the substance of the legal advice I'm qualified to render for your state (unless you're in Wisconsin or Ohio; you never mentioned where this occurred*).

    As a practical matter, you should easily get the speed charge dropped, at least if it's based on 'reasonableness' and not a radar, laser, or other measured standard - and this clearly wasn't. To determine 'reasonableness', you get to talk about all the other factors around at the time. Pedestrians, traffic, time of day, etc., etc. Your word is as good as the cop's unless you somehow demonstrate that you're a liar. Look over the citations carefully to see if anything is clearly wrong on its face. If so, you have an "If he can't get the facts written down straight, how reliable is his description?" argument.

    The red light cite is more problematic, but it still bears analysis and depends on whose observations were more accurate or more believable. You are allowed to enter an intersection on amber. You are also required to clear the intersection when it changes to red. For a car that's turning, that is exactly how it must happen. If you happened to enter on amber and you still have to complete a turn, it's completely unreasonable to expect that it be done in the 2-4 seconds before the light turns red. Bottom line: for a left turn intersection you entered under amber, you must, by necessity, complete it under red.

    As for hiring counsel, I have no way to tell you what to do. After entering your Not Guilty plea, request or inquire about a 'pretrial', 'prosecutor's conference', 'plea meeting', or whatever it might be called. You want to present your case, informally, to the prosecuting attorney so he/she knows what they'll be faced with at trial. A good presentation here by a reasonable, calm, confident individual will convince them that they've got a good chance of losing. The problem is, they aren't geared toward total dismissals, which is what you should seek. So you have to make a really good presentation in order for them to take this extraordinary step. If you are unsure about doing any of this on your own, it's time to seek the help of one of my professional colleagues in your area. Good luck.

    * Actually, I did pass the Connecticut bar exam in 1983, but decided I would never want to live there - so I never practiced there.

    LuckyK guest

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    Get More Information

    This is not legal advice. My practice is limited to Missouri and Kansas. I handle traffic tickets as a part of my practice. Most of my clients do NOT appear at court. They pay me the money for the fine, court costs and attorney fees and I handle the case. Most of the time, I don't even appear before the Judge. I work out the plea agreement and go pay the money to the clerk of the court.

    Call some attorneys or email them and get some advice. They will know their judges and what to expect. Some of my Judges are great to try cases but others the deal gets very sweet if we just suggest that we want to try it. I have gotten very good offers ... too good to repeat here ... just because my client was hard headed and wanted to try the darn thing or when the facts were very good for me to try it.

    Good luck and I hope the year gets better for you.

    LuckyK in Kansas City
    1998 Z3
    • Member

    az3579

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    LuckyK,
    Unfortunately, I am in no position to hire an attorney. I couldn't afford one at the moment even if I wanted to, and I have no idea how I'll pay the court fees, but that's something I have to figure out as the time comes. I am determined to fight this myself, and want to be armed with the best information I can have so I can go to battle armed with what I need to make them back down.

    For the record, this happened in upstate New York in the town of Beacon.

    As part of my research, I am going to go back and measure how long the yellow light is at that intersection and if it's a relatively short light, I will make it a point that if you're already in the intersection when the light is yellow and if it turns red on you very quickly, there is no way to complete the turn before it turns red, because of the nature of the turn, being a little sharper than 90 degrees. I am also going to go back and stop where the officer was standing at the time to see what he could have possibly seen with a car in front of him and a building covering the view to the right, and if it's not illegal, take a picture from inside the vehicle showing what can be seen. If necessary, I will make a video from the side view, of a vehicle travelling approximately 25mph so that they can put two-and-two together to determine if my vehicle was going fast or slow enough to properly make that turn. I don't think they'll accept the video of course unless there's a radar gun measuring the vehicle's speed, but I guess it's better than nothing. I'll bet it's more than most people do to defend themselves against these accusations...

    CR, I want to question this section of your post:

    I'm a little tired so I may not be comprehending, but what you're essentially saying is that if I am in the intersection when the light is amber, I have to complete the turn by the time the light turns red, correct? If so, there is no way for me to possibly avoid "running" the red light. Either I slam on my brakes and lose control of the car from the brakes locking up, or I complete the turn, which was completely safe to do so at the time. I'm pretty sure they'll agree that completing a turn safely is always a better idea than to lose control of the vehicle?
    So, taking into account what you said, what I did was perfectly reasonable, correct?
    • Member

    rwhgme

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    If your jurisdiction allows you to plea to defective equipment for an upcharge fine, do so, the time involved will cost more, imho.
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    MGarrison

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    CRKrieger

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    You're right. You're not comprehending. It's the opposite.

    The basic principle is that you are allowed to enter an intersection on amber (in spite of some police officers around the country contending you may not). This must be so because human reaction time is not zero and braking is not instantaneous. It is a physical impossibility to stop before amber every time.

    The problem arises when courts and law enforcement stretch the principle to a general rule that you may not. They throw in rationalizations about speeding up to make the entry on amber. This is a very dangerous practice that can, and should, get you a citation. If this is what happened to you, I have no sympathy for you. The other common rationale is blocking the intersection for crossing traffic. This is another problematic practice for those who fail to understand the simple rule that if there's already cross traffic in the intersection, they must wait for it to leave. There's hardly anything more arrogant or obnoxious than 'trapping' timid drivers in the middle of a busy intersection. NYC uses a "Don't Block the Box" local statute to discourage even the possibility. If you are caught in an intersection because you followed traffic that stopped leaving you too little space to clear, it's your fault and you get cited. Under the special circumstances of driving in NYC, I have no problem with this - but that's not what happened here.

    It's possible that the officer is contending that your speed was unreasonable in the intersection. That makes your defense much more difficult. It may well be that your autocross experience gives you real advantage in maneuvering this way, but some states do not allow evidence of either driver or vehicle capability in mitigation of this. I know Ohio doesn't.

    You have a lot of research to do and I can't help more than this. Gutes Glück!
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    az3579

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    It couldn't have been unreasonable in the intersection because it's a sharper turn and it would be stupid to go through it at blazing speed. You can't take that turn at an unreasonable speed otherwise you'd end up beyond the curb.
    Also, if the speed through the intersection was an issue, wouldn't he have cited me for something related to speed through the intersection as well? The "unreasonable" speed citation was for travelling down the main road, not through the intersection.

    These are little bits and pieces that I think matter. If he didn't cite me for speed through the intersection, wouldn't that be irrelevant to the actual charges against me, which is failure to stop at a red light, if there is reasonable doubt of when I actually entered?

    Also, the definition of entering an intersection - where exactly does the intersection begin? Is it after the line at which you're supposed to stop on a red light, or is it after the crosswalk, both of which are relevant questions to determine if he was able to see if I was already in the intersection when the light turned red...




    This whole thing is just giving me a headache and is making me irritable to others around me. I just wish they'd consider the stress they're giving people when they stop them for things they're not guilty of. :mad:
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    tiFreak

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    I might come across as a typical, disrespectful young person but.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TiMtDhiJ2o :p

    guy's just a pussy hiding behind his badge who felt the need to screw up someone else night because he's unhappy with his life or something

    I want to make it clear that I'm not saying that about all cops, just the ones like this one
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    TeamStowell We love driving!

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    Contact for you

    Botond,

    Contact Casey at info@speedlaw.net for some advice. He is a lawyer from the Poughkeepsie area who specializes in cases such as these.
    • Member

    az3579

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    Thanks Scott, I will send this person an introductory email to see if he's willing to bother for free. lol

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