Traffic ticket question...

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Broadside Bob, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Broadside Bob

    Broadside Bob Member

    135
    0
    16
    Just got a ticket for something I did not do. Was coming home tonight and rolled through a yellow turn arrow. DeKalb County PD stopped me (obviously in "open door policy" mode).

    Right now, I'm planning to go to court with this even though I'll bet it will be futile, but I do see two problems with the citation even aside from the fact that I did not run the light:

    (1) The officer specifically referenced the "no right on red" sign at this intersection. Well, I never stopped and don't claim to (nor was I required to) as the light never turned red. Why is this intersection's being "no right on red" relevant to the my traffic stop at all if I did not stop first and then turn on red?

    (2) On the ticket, the oficer wrote, "Light turned on yell red before making the turn." He scratched out "yell" and replaced it with "red." Clearly, HE almost wrote yellow on the citation.

    I have nothing but respect for the police. Granted, I would not be happy with myself had I actually done what he said, but I'd still just pay the fine and move on.

    I know traffic court is almost always the defendent's word against the police, but I think I might have a little more than that. Any ideas from any attorneys or police officers out there on how much chance I have of beating this? Is it worthwhile to even try?

    Good news is that I looked up the statute and the fine is only $70. However, the law also stipulates that it is not considered a moving violation so there shouldn't be any points on my license.

    Thanks for listening to the vent.

    BB
     
  2. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

    8,460
    5
    38
    Frankly it is not worth the effort.
    I got a ticket for unsafe start (I was turning, trying to get out of the way of another on-coming car). On the ticket it said I had a manual with a V8 engine when I only had a V6 automatic. It didn't matter what he wrote down as my car, still boiled down to my word against his as to what actually happened.

    What I did not realize is that they would tack on court costs to the fine. :x

    On the day of the ticket they asked who was pleading guilty or not guilty, those that were pleading not guilty were rescheduled for another day. So I waisted several hours out from work to go to both court dates and wound up having to pay even more. :banghead:

    The only way it would be worth it is if the traffic cop does not show up to court. \:D/

    I would say that unless you have a witness to testify, just pay the fine. :2cents:
     

  3. Broadside Bob

    Broadside Bob Member

    135
    0
    16
    Thanks Gunstar...

    Yeah, I understand it's not worth the effort. It's more principle than anything. At $70, the fine is relatively cheap; I figure a the half day I may have to take off of work is worth much more than $70 so I really lose either way.

    My big argument with the ticket was that what he crossed out jibes perfectly with what actually happened...I rolled through a yellow light not a red.
     
  4. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

    8,460
    5
    38
    Oh, I know how you feel.

    I had to take 2 afternoons off and pay the fine and court cost. Which just ticket me off even more :evil:
    Looking back on it, I should have just paid the fine and been done with it.
     
  5. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

    63,352
    385
    83
    I would fight it.


    The light must turn red before you enter the intersection. If it turns red after your car has crossed the line, then you should be found not guilty.

    If the officer lies and testifies that it was red before you ever entered the intersection, you will be found guilty if it is just your word against his - guaranteed.

    But, from what you posted, I do not know that such will be the case. The writing is ambiguous enough that he may be intending to testify that it turned yellow before and red while you were in the intersection. A lot of police officers do not know the difference.

    Send me a PM closer to your court date, and I will give you the appropriate statutes to use.
     
  6. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

    9,000
    9
    38
    The court date on any ticket will be a date for you to show up and plead not guilty or guilty, unless you pay the fine in advance in which case you are pleading guilty.

    If a person pleads guilty a new court date is set and the officer and any witnesses are subpoenaed to court. They aren't "invited' to court on the first date because it would be pointless to have people show up for someone that is pleading guilty.

    This is also done so that you can inform the court of any witnesses that you want to come to court so the court can "invite" them as well. You calling somebody and asking them to come has no force of law but a court order does.

    If on your trial date you show up but any of the witnesses AGAINST you don't, you can move to have the charges dropped due to your right to face your accusers.

    What code section was written on the ticket? It should be something like 40-6-20.
     
  7. Broadside Bob

    Broadside Bob Member

    135
    0
    16
    On the ticket...

    The code section sited is 40-6-20.

    Has DeKalb changed? When I have been there in the past (last time about 7 years ago), the judge asked for pleas and then went through the sentencing for the guilties. Then, they tried the not guilties that day.
     
  8. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

    24,303
    110
    63
    I Argued On the Scene Once

    Recently another car and I were in a double-left turn only lane (2 turning lanes side by side), and when we got the green arrow I went more or less straight forward for a few feet so as to gently follow the arc of the curve around (it was like a 300 ft. arc to go from the balk line to the driving lanes of the road we were both turning onto). The car to my right, however, cut her wheel hard left and crashed into me. Apparently she intended not to follow an arc, but to turn 45 degrees instantly and make a beeline for the other road, although she would have then had to weave around the concrete island separating the lanes of that crossroad.

    So we crashed, and we called the cops, and there was some dispute over whose jurisdiction we were in and what kind of road it was (designated state highway = GSP response, they said), and finally the trooper came and heard my story, and the lady's story (... this car on my left just went straight forward, and hit me, and I was turning left like we were supposed to..."). After hearing the stories, he was ready to ticket BOTH of us for failure to maintain lane or improper turn.

    I had to argue with him a little bit. How could he have "probable cause" to believe that I was at fault based on what SHE told him, while at the same time finding "probable cause" to believe she was at fault in light of MY version of the incident? It seems that the evidence presented to the trooper, combined with the lack of any other witnesses and no physical evidence (nothing fell off our cars, nobody skidded, etc.) meant that there was not even a "preponderance of the evidence" that one particular person was at fault. Certainly one of us WAS at fault, but the evidence was insufficient for the cop to make the determination which it was, and since we couldn't BOTH be at fault and were not acting in concert or as part of a conspiracy... I insisted that he could not charge me, and neither should he charge the other driver.

    The trooper finally he admitted that I was right, but he simply had to charge somebody with something, since he spent more than an hour on this call so far. After a while he decided that I needed a ticket for a cracked tail light lens, and since it WAS badly cracked (and had been for months prior) I didn't argue with that. That was a good to avoid having a more serious ticket with points on my license, and avoiding being declared to be responsible for an accident with property damage, etc.

    P.S. I was carrying concealed at the time. Nobody ever asked about it, and I didn't mention anything.
     
  9. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

    9,000
    9
    38
    Re: I Argued On the Scene Once

    Actually, each driver can be at fault in a wreck. For instance, if both drivers run stop signs at a 4-way stop and wreck then both would be at fault.
     
  10. legacy38

    legacy38 Active Member

    9,000
    9
    38
    Re: On the ticket...

    On a trial date, each person is again given the option to plead guilty/not guilty.

    DeKalb may have a different system, but I don't see how they could have subpoenas issued for the officers and witnesses unless there has already been a not guilty plea.
     
  11. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

    63,352
    385
    83
    legacy 38, different places do it different ways. I actually once challenged a ticket and had to appear THREE times before I got my way. I also worked for two cities that held trials same day after all the guilty pleas were over.

    Bob, I would call DeKalb at the number on the back of the ticket and ask. It's not like it is a secret or something. They will tell you.


    Also, OCGA 40-6-20, is not where you want to look for the answer to whether you are guilty as charged. That is the appropriate charge to write on the citation, as it is failure to obey a traffic signal device, but it tells you nothing about whether you did, in fact, obey it.

    Rather, study the following: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/cgi-bin/gl ... de=40-6-21

    particularly(a)(3)(A), on the meaning of a circular red indication, which gives its meaning as a bar to entering the intersection. You will note there is no offense for being in the intersection when the light turns red.

    If you cannot make it all the way across, so that you are stopped and blocking the intersection, that is another offense entirely.

    Carefully review (a)(2)(A) as well, which gives the meaning of a yellow light - "Traffic . . . is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection."
     
  12. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

    3,458
    1
    38
    Bob,
    Some places accept not guilty pleas by mail or at the clerk's office before the court date. If they do, you may wish to do that and then show up for court when something actually is going to happen. As MP said, different places do it different ways, and it's easy to find out how the jurisdiction in question does it just by calling.
     
  13. Broadside Bob

    Broadside Bob Member

    135
    0
    16
    My trip to DeKalb Recorder's Court

    Went to court today and thought I'd let you know how it turned out since I sought info (and vented) here.

    But first, if anybody here does not know it already, MP ROCKS!! :!: :!:

    Based on that, you can correctly guess that I beat the ticket, but I do have a couple of "morals to the story."

    #1 If you ever receive a citation, check out the officer's view of the location where it occurred. In my case, the officer told me that he was in "the CVS parking lot" and that I rolled through a traffic light immediately after it turned red. Well, a few weeks ago, I stopped at that CVS and realized that the road is in a 4 - 5 foot depression below the level of the road...there was no way he would have been able to see markings painted on the road surface if he was below the level of the road. I was prepared to show pictures today to prove that. In the cases before mine, the judge seemed very fair (even too fair), and I think would likely have bought my argument.

    #2 ALWAYS go to court. Today, the judge swore us in today and then asked the officer to present his case. He stated the date, time, and location of the incident and then started stammering :shock: (and I was worried about freezing up). He finally admitted he could not remember the facts so the judge dismissed. I thanked the judge and the officer on my way out. :drink:

    I will say that although court is not a fun place to be, it sure is interesting. I'm thinking that if we ever have kids, I'll drag them down there when they're learning to drive to see what can happen when you start screwing up.