So here is the whole story.
3 of us were riding a new route in northplains Oregon (pop 500, approx 20 miles from portland). Had a long (2 or 3 mile) straight away on a country road. We were practicing drafting so the people behind me were looking at my wheels - they didn't see the stop sign.
I grabbed a drink of water and missed putting it back in its basket cleanly so spent more time then normal looking down and not ahead. When I finally looked ahead saw that we were about 30 ft from a stop sign that I hadn't previously noticed and we were going 20 mph. Made attempt to stop but realized I was going way too fast to safely stop (especially with people behind me). So made quick look to make sure no traffic was coming and rode through.
Of course a cop was sitting in the bushes just past the intesection and pulled all 3 of us over and nailed us with $350 tickets a piece. I've been given the option of going to court or to pay the full $360, take drivers ed, and have it erased. Not sure if my defense is going to be worth going to court and asking the judge to lower fine...
#1 - we were totally in the wrong - we ran the sign but it was not on purpose (we also understand how lucky we were that no traffic was coming)
#2 - last ticket was 10 years ago in a car
#3 - the circumstances - never been on road before, odd placement for a stop - long straight-away with a T-intersection (we were on the continuing road but have the stop; the road that deadends into our rode has a stop but right turn permitted without stop), taking a drink and not seeing the sign until too late, we did not impede traffic - there was one car on the road 200 ft away coming from deadending road.
#4 - this is not how we ride (blowing stop signs) we are very safety conscious and this was just a mistake.
I can totally understand getting the ticket and I am not claiming that the cops are out to get us but am hoping that a judge might see how an unfortunate set of events lead to us running the sign and that it was not just a bunch of bikers deciding which laws to choose to obey.
Any advice would be nice -