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  1. #1
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Should I Fight A Traffic Citation?

    First off, I was "in the wrong" on this, so I'm not looking for sympathy...

    Scenario:
    1) I've crossed this intersection hundreds of times.
    2) Approaching intersection at a major highway crossing controlled by a traffic signal. Left turn lanes in my direction and opposing. The crossing highway has a RED light and is stopped. The opposing side goes first, with both its left and its straight drivers going simultaneously.
    3) I reach the intersection on the edge of the right-hand "straight" direction lane, to cross. I roll to a stop, but remain upright (not unclipped), and do a semi trackstand waiting for our turn, which (by my experience) is about three seconds away.
    4) The opposing side clears, meaning NO CARS in sight coming from the opposing direction. The crossing highway cars are stopped fully. Our green light is now about two seconds away.

    You can see this coming...

    5) I enter the intersection while our light is still red, and begin to cross. A motorcycle police officer swings out from the crossing shoulder (my left periphery) with his siren on as I get midway into the intersection. The light is now green in our direction (the delay might have been two seconds, but more likely 1 - 1 1/2 seconds before changing).

    6) The officer, a sargeant, would not offer to warn me, but insisted that he wouldcsite me for "disregarding a traffic signal". Fair enough.

    So, my only defense in court would be whether the officer acted "reasonably" in citing me. I don't mind the fine or the impact to my VA driver's license. I just have the feeling that he didn't need to go to this extreme to make his point.

    Again, I'm in the wrong here. Flame away, and thanks in advance.

    Phil

  2. #2
    Senior Member Brew1's Avatar
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    Don't ask me, I have a bad feeling these days about police being over zealous in giving out citations. Also I went to court once to fight a ticket and the #@*$& judge would rather listen to himself then let me state my case.

  3. #3
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    You have no defense and I, personally, wouldn't waste my time fighting the degree of punishment.
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  4. #4
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    When I lived in Michigan, some communities were more interested in the money than anything else. So when I got a ticket, I went to court to argue it. There is a plea called "Guilty with an explanation" and every single person in two hours of argued tickets who pleaded that way had the ticket thrown out, but the fine paid as "court fees." So no license points, but the wallet is still just as light. One person didn't pick up on the trend and pleaded Not Guilty. She was found guilty, paid the fine and got the points. (I got off entirely; I knew a cop in that jurisdiction.)

    My point is that if you choose to argue it and want to represent yourself, you may want to prepare whatever argument you can in your favor, but show up to court early and see what works and what doesn't before your turn.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  5. #5
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    No. You say you are guilty. The cop was being very strict, but you did violate the law. That doesn't make you a bad person, but you did it, you got caught and you got a ticket. I would pay it.
    Last edited by BluesDawg; 07-07-11 at 11:45 AM.
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  6. #6
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    First off, I was "in the wrong" on this, so I'm not looking for sympathy...
    Three things here....
    One, you admit your guilt. (Kind of a key point don'tcha think?)
    Two, a bicycle is a 'vehicle' in all 50 states so it is the same as any other "vehicle" that operates on public roads.
    Three, the cop did his job plain and simple.

    So man up..... pay the fine and take the hit.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Indyv8a's Avatar
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    What are the benefits of fighting the ticket? As Doo said, you can sometimes get out of the points. My wife got a speeding ticket last year, went to court and just paid court costs. Fine and points waived. Is going to court worth the time and effort? will the points on your license cause you additional cost elsewhere? I'd consider fighting it, but I would need to know the possible benefits and costs.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Police are sworn to keep us safe from others and ourselves... Venturing into an intersection while your light is red is a dangerous habit. Next time search for the officer before going through a red light. Take time to analyze the situation thoroughly.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    No, the courts (even traffic courts) are clogged enough now, and you are, by admission, guilty of the infraction. Frankly, I might have thanked the officer for actually treating me like I belong on the road.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member ItsJustAHill's Avatar
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    The job of a motor officer is to enforce traffic laws. He did that. If you want to take it to court, it's going to be a very short trial. If your record is clean, you may be offered a reduced fine in exchange for your attending traffic school.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    What's the worst that can happen? The fine stay the same?

    I'd go just to see if the judge will back the fine off. Might want to say that being on a bike you need extra time to cross and sometimes there isn't enough time and you just anticipated the light a little too soon. Don't try to bull **** and admit your guilt but make it sound good.

    I got caught fishing without a license(thought I had one). Got a ticket and the judge threw it out because I went and bought one before I came to court. Maybe the judge rides. Never know. I'm telling you, after living in Maryland most of my life and then moving to the South, the stereotypes about southern cops and judges is completely backwards. Nicest people your ever want to meet. Maryland not so much.
    Last edited by bigbadwullf; 07-07-11 at 01:17 PM.

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  12. #12
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Great Point

    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    No, the courts (even traffic courts) are clogged enough now, and you are, by admission, guilty of the infraction. Frankly, I might have thanked the officer for actually treating me like I belong on the road.
    My father, now deceased, was a Marine in WWII and a judge by profession. He taught us to respect authority unquestioningly. I did, in fact, thank that officer for doing his job. I told him that I needed reminders to maintain the highest level of safety. He appreciated my saying so.

    My wife is the "queen of the fine print" and can fight anything successfully. She insists that I should fight and is prepared to roll out any number of curious explanations and strategies to get the ticket thrown out. I'm more reluctant to blatantly ignore my guilt and plead for some technicality or nuance. That's why I asked the members of this forum. You guys are loaded with common sense and life experiences. Thanks. Phil

  13. #13
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    I doubt you can beat it. This is why I always do a back check for police cars whenever going through an empty intersection. Also watch out for cars without hubcaps, they are often unmarked cruisers. Once I was about to run through a light in exactly your situation when I noticed a cruiser stopped at the intersection. I slammed the brakes hard and kind of straddle-walked backwards to the line. No ticket but I must have looked pretty dumb.

  14. #14
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    He sounds like he acted perfectly reasonably. His "extreme" enforcement helps keep me and other cyclists from being t-boned by folks running red lights. I favor things that enhance my safety.

    As mentioned, entering an intersection on the red is a bad habit. The opposing lane still had a green. No cars in sight, but are you sure there were no bikes? The yellow phases in Northern Virginia are very short. For example, in an uphill intersection, one can easily enter on the green and have the yellow phase end before exiting.

    Human perception, including my own, is one of the things I trust least, so I want procedurization for an extra safety layer.

    Paul

  15. #15
    Oldie but Newbie duceditor's Avatar
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    Boy, can one tell this is a Fifty Plus forum! Respect the law? Take your punishment as a man? When and where am I, in the fifties in a small town in America?

    Personally I hate seeing the way that the police in many areas have come to be viewed as the "enemy." That, in my eyes, is as much from the way they are used by politicians as revenue enhancers as anything in the culture. But for all that it is a joy to read the mature comments here!

    -don

  16. #16
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Very well-put.

    Put this in the road bike forum and see what happens(just for grins : )

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  17. #17
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbadwullf View Post
    Very well-put.

    Put this in the road bike forum and see what happens(just for grins : )
    I don't seek advice in the road bikes forum. Too much testosterone for me. PG

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brew1's Avatar
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    Well, my father (RIP) was a police officer for the City of Milwaukee for 32 years and I know he wouldn't have pulled over the OP. There is a thing such as common sense that seems to be missing these days and they are allowed to use discretion. Every one of use (including the police when off duty, some when on duty) probably violate a number traffic laws and regulations every day. Now if it was a cage endangering someone else that's a different story but a bicyclist maybe or maybe not endangering themselves, I think my Father would have let it slide and at worst offer a warning.

    I was pulled over a month ago on the Interstate and I was wondering to myself "WTF did I do wrong"? I was going 67mph (in a 65) in the right lane and people are passing me going at least 75 mph so why was I pulled over? She didn't like my front window tint and the fact that I didn't have a front license plate displayed (because I changed the front grille after a sheet of ice flew off of a semi and smashed it). So I had to remove the tint and change the grille back to stock so I could display the plate. Then she starts asking me questions about the truck like "so what kind of gas mileage do you get with this thing and it sure is big". So either she didn't like pickups and people who drive them or she was a Chevy girl out to get F150's, I don't know.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    First off, I was "in the wrong" on this, so I'm not looking for sympathy...

    So, my only defense in court would be whether the officer acted "reasonably" in citing me. I don't mind the fine or the impact to my VA driver's license. I just have the feeling that he didn't need to go to this extreme to make his point.

    Again, I'm in the wrong here. Flame away, and thanks in advance.

    Phil
    I am a former police officer (and no, I'm not going to do any flaming) & I don't see how "acting reasonably" or not enters into whether or not a judge will find you guilty. It is a more black & white interpretation of state statutes than that. At least in my experience.

    Asking for no points may work but that wasn't your concern anyways. Also, showing up to contest it with the hope that the officer fails to show can sometimes work!

  20. #20
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Had a case one time where an insurance company was going to drop me for a wreck in a winter storm that I avoided about 15 cars and saw a dump truck behind me looking like it wouldn't stop. I worked my way thru all the cars, missing all of them, only to get sucked into an off camber shoulder and bounced off the guard rail. Basically I save the insurance company thousands of dollars and they still wanted to drop me. I showed up at the hearing and they did not and the mediator sided with me(of course). I then dropped them and never did business with them again in the 20+ years since. Insurance companies sometimes are their own worst enemy.
    So, showing up may have it's rewards.

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  21. #21
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Just my opinion but you should always go to court. Do whatever you can to clog the system. Plus I've either beaten or gotten lesser fines when I've gone. Never on a pedal bike though.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    I always go to court on traffic tickets, and always get a reduction in points/fine etc. Most recent; the officer cited me for 84 in a 65 and weaving through traffic. I explained to the judge I wasn't weaving through traffic but maneuvering to get over to exit just ahead. When he asked me where I was going in such a hurry I said Dunkin Donuts. Naturally, the citing police officer who was in attendance was sympathetic, and he agreed when the judge asked him if he should let me off, which he did. No fine, no points....

    On another occasion, I had hit an intersection just as the light turned red. When I went to court I figured I'd be sitting there a long time so took some job related paperwork with me to do while waiting. It was a stack of papers in manila file folders. When I was called in, I had the stack of folders with me and set it on the table. The prosecutor saw the stack of papers and said, "I see you've been doing your homework on this," obviously assuming that the folders were copies of case histories or something. He said, "I'll tell you what, I'll cut it down to failure to signal a turn," which he did. That's 1 point instead of 4. I don't remember how much lesser the fine was, but it was substantial.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    My brother in law was a cop for many years, and told a story about one of the first tickets that he wrote:

    He worked graveyard shift, and it was very early morning, with virtually no traffic. He is watching an intersection and sees a car roll up to a red light, stop, there was no other traffic, so he then went through the red signal. He stopped the motorist, and issued a ticket for ignoring the signal. The motorist went to court and argued two things - One - that he had not ignored the signal, he came to a complete stop, looked for other traffic and when he saw that it was safe, went through the intersection. He then also made the argument that nothing that he had done had endangered either himself, or anybody else. The judge let him off much to the disgust of my BIL.

    I am sympathetic with the OP since I often enter intersections on my commute in anticipation of the green, however whenever I do so, I look very carefully to make sure that nobody is going to jump and catch me - I can't believe that I would have missed a cop at the intersection. To me, the fact that the OP did not see the officer until he put his lights on, is an indication that he had not exercised due caution prior to entering the intersection.

  24. #24
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    Go to court, what have you to lose? With towns and cities needing money it's iffy if you can get the fine reduced but, go for it.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    Not sure what to suggest, but my "gut instinct" would be that a judge would let it stand.
    In your state, do citations received when cycling go on your driving record?
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