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  1. #1
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    Fighting red light ticket in Austin

    I was ticketed for running a red light (after I stopped) on a car-less street in downtown Austin. Has anyone successfully plead not guilty, appeared in court, and had the charges dismissed? If so, could you share your approach? Thank you.

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    Did you run the red light after you stopped? If so, then you are guilty.

  3. #3
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    How does thsihappen? A "carless" street, a cop's sitting there watching you, so you run the light?

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    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    You stopped, the light was still red, and then you went through it, still red... sounds like you ran a red light to me. Red lights are not stop signs just because you are on a bike, doubt the judge is going to see it otherwise.

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    Senior Member dsprehe89's Avatar
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    I gotta agree with everyone above. If the light was red and whether you stopped or not if you rode through it, you ran it.

    The only way I could see you getting it dismissed is if it was one of those lights that isn't timed, but has sensors in the road and you had been waiting for like 10 min and it never changed because it couldn't sense you on your bike. But even then, the judge could ask why you didn't get off the bike and walk (while pushing you bike) across the road.

    Edit: If you were in downtown Austin, and it was one of those sensor lights, it probably had a pedestrian button, and if that is the case then you still would have ran it and be guilty.

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    Well it will depend upon how long you stopped. I believe the law is written such that you have to wait at a stop light long enough to determine that the light is actuated and that it is responding to your presence. The length of time will vary as well as other factors. If you just paused your probably going to loose, but if you can make the case that you waited long enough at that point or that you had prior experience with the signal to know that it doesn't actuate from the presence of a bicycle you didn't actually brake the law...

    Your success will depend upon how truthful you are, how well spoken, and whether the cop lies on stand.

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    Actually I just checked the Texas Transportation Code and it appears that this exemption doesn't apply in Texas. Under Texas code you are only allowed to make a right turn at an intersection with a non-functioning signal...

    Pay the ticket and complain to the city about the signal. It should (or can be made to) recognize the presence of a bicycle if actuated.

  8. #8
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by austinrider View Post
    I was ticketed for running a red light (after I stopped) on a car-less street in downtown Austin. Has anyone successfully plead not guilty, appeared in court, and had the charges dismissed? If so, could you share your approach? Thank you.
    In Austin you can get the ticket dismissed by taking a defensive cycling class. http://www.austincycling.org/educati...ensive_cycling

    If you truly checked out the intersection before proceeding through on red, how come you didn't see the cop? I can't see where you have a defense.

    Don in Austin

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    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Deferred adjudification - Defensive driving... Heres just another story I have recently heard about about how bike friendly Austin has a not so bike friendly Police department - Austin has allot of young students types riding all over and it could be just a geezer thing - Also remember that the dash cameras in Austin PD cruisers are high resolution so he probably has a detailed recording of the event... See the link for other stories...

    http://atxbs.com/?q=taxonomy/term/449

  10. #10
    Senior Member MDfive21's Avatar
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    look up a lawyer named david sprecher. he's the best traffic court atty in houston and i'm sure he can refer you to someone in austin who is just as good.

    whether you're guilty or not, you should fight it because... you can. you will likely get it dismissed if you retain an atty. or end up paying a $5 fine instead of whatever $ amount they want from you.

  11. #11
    The road less Taken Shortsocks's Avatar
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    Hi.
    I didn't get a ticket running a red-light in Austin but I did get a ticket in Plano TX for speeding in a school zone. I was going 29 in a 20. Actually this entire situation really was awful. And the police officer was being a real jerk. When one gets pulled over in a car, that short siren that notifies a driver to pull over is loud, but on a bicycle it's super scary and frightened the S**T out of me. He pulled me over and with his car's loud speakers told me to put down my bike and get off. I didn't because I have a pretty costly road bike and they don't come with kickstands. I ended up laying her on her side after the officer unclipped his holster and gestured for his gun. Dick.

    After refusing to give him my car isurance he finally got my licence and said he could take me to jail for this. I was just in shock. Specially after he told me that you should stay on the sidewalk. Going almost 30 on the sidewalk is pretty much suicidal. There was a lot more harassment on his behalf. After he searched my tube and wrench bag on my saddle.

    Anyway.

    I pleaded not guilty. (even though I was in the wrong which Im very aware of). Not even no contest. Officer never showed up. So I was no billed out of there.

    Socks
    The bicycle is a curious vehicle. *Its passenger is its engine. -John Howard

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    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. -Christopher Morley

  12. #12
    Senior Member dsprehe89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    Hi.
    I didn't get a ticket running a red-light in Austin but I did get a ticket in Plano TX for speeding in a school zone. I was going 29 in a 20. Actually this entire situation really was awful. And the police officer was being a real jerk. When one gets pulled over in a car, that short siren that notifies a driver to pull over is loud, but on a bicycle it's super scary and frightened the S**T out of me. He pulled me over and with his car's loud speakers told me to put down my bike and get off. I didn't because I have a pretty costly road bike and they don't come with kickstands. I ended up laying her on her side after the officer unclipped his holster and gestured for his gun. Dick.

    After refusing to give him my car isurance he finally got my licence and said he could take me to jail for this. I was just in shock. Specially after he told me that you should stay on the sidewalk. Going almost 30 on the sidewalk is pretty much suicidal. There was a lot more harassment on his behalf. After he searched my tube and wrench bag on my saddle.

    Anyway.

    I pleaded not guilty. (even though I was in the wrong which Im very aware of). Not even no contest. Officer never showed up. So I was no billed out of there.

    Socks
    Why the hell would he expect you to have your car insurance with you on your bike? Liability isn't required to ride a bike.... Also, is it even legal for him to search your bag? Sounds like he was just is a PO'd mood and you got the brute force of it.

  13. #13
    The road less Taken Shortsocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsprehe89 View Post
    Why the hell would he expect you to have your car insurance with you on your bike? Liability isn't required to ride a bike.... Also, is it even legal for him to search your bag? Sounds like he was just is a PO'd mood and you got the brute force of it.
    Yea right? I don't even think he knew the laws at all concerning bicycles. I actually gave him permission to search my tool bag, after he suggested he was going to take me to jail.... Yea he was in an awful mood. Obviously not a cyclist. It was overall a very embarrassing situation. I did knowingly speed through the school zone because Its cool passing cars on the road with gusto....kinda feels like im going faster than I am.
    The bicycle is a curious vehicle. *Its passenger is its engine. -John Howard

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.- H.G Wells

    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. -Christopher Morley

  14. #14
    Senior Member dsprehe89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    I did knowingly speed through the school zone because Its cool passing cars on the road with gusto....kinda feels like im going faster than I am.
    Yeah, there is a large overpass in my old town and it had a speed limit of 30, but you could easily get up to 40 if you tried and I always loved the looks on peoples face when you pass them at 40.

  15. #15
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    I did knowingly speed through the school zone because Its cool passing cars on the road with gusto....kinda feels like im going faster than I am.
    Then pay the ticket. Do the crime, do the time.
    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."

  16. #16
    hamcycles.com hamfoh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    Yea right? I don't even think he knew the laws at all concerning bicycles. I actually gave him permission to search my tool bag, after he suggested he was going to take me to jail.... Yea he was in an awful mood. Obviously not a cyclist. It was overall a very embarrassing situation. I did knowingly speed through the school zone because Its cool passing cars on the road with gusto....kinda feels like im going faster than I am.
    Was he highway patrol? those guys don't **** around. I got pulled over on the way to Austin because I didn't get in the far left lane or slow down to 35mph or something when he had already pulled someone over on the shoulder (had no idea this was a law in TX until this). He was such an @sshole to me. He asked to search my truck, I said no, he asked to search my persons, I said okay (which he found a grocery list that had crap like 'detergent, dog food, etc' on it). He asked me repeatedly why I was going to Austin and tried his best to look for probable cause through my windows to search my vehicle (nothing was there, I just know my rights). Eventually he made it sound like he was doing my a favor for just giving me a warning but I was on the side of the highway for nearly an hour answering his questions and dealing with his bad attitude.
    Bikes - past and present

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    Quote Originally Posted by MDfive21 View Post
    look up a lawyer named david sprecher. he's the best traffic court atty in houston and i'm sure he can refer you to someone in austin who is just as good.

    whether you're guilty or not, you should fight it because... you can. you will likely get it dismissed if you retain an atty. or end up paying a $5 fine instead of whatever $ amount they want from you.
    You're gonna get an attorney to fight a bike ticket? You think he will provide his services for free?? Seems like a "no-win" situation, esp since the OP admitted he ran the light! Looks like a couple hundred $$ down the drain to me..... You do the crime, you should pay the fine...that's what's wrong with our legal system, among other things. Fight a ticket because you can.....geez....

  18. #18
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by godeacs View Post
    You're gonna get an attorney to fight a bike ticket? You think he will provide his services for free?? Seems like a "no-win" situation, esp since the OP admitted he ran the light!
    An attorney can often get a traffic ticket simply dismissed on a procedural issue -- you'll never even go to court. It generally costs about as much as the traffic ticket itself, and success isn't guaranteed, but under certain circumstances it makes good sense to fight even minor traffic tickets like this (such as when it'll make your auto insurance go up, you have a commercial driver's license or you're in danger of losing your driver's license.)

  19. #19
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    I actually gave him permission to search my tool bag, after he suggested he was going to take me to jail....
    He can't take you to jail simply for a minor traffic ticket. And by this I mean yes, he could -- but police departments have policies against that sort of bull and he'd get in trouble for it and he knows it.

    Personally, if anybody asks to search my stuff, I'm going to answer no, even though I won't have anything to concern them. He can't officially punish you for not giving him permission, and while he could unofficially punish you ... they usually know better. And if he doesn't need permission, he'll search with or without it. That said, I do understand how it's just easier to agree ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    He can't take you to jail simply for a minor traffic ticket. And by this I mean yes, he could -- but police departments have policies against that sort of bull and he'd get in trouble for it and he knows it...
    Actually he can take you to jail for a minor traffic violation; with a couple of exceptions you can be arrested for almost any traffic violation, especially moving violations. Do you know for a fact that departments have policies against it or are you just making assumptions? Is it just an Austin thing because I know for a fact in San Antonio they will arrest you and book you for traffic offenses if they want to and nothing will be said about it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by js1221 View Post
    Do you know for a fact that departments have policies against it or are you just making assumptions?
    Assumptions, obviously. I couldn't possibly know the policies in every city, and don't even know them all in Austin.

    However, police departments generally do have policies on when people should be arrested, and they expect officers to follow them. Any time an officer arrests somebody for just a minor moving violation could bring all sorts of scrutiny on the police department -- scrutiny they usually don't want. And besides -- needless arrests cost them money.

    In Austin, minor traffic violations generally do not warrant an arrest. If an offense if a Class C misdemeanor, the police will generally just ticket you, traffic violation or not, but they may arrest you at their discretion if it's not a traffic violation. Class B misdemeanors or higher generally require an arrest. (Here is the exact policy, if you want to read it..)

    Now, if you mouth off to the cops, you greatly increase your chances for a trip downtown -- you piss the guy off enough, and he'll violate the policy, or find (or make up) something more to require that arrest. But you don't have to mouth off to the cop to refuse his request for a search. Just politely decline -- whatever you say, make sure it's polite, even if he isn't.

    And I imagine that even in San Antonio, most of the time that people are booked for traffic offenses, there's more to it -- the offenses weren't minor, the person has warrants, they didn't identify themselves to the satisfaction of the police (no ID), etc.
    Last edited by dougmc; 08-05-11 at 12:03 AM.

  22. #22
    The road less Taken Shortsocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
    He can't take you to jail simply for a minor traffic ticket. And by this I mean yes, he could -- but police departments have policies against that sort of bull and he'd get in trouble for it and he knows it.

    Personally, if anybody asks to search my stuff, I'm going to answer no, even though I won't have anything to concern them. He can't officially punish you for not giving him permission, and while he could unofficially punish you ... they usually know better. And if he doesn't need permission, he'll search with or without it. That said, I do understand how it's just easier to agree ...
    I actually laughed at that response. It was a very stream of consciousness rant. Loved it. I generally Let cops do whatever the damn well please. Its not worth the hassle. This situation the guy was just being a jerk. Some people are jerks some arent.

    -On A Side NOTE-

    I just got stopped again. But the officer was cool about it. I like to ride late at night...Its hot as hell right now. And I was going through a hospital Parking lot ( the area Actually is near the back of the hospital where the emergency is), when I was stopped, without siren, half a mile down with a spot light. I guess I was flying through the parking lot and he wouldnt have seen me if it wasnt for my bright ass flashing front light. So he didnt know what it was and then he decided to clock me. He was just sitting in his car.

    He clocked me at 29. So I guess I was going to fast again. Didnt realize there is a much slower speed limit in Hospital parking lots. Anyway he just told me to slow down because alot of people are walking in out of the emergency entrances and there are ambulances driving there all the time . We talked about biking for 15 mins. Really cool guy actually. WAY more than the other guy.

    Socks
    The bicycle is a curious vehicle. *Its passenger is its engine. -John Howard

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.- H.G Wells

    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. -Christopher Morley

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    He clocked me at 29. So I guess I was going to fast again. Didnt realize there is a much slower speed limit in Hospital parking lots.
    ??? In what parking lot of *any* variety, using *any* vehicle, would you think it's a peachy idea to move at 29 mph?

    I'm not a cop on patrol, and after reading this thread, even *I* have an urge to smack you upside the head! You asked for advice, here's my two cents: use some common sense, and stop acting like you're Mahatma Gandhi whenever you get called out for knowingly breaking the traffic laws.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shortsocks View Post
    I actually laughed at that response. It was a very stream of consciousness rant. Loved it. I generally Let cops do whatever the damn well please.
    Well, I'll put up with a little hassle. He has no reason to search my stuff, so I'm not going to agree.

    He clocked me at 29. So I guess I was going to fast again. Didnt realize there is a much slower speed limit in Hospital parking lots.
    In general, speed limits don't apply in parking lots at all -- they're not roads, they're private property. Yes, 29 is too fast for a parking lot, but in general I don't think a cop could give you a ticket for it and expect it to stick.

    Even if the hospital itself put up speed limit signs, they don't really have the force of law behind them. Same goes for stop signs inside the parking lot. (Now, if the stop sign is at the border between the lot and the street, then I dunno -- it might be an official stop sign on public property. And if the hospital is government owned, that might make a difference too, but most aren't) If you have an accident in the parking lot, the insurance companies will take into account those speed limits and stop signs to a degree (especially if they support their side of things) but I don't think the police can cite you for them.

    (Of course, some laws do apply even to parking lots. DWI usually does, for example.)
    Last edited by dougmc; 08-05-11 at 10:03 AM.

  25. #25
    The road less Taken Shortsocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxine View Post
    ??? In what parking lot of *any* variety, using *any* vehicle, would you think it's a peachy idea to move at 29 mph?

    I'm not a cop on patrol, and after reading this thread, even *I* have an urge to smack you upside the head! You asked for advice, here's my two cents: use some common sense, and stop acting like you're Mahatma Gandhi whenever you get called out for knowingly breaking the traffic laws.
    Actually I never asked for advice. I was just giving my experience. That was the original poster. I just help hijack this thread . I know the laws for parking lots. But agreeably, I was going too fast which happens, but I understand why the officer pulled me over.
    LOL. Ghandi. I dont think he was much of a cyclist. I think he was a walker more so.


    Just a run of bad luck and stupidity on my part.

    socks
    The bicycle is a curious vehicle. *Its passenger is its engine. -John Howard

    When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.- H.G Wells

    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. -Christopher Morley

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