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wolverine

Help fighting a stupid traffic ticket.

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Before I start, I want to say this is only my second moving violation. I've been driving for six years now, so I would say I'm a fairly good driver. My first ticket was for going 5 mph over the speed limit on the freeway in one of the toughtest enforcement zones. I unfortunately got a point on my drivers license and $150 fine.

I guess a ticket for going 75 in a 70 seems ridiculous, but I think I've topped that one by turning right on a "no turn on red." So basically, I now have the possibility of 3 points total on my license for two ridiculous civil infractions. This means there is a possibility my insurance may go up. This I don't want to face.

Here's how the story happens, and then I'll need some advice from any knowledgeable forumers. Hopefully this adivce can help others..

I currently live in Ann Arbor, Michigan; a city that has two different police entities. The first is Ann Arbor Police Department which generally patrols all city streets. The other is University of Michigan Police or department of public safety which patrols the campus as well as surrounding city streets.

While I rarely hear complaints about the AAPD, there's always a ton of complaints about DPS. They tend to stake out and bust people at the most confusing intersections, waiting for someone to make a right on a red, or go the wrong way up a one way where 6 streets meet. I wouldn't say they are crooked cops, but I do believe they are trying to make quota the easiest way possible. Instead of protecting people from being robbed on campus which has been happening several times a week now, they'd rather bust people for stupid infractions that pose little, if no danger to the public.

So here we go:

As I mentioned, I go to college here in Ann Arbor. I do not own a car anymore since there is no parking available in this crowded city. But I'll have a car next year, and I'll have to pay insurance. Currently, I'm covered under my parents since I drive thier vehicle when I'm home.

I went home for the weekend to visit my family an hour north of Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, I forgot to drop an assignment off at my professor's office so I had to return. I borrowed my parents car and drove back to AA and got there around 11:30 pm. I got the assignment from my dorm room, hopped in the car and drove to the building where his office was. My violation occured just 2 blocks from where I live. I got in the car and drove down Zina Pitcher street and stopped at the red light at a T intersection with Catherine Street.

In normal circumstances, a LEFT on red is legal since it's a one way intersecting with another one way, but a sign said I could not do that. I OBEYED this sign Why? Because:

- I wait at the bus stop nearby and have observed this sign.

- I cross the street sometimes at that location.

I only stopped at it because I had prior knowledge of the sign. I'm sure if I didn't know, I might have missed it because it was so tiny. They are actually not the typical size of "no turn on red" signs I find everywhere else.

The light turned green and I turned left onto Catherine. Catherine then slopes downhill to another intersection. This is a very busy intersection in terms of activity and surrounding structures.

I observed the following hazards when going down the hill toward the intersection:

To my left is a parking structure with two exits where vehicles can come out quickly.

After the parking structure, and directly at the intersection is a restaurant that creates a blind spot at the corner. Pedestrians can come out from behind the building unexpectedly.

To my right are berms on the sidewalk where pedestrians can be obscured. I've been on the bus and seen some dash out, nearly getting run over.

After that, a pile of construction equipment sits near the road at the bottom of hill.

There is a hidden side street, just 15 feet before the intersection at my right. Traffic approaching on this side street only has a stop sign, and they somtimes run it.

Directly ahead of me, pedestrians are crossing.

It's now nearly midnight, it is very dark.

The intersection is somewhat washed out by ultra bright LED stoplights, and bright lamp post at the opposite corner.

I'm not familiar with driving at this intersection since I don't own a car in Ann Arbor.

I ride the bus, the bus noticeably turns on red sometimes at that intersection.

I come down the hill, taking note of the above observations/hazards. I stop at the light for over 10 seconds. Traffic is completely clear now, there are no pedestrians and I turn on the red light.

A DPS officer staked out nearby immediatebly pulls me over. I have no idea what I had done. In fact, I thoguht he pulled m over because a weather strip on the window sometimes comes off and flaps in the wind but no. He tells me that I have apparently turned right on a red light and that there are two signs posted at the intersection.

I was never aware of these signs.

I did not see the signs at this intersection.

I would have obeyed them if I saw them because as noted, I did obey the no turn on red at the first light.

The officer gave me a ticket.

$130 fine, 2 points on the driver license. This is eqivalent to an open bottle of alcohol in the car. For a no turn on red!

Upset, I go back and do a little research. Sure enough there are two signs. One is mounted between the two stoplights. It's very small. I'll try and post a photo tomorrow. The other is mounted on the light stand pole directly to the right of the intersection. Fortunately for me, at NIGHT the signs are not visible, PERIOD.

First off, when I pull up to the white line, you cannot see the sign mounted on the light standard to the right. The passanger window is only high enough to just barely make out the bottom of the sign. At night, you wouldn't even know it's there.

The other sign above the intersection is just plainly not visible. What more can I say? It might as well be a black sheet of paper. It fails to reflect correctly because of the hill, it's too small. Yoo can't see the words, the stoplights are so bright they wash it out. Can a law be enforeced for a sign that is completely hidden at night? Addtionally, there are so many other things to keep note of, especially pedestrians, that even looking for the signs loses its importance.

I have a reason to believe that this ticket is unfair and I would like to fight it in court.

The DPS officer would need to appear at the county courthouse after his 10 pm - 6:00 a.m shift. I can schedule my appearance only between 8:00 a.m and 10:00 a.m (are you seeing my logic?) If the officer fails to appear, the civil infraction is completely dropped.

So do I have a case to fight this?

Is the ticket fair?

Is the city at fault for obscured signage?

Photos will come!

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It doesn't even matter if you have a case, just show up. Most of the time the cops a no-show and they let you off, even if you were obviously at fault. Most cops won't show up for less than a DUI, but these DPD cops seem like idiots. It's definately worth a try.

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Been there... Repeatedly. Here are my tips:

  • The likelihood of the officer appearing is pretty slim. If possible, schedule your appearance as close to 10 AM as possible. This gives you a buffer because by 10 AM, he will either be asleep or at his second job.

  • Treat the judge with the utmost respect. Do not argue! If you need to disagree, say "I don't understand. Blah, blah, blah."

  • Dress nicely. Don't dress like you're on trial for murder. Pick something you'd wear for a casual Sunday at grandma's. Not too casual. A nice pair of dress pants and a shirt will work.

  • Be clean and neat.

  • Don't argue with the judge! (I know I said that already, but you really need to avoid that.)

  • Only speak when spoken to.

  • Don't give too much detail or overexplain your case.

  • And in case you forgot: DON'T ARGUE WITH THE JUDGE!!!!

I know this all seems frivolous. If you're relying on the officer not showing up, you'll need to do these things to make a favorable impression. You don't want your judge to assume the officer was right.

I have had a case where the officer showed up. But I was able to convince the judge that he made a mistake. It took a lot of charm and manipulation to pull that off, BTW.

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I agree with that. If you want the ticket off your record, then your only recourse is to go explain your case to the Judge and see if he will find you not guilty. I don't know about Michigan law, but here in NC, the police many times don't show up in traffic court and they end up throwing out the charges. You may have the same luck in Michigan.

Unfortunately while you don't have insurance, this will cause your parent's insurance to up. Maybe considerably.

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Is there a good driving record law in your state? In Rhode Island if you haven't had a moving violation in three years youjust plead guilty with a good driving record and they dismiss it.

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but here in NC, the police many times don't show up in traffic court and they end up throwing out the charges.

From my experiences, this is true

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My son and daughter have both been to court many times to fight tickets.

Here's my advice based on their experience:

- You can't count on the cop not showing up, because in about half of my kids' cases, they did.

- My kids never had the option to schedule their court time or date; they were given a date and sat in court until their case was next on the docket, however long it took that day.

- You may want to have one of your parents there with you, even though they weren't in the car with you at the time of the incident. It helps in the judges' eyes to have one of them there. (They don't need to go up to the podium with you...they're there just in case.)

- Take photos of the signage and the area with the obstructed views. (You may not need them but it helps to have some documentation to explain what you're talking about...the judge may not be familar with the area. ) This has helped my son with a parking ticket with a blocked no parking sign and in a couple of car accidents to show obstructed view.

- As mentioned by someone else, Dress well, a suit is not necessary but a nice polo and khakis pants wouldn't hurt. No sandals.

- And as someone else mentioned, be very polite in court to the judge and the cop.

- By going to court, you probably will get the infraction reduced to something with less points, or maybe you won't get the points at all.

- Expect to pay fines, even if you get no points, on the day of court, immediately after court, in cash.

My son and daughter have gotten tickets for 5 miles over and wreckless driving for a couple of accidents they were involved in. They were asked to pay fines and a couple of times to write an essay for the judges on safe driving. Neither of them have any points on their license. Though them and my husband have spend quite a few hours in court fighting them.

Hope this helps, Good Luck!

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BarGal, if it was the reckless driving/accident cases the cop showed up for, thats understandable. Reckless driving can be a pretty severe charge, I've heard of people getting their licences revoked over one reckless driving charge, it's one of the most serious moving violations you can get.

Also, one thing I would stress that someone else mentioned, as long as the cop doesn't show, keep your explanation very brief, without the cop there the ticket is dismissed almost automaticaly.

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I was in an accident when I was 17 years old on a snowy March day. I had to goto court to argue my case:

Things I did: I was very respectful. Even if you have the utmost contempt for the cop that gave you the ticket, be extremely respectful, but not necessarily friendly.

Bring a parent with. The judge will look at your parents as law-abiding citizens and they will notice if they are there "supporting" you.

Be aware of traffic laws in your area. In my case, I had the prosecutor questioning me. I made the case that yes, while it is Minnesota law not to drive faster than conditions allow for, that a dangerous combination of bad road signage and a blind approach along with fast changes in road conditions (the road was fine for braking until the end, where previous snow had packed down making it glare ice underneath fresh snow) had caused the accident.

And also: HOpe for a bit of luck. The cop in my case, had the wrong case files with him and had to go from memory, of which he could remember little.

After the "trial" another sherrif told me I had done well, and I received a letter a few weeks later from the judge saying that there would be no penalty for the accident although it would have to go on my record because no matter what, the person at fault takes the blame. He ended the letter with "I believe you really were in an accident and accidents do happen, so therefore no fine or penalties will be issued"

Even the fact that you show up to argue the case will tell the judge that you believe it was an injustice.

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i don't know waht they do in MI, but in CT you don't see a judge, you see a state's attorney who offers you a reduced charge by default. this happened to me. i should've taken my case to trial (i was in an accident where i was hit from behind and pushed into the car in front of me, i got a ticket for driving too close, yet i wasn't moving at the time i hit the guy until the car behind me hit me). anyways, no matter what, dress well, maybe a shirt and tie, but no need for a suit or sport coat. be polite. explain that you're not familiar with that intersection that you don't keep a car in ann arbor and you were there to drop off a paper (although being there at midnight makes it sound like you were there to hang with people).

the DPS is tougher than the AAPD because they have to be. college kids are stupid and do stupid things. so they're strict and by being strict, it helps prevent the kids from doing stupid things.

sounds like you got a case though. it's kind of surprising to me that the DPS can give traffic tickets that affect your license. i went to uconn (another state school) and our school's police dept or public safety dept was a brand of the CT state police. they could give tickets, but public safety could only give parking tickets, which only mattered to the university, so if your car wasn't registered with them you could get away with not paying.

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BarGal, if it was the reckless driving/accident cases the cop showed up for, thats understandable. Reckless driving can be a pretty severe charge, I've heard of people getting their licences revoked over one reckless driving charge, it's one of the most serious moving violations you can get.

In NC if you are charged with reckless driving, you are going to go to jail and wait there until a magistrate issues a bond amount and someone bails you out of jail. If you are a person with a lot of ties to the community and a good record, they will probably let you out on your own signature, but you are correct this is a pretty serious charge. It ranks up there with a DWI or similar offense. Thankfully that isn't the case here.

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In NC if you are charged with reckless driving, you are going to go to jail and wait there until a magistrate issues a bond amount and someone bails you out of jail. If you are a person with a lot of ties to the community and a good record, they will probably let you out on your own signature, but you are correct this is a pretty serious charge. It ranks up there with a DWI or similar offense. Thankfully that isn't the case here.

I believe you. On the way through North Carolina on 95, I remember seeing signs warning that you'd be thrown in jail for 30 days if caught speeding. Being a Yankee on vacation in a car with RI plates I can tell you I watched my speed!

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Thanks for all your advice guys. I have my hearing set for the 16th. I have photos taken of the sign from my friend's car. Hopefully all goes well.

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I believe you. On the way through North Carolina on 95, I remember seeing signs warning that you'd be thrown in jail for 30 days if caught speeding. Being a Yankee on vacation in a car with RI plates I can tell you I watched my speed!

No, thats South Carolina. North Carolina isnt as evil with traffic enforcement.

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Just a few weeks ago I got it ticket for going 77 in a 55. A state trooper pulled me over. plus I wasnt wearing my seat belt. I awlays wear my seat belt but for some reason I wasnt wearing it that morning. Any way the trooper was real easy on me because I had a clean record. He recorded the 77 as a 70 so my lience woundt be taken away. He didnt even give me a ticket for not wearing my seat belt which is very unusual for a state trooper. They always get you for that. His radar actually detected my speed with him in front of me. I didnt know their radars could do that.

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I didnt know their radars could do that.

The Wilmington PD can catch you for speeding too with radar guns pointing from the front & back of the police vehicle. Not only that, they even have homeless imposters walking down the street wehn its really a cop pointing the radar gun at you while you pass by. Arlington, VA does this too with homeless imposters!

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Not only that, they even have homeless imposters walking down the street wehn its really a cop pointing the radar gun at you while you pass by. Arlington, VA does this too with homeless imposters!

That is sick. :sick: What's next, fake prostitutes busting us for Jaywalking?

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