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Speeding Tickets & Traffic Citations Discussion of appropriate procedures and guidelines to successfully fighting speeding tickets and related traffic citations.

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  #1 (permalink)   IP: 68.63.126.122
Old 2008-12-08
drkshdw983 drkshdw983 is offline
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Question Pennsylvania radar rules

I was heading home from my college (Williamsport PA, to Binghamton, NY) when I got a speeding ticket. I got the ticket on rt. 220 northbound in Towanda, PA for doing 71 in a 55, here is my recount of the situation.

I was driving in the northbound lane on a rather large stretch of straight road in an otherwise winding route home when my radar detector (beltronics RX65) detected k-band radar. Unfortunately it detected it too late. I looked around for the officer and saw nothing. It was very late at night (about midnight) and there was no other traffic on the road at the time. As I went down the road a little further I saw the officer turn on his lights. Parking and headlights first, then flashers. I signaled and pulled over to the side of the road.

The officer approached my car and was very rude to me through out the stop. The first thing he said to me was the usual smart-a$$ remark I get from cops "radar detector ain't workin' too good is it?"... before I had a chance to respond he asked me for my license and registration. I'm always very polite with officers hoping one day I'll get a warning... I won't hold my breath... but I make sure I take all the extra steps to make them comfortable at the stop. The next thing he asks me is what I use my CB radio for. I told him that I use it to get traffic conditions and weather and he finishes my sentence by cutting me off and saying "and to ask where the stateys are right?" After telling me I was doing 71 in a 55 he returned to his car.

When he came back he gave me 2 citations, one for speeding and one for "windshield obstructions", namely my CB and radar detector. He made sure to inform me that if I didn't respond to the tickets that there would be an arrest warrant out in my name (part of his job) and that he would personally hunt me down at my college if I didn't respond (not part of his job). Then we parted ways.

I have a couple questions for everyone:
1.) I have heard from a few people that it is illegal for police to take speed measurements after sunset without some lights on (even if it's just parking lights)... any truth to this?
2.) I can see my wipers over my cb (located on top of my dash) and my radar detector is only 2 inches wide and .5 inches tall and located by my rear view mirror... no bigger than the mirrors with the fancy compass and what not in them... so that ticket is just stupid... how can I go about proving that in court?
3.) short of the lights thing, does anyone see anything else I can use for ammo in court when I fight the ticket?
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  #2 (permalink)   IP: 192.168.1.1
Old 2008-12-08
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Veil Guy Veil Guy is offline
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Default PA Radar Speeding Ticket

I am not a traffic lawyer, but, here's my take on this:

First, it's quite likely that no radar detector would have provided you with an adequate warning in this particular circumstance.

Pennsylvania state troopers running instant-on K-band from a stationery position can be quite lethal (especially at night) as they wait until you are either very close or occasionally target from behind (from over any overpass) before pulling the trigger. Being the only one in the area meant you were a sitting duck and had no other proximate vehicle ahead of you to provide with an advanced radar warning.

Being, a PA resident, myself, I am all too familiar with both RADAR and VASCAR speed enforcement and I too recently got cited for an obstruction of windshield during a recent traffic stop (in NJ, actually) for having a Valentine 1 mounted low on the center of my windshield (along with couple of citations)--the young officer had a "John Wayne" syndrome, as well (which is common with newbies).

Now to your questions.

I would completely detach yourself emotionally from this incident, request a court hearing by pleading not guilty, and then make following request at your hearing.

1) Dismissal of the obstruction charge, and
2) Acceptance of a guilty plea to a PA-3111a (for your 71 in a 55 zone).

If you are fortunate, both of these requests will be granted and the PA-3111a ("failure to obey a traffic controlling device") carries no points in PA, costs a little more than $100.00 with court charges). You could also offer a plea of guilty to 5 over (60 in a 55 zone) which again doesn't carry any points.

I would not challenge on the basis of operating police radar with no lights. They do this routinely and sometimes from a hidden position from the rear on an overpass.

Make these requests without emotion and without explanation or argument and hope you get a break by either the judge and/or the officer.

You have something in your favor, in my opinion. 71 in a 55 zone is not too bad and your traffic conditions were conducive to this.

It's important to be entirely detached from the emotional upset of this incident, acting as if you were the attorney making the request for your client.

If you are especially fortunate, either the judge or the officer (if he shows up to court) will make the overture with an offer. If it's not both of these, I would counter with them and hope your request is accepted.

Good luck, with it, and please provide a follow-up post when this is all said and done.

Veil Guy


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Old 2008-12-08
drkshdw983 drkshdw983 is offline
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Smile good advice

Thats good advice veil guy. I probably will do that. I've been searching online for anything to the effect of that lights on law a few of my friends have told me about and come up dry so I'm guessing that's not really a law.

From what you said I'm guessing it's pretty easy to get the windshield obstruction ticket dropped. Do you think it'd be a good idea to bring in a picture or two? Being that the burden of proof is on them I may not need one but let me know what you think.

Thanks again for the excellent advice! I'll be sure to post the results of my court hearing
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  #4 (permalink)   IP: 75.75.172.123
Old 2008-12-08
stano0098 stano0098 is offline
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Default

Whats up. Sorry about you getting a ticket. Man that really sucks.

But for your first question Police Officers can enforce traffic at night.As i work with cops from W-B they use ENRADD just as the sun is rising for school zones.Although Im not 100% sure. But have seen speed traps at night in other states

For the second question it just depends on the officer. If it his that time of the month for him he could but, i would fight it by taking a pic of what you see when you drive. they might dismiss that.

And about lights off. They could where ever but they have to be within a certain proximity of their car.

So if i were you i would take the guilt for speeding but try to dismiss the obstruction ticket.

Good Luck Hopefully everything works out for you.


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  #5 (permalink)   IP: 192.168.1.1
Old 2008-12-08
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Default Thanks. I have had my share of experiences

drkshdw983,

I think it is unnecessary to bring a picture and I wouldn't even go there. The more detail you get into the more difficulty it will be to successfully plea a deal.

Keep it simple and avoid the details and personalities.

I would arrange for your plea at the outset of the proceedings of your particular "trial" actually unfolds. You are making a plea before you actually get to the particulars.

If they deny or don't counter with something the you are pleased with, then you could always make your arguments later.

By attempting this at the front-end, you offer them the opportunity to expedite the process quickly and "painlessly" as they'll likely be others that they have to deal with after your case is concluded.

Be dressed appropriately and pay the judge his/her due respect by addressing him/her as "your honor." Answer questions clearly and with a definitive "yes" or "no", not "yeah."

By respecting the court's proceedings with your mannerisms, you will distinguish yourself from the great "unwashed" that routinely appear before the court.

I believe one the keys to a successful court appearance is how you present yourself (even more so than what you actually present).

Don't be combative or challenging. Be detached, unemotional, and stick to the basics of your plea request. No need interjecting anything else into the proceeding.

Also, if you are permitted to be present during other proceedings, observe the proceedings of the court cases that precede yours. You may be able to gather valuable information during this time about the dynamics of the court. That information may be helpful to you when it's finally your turn.

I'll be interested to see how it turns out for you.

Good luck. I hope you are pleased with your outcome...

Veil Guy


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