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Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Fight a Speeding Ticket and Win!

national motorists association
Great information published in Driving Freedoms Magazine put out by the National Motorists Association website. The NMA Foundation is
a non-profit organization dedicated to finding innovative ways to improve and protect the interests of North American motorists. You can help support their cause and join for free, as I have, at the link provided below. By the way, I do not advocate speeding. If all speed limits were set to the 85th percentile, as they should be, there wouldn't be a need or incentive to speed. It's just that so many municipalities, local and state governments depend on income from citations, limits are set ridiculously low as to increase revenue! Professional drivers need to protect themselves, your license is needed to support your family!

Complex Case Means Many Opportunities for a “Not Guilty”
by Ralph Robinson, NMA Virginia Member
My story picks up after my  original hearing for a speeding ticket (allegedly going 61 mph in a 45 mph zone). At that hearing in December 2011, the district judge wouldn’t let me question the officer, testify on my own behalf or submit documents into evidence. So, I was surprised when he suddenly announced that he was transferring my case up to circuit court, saying that a circuit court judge would be better equipped to handle a complex case like mine. The first judge never even ruled on my guilt or innocence. The facts of my case have all the elements of a classic NMA ticket-fighting story: substantial errors on the ticket, an illegally posted speed limit, an inexperienced officer and an overzealous prosecutor. But I had done my homework and was prepared to represent myself. So when the circuit court judge called my name and asked for my plea, I confidently replied, “Not guilty, your honor.”I jumped right in and asked the judge if I could make a motion or if I should wait until later in the trial. The judge said it depends. I told him I wanted to move for dismissal because the officer had listed the wrong city and state statutes (neither of which was a speeding statute) on my ticket. I pointed to two other similar Virginia cases in which tickets were dismissed due to incorrect statute citations. The judge acknowledged the errors and the other cases I cited but denied my motion to dismiss.The prosecution then presented its case. The officer used narrative testimony from start to finish, which included the usual information: his location (wrongly) his use of visual estimation of my speed and confirmation using the radar unit. The prosecutor didn’t ask the officer any questions. The judge, above the prosecutor’s persistent objections, allowed me to cross examine the officer. (The prosecutor objected more than 50 times during this 45-minute proceeding.) Under my questioning, the officer admitted he didn’t have the requisite 24 hours of radar training.
He didn’t even know if was necessary. The prosecutor objected again. I asked what other cars were on the road near mine at the time of the stop. The officer didn’t remember.I asked if he had checked the area for possible sources of electrical interference before using the radar unit. He said no. I asked if the officer had used the radar unit in constant-on mode or instant-on mode. He didn’t know. The prosecutor continued her objections, but the judge overruled her. I then made a motion to dismiss based on the officer’s lack of training. The prosecutor objected again, but the judge said he would take the motion under advisement. It was now my turn. I stated that the posted speed limit was illegal since there was no engineering study on file with the appropriate authorities. To support my claim I submitted a letter from the city highway engineer along with the relevant section from the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
(Neither the judge nor the prosecutor had heard of the MUTCD.) The prosecutor objected and
said my statements were hearsay. I pressed on and cited Virginia statute regarding authority to change speed limits. I said the city could not use this statute in this case since no one knew which agency put up the sign and whether or not there was ever a traffic engineering study done. Nonetheless, the judge wouldn’t consider my research since I didn’t have any expert witnesses to back it up. I was done and the judge presented his verdict. He noted the complexities of the case and said I knew more about traffic ticket issues than most attorneys. Finally, the judge noted the many questionable factors in this case but ultimately found me not guilty. While I never found out what tipped the scales of justic my way, I believe my preparation was critical. I
took the time to research the statutes and case law. I knew the system was set up to work against me so I wasn’t deterred when the prosecutor objected to everything I said or did.
Finally, I read the NMA E-book, “Fight That Ticket”, and it greatly helped me every step of the way!

Click here to link to
Not This Way!

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