Traffic tickets are always crappy. They cost time and money. Nobody I know seems to have
extra time and/or money lying around.
The majority of tickets are for speeding. You probably already know that.
The question is – how fast is too fast? My straw poll, from talking
to hundreds of police officers when I was an Assistant District Attorney,
is that they are only interested in bad speeders. The number was pretty
consistent at 15 over, maybe 12 or 13 over in a 30 mph zone.
The next big question is, what happens if I get a speeding ticket? Answer
– I depends on where you got it. Most rural courts in or around
Monroe County can be convinced to offer a substantial reduction. Buffalo
area is generally more kind, and often times a parking ticket is the result
of a well negotiated speeding charge. Then there is the traffic violations
bureau in the City of Rochester, where it seems that even a minor reduction
requires at least approval by the Bishop. Traffic Violations Bureau is
not a fun place.
Lately I have been retained on some strange traffic tickets. It seems like
police officers become annoyed for some reason then try to find a ticket
that fits. Sometimes the charge they find is more appropriate than others.
You may be familiar with the amendment to the cell phone law, which makes
the ticket a five-point violation. Monroe and Ontario County have instituted
policies against reducing the tickets. The law is technically called "operating
a mobile device while driving." In my case a young woman was trying
to pick up her husband from a friend's house after his car broke down.
She was using her cell phone as a GPS. She crossed the white line and
was pulled over. The officer ticketed her for unsafe lane change and operating
a mobile device. First, she never changed lanes and the Court of Appeals
has said that crossing a fog line alone is not probable cause to stop,
much less ticket someone. Second, why rub salt in the wound of the wife
looking for her husband via gps. This is why people hate cops. Adding
to her fire, the cop actually told her to fight the ticket in court and
she could probably get it thrown out.
Next, I have a case from the Thruway where my client was ticketed for failing
to move over for an emergency vehicle. It was a Saturday and my guy was
cruising at about 68 in the right lane. When he came around the curve
and saw the officer he put his blinker on to move into the left lane and
comply with the law. He is very familiar with officer safety because his
brother is a member of NY PD. The traffic kept zooming past and he could
not safely change lanes. The Cop, left the initial traffic stop, sped
up to an estimated 100mph, caught my client and wrote him a ticket for
failing to move over. However, if he would have read section 1144, the
law requires moving over only if it can be done safely, which it could
not have in this case. Again I think the cop is wrong because he does
not understand the law he is alleging the defendant broke and simply writes
the ticket because he knows they will likely plead guilty, or be burdened
by defending themselves in court.
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