Thoughts On Traffic Tickets
by King Law
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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