Beating a Stop Sign Ticket in Ohio – A Technicality in the Law that Works

Written by Gregory Monte.

What you will read in this post is a 100% full-proof way to beat a stop sign ticket in Ohio.  The only catch is that the sign you allegedly violated must have been improperly placed by the authorities.

There are many ways that a stop sign can be improperly installed, but I am only going to focus on the issue of its height for today’s post.  Like all states, Ohio abides by a version of the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  Well, one of the required standards in this manual has to do with required height – Section 2A.18 (pg. 73):

“Signs installed at the side of the road in rural districts shall be at least 1.5 m (5 ft), measured from the bottom of the sign to the near edge of the pavement. Where parking or pedestrian movements occur, the clearance to the bottom of the sign shall be at least 2.1 m (7 ft).”

If you combine this height requirement with the following statute from the Ohio Motor Vehicle Code, you have a 100% full-proof way to beat your ticket.

Ohio Motor Vehicle Code Section 4511.12

No provision of this chapter for which signs are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official sign is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.”

The Courts Support This Technicality

But don’t just take my word for it.  A citizen from the Buckeye State challenged his stop sign ticket using this technicality in 2015 and he won.  Here is the relevant quote from Painesville v. Kincaid, 57 NE 3d 152 – Ohio: Court of Appeals, 11th Appellate Dist. 2015:

“Because a stop sign is only enforceable when it is both legible and in a proper position, a motorist can escape punishment when the stop sign is not properly placed, notwithstanding the fact that it is still legible … Given that the lowest minimum height for a traffic sign under the OMUTCD is five feet, i.e., sixty inches … the stop sign was not enforceable against appellant and he could not be found guilty … Appellant’s conviction is reversed.”

The Sheep and the Traffic “Nazis”

When cops issue tickets, most people simply admit their guilt and pay the fine, but Mr. Kincaid didn’t do this.  Instead of being a good little sheep … I mean good citizen … he challenged it in court because he knew that his failure to completely stop endangered no one:

 “Although appellant slowed his vehicle as he neared the intersection, he did not completely stop prior to turning unto Everett Road.”

As I wrote in The “Traffic Law Nazis” vs. The Reasonable Driver:

“I have little tolerance for individuals who I term “Traffic Law Nazis.”  These are people who get high and mighty about drivers who safely travel over the speed limit by 10 mph.  They smile to themselves when they see those flashing police lights behind a car pulled over on the side of the road.  Likewise, these individuals can’t fathom how anyone could possibly roll through a stop sign safely – even when there is no one within 100 yards of the intersection.  They want the police to issue tickets to every single one of these lawbreakers.”

By the way, this does not mean that I recommend violating traffic laws.  Obviously there have to be rules of the road or else chaos would ensue on the highway.  My point is that when the police enforce these rules by issuing citations, they are not necessarily “doing God’s work,” as the expression goes. 

After all, there is a difference between the letter vs. the spirit of the law.  Mr. Kincaid violated the former but not the latter. I congratulate his win and fully support his decision to fight this unnecessary ticket.

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