This is my first “guest” post. It was written by a reader of my blog who unfairly received a stop sign ticket. Rather than simply accepting his fate, however, he decided to fight it. As you will read, he ultimately won his case.
I have divided up his story into three parts and will post them over the next three days:
- Receiving a Ticket and Finding a Way to Beat It.
- The Importance of the MUTCD for Fighting Traffic Tickets.
- Ultimate Victory in Court.
Receiving a Ticket and Finding a Way to Beat It.
I want to tell you the story of how I used this blog’s resources to get out of a stop sign ticket I didn’t deserve. I am incredibly grateful to have found this resource in a time of significant stress and frustration. It gave me both the hope to fight my ticket and the strategies to beat it.
Circumstances of My Ticket
In the summer of 2019, I was driving to see my father-in-law in Western Pennsylvania. He had a seizure and had been taken by helicopter to the hospital. My wife, kids, and I had rushed out to Pennsylvania to see him, and the last thing we needed was what we got — a ridiculous stop sign ticket.
Here is why I say the ticket is ridiculous. The stop sign was at the merge area at the beginning of the on-ramp to a highway (see picture below). Have you ever seen this as a stop sign instead of a yield sign? I have been driving all my life and have always seen this sign as a yield sign, never as a stop sign.
Not only that, but the cop who pulled me over was sitting on the shoulder just past the sign, waiting to catch someone at this poorly-signed merge. Again, in my years of driving, I’ve seen many speed traps, but never a stop sign trap. And the cop was only sitting there because he knew the stop sign should be a yield sign, not a stop sign. Rather than fix a poorly designed intersection and replace the stop sign with a yield sign, the cops had chosen to keep it as is in order to generate more revenue. Shameful.
Finding the Blog and E-Book
After receiving my ticket, I was very upset. As mentioned before, we as a family were already dealing with a stressful health situation for my father-in-law, and now I had received a ticket I didn’t deserve. I wanted to fight it, so I started to look online for resources and came across this blog. Besides just the moral support of knowing someone else had actually beaten stop sign tickets before, the blog and e-book provided me with a few very important strategies.
The first and most important lesson I learned from the blog and e-book was to separate the black and white requirements of the law from what I’d call the common sense facts of the case. I, like many people unfamiliar with the justice system, originally assumed the best way to fight the ticket was to focus on the common sense facts of the case. In my case, this would be things like, why is there a stop sign where by common sense there should be a yield sign? Or, why is a cop wasting everyone’s tax dollars by hiding at a tricky, unusual merge to pull over people who are driving safely, instead of actually dealing with dangerous drivers?
The biggest thing I learned from this blog is that the legal system doesn’t care about “common sense.” If a cop is sitting at the bottom of a hill pulling over speeders right where the speed limit drops, no judge is going to respond to the common sense argument that it’s ridiculous for a cop to pull over drivers who are slightly exceeding the speed limit but who are endangering no one. Instead, what judges will respond to are ways in which the cops have failed to meet the black and white requirements of the law.
So I set out to figure out how the cops may have failed to meet the black and white requirements of the law in my case.
TOMORROW: Part Two – The Importance of the MUTCD for Fighting Traffic Tickets.