A “Twist” on the MUTCD Traffic Ticket Technicality?

Written by Gregory Monte.

I have written almost 20 blog posts showing how to use the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) to beat varies types of traffic tickets.  I even offer a free PDF which specifically applies this method so you can see how it all works.  You can find a link to this free PDF as well as all other posts dealing with those MUTCD strategies at the end of this article.

Today I will briefly review the basic method for using the MUTCD to win in court and then I will compare it with the “twist” – another possible way to use the MUTCD to win in court.  If you read the three-part guest post from earlier in the week, you will recognize this “twist” because he actually won his stop sign case based on it.

The Classic MUTCD Technicality Defense Strategy – A Guaranteed Win

For the purpose of a defense strategy, it is important to understand that the MUTCD is comprised of two types of rules: Standards and Guidance.  While Standards are strict black/white requirements for traffic-control devices (because they use words like “shall”), Guidance is a greyer area (because they use words like “should”).  

For example, Section 1A.08 Authority for Placement of Traffic Control Devices provides the following Standard:

All regulatory traffic control devices shall be supported by laws, ordinances, or regulations.”

My son received a ticket for allegedly rolling through a stop sign back in the Summer of 2018.  Because the sign in question was never properly authorized by ordinance as required by the Federal MUTCD, he argued that it was not enforceable.  He won his case because the judge acknowledged that Standards are absolutely required.

As I have indicated on numerous occasions, this approach to defending yourself in traffic court is the only sure-fire way to win.

But it turns out that it may not be the only possibly way to win …

A “Twist” on the MUTCD Technicality Strategy – A Potential Win

The guest poster from earlier this week indicated that there was no black/white MUTCD Standard that he could use to win in court – but he still won the case by relying on Guidance.

Here is how he described the situation:

“Regarding the MUTCD, I think the guidelines v. standards distinction is important. However, in my case it seemed like the judge was more interested in the specific words used rather than whether something was a guideline or standard. I referred to two guidelines, but one was worded weakly (something like: consideration should be given) and the other more strongly. And from my experience, if you have a guideline that is worded strongly, it’s worth presenting and hoping the judge doesn’t just discard it for being a guideline and not a standard.”

The particular piece of Guidance that he relied on was MUTCD Section 2B.10 Stop or Yield Sign Placement.

“13 Where there is a marked crosswalk at the intersection, the STOP sign should be installed in advance of the crosswalk line nearest to the approaching traffic.”

As it turns out, the stop sign he allegedly “rolled through” was about 100 feet BEYOND the crosswalk.  So, even though not a requirement (“should”), the judge clearly agreed that his stop sign was not properly placed as per the MUTCD.

Worth a Shot?

One thing is sure.  If you can’t rely on a black/white Standard to win your case, you have to be much more flexible when you are actually in the court room.

So, is it worth the shot?

It all depends on how stoked you are to prove your innocence – or to beat the system based on a technicality.  This particular individual drove a long distance from his home to defend himself in court and it probably cost him more money than simply paying the ticket and moving on with his life.

My Posts on the MUTCD Technicality Strategy

My Free Resources


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