Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SpeedShanked Redemption

I hadn't been to Las Vegas in YEARS. I was never much into gambling, and I don't drink. I only went with friends, and to eat my ass off at Buffets. I guess I ate my ass ON at Buffets. Anyway, last February, I finally went with my good Las Vegas loving friend. I was disappointed. I now know that I don't care much for gambling anymore. But I did play the Mega-Bucks, most of the time. It was the highest Jackpot it had ever been, at more than 34 Million dollars. Needless to say, I didn't win a Mega-anything. And though I did have some good Buffets, I can't eat as much as I used to, so I didn't get more than my moneys worth, which is the rule. Right?

With little to do, I decided to go see some sights. Lake Mead was only 30 minutes away, so I went.

BIG MISTAKE #1.

I got a speeding ticket in Boulder City, going back to Las Vegas. Now, now, don't Judge. After making the turn onto Highway 93/95 from Lake Mead Parkway, there were no Speed Limit signs. BUT, there were 2 separate "Slower Traffic Keep To The Right" signs. These signs are placed only for Large Trucks and Vehicles towing trailers, because they are limited to 55 MPH. That suggests that the posted speed limit is more than 55 MPH. And why not? A Highway in Nevada? 65 seems to be the minimum everywhere you look.

But, in the portion that cuts through Boulder City, it is 45 MPH. When you go to Boulder City via Highway 93/95 FROM Las Vegas, there are speed limit signs AND signs that state "Reduced Speed Ahead" just before you get to the Boulder City City limits. But no such signs exist from the opposite side, coming from Lake Mead/Hoover Dam area into Boulder City. There was only ONE 45 MPH speed limit sign about a half mile past the Boulder City border sign.

So, as soon as I saw that sign, I started slowing down. Too late, since I was well into the Boulder City limits, the BC Police Officer had Radar-ed me at 65 and then wrote me up for 50 MPH, probably the speed I was when he caught up to me, after I saw the 45 MPH sign.

I had told the Officer that I did not see any Speed Limit signs, and he told me that there were at least 3 of them. I didn't argue with him. The Officer was just doing his job, and he was very Professional about it. After giving me my ticket, I went back and retraced my route. I was correct, there were NO speed Limit signs, at least not 3 that the Officer mentioned. I took out my trusty Flip Video and recorded the whole scene, from Lake Mead Parkway, to where I was pulled over.

The reason that there were no signs, was because they were doing road work on the shoulder. I don't know the area before, so I am assuming that the Officer was telling the truth and there was at one time, Speed Limit signs. The important part was, they were not there at the time I was ticketed. I thought I had reasonable proof that although I was speeding, the lack of proper signage would vindicate my actions.

So, I decided to fight the ticket. Why not, I have nothing to lose, and the Officer may not show up and I'd win.

BIG MISTAKE #2 (Condensed Version)

They have a different Court procedure for traffic tickets in Boulder City. First you have a hearing. That's what I was appearing for, I thought it was Court. After going through all the DUI's and other citations, they got to me. They asked me how I would plea and I said "Not Guilty." So they asked me what day I would like to return. What? The Officer didn't show up, and all I was there for was to make a plea? Okay, I made a date. They gave me some paperwork, which I didn't read until today, and found out my Court date was actually a Pre-Trial hearing. This is where a Boulder City Representative and I meet, and negotiate plea deal. If a deal can not be made to settle the matter, THEN an actual Court date is scheduled.

So, I meet the City representative, a Mr Booker. He shakes my hand, smiles, and starts looking over the paper work. He tells me that it isn't so bad and he can reduce the ticket to something without any Points on my record, and I pay close to $200. I said, "That's fine. But I also want to discuss that fact that there were no Speed Limit signs. He tells me there are signs, and in fact, he drives that way to and from work every day, so he knows there are signs there. (Unless he lives in the Lake Mead recreational area, Hoover Dam, or the Hotel Casino near Hoover Dam, he doesn't drive this Highway everyday.) I tell him that I had just drove that same stretch, and the only signs up now, were temporary 35 MPH signs, leaning on Orange Traffic cones. He looks at me like I'm nuts. I tell him I have Video. He said, "I don't have to look at your Video, I know there are signs there." I say, "You won't look at my Video, even though I have proof there were no signs there?" He relents, and then tells me, "For a Firefighter, you sure are a pain in the ass."

I show him the Video, we discuss how and if 65 MPH is safe to drive on that street. He glances at my video every now and then, no signs showing up, and before it's even a quarter done, he says he doesn't have to look at it anymore, and that traveling at 65 MPH in that area is extremely dangerous and that I would "fall off the edge." I say, "Fall off the edge? What edge?" Then he throws a hissy-fit and says, "You want a Court date? You want a Judge to decide this? I'll get you a Court date, let's see what we have available."

Big Mistake #3

Probably, but who cares now. It's obvious to me by the un-professional manner that the City representative had, that I was going to get bent over no matter what. The ticket given to me wasn't really for speeding. It was because I was from out of State, and most of us would just pay the fine and go to Traffic School. Boulder City just wanted $187 extra dollars in their coffers.

Unfortunately for them, I can't go to traffic School because I have a Commercial license, all Firefighters in LA do. We have stricter limitations, even with Blood Alcohol limits. And I have the time to fight the ticket.

So here I am. Now my goal is to make Boulder City Nevada work for it's money. Someone will have to get off their ass and go to Court to go against me. Will I win? I doubt it. Boulder City is small. I bet that everyone knows everyone and their spouses, children, and pets too.

I would like some suggestions from you out there. Maybe you may know better than me.

Can I/Should I;

Ask for a Jury Trial?

Ask for the Traffic Speed Surveys for the Highway?

Ask for Statistics on Accidents there? The number of Citations given? How many are given to people from Out-of-State?

Anything else? You have until August 20 to let me know. That's my, hopefully, final Court appearance.

I'm not going to win. But Boulder City is gonna spend more money for this ticket than they are going to get from me. heh heh heh

The way things are going, I'll probably end up in Jail after my Court date. Probably for murder, or child molestation. In Jail, I'll probably waste away. Would some of you come to visit me? If you do, don't speed in Boulder City.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

you might want to make sure that video taping while driving is not illegal..unless of course a passenger was filming. if it was it could hurt your cause.

good luck!

Ninja said...

Thanks Anonymous. My friend held the camera.

megan said...

You are my hero! This is so something I would want to do and not have the time for. I fought a ticket once and opted for mediation and lost, which I regretted so much because I WAS RIGHT, DAMN IT *stomps foot*! It seems like their case hinges on two things:
1. if there were signs posted (you have proof that they were not)
2. if it was safe to drive that speed.

For #2, I think the burden is on you to bring it and show how similar roads in the area with similar conditions have a 65mph limit, or to find out what the criteria is for setting such a low limit in the first place.

Good luck!

Ninja said...

Thanks megan, but will you visit me in jail when they lock me up?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you will win. Traffic tickets are by far the easiest to contest. My experience is from living in California however, so your mileage my vary.

1# Research Nevada's VC statutes. I know California has theirs available online. For one, when Officers pull over someone, in most states they are required to a.) turn on their sirens, and b.) turn on their blue and red lights.

You can argue these statutes exist to protect officers from overstepping boundaries, and if they are to cite you for breaking statutes, they are to be held at the same standard you are in.

2# Were you paced or RADAR'ed. Pacing is notoriously inaccurate. If paced, do a surprise to the officer at the hearing and ask the courts that he/she present calibration records of the vehicle speedometer.

2#b. if RADAR'ed, ask for calibrations also. Most often officers are privy to this tactic, and will bring such records.

2#c. Check your ticket to make sure the radar # is listed on the ticket. This is part of the officer's requirement to dot their i's and cross their t's. and there is a reason why those fields on the ticket are there.

If there are critical lines missing on the ticket, one can argue the officer's memory or credibility is in question for failure to proper basic protocols (although the judge and/or officer will most likely give you the stink eye)

3#d If RADARed, ask the officer about his memory of the event. Were there cars present near you? What color was your car? What were you wearing? Did he ever lose sight of your vehicle by even a second?

4# Classic argument prosecution brings to the table is "If all things were equal, was the given speed you were driving in considered hazardous."

In California, there are two conflicting laws that state (paraphrased) a.)one cannot go over 55 in state highways unless a posted sign says otherwise b.) one must go with the flow of traffic so as not to endanger fellow motorists.

Please check Nevada VC if such conflicts exist. But I imagine a variation of the two above exists there somewhere. One then could argue towards your favor how busy the flow of traffic was, the number of workers around at the time, and the speed of other motorists (if they all point in your favor e.g. light traffic, time of incident, flow of traffic going about the same speed as you or virtually no traffic around you that you would endanger).

By far your biggest evidence is your video. Make sure it is date stamped, or have some way to prove it was taken on the said date (although the officer cannot really argue on when it was taken).

The burden of proof is up to the state. Your evidence has weight and will hold up.

Good luck!
a random passerby

p.s. please forgive my typos in advance and the arguments you presented will also work! The more arguments the better! More rebuttals for the prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anon. here again after re-reading the post:

Megan made a good point for #2. if it was safe to drive that speed.

This is where speed surveys are essential. If Mr Booker says it dangerous, it is not enough. There has to be a valid justification via surveys.

This may be overkill but here are some resources:

http://public.findlaw.com/traffic-ticket-violation-law/traffic-ticket-a-z/speeding.html

An even more indepth look:
http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-484.html#NRS484Sec361

Good luck on that particular read, it's a doozy and in 8 arial font, single spaced.


OK OK. Being the OCD that I am, I read into it some more.

Complimenting your video evidence, you can submit this article section 2 as to DMV's requirement of posting signs:

NRS 484.369 Speed zones and signs.

1. The Department of Transportation may prescribe speed zones, and install appropriate speed signs controlling vehicular traffic on the state highway system as established in chapter 408 of NRS through hazardous areas, after necessary studies have been made to determine the need therefor, and to eliminate speed zones and remove the signs therefrom whenever the need therefor ceases to exist.

2. After the establishment of a speed zone and the installation of appropriate signs to control speed, it is unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle upon the road and in the speed zone in excess of the speed therein authorized.


For future reference, if you are 100% confident you are in the right and can prove on the spot, this will be handy: NRS 484.793

NRS 484.348 Stop required upon signal of peace officer; manner in which signal must be given; penalties.

1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the driver of a motor vehicle who willfully fails or refuses to bring his vehicle to a stop, or who otherwise flees or attempts to elude a peace officer in a readily identifiable vehicle of any police department or regulatory agency, when given a signal to bring his vehicle to a stop is guilty of a misdemeanor.

2. The signal by the peace officer described in subsection 1 must be by flashing red lamp and siren.


That's it for now. I hope you have a bonanza. There's tons of interesting laws in there.

-a random passerby

Anonymous said...

Yes, you will win. Traffic tickets are by far the easiest to contest. My experience is from living in California however, so your mileage my vary.

1# Research Nevada's VC statutes. I know California has theirs available online. For one, when Officers pull over someone, in most states they are required to a.) turn on their sirens, and b.) turn on their blue and red lights.

You can argue these statutes exist to protect officers from overstepping boundaries, and if they are to cite you for breaking statutes, they are to be held at the same standard you are in.

2# Were you paced or RADAR'ed. Pacing is notoriously inaccurate. If paced, do a surprise to the officer at the hearing and ask the courts that he/she present calibration records of the vehicle speedometer.

2#b. if RADAR'ed, ask for calibrations also. Most often officers are privy to this tactic, and will bring such records.

2#c. Check your ticket to make sure the radar # is listed on the ticket. This is part of the officer's requirement to dot their i's and cross their t's. and there is a reason why those fields on the ticket are there.

If there are critical lines missing on the ticket, one can argue the officer's memory or credibility is in question for failure to proper basic protocols (although the judge and/or officer will most likely give you the stink eye)

3#d If RADARed, ask the officer about his memory of the event. Were there cars present near you? What color was your car? What were you wearing? Did he ever lose sight of your vehicle by even a second?

4# Classic argument prosecution brings to the table is "If all things were equal, was the given speed you were driving in considered hazardous."

In California, there are two conflicting laws that state (paraphrased) a.)one cannot go over 55 in state highways unless a posted sign says otherwise b.) one must go with the flow of traffic so as not to endanger fellow motorists.

Please check Nevada VC if such conflicts exist. But I imagine a variation of the two above exists there somewhere. One then could argue towards your favor how busy the flow of traffic was, the number of workers around at the time, and the speed of other motorists (if they all point in your favor e.g. light traffic, time of incident, flow of traffic going about the same speed as you or virtually no traffic around you that you would endanger).

By far your biggest evidence is your video. Make sure it is date stamped, or have some way to prove it was taken on the said date (although the officer cannot really argue on when it was taken).

The burden of proof is up to the state. Your evidence has weight and will hold up.

Good luck!
a random passerby

p.s. please forgive my typos in advance.

Ninja said...

Thanks for all that info, Mr Anon.

I do have a trick up my sleeve, which I don't want to divulge before my trial, just in case someone from Boulder City has found this and is monitoring it. I guess that makes me paranoid. ; )

I'll write a new post just after Aug 20 on what happened in Court.