Drunken Carcassonne« an older post
a newer one »Compelling arguments

Traffic court trial coming up


Last August, as I was driving from downtown Sunnyvale to downtown Mountain View, a drive I made two to three times a week to pick up my mail, I was tagged with a radar gun, and given a ticket for going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone. I was cited for violating the California Vehicle Code 22350, which reads:

22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

I drive my car in kilometers. When I saw the officer behind me at Pioneer, I looked down at my spedometer and saw it at 59 kph, which is roughly 36 mph, and 36 mph is within tolerance of the 35 mph speed limit, so I didn't think much of the officer behind me. I figured he was heading to the station on Villa, and was just heading in my direction.

When I parked on Villa, he pulled up behind me and parked his motorcycle. As I exited my car, I saw he was there, asked what was up, and heard that I was speeding. I returned to my car and pulled out my insurance card and vehicle registration, then popped the trunk and pulled out my wallet and driver's license. I handed all three of the items to the police officer, Officer Tim Minor, and asked how fast he thought I was going. He said fifty, to which I replied I was sure I wasn't driving that fast, that I drive in kilometers, and wasn't going over 59 kph, which is 35-36 mph.

I then asked what other vehicles were around when he tagged my car. He said there was an Escalade. "A what?" "An Escalde." "What's that?" He answered, "It's a Cadillac SUV, but I don't think..." He then turned to his motorcycle and pulled out the radar gun, which showed a flashing 48 on it.

I looked at Officer Minor and repeated that I'm very sure, I'm certain I wasn't go that fast, and asked if there were any way he could not give me this ticket. He stated no, he had to give me the ticket. He did, however, recognize I was at the post office, and that the post office was probably closing soon, and offer that I could head off to get my mail.

I left to get my mail, but needed my driver's license, which Officer Minor had with him, for all of my mail. I wandered back for my ticket, license, regisration and proof of insurance, before heading off for my mail.

When the notice arrived in the mail, I paid the bail and requested an arraignment. I know that Mark and Doyle both suggest that you should always opt for a trial by written declaration, the thought being with a trial by written declaration, if you're found guilty, you can appeal by written declaration twice, and then request a court trial to try again in person.

I'm not very gung-ho on the written part of the trial by written declaration: you can't cross examine the officer, you don't know what he said. Just because you get to try three times, doesn't mean you have a better chance at successfully defending yourself.

I plead not guilty at the arraignment and now have a court date tomorrow. I'm so nervous about this date that I'm completely dysfunctional today. I can't stand when I get like this: I'm nervous about the trial tomorrow, but know I have a lot of work to do and really can't be unproductive for an entire day, two if tomorrow is included. I've managed to work exactly no hours that I'm able to bill.

I'm currently unsure of my defense. Of all of the times I've actually been driving over the speed limit (with traffic, of course), I'm a little annoyed that I'm accused of speeding when I actually wasn't. My ticket was written up for 50 mph, but the radar said 48, so I might have some defense there. I want to argue that going 48 mph is okay, given the conditions of the road (the weather was clear, it was daylight, the road was dry, there were no cars around me that I was endangering, all the usual arguments nicely laid out on Help! I got a Ticket!", but Katie nicely found for me the Iggy Award for the judge of my case. Based on these (three) awards, I don't believe that argument will work.

What I did do today, however, is realize that I wasn't working, wasn't able to concentrate, was distracted with this upcoming trial, and so stopped pretending to work. I knew I was spinning my wheels, so stopped, and went on to focusing on my trial tomorrow. I probably won't head into work tomorrow either, I'll be too distracted.


Sorry to hear about that mess you have to deal with, Kitt. I hope it goes well.