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Old 07-17-2018, 08:55 AM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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So I'm fighting this speeding ticket.

Got pulled over for speeding awhile back. The circumstances, 77 in a 60 here in Texas, land of prima facia speed limits. Light traffic, favorable conditions ect. Road was a three lane per direction Interstate highway. Limit increases to 75 about two miles ahead from where I was stopped. Speed determination was with a LIDAR unit that hasn't been calibrated in about 18 months. I can't be exact on that right now, all the paperwork is at home.

I'm working on getting a copy of the speed survey from Txdot but they'll only provide it in response to a freedom of info request as far as I can tell.

I'm a prose defendant in a municipal court of record. My stratagy is to convince the jury that my speed was reasonable under the conditions then present, or at least convince them that a speed higher than 60 was reasonable.

My questions are: how do I submit evidence properly, and what should I ask during voir dire? Any thing I'm not thinking of?

(Standard limitations apply. See reverse side for details. I am not a lawyer, you are not my lawyer. Nothing you say in response will be construed as an attempt to enter into an attorney-client relationship, etc, etc.)
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:04 AM
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Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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If the citing officer shows up you're toast. It'll be a fun experience if this is the first ticket you've attempted to fight. If you've got the time go ahead. Otherwise, I'd look into deferral. You still pay the fine, but the ticket doesn't go on your record and therefore doesn't impact your insurance rates.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:04 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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I think you'll be far better off fighting on the basis that the gun hadn't been calibrated in a year and a half than "I was going 17 over but it's cool because I was being safe and in 2 miles I wouldn't have been speeding anyway". That's admitting guilt. If you admit guilt there's no reasonable doubt that you didn't do it. This doesn't seem like the time or place to explain why it was okay to break the law, this is when you convince them that you didn't break the law.

I think something you need to find out is how often their guns are calibrated Is there a standard time from the manufacturer? Does their department require it to be recalibrated from time to time? From there you'll know right away if it should have been calibrated 16 months ago or if it still has another 2 years left (I have no idea how often it's done).

I'm sure there's other ideas, but I can't imagine going up there and admitting guilt is going to get you anywhere. You'd probably have been better off putting in a plea of No Contest at your first appearance.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:08 AM
steronz steronz is offline
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Juries are finders of fact, and the only fact at play in this case is whether or not you were exceeding a posted speed limit. What you're saying is that you intend to admit to this fact and ask the jury to nullify the offense. It seems to me that you don't need to bother with evidence, but I also don't see this going well for you.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:10 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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IANAL but I agree that you're going to have better luck with the calibration issue than trying to claim you weren't being unsafe when going that fast. (For one thing, such a defense amounts to an admission of guilt.) BTW, you mentioned making these arguments to a "jury". In my limited experience and based on every story I've ever heard of people arguing speeding tickets, you're not going to get a jury trial over this, but instead will be making your argument to a judge. One who has heard every argument a thousand times over.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
If you admit guilt there's no reasonable doubt that you didn't do it. This doesn't seem like the time or place to explain why it was okay to break the law[...]
He wasn't necessarily breaking the law. Note that Texas has prima facie speed limits, as noted in the OP. Exceeding the posted limit is not automatically speeding.
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Originally Posted by Berlof & Newton Attorneys
Hence, simply because you’re driving 75 in a 60 m.p.h. zone, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re “speeding.” If it’s not “unreasonable and imprudent under the circumstance then existing” to do so, you can lawfully drive 75 m.p.h. Think about the times you’ve “gone with the flow” of traffic, even though everyone was going faster than the posted “speed limit.” Were all of you being unreasonable?

Thus, there are no speed limits in Texas, in that you can (in certain situations) lawfully drive at a rate of speed greater than what is indicated by the posted speed limit sign. Rather, posted speed limits are the presumptive legal speed for the stretch of roadway to which they pertain… a presumption which can be rebutted by proof that you were driving in a way that was not unreasonable under the circumstances. However, please understand that you can be cited for speeding, and brought to trial, if it’s alleged that you were driving above the presumptive legal speed. Whether or not the jury (or, in some cases, the judge) convicts you depends on whether or not they believe you were driving in a “reasonable” manner.
The fact that the posted limit changes in 2 miles might be mitigating (then again, it might be irrelevant).
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Last edited by CookingWithGas; 07-17-2018 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:19 AM
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I agree with the expressed opinion that a defense of, "I was going 17 mph over the posted limit but it was okay because conditions were great", isn't an acceptable defense at all, legally. I think you have a shot with the "gun calibration" defense.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:20 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Never heard of that.
I'm not sure if it would be worth attempting to show that you weren't speeding, but if you were, it was okay.

So, with this prima facie speed limit, why would the officer be clocking you? ISTM, they'd only be trying to find your speed if they felt you were going too fast.

Some quick googling shows that you might do best to ask the officer for the calibration certificate. If they can't find it, the court should rule in your favor. I also saw one item that stated that Texas Peace Officers are required to take CE classes each year, including some on the use of Radar. The idea being that if the officer hasn't kept up his training, you might be able to show that he may have clocked you incorrectly.

Last edited by Joey P; 07-17-2018 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:29 AM
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Calibration Record Evidence

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The quickest way to challenge radar gun evidence is to introduce the calibration records for the device that measured your speed into evidence in court. If the device wasnt calibrated within the required timeframe, or wasnt calibrated correctly, you can argue that the judge should dismiss your ticket for speeding.

Some officers may erroneously believe that they can calibrate the radar gun without using the tuning fork, so always ask whether they did in fact use the fork during calibration. If they did not, it opens up another opportunity for you to argue that the ticket is based on false evidence and should be dismissed.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:46 AM
minlokwat minlokwat is offline
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My stratagy is to convince the jury that my speed was reasonable under the conditions then present, or at least convince them that a speed higher than 60 was reasonable.
Is this a common practice; i.e., juries actually sit for traffic court cases?

I find this genuinely bizarre.

Does the court actually go through a jury selection process for each case or does one jury spend the day in court and rule on multiple cases? Do they actually go to a separate room to deliberate and go over each incident?
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:32 AM
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I worked with the foremost expert in fighting LIDAR arrests. He never lost a case he testified in. One thing I remember: check the distance you were clocked at. Each type of LIDAR unit is certified for a maximum distance. If you are over that distance, the gun evidence is not admissible. You will have to determine that from listed specs for the unit. Back then the main unit was the LDI 20-20.

The 18 month calibration date is odd. Perhaps that refers to some factory adjustments. LIDAR units are checked every time they are used. The officer pulls up to a marked line and rests the unit on the door of the patrol car. He aims at a pole some specified distance away. In addition to reading the correct distance, he checks the gun vertically and horizontally to make sure the cross hairs are zeroed. Even this simple procedures has problems, it was a favorite topic to cross examine when my friends was in court but you would need to be an expert witness to address this.

Dennis
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:45 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I sort of won a similar case in New Hampshire a few years ago. I prolonged the case for two years by saying I was traveling for work when they scheduled the hearings. When I finally showed up, the officer (not the one that stopped me) asked me to plead down and I rejected everything until he got to the obscure offense of 3 - 5 miles per hour over the limit with no insurance points. I took that one because it was cheaper than showing up to trial at a later date. You could try something like that.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:46 AM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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I think your best bet is to ask the judge to exclude evidence of the radar gun based on improper calibration. It's not reliable evidence, violates the state regulations, whatever.
I'm not sure the jury would care much about such "technicalities" unless they wanted an excuse to let you off anyway (I can see a juror thinking, "Maybe it was calibrated wrong, but I doubt it was off 17 mph.")

Generally, I think you should either admit you were going 77 and argue it was reasonable and prudent given the conditions, or dispute that argue they can't prove you were going that fast. I wouldn't do both in front of a jury. (i.e, "They can't prove I was going 77, but if I was, it was perfectly safe")
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:50 PM
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Another vote for not arguing that you going 77 was reasonable, you were 17MPH over the limit and no amount of arguing is going to change that. The court and officer doesn't set the speed limits they just enforce them.

Talk to legislators and/or DOT about that.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:01 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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As noted I wasn't necessarily breaking the law, it's just that now the burden of proof is on me. Or atleast that's how I read that prima facie speed limits work.

The fact that the speed limit changes is important to me becuase the road construction and design is the same in two miles as where I was clocked, both of which I think would dictate speed. I'm trying to get the speed surveys to help as well but TXdot is making it difficult.


He clocked me as I descended from a bridge maybe a couple hundred - 300,feet ahead. He was on shoulder and I was three lanes to the left.

They clock becuase most people pay and you're presumed to be traveling faster than safe and reasonable if you're above the posted limit.

When I get home I'll pull the model number and manual as well as training records and see what I've got. Still gotta figure out how to properly present the evidence so it makes it to court.

This is my first speeding ticket to fight and its kinda interesting. I couldn't take deferred due to my cdl so I'm just kinda hoping for the best or at least hoping to learn something.

Last edited by K2500; 07-17-2018 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:36 PM
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Inigo Montoya Inigo Montoya is offline
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Stay away from the raw numbers. 15+ over the limit sounds inflammatory. Rather, approach it with a ratio of actual speed vs. posted speed.

32 is 128% of 25 -- Does anyone really think 32 is unreasonably faster to an experienced driver than 25?
77 is 128% of 60 -- Keeping in mind a freeway is engineered for higher speeds with regard to visibility and pavement than a neighborhood street, is a similar ratio not just as reasonable? Given 75 is an available speed limit on certain stretches of most freeways, it's arguably even more reasonable than doing 32 in a 25.


But anyway, if I were to get called in for jury duty because someone wanted to contest a speeding ticket I'd push for guilty as charged and probably also manslaughter for good measure. You want how much of my time, as well as a handful of other people's time, just to avoid taking responsibility for something which you are in all likelihood guilty of? Doom on you, who in the hell do you think you are? Etc.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:30 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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I thought prima facie meant the posted limit was the MAXIMUM, and that safe and reasonable exceptions were for the use of an arresting officer in deciding to cite excessive speed for conditions at a LOWER speed than posted.

Huh. Maybe it only means that in California. My last time in traffic school was over twenty years ago.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:50 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by mixdenny View Post

The 18 month calibration date is odd. Perhaps that refers to some factory adjustments. LIDAR units are checked every time they are used. The officer pulls up to a marked line and rests the unit on the door of the patrol car. He aims at a pole some specified distance away. In addition to reading the correct distance, he checks the gun vertically and horizontally to make sure the cross hairs are zeroed. Even this simple procedures has problems, it was a favorite topic to cross examine when my friends was in court but you would need to be an expert witness to address this.

Dennis
If the couple of random blurbs on the internet I read are correct, there's a difference between checking it and calibrating it. Yes, they check it before they use it, in whatever way gives them the ability to say that it works to the best of their knowledge, but that's not the same as sending it out and having it calibrated.

If they clocked you by pacing you, you'd want to know that their speedometer has been properly calibrated by a shop certified in doing so, not the officer's word that him and another officer drove next to each other and both of their speedos said 35.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:59 PM
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https://www.dallasattorney.com/blog/...mits-in-texas/
https://www.drivinglaws.org/resource...eding-laws.htm

None of this speaks to how easy it is to convince a judge or jury that 78 in a 60 is reasonable and proper, but it is possible.
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:24 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Inigo has a valid point. You may get a jury filled with people pissed off at having to waste their time on your speeding ticket. Don’t waste their time. Hit your points then move on. Thank god we don’t have jury trials for traffic here.

There is no need to put your eggs in one basket. You can ask about the calibration and also argue your prima facia case. I would suggest you don’t ask questions that you don’t know the answers to. The last calibration was 18 months ago. And? What is the requirement in your state? What are the requirements for your specific brand of laser? Unlike Radar most LIDAR manufacturers don’t require any periodic factory calibration. There are probably before and after use checks by the officer. Know what those requirements are before you get to court.

IANAL but this is true in my court. You can’t just present your argument for a prima facia defense directly to the court or the jury. It has to be presented as testimony. You the pro se attorney can not directly testify. You either have to make the argument through your questioning of witnesses or you the defendant has to testify. Your testimony can take the form of a statement. You don’t have to ask yourself questions. But that means you will be cross examined. Most likely the last thing the jury will hear is you admitting under cross examination that you were speeding.

Last edited by Loach; 07-17-2018 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:37 PM
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Over the years I have seen multiple attempts at pro se defenses. Beyond case specifics the one thing I’ve seen get most acting on their own behalf is the “Ah-ha!” moment. The defendant thinks they have that one thing to trip up the officer and then he falls right into their trap. “Ah-ha!” But then since the officer has done this over and over and has heard that particular Ah-ha moment he has the explaination at the ready. When the Ah-ha moment doesn’t work everything else falls apart.

If this officer or department often conducts speed enforcement on that roadway there is a pretty good chance he will already have a well thought out argument for the reasonableness of the posted speed limit. After all they know Texas law too. Do not be surprised by the fact that he will have a counter argument.

Last edited by Loach; 07-17-2018 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:26 PM
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Is this a common practice; i.e., juries actually sit for traffic court cases?

I find this genuinely bizarre.

Does the court actually go through a jury selection process for each case or does one jury spend the day in court and rule on multiple cases? Do they actually go to a separate room to deliberate and go over each incident?
I would like to know too. Everything I can find suggests that you have a right to a jury trial, but it's not the usual method unless you specifically request it.

https://www.dmv.org/tx-texas/fightin...ation-in-Court
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:48 PM
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I guess I still need to find out about the jury. As I recall from a conversation from someone who sat on one the six of them sit and hear however many cases come through that day. I I'll have to look deeper into that as well.

I wasn't really betting on an ah-ha moment so much as inducing doubt and hoping for the best. Maybe demonstrating through evidence that a reasonable speed was, say, 65 or 70 so I'm 7 or 13 over instead of 17. Not an insignificant amount considering anything over 13 is a bigger hit on my cdl, not that I really use it that much.


They paced me on my bike last year and I asked for calibration reports. They use the GPS speed on their dash unit apparently, I managed to plea down on that one.

I do like inigo's percentage argument though, that might help quite a bit.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:08 PM
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I'm not sure the jury would care much about such "technicalities" unless they wanted an excuse to let you off anyway (I can see a juror thinking, "Maybe it was calibrated wrong, but I doubt it was off 17 mph.")
There's also a chance that he gets a jury who is collectively pissed off that they had to take the day off work and come in for some guy who wants to fight a speeding ticket, and a judge who's not happy that the defendant already got one continuance by demanding a jury trial and is now debating whether speeding a lot is the same as speeding a little, and whether a speed gun that's used every day can be so badly miscalibrated that it could possibly make a difference.

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I wasn't really betting on an ah-ha moment so much as inducing doubt and hoping for the best.
You might also find out what's the worst an unhappy judge can do to you if you lose, and what's the best a real lawyer can get the charges knocked down to.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:59 PM
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I guess I still need to find out about the jury. As I recall from a conversation from someone who sat on one the six of them sit and hear however many cases come through that day. I I'll have to look deeper into that as well.

I wasn't really betting on an ah-ha moment so much as inducing doubt and hoping for the best. Maybe demonstrating through evidence that a reasonable speed was, say, 65 or 70 so I'm 7 or 13 over instead of 17. Not an insignificant amount considering anything over 13 is a bigger hit on my cdl, not that I really use it that much.

You may very well be able to plead down the charge to a much lower offense without going to trial.

Think long and hard about how you are going to present evidence. Like I said before you are not allowed to testify in your role as a lawyer. Ive seem many pro se cases where the defendant thinks he can stand there and introduce evidence and present theories during closing. The judge shuts that down right away. You will either have to find a way to get the evidence in with a called witness or you will have to testify which opens you up to cross examination.

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There's also a chance that he gets a jury who is collectively pissed off that they had to take the day off work and come in for some guy who wants to fight a speeding ticket, and a judge who's not happy that the defendant already got one continuance by demanding a jury trial and is now debating whether speeding a lot is the same as speeding a little, and whether a speed gun that's used every day can be so badly miscalibrated that it could possibly make a difference.
You are wrong about the equipment. There are some arguments that are black and white. If that piece of equipment is required by the state to be calibrated periodically then it needs to be calibrated. If the officer is required by the state to be certified in operation of that equipment then they need to show that certification. If the machine is not calibrated or the officer is not certified the reading from the equipment will be thrown out before it even gets to the jury. The OP needs to know what those requirements are before the trial and needs to request discovery pertaining to those records.
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:02 PM
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I do like inigo's percentage argument though, that might help quite a bit.
Might. Might also really irritate whomever is hearing your case. Heed the smartass at your peril.
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:41 PM
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You may very well be able to plead down the charge to a much lower offense without going to trial.

Think long and hard about how you are going to present evidence. Like I said before you are not allowed to testify in your role as a lawyer. Ive seem many pro se cases where the defendant thinks he can stand there and introduce evidence and present theories during closing. The judge shuts that down right away. You will either have to find a way to get the evidence in with a called witness or you will have to testify which opens you up to cross examination.

......
I'm hoping they'll want to deal when it gets a little closer but I still have to prepare for if they won't. As far as introducing points concerning the LIDAR and procedure I'm hoping it will come out as I question the citing officer about his procedure, knowledge of equipment ect. Since he'll probably be the only one i call up. His last class in radar was a month prior so that will be a hard sell. I don't know how often the state or department requires calibration or even how to find out but I'd like to get some evidence introduced to have at least some leverage if they want to deal.


Update: LIDAR is an Ultra Lyte LR B, L20, with certificates of calibration dated 02-29-12 and 1-31-17. Ticket was issued 4-30-18 with complaint made under TRC 545.356.
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:42 PM
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Might. Might also really irritate whomever is hearing your case. Heed the smartass at your peril.
Worst that could happen is I gotta pay the fine anyways😁
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Old 07-18-2018, 06:45 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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I thought prima facie meant the posted limit was the MAXIMUM, and that safe and reasonable exceptions were for the use of an arresting officer in deciding to cite excessive speed for conditions at a LOWER speed than posted.
Michigan is a prima facie state, too, on the freeways (we have absolute limits on surface streets). My last ticket (2002 or so) was dismissed because I used the prima facie defense: my speed was reasonable at that time of night, and I wasn't endangering myself or others.

I had to pay court fees that were coincidentally the same price as the ticket would have been. The ticket proceeds would have to have been shared with the state, but as far as I know, court costs stay within that particular city.
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Old 07-18-2018, 11:36 AM
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Which county/city in Texas, were you ticketed in? Did you request a "jury" hearing? If not, I'd expect that your case will be heard by a judge alone. Most judges, especially in Texas, have a high regard for law enforcement officers. As I said previously, if the citing officer shows up for your case, then the odds are overwhelmingly NOT in your favor. But you'll learn a bit about the justice system, waiting and hearing the other cases while yours is coming up. Be prepared to spend several hours at the court house, waiting.
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Old 07-18-2018, 11:56 AM
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Update: LIDAR is an Ultra Lyte LR B, L20, with certificates of calibration dated 02-29-12 and 1-31-17. Ticket was issued 4-30-18 with complaint made under TRC 545.356.
Here's the Ultra Lyte LR B user manual. It looks as if they don't have "calibration" in the ordinary sense, but the manufacturer is real proud of what they DO have.

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All our laser speed guns have LTI's exclusive Accuracy Validation software, which ensures the accuracy of every speed measurement before it even displays reading in the device.

Accuracy validation is what makes all LTI lasers the most dependable speed devices in the world and why they always have stood up in court.
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Old 07-18-2018, 12:38 PM
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Got pulled over for speeding awhile back. The circumstances, 77 in a 60 here in Texas, land of prima facia speed limits. Light traffic, favorable conditions ect. Road was a three lane per direction Interstate highway. Limit increases to 75 about two miles ahead from where I was stopped.

I'm a prose defendant in a municipal court of record. My stratagy is to convince the jury that my speed was reasonable under the conditions then present, or at least convince them that a speed higher than 60 was reasonable.

My questions are: how do I submit evidence properly, and what should I ask during voir dire? Any thing I'm not thinking of?...
IANAL. Though I do live in Texas, and know quite a few TX attorneys. Anyway...

I don't know the exact area you got popped, but there are quite a few spots that fit the description. Houston is under this dynamic, and I think parts of DFW are too. The 60 MPH speed limit is due to EPA air quality regs concerning the counties around the municipality, and has very little to do with safety. Which is why you'll see the speed limit rise, at the same time the number of lanes are fewer, and the road quality lessens. I feel your pain, and I see people do 77 in a 60 every day around me. In fact, they're probably driving closer to that than 60. (Just drive SH 249 or 225, though I think 225 may be 65 in spots. Guess they figure the air quality can't get any worse from driving than what a dozen petrochemical plants do)

Get a traffic attorney local to that jurisdiction. It's a business transaction for them. They're in court, know the judges/assistant state's attorneys, and are best able to predict what the likely penalty for you will be, given your set of facts, and tolerance for going to court. They're also more likely to get a favorable deal, IME, than you will.

If you insist on doing this yourself, expect to be on the receiving end of a few continuance requests if you demand a jury trial. IOW, it won't be a single time you'll have to take off work, it'll be a few times. Expect also to receive more punishment if you lose, including court costs etc..., should you go this route.

As to the required foundation for admitting something into evidence, or for effectively conducting voir dire, entire law school courses (like Trial Advocacy) go into performing those tasks. AIUI, pro se defendants are often cut some slack, but it's not going to be trivial to learn this. How much is your time worth?

Good luck.

EDIT: Given your prior posts about being paced, I guess just taking Defensive Driving is out? Which is what I did, the last time I got a ticket for going 15 ish over.

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 07-18-2018 at 12:42 PM.
  #33  
Old 07-18-2018, 01:28 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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Originally Posted by K2500 View Post
Worst that could happen is I gotta pay the fine anyways��
I don't know how it works in TX, but in NJ you would stand to lose a lot. In NJ the fine imposed by a judge in court can be (and typically is) a lot higher than the amount that you would pay upfront, and plus you get charged court costs.

Last edited by Fotheringay-Phipps; 07-18-2018 at 01:29 PM.
  #34  
Old 07-18-2018, 05:06 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Which county/city in Texas, were you ticketed in? Did you request a "jury" hearing? If not, I'd expect that your case will be heard by a judge alone. Most judges, especially in Texas, have a high regard for law enforcement officers. As I said previously, if the citing officer shows up for your case, then the odds are overwhelmingly NOT in your favor. But you'll learn a bit about the justice system, waiting and hearing the other cases while yours is coming up. Be prepared to spend several hours at the court house, waiting.
[Town name redacted]


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Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Here's the Ultra Lyte LR B user manual. It looks as if they don't have "calibration" in the ordinary sense, but the manufacturer is real proud of what they DO have.
I dug through the hype a little bit and they love their hype. Currently researching and seeing if I can suppress the calibrations records, they don't seem to indicate any particular standard or procedure the cal was tested to.

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Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
IANAL. Though I do live in Texas, and know quite a few TX attorneys. Anyway...

I don't know the exact area you got popped, but there are quite a few spots that fit the description. Houston is under this dynamic, and I think parts of DFW are too. The 60 MPH speed limit is due to EPA air quality regs concerning the counties around the municipality, and has very little to do with safety. Which is why you'll see the speed limit rise, at the same time the number of lanes are fewer, and the road quality lessens. I feel your pain, and I see people do 77 in a 60 every day around me. In fact, they're probably driving closer to that than 60. (Just drive SH 249 or 225, though I think 225 may be 65 in spots. Guess they figure the air quality can't get any worse from driving than what a dozen petrochemical plants do)

Get a traffic attorney local to that jurisdiction. It's a business transaction for them. They're in court, know the judges/assistant state's attorneys, and are best able to predict what the likely penalty for you will be, given your set of facts, and tolerance for going to court. They're also more likely to get a favorable deal, IME, than you will.

If you insist on doing this yourself, expect to be on the receiving end of a few continuance requests if you demand a jury trial. IOW, it won't be a single time you'll have to take off work, it'll be a few times. Expect also to receive more punishment if you lose, including court costs etc..., should you go this route.

As to the required foundation for admitting something into evidence, or for effectively conducting voir dire, entire law school courses (like Trial Advocacy) go into performing those tasks. AIUI, pro se defendants are often cut some slack, but it's not going to be trivial to learn this. How much is your time worth?

Good luck.

EDIT: Given your prior posts about being paced, I guess just taking Defensive Driving is out? Which is what I did, the last time I got a ticket for going 15 ish over.
Deferred and defensive driving courses aren't available to CDL holders regardless of what kind of vehicle you get stopped in.

Both the state and city mention on their own websites that speed limits are set at the 85th percentile of the most recent speed survey. They also detail that if they were to set lower than that they would be pulling over way to many "reasonable drivers".

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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
I don't know how it works in TX, but in NJ you would stand to lose a lot. In NJ the fine imposed by a judge in court can be (and typically is) a lot higher than the amount that you would pay upfront, and plus you get charged court costs.
I was offered the choice to have either the judge or the jury be the fine setter at the future court date. Even with court costs losing will be less expensive than any lawyer I've talked to so it feels worth the dice roll.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 07-20-2018 at 05:51 AM. Reason: Town name removed -ITD
  #35  
Old 07-18-2018, 05:16 PM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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I was offered the choice to have either the judge or the jury be the fine setter at the future court date. Even with court costs losing will be less expensive than any lawyer I've talked to so it feels worth the dice roll.
Are those your only options? I know in NY & NJ, you also have the option (unless it's a very major ticket, e.g. DUI) to not show up in court altogether, and just plead guilty by mail (or online). In NJ at least, that's the cheapest option. So if, for example, the schedule of fines on the back of the ticket says that your violation costs $85, that only applies if you send it in by mail or pay online. If you show up in court and are found guilty, then you're likely to pay some higher fine, e.g. $160 plus another $35 for court costs.

In NJ you can typically plead down to a lower violation (if one is available) but generally this will involve lower points on your license for a higher fine (since, among other things) this too will involve the judge setting a higher fine plus court costs.

But again, this is NJ and perhaps TX is different. (There are certainly no jury traffic trials here.) If you have to show up in court anyway, then I would think you may as well fight it. It sounds from what you're saying now that you need to show up, with or without a lawyer.
  #36  
Old 07-18-2018, 05:43 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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I don't feel I was doing anything particularly wrong. Just traveling along, minding my own business, not necessarily breaking the law, when I'm spotted by the local tax collecto....... I mean traffic unit.
Really though. I don't HAVE to show up. I don't have many points on my license or anything else against my cdl. I could pay the couple hundred bucks plus probably a small hike in insurance. Thing is though, since deferred or driving courses aren't available to me or really any other option than just paying what's assessed, even if the cost doubles if I fail then it's still worth fighting to me even if it's only for the oportunity to negotiate a better deal.
  #37  
Old 07-18-2018, 06:08 PM
Gray Ghost Gray Ghost is offline
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...Deferred and defensive driving courses aren't available to CDL holders regardless of what kind of vehicle you get stopped in.

Both the state and city mention on their own websites that speed limits are set at the 85th percentile of the most recent speed survey. They also detail that if they were to set lower than that they would be pulling over way to many "reasonable drivers".


I was offered the choice to have either the judge or the jury be the fine setter at the future court date. Even with court costs losing will be less expensive than any lawyer I've talked to so it feels worth the dice roll.
You have a CDL? Quit screwing around and hire an attorney. Seriously. A good one may get the ticket changed to a non-moving violation or something else that won't impede your employment. What is your employer going to think if you end up losing on this ticket, and, even worse, if you potentially end up talking yourself at trial into another worse offense? EDIT: How many points on your CDL can you have before your employer gets nasty about it?

With this much to lose, it seems foolish to me to try and do this pro se. I'd hire counsel.

Sorry to hear about the ticket. I too wanted to get out of Amarillo as fast as possible when I drove through there.

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 07-18-2018 at 06:09 PM.
  #38  
Old 07-18-2018, 06:27 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is online now
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This does not sound like a good choice of battles.
  #39  
Old 07-18-2018, 06:54 PM
Crazy Canuck Crazy Canuck is offline
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Originally Posted by K2500 View Post
Got pulled over for speeding awhile back. The circumstances, 77 in a 60 here in Texas
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I don't feel I was doing anything particularly wrong. Just traveling along, minding my own business, not necessarily breaking the law
That "not necessarily breaking the law" quote after you flat out admitted to breaking the law in your OP made me laugh out loud. For that, I'll give you one piece of good advice.

A man who represents himself in court when anything important is on the line is a fucking idiot who will almost certainly lose. Either pay the fine or pay a real life lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction to fight or negotiate it. Your choice.
  #40  
Old 07-18-2018, 07:39 PM
excavating (for a mind) excavating (for a mind) is offline
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Your problem isn't going to be to convince the jury that you believed the speed you were going was safe for the circumstances, it is going to be convince the jury that the police officer felt that the speed you were going was safe for the circumstances. That is what the law says. If the law was that exceeding the speed limit was OK as long as the driver thought it was safe, it would be rather difficult to ever obtain a conviction.

Pay the ticket. Your plan is just going to cost you more, although you will (hopefully) gain knowledge of the system. I say "hopefully" because as long as you consider the law enforcement as a "tax collector", I wonder if you understand the system. Yes, traffic tickets generate revenue, but is probably a wash for the municipality.

That is, their motivation is more likely to be to reduce the complaints of bozos blazing through at 77 in a 60. While you might feel you have a right to drive at whatever speed you want to on the highway, the people who show up for jury duty are more likely to feel that you have a responsibility to obey the law.
  #41  
Old 07-18-2018, 09:04 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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While you might feel you have a right to drive at whatever speed you want to on the highway, the people who show up for jury duty are more likely to feel that you have a responsibility to obey the law.
That's the question at stake, though: what's the law? There's a difference between following the posted speed limit and obeying the law, if the law is written as prima facie.
  #42  
Old 07-18-2018, 09:52 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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You have a CDL? Quit screwing around and hire an attorney. Seriously. A good one may get the ticket changed to a non-moving violation or something else that won't impede your employment. What is your employer going to think if you end up losing on this ticket, and, even worse, if you potentially end up talking yourself at trial into another worse offense? EDIT: How many points on your CDL can you have before your employer gets nasty about it?

With this much to lose, it seems foolish to me to try and do this pro se. I'd hire counsel.

Sorry to hear about the ticket. I too wanted to get out of Amarillo as fast as possible when I drove through there.
It won't effect my employment, I got the cdl a few years back becuase I knew a guy with a truck and wanted to see if I could get it on the first try. Its more the challenge coupled with a little boredom.

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Originally Posted by DavidwithanR View Post
This does not sound like a good choice of battles.
Maybe not but this is all the excitement I get since I quit drinking.

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Originally Posted by Crazy Canuck View Post
That "not necessarily breaking the law" quote after you flat out admitted to breaking the law in your OP made me laugh out loud. For that, I'll give you one piece of good advice.

A man who represents himself in court when anything important is on the line is a fucking idiot who will almost certainly lose. Either pay the fine or pay a real life lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction to fight or negotiate it. Your choice.
I know it's my choice and I'm no "fucking idiot" . Laugh all you want but the fact is exceeding a prima facie speed limit isn't straight up breaking the law. It simply places the burden on me to prove I wasn't being unreasonable. See Blathisar's quote below.

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That's the question at stake, though: what's the law? There's a difference between following the posted speed limit and obeying the law, if the law is written as prima facie.
Thank you.
  #43  
Old 07-18-2018, 10:03 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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Originally Posted by excavating (for a mind) View Post
Your problem isn't going to be to convince the jury that you believed the speed you were going was safe for the circumstances, it is going to be convince the jury that the police officer felt that the speed you were going was safe for the circumstances. That is what the law says. If the law was that exceeding the speed limit was OK as long as the driver thought it was safe, it would be rather difficult to ever obtain a conviction.

Pay the ticket. Your plan is just going to cost you more, although you will (hopefully) gain knowledge of the system. I say "hopefully" because as long as you consider the law enforcement as a "tax collector", I wonder if you understand the system. Yes, traffic tickets generate revenue, but is probably a wash for the municipality.

That is, their motivation is more likely to be to reduce the complaints of bozos blazing through at 77 in a 60. While you might feel you have a right to drive at whatever speed you want to on the highway, the people who show up for jury duty are more likely to feel that you have a responsibility to obey the law.
Bozo. Right. I can drive at what reasonable speed I like completely legally. Maybe I'll switch to a bench trial who knows. I feel I understand the system quite well. A highly visible traffic enforcement unit would slow things down considerably on that stretch of road. No need for citations at all, just ride around and watch traffic stack up behind you. They don't though, they hide in bushes, write citations for most of shift and sit in court a few months later to help collect from people who had the gaul to contest. They're obligated to prove their end and I'm obligated to prove mine, if I succeed in demonstrating I was being reasonable then I wasn't breaking the law in the first place, that's how prima facie speed limits work as I understand it.
  #44  
Old 07-18-2018, 10:08 PM
excavating (for a mind) excavating (for a mind) is offline
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That's the question at stake, though: what's the law? There's a difference between following the posted speed limit and obeying the law, if the law is written as prima facie.
That does seem where the confusion stems from. The "prima facie" means that the posted limit is the law "at first appearance" (unless proven otherwise). That means that an officer can give you a ticket for going less than the posted limit if it is obvious (can be proven) that the posted limit is unsafe. It also means that it is lawful to exceed the posted limit if it is obvious (can be proven) to do so. In the second case, however, we have a LEO attesting that it was unsafe to exceed the limit (otherwise, no ticket would be given). So, we have a situation where the opinion of the officer differs from that of the defendant. Like I said, most of the people who will show up for jury duty will most likely feel that obeying the posted limit is lawful and take the officer's opinion over the defendant's on what is safe. Even if he is successful in convincing the jury that a speed of 65 or 70 was should be the safe limit, he was clocked at 77, by his own admission he is guilty even using his own rules.

Yes, technically, the OP has an argument. One that has been made many times. I doubt he will be successful with this strategy. His best hope is that the officer won't show, but being that he has a CDL (and that is part of the record), I think that would be an unlikely event. A good lawyer could keep this off his record, but it would likely cost more than just pleading guilty and paying the ticket. Fighting it by arguing "prima facie" might be successful (if he had good evidence that the officer was mistaken) in front of a judge. I doubt it would work in front of a jury, who doesn't understand the law as well as the judge.

When I lived in Texas, it was widely believed that fighting a traffic ticket in front of a jury was more beneficial for the defendant than if front of a judge. However, the people I have talked to who have been through the process (me, included) indicate that that is not true. Most jurors are going to have little concern as to the driver's belief as to what the safe speed should be and would rather trust the officer's opinion on that issue.
  #45  
Old 07-18-2018, 10:57 PM
K2500 K2500 is offline
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I understand that it'll be mostly my word against his. I understand that success as a pro se defendant is unlikely and that there's entire profession that exists solely to do it for me( I object to this being nessessary for a solid defense, but sadly it is.)

My argument is pretty much that I belive I was traveling at a safe speed for the conditions. I believe that though I would be willing to be convinced otherwise.
  #46  
Old 07-19-2018, 12:31 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is online now
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My argument is pretty much that I belive I was traveling at a safe speed for the conditions. I believe that though I would be willing to be convinced otherwise.
If you can PROVE that your speed was safe for the conditions, using a strict definition for the word "prove", then you win. Otherwise I think it doesn't look promising.
  #47  
Old 07-19-2018, 12:39 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is online now
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Missed edit window: Where I said "you win" should say "you might win"
  #48  
Old 07-19-2018, 09:23 AM
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Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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I understand that it'll be mostly my word against his.
And his word as a law enforcement officer whose job is to protect the public interest and does this on a daily basis, will be weighed much more heavily than yours.

As I have said. Have fun, if you've got the time to waste doing this you will get to see the west Texas traffic court justice system up close. But make sure you bring your check book to pay your fine after you get your day in court!
  #49  
Old 07-19-2018, 10:16 AM
Crazy Canuck Crazy Canuck is offline
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I know it's my choice and I'm no "fucking idiot"
Well, since you have clarified that your employment is not based on you possessing a CDL, I don't think this decision is nearly as stupid as before. That call was based on when I worked for a trucking company that fired any driver who got a ticket with points attached on the spot. That was the basis for the "anything important on the line" part of my post. If it will just cost you money, go nuts. When you lose, just write it off as tuition for the school of life.

That said, my time in jail and conversations with my fellow inmates taught me that free legal advice is usually worth less than what you pay for it. Even a fifteen minute consultation with a local lawyer regarding your specific situation will probably improve your odds considerably, or at least will reduce your odds of being laughed out of the courtroom.
  #50  
Old 07-19-2018, 10:47 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is offline
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As to whether you're better off with a judge or a jury, my general thought is as follows:

If you're making an argument which has broad application, then no matter how valid the argument is, you're probably better off with a jury. Because a judge sees a lot of these cases, and he's part of the system and not looking to overturn it. If you present him an argument which would apply to (for example) 50% of the cases that come in front of him, then he's extremely biased against ruling in your favor, based on the fact that he'd be effectively ruling against 50% of all traffic cases and overturning the system. In that case you might be better off with a jury, which would be less likely to appreciate the broader application of your specific argument, and also less likely to be concerned about the system-wide ramifications.

OTOH, if you have an argument which is based on your case being a narrow exception of some sort, and you believe you have a valid argument, then you might be better off with a judge.

How that applies in your case is another matter.

Last edited by Fotheringay-Phipps; 07-19-2018 at 10:48 AM.
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