Should I fight this ticket?(Not looking for legal advice)

Hi all,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

Ok here is the situation:

While I was traveling on I-75(in Michigan) heading north, I saw that there was an accident in the south bound lane. 2 hours later, I was listening to WWJ(talk radio that has traffic every 8 minutes) to see if the accident was cleared. The only issue that they reported was that the I-94 exits were closed because of another accident, but that would be beyond where I needed to exit the freeway so I was not concerned. As I approached the exit for I-696, where I needed to get to, there were suddenly construction barrels closing the right two lanes. I thought to my self “Oh great my exit is closed”. I get closer to the actual exit and noticed that there was about 50 feet between the last barrel and the grassy area on the gore(which I found out later is another name for a triangular strip of land). Two cars in front of me took the exit and I followed. I thought to myself that the lanes were closed and the exit was open because I had not seen a sign stating that the exit itself was closed. So I got on to the exit and there was a state police car sitting with it’s lights going where the exit spits for west bound 696 and east bound 696.
As soon as there were a few more cars queued, a police officer got out and gathered everyone’s license, proof of insurance, and registration. After about 30 minutes, he came back with his partner to hand out tickets to the people that were stopped. I had counted at least 10 cars in the group I was in. When he gave me the ticket, he pointed out the phone number for the court and told me to call within 20 days. He told me to talk to the judge and I might get lucky. We were then made to turn around and get back onto I-75. I noted that there was a four lane bridge over the gore and the width of the bridge was smaller than the distance of the last barrel and the start of the grass on the gore. Whew… that was alot of typing :stuck_out_tongue:

Ok so here it is, my wife i telling me not to fight the ticket for improper lane use, take the points on my license, and the increase in insurance. My defense is that if they were thinking that people would take the exit, there should have been a sign posted that the exit was closed and the barrels should have extended up to the grassy part of the gore. But if they were not expecting people to take the exit, why was there a state police car there giving everyone tickets?

Mods:If this is in the wrong forum, please move it to the appropriate forum.

Oh jeez! I have a head ache noe trying to read all that and comprehend it…

Oh Welcome to the SDMB - You’ll like it here :slight_smile:

As per your OP…I’d not fight it. You may get it reduced as per the cost but I doubt they’ll dismiss it.

Here in CT, we are allowed 3 strikes before any ticket hits our insurance company, and after two years any tickets we acrued are wiped away…Again I doubt they’ll dismiss the fines totally.

If the cones are still set up the way they were I would go back and take pictures of the scene. Show the judge why you exited and see if he’ll understand. Even they arn’t the same way, you may still want to take pictures or at least draw a diagram showing where the cones were. Hopefully between the diagram and the other 10 people the judge will waive it.

Why wouldn’t you fight it? The only thing you have to lose is a couple of hours in court. It is not as though the judge is going to increase the penalty even if you lose. Just gather the best story and evidence you can and present it. It sounds likely to me that the charge will be dropped.

If you really want to be a hardass you can even request a jury trial for the offense. You would probably win that one outright.

Probably not. In jurisdictions I’m familiar with you cannot have a jury trial for a simple traffic citation. In fact you may not be able to request jury trials for most misdemeanors, but I’m not sure about that.

The construction was down the next morning. I got a b/w disposable and tried to get pictures of the size of the bridge and the gore but there is no sholder on the exit ramp :smack: so I am not sure how they will turn out. I was going 40 mph when I took them.

For all the people saying “you can’t make it worse by fighting”, a caveat - depending on your court, court costs can make fighting it quite a bit more expensive - when I went to court to get a ticket dismissed (the other girl didn’t show up, as expected), the judge warned at the beginning that court costs had gone up and that you could expect to pay 150% of your original ticket cost if you fought it and lost. So if you weren’t sure, just go ahead and pay it now (reduced out of the goodness of the municipal heart). To save the time of the court on frivolity.

That said, were I you I’d fight that. Pictures, of course, would help. It’s not your fault if they don’t provide adequate signage to let you know what you can do.

Shame, shame, shame. You are not familiar with the 7th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. "

This applies to all civil, misdemeanor, and criminal in every jurisdiction in the United States. Of course, this fact is not often advertised and most people don’t know it but it is your right to have it done if you request it.

No, it does not. And shame on you for posting inaccurate information in GQ.

First, the Seventh Amendment is not applicable to the states. See Pearson v. Yewdall, 95 U.S. 294 (1877). Nor is a traffic infraction a “suit at common law.” Even if the amendment were binding on the states, a traffic infraction would not be covered by the amendment.

Perhaps you were thinking of the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee:

That’s closer to the issue, because the Sixth Amendment is, in fact, binding on the states (see Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145 (1968).)

But even here, your contention fails. A traffic infraction is not a criminal prosecution, and in fact the Court has always exlcuded “petty offenses” from the Amendment’s guarantee in federal court. This exclusion has passed on to state courts. As a matter of federal case law, the rule is that any offense with possible jail time exceeding six months is entitled to a jury; offenses with possible jail time under six months are not so entitled. (Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66, 69 (1970).)

Some examples: the trial judge sitting at a bench trial found guilt, then suspended the sentence and placed the accused on probation for three years – appeal found that a jury was not required because the ultimate sentence did not involve six months or more of jail time (Frank v. United States, 395 U.S. 147 (1969).) And when the maximum sentence is six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, a ninety day driver’s license suspension, and an alcohol safety action program, there is no jury requirement. (Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, 489 U.S. 538, 542 - 44 (1989).)

The above is an ACCURATE summary of the law regarding the right to jury trials. Please review it and learn it before your next foray into shaming people in GQ. mmmkay??

  • Rick

Odaran, so were you heading south (i.e., on the way back from the north-bound trip)? And were you going east or west? I may (can’t promise) be able to help with photos.

I’d try fighting it. You could claim not-guilty, and then you’ll have to wait for a hearing after everyone else enters their plea. The officer will have to show up, and it’s likely he will. I imagine you should be able to ask him in front of the judge what the deal was, and probably get off. That’s the not-guilty plea.

I had luck once with the guilty-with-explanation plea. At this first part, the officer won’t be there probably. This is a bigger gamble, because the judge mayn’t buy your explanation.

There is one exit for 696 off of 75. The exit then spits(at least the lenght of 8 cars) further down the exit for East and West bound traffic. From above it would look like the letter “Y”. Oh something I forgot to add. Two of the 10 vehicles that got stopped were semi-trucks. Now I know that a semi can’t make sharp turns with out the possibility of jack knifing(sp?). So there was a lot of room between that last barrel and the grassy part of the gore.

I am sorry. I was taught that in civics class in high school and the reason given was the 7th amendment. That is just another case of a teacher teaching the young and impressionable something that is not true. In addition, my last ticket was issued when I lived in Vermont and I was advised (correctly) that I did have the right to a trial by jury for a $75 appeals fee. When I went to check my memory, I found this that stated that a right to trial by jury is valid in all 50 states. It turns out that only some of them do. Ehow.com gives tips on how to defend yourself in a jury trial for a traffic violation but does not give a list of states that offer that option. Anyone know what they are? The only ones that I can find so far are Illinois and Vermont.