Ticket Fighting 201
Last week’s email newsletter (Ticket Fighting 101) described Molly Snyder’s encounter with the Ramsey County, MN traffic court system.
She arrived at the court house prepared to contest the ticket she received for allegedly making an illegal right turn in a construction zone. After being “counseled” by a court clerk that she really only had three options to resolve the charge against her — each designed to lighten her billfold by varying degrees — Molly acquiesced and agreed to plead guilty and pay $50 more than the original $131 ticket penalty, just for the privilege of not having points assigned to her driver record.
One of our readers — we’ll call him John — shared this with us after reading about Molly’s adventure:
I have a ticket story also, however mine went much better.
I was stopped at a supposed construction site. One lane was closed with traffic cones, just over a raised overpass, and had no signs.
A state trooper, who had one car already pulled over, stopped me with his patrol car and ran on foot to catch the driver behind me. He said I was doing 62 mph in a 45 mph zone. I asked him, “How would I know this is a construction zone when there aren’t any signs?” He responded, “When you see cones, it means 45 miles an hour.”
The trooper wrote me a ticket for going 50, or 5 mph over the limit. My lawyer said this was a quota stop, and said I probably only had a 5% chance to win my case.
To make a long story short, I gathered all the information like Molly did, including photographs taken later, a 72 page MDOT Maintenance Work Zone Control guidelines documentation, and asked for an informal hearing.
I indicated that my attorney would represent me later if needed. Court house personnel used the usual threats of increased cost and points, however I just said please schedule an informal hearing, which they did.
The day of the hearing, the officer didn’t appear, and the case was dismissed within 15 minutes.
I listed the construction zone ticketing location on the National Speed Trap Exchange (the NMA’s www.speedtrap.org) and printed it out to show them we knew what they were up to.
I had enough information to prove my case in court, even though I didn’t get a chance to use it.
The important point is that by insisting on his right to a hearing despite the initial pressure to settle, John created the opportunity to get his ticket dismissed.