September 10, 2015 at 3:57 am #176595346
I am very frustrated and am starting to feel helpless in this situation. I received a speeding citation (measured with radar) in May 2015 for 76/45 in a construction zone (MCL 257.627 (9)) on I-275 South just before the S. Huron Road exit. The “construction zone” along this stretch is the 275 Metro Bike Trail >30 feet from the freeway. I have done extensive research of the law and applicable guidelines, and I believe I the officer was in error. According to the traffic citation (MCL 257.627 (9)),
“The state transportation department, a county road commission, or local authority shall post speed limit signs in each work zone described in section 79d(a) that indicate the speed limit in that work zone and shall indentify that work zone with any other traffic control devices necessary to conform to the Michigan manual of uniform traffic control devices.”
MCL 257.627(9) also only refers to speeding “where a normal lane or part of a lane of traffic has been closed…”
THERE WAS NO LANE CLOSURE AND NO SPEED LIMIT SIGNS TO INDICATE A REDUCED SPEED. THERE WERE TWO SIGNS ALONG THE WORK ZONE THAT PRESCRIBED THE STANDARD 70 MPH.
When pulled over and told i was speeding, I replied I was unfamiliar with the area and saw no speed limit reduction signs other than the standard 70 mph signs nor visible evidence there was any construction going on or workers present on the freeway. The officer muttered something about a guy doing construction and pointed to an area way off of the road where a guy was operating some equipment (on the bike path > 30 feet away from the freeway). I politely observed that I did not see him as he was not working on the road, and the officer said, even so, I should have been going no more than 60. Then, he said he would give me a break on the ticket. Instead, he wrote me up for the full amount: 76/45, a five point blemish on my record and a $280 fine. Needless to say, I was pretty angry.
Since then it has been an uphill battle frought with intimidation tactics. My first attempt to get the citation dismissed failed. I wrote to the Prosecutor explaining there were no speed limit signs posted to indicate a reduction from 70 mph, and since MCL 257.627(9) required this, the officer had no authority to cite me for speeding in a 45 mph work zone. I received in the mail an official document dated June 11, 2015, with several Motions on it. The ONLY motion with a check mark next to it read “Plaintiff moves to dismiss the charges speed 76/45.” One of the other Motions read “Plaintiff moves to amend the citation to a new charge of Double Parking to which respondent admits responsibility and will pay a fine and costs of $280.00”. However, this second Motion, along with several other motions, did NOT have a check mark next to it. I studied the sheet carefully and showed it to my husband. We both interpreted the document to mean the Plaintiff moved to dismiss the charges. So I signed the Plea Agreement and thought that was it.
I then received a document in the mail dated June 30, 2015 signed by the Judge indicating the court received my motion “without payment.” Now I was even more frustrated. Why am I being held accountable for a Motion that was not officially selected by the Plaintiff? So I called the court to schedule a hearing.
Next I tecieved an official document summoning me to a Prehearing at the 34th District Court in Romulus, MI. I completed hours of research prior to this Prehearing to prepare my proof that the issuing officer was in error. My husband downloaded a several videos of the work zone we had taken clearly showing the posted 70 mph signs, and I printed out official statements from MDOT’s “2006 Guidelines to Establish Speed Limits in Work Zones” indicating there should be no reduction where workers are more than 15 feet from the roadway, and if so, a Temporary Traffic Control Order is required prior to the start of work (and speed reductions are required to be posted). Again, the bike path is > 30 feet from the roadway.
At the Prehearing I met with a police officer (the one who wrote the citation was not there), who refused to acknowledge my evidence, saying it was my word against the issuing officer. If the issuing officer said there were speed limit signs indicating 45 mph, then there were. I said that the workers were only working on the bike path, and he said it didn’t matter, I should have been going 45 (I KNOW this is incorrect from direct correspondence with MDOT–see below). He then offered me a “deal” of a $280 Double Parking citation with no points, identical to the unchecked motion I had received. I explained that I had signed a document dismissing the charges and showed him the letter. I said, shouldn’t the Double Parking Motion have a check by it for it to carry legal weight? He said no. I calmly explained that I was not speeding and do not accept the “deal.” The “prosecutor” (police officer) then proceeded with intimidation tactics. He said if I didn’t take the “deal” I would be found guilty and get the full punishment (5 points and hefty fee). I said I still don’t want the deal, and he cut me off saying ok I’ll schedule you for an informal hearing with a Magistrate (another police officer). I quickly interrupted saying I insist on a formal hearing with the Judge. He had already checked the “Informal Hearing” box and had to cross it out and circle “formal hearing.” At this point the other officer in the room (who wasn’t even on my case) piped in and said “let her go to the hearing. Officer xxxx (the issuing officer who wrote the original ticket) will show and she’ll get her five points.” This was discourteous, unprofessional, and seemed designed to scare me into taking the “deal.” I was in shock after this “Prehearing,” and honestly felt my civil rights were being violated.
So I am awaiting my court date and gathering more evidence. I have found further evidence in the Michigan Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices that explicitly states if TTC (Temporary Traffic Control) measures required for the work zone are different than those existing, the existing signs (in this case 70 mph) should be removed and appropriate signs placed. In addition I have a copy of email correspondence from MDOT Communications that, unless there is a lane closure, the speed limit is 70 mph. She also confirmed that MDOT is working on the bike path and there are rarely lane closures. I have yet to personally see a lane closure. I have written back to this MDOT official asking for the Temporary Traffic Control order for the area along I-275 from S. Huron to I-94 for the time including the date of my citation. I have also asked for a certified written statement from MDOT indicating there was no lane closure on May 26, 2015 at the time of my citation.
Although I feel my evidence is strong, I am still very anxious that my trial will not be fair. I am also extremely angry that I need to go to such great lengths to defend myself. I am a very careful driver and obsessively drive safely and obey the speed limit (I usually have my baby in the back seat). I am also angry that my tax dollars are being wasted on frivolous citations that are, in fact, illegal according to Michigan State and Federal Laws.
Please, anyone who has any insight into how I can best represent myself in the 34th District Court in Romulus, MI, let me know. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And if I win this case, is there any way to insist the Court reimburse others who have been illegally cited for this same offense and require the local police to follow the law? I am just sick over the way I have been treated.
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