Would you fight a "warning" citation? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Would you fight a "warning" citation?

I was stopped the other day riding down a paved, non-lane marked road with no posted speed limit signs.

The legal speed limit on this road is 55 mph.

When I asked the Trooper "What's up?" he responded "You were going a little fast there, weren't you?"

I said "I was doing a little over 40mph" to which he responded "You were going 46mph, and the speed limit on this road is 35mph"

I told him that the speed limit was 55 mph, and he told me that I was wrong, that this road was a single lane road and as such had a 35 mph speed limit.

I told him that the road was not posted for speed, and had a 55 mph speed limit, and he told me that all single lane roads are 35 mph, posted or not and that is in the State code.

I asked him when his radar was last calibrated, and showed him that my GPS had recorded my maximum speed at 43mph.

He responded that it didn't really matter, since 43 mph was still over the 35 mph speed limit for single-lane roads.

He issued me a written warning for "speeding" and I was on my way.

I spent quite a bit of time reviewing the State Code regarding Road usage and traffic laws and then queried the State Police via email when I could not find any mention of a 35 mph speed limit on unposted single-lane roads within the traffic codes. The response from the Deputy Director of Traffic Records for the State Police was:

Dear Sir,

You are correct a single lane road is 55 mph unless otherwise noted, but be aware that what you may think is prudent and safe a trooper or other police officer may not believe is, so then you may be pulled over and issue a citation for speeding or if it's a dirt road and you are traveling 55 mph you could be issued a citation for "To fast for Road Conditions" citation.

But if not posted the legal speed is 55.

If this does not help feel free to email me directly

Sgt C.K. Zerkle (Deputy Director of Traffic Records)


So, it would appear that I was correct, and the State trooper who detained me was incorrect.

I know that a "warning" carries no fine, points or need to stand before a judge, but the German in me won't let it go.

While "warnings" are not made available to insurers, the fact remains that this warning is now associated with my driver's license and would be available to any LEO that ran my license in the future.

If the trooper had issued me an actual ticket, I have no doubt that it would have been dismissed in court (provided the judge wasn't the trooper's mother's brother / cousin - this is West Virginia after all) and my record would be completely clean on any future search.

So I have this intense need to persue this, and get the warning expunged.

I have no friends or relatives in this State, I am completely alone. The only thing I have is my name, and it irks me to no end to be falsely accused of a violation, even when that accusation does not legally require me to respond, or carry any penalty other than a blot on my record.

Thoughts or comments? Has anyone else fought a "warning"?

"If you simply take up the attitude of defending a mistake, there will be no hope of improvement."
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 12:48 PM
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Well he did not write you for " to fast for road conditions" so I would be inclined to copy the citation and send it in with a letter to the State Police and see what happened,Cite Chapter and Verse, OR do the same and send it in to your local TV station answer person.
But
Are you willing to take the time and money to resolve this issue, it Will Cost you!
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post #3 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 01:55 PM
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In CA you can fight a citation (or warning) by mail. I'd do it.




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post #4 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 01:58 PM
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While I can offer no valid advice or experience on this "warning" thing, I know how you feel and I definitely agree with you. I'd be pissed, too. It's not so much the consequences of the warning itself in regards to your license, insurance, etc., but in a way your good name has been sullied by an obviously false accusation, as noted by the response you got from your inquiry with the state police.

Laws are laws. Not only do we have to follow them, but I believe any law enforcement officer should, also. I have nothing against cops in general, but I really don't like that "what you may think is prudent or safe a trooper or police officer may not believe it" clause that seems to be used a lot.

It's either against the law or it ain't. In your case, what you did obviously wasn't. I don't think any law enforcement officer should issue any kind of violation or warning unless a law was observed being broken, not based on their own "judgement."

To me, that's the same thing as me claiming that my "judgement" led me to believe it was safer and prudent to drive/ride faster than a posted 55mph speed limit and therefore it was okay to do so.

It's either against the law or it ain't. Allowing law enforcement officers to basically create their own "laws" on the spot sets a precedent that I don't really care for.

One could argue that in real life a lot of situations come up where somebody is obviously being stupid or dangerous while not breaking a law. Certainly not to say that what you did, Some Mook, falls into that category. It definitely doesn't.

My opinion? Any kind of "warning" or violation that revolves around an officer's "judgement" instead of an obvious breaking of a law should entitle the recipient of the ticket/warning to a free, face-to-face meeting/hearing/whatever with a judge and the officer who issued the citation so both parties can present their side of the story. The officer should provide clear, concise details about the occurrence in question, not just state that he "thought" what you were doing was a bad idea.

I agree with Stinker. Send a copy of the citation and a letter explaining your side of the story to the state police and see what happens. Might be nothing, but at least that shouldn't cost you anything. If there are other avenues to fight it, I guess you'd have to decide whether or not you wanted to spend money to do so. Tough spot you're in, man.

I'm a law-abiding citizen and I respect law enforcement officials, but they should make their decisions using existing laws, not their "judgement," "experience" or any other blanket term for personally deciding that while what you're doing isn't against the law, it's not "safe," or "a good idea," or "prudent."



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post #5 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 02:35 PM
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"Laws are laws. Not only do we have to follow them, but I believe any law enforcement officer should, also. I have nothing against cops in general, but I really don't like that "what you may think is prudent or safe a trooper or police officer may not believe it" clause that seems to be used a lot."

To use that justification an officer would have needed to cite it in the warning.
Also
In the States eye's an officer IS a better judge of conditions than you are, he is professionally certified by the State. But, again he did not cite that as the reason for your stop. And according to your investigation and the State Patrols reply you
were correct, according to State Driving Code the officer was not. So the officer needs a bit more training and review of the vehicle code.

Now all that said, it could just be that the officer saw you do something that he/she thought was unsafe and by issuing the Warning was trying to find a peaceful way to warn you and extricate themselves while still maintaining a position of authority.
ie. were you on a straight course, did you weave at all to avoid a road hazard?
In a turn ( scraping the peg ) maintain (or not) a good line? Lots of reasons to say "hey Bud Slow Down a Bit".
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planalp View Post
I'm a law-abiding citizen and I respect law enforcement officials, but they should make their decisions using existing laws, not their "judgement," "experience" or any other blanket term for personally deciding that while what you're doing isn't against the law, it's not "safe," or "a good idea," or "prudent."
I'm with you there.

"safe and prudent speed" is a judgement call.

The #1 obligation any road user has is to maintain control of their vehicle at all times.

Failure to maintain control is a clear violation of the "safe and prudent speed" rule.

If you don't wreck, are in control of your vehicle, not obstructing other traffic or harassing other traffic, not endangering pedestrians, children or farm animals and maintaining position on your side of the roadway, I think it would be pretty hard to prove that you were not traveling at a safe and prudent speed, particularly when you are traveling nearly 10mph below the legal speed limit on a given roadway.

Just not sure what "proof" would need to be presented before a judge by a LEO, other than it being a 'professional' judgement call.

If presented with that situation, I would query the Officer's knowlege regarding how fast a ton or more of 4 wheeled vehicle could go from 35mph to 0 vs how fast 400 lbs of motorcycle can go from 55 mph to 0.

"If you simply take up the attitude of defending a mistake, there will be no hope of improvement."
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Oh, and I ran two quarts of hot oil through before filling her up cause I'm anal.
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post #7 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinker View Post
Now all that said, it could just be that the officer saw you do something that he/she thought was unsafe and by issuing the Warning was trying to find a peaceful way to warn you and extricate themselves while still maintaining a position of authority.
ie. were you on a straight course, did you weave at all to avoid a road hazard?
In a turn ( scraping the peg ) maintain (or not) a good line? Lots of reasons to say "hey Bud Slow Down a Bit".
I hear you, and agree with you. There are sections of this road that cannot be safely navigated at 55 mph due to sight lines. I am not one of those who feels that if the speed limit is XX I will maintain XX at all times. I ride within my abilities and sight lines.

That said, the section I was on had clear visibility for 1000 yards, was 20 foot wide and a good 1500 yards from the nearest residence. The Trooper repeatedly (4 times) told me that "single-lane" roads have a 35mph speed limit, and twice told me that this was contained in the WV Code.

Both false statements, upon research.

Warnings can be verbal, as well as written.

Verbal is between you and the LEO - and a better way to go if the LEO just needs to make a point and save some face in the process.

Written is between you and the State. Written / recorded information can come back to haunt you in the future.

If it was legitimate, I could let it go and be wiser for it.

It was not legitimate, in any way, shape or form.

"If you simply take up the attitude of defending a mistake, there will be no hope of improvement."
Winston Churchill

http://www.ridingwv.com/ (not my site)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lockjaw View Post
Oh, and I ran two quarts of hot oil through before filling her up cause I'm anal.
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post #8 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 02:55 PM
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I have to agree with Plnalp. I despise any law that has subjectivity built into it that law enforcement can use to punish. I have no issue with a law enforcement officer deciding not to punish when he or she could have otherwise done so. Everyone deserves a break occasionally. Laws that are subjective leave the citizen that must abide by such rules in a legal quicksand. An overabundance of rules and regulations also achieve the legal quicksand effect. I almost can guarantee that most of you have broken law and did not even know it. Yet, ignorance of the law is no excuse......bull!!! That may have been true when the entire local, state, and federal code could be read in an hour, but it certainly isn't true now. Furthermore, I am convinced that many laws and such are now created with the intention of making lawbreakers out of honest citizens. Unfortunately, I cannot offer any real advice. It is kind of like in VA. You can be stone cold sober and be charged with drunk in public. It is entirely up to the officer's opinion. Some localities such as Buena Vista, VA have used this as a money making machine for years. All I can say if you decide to visit that craphole is be on your absolute Ps and Qs. Go through in daylight if possible. Try to avoid 1am - 7am. Luckily, of the times I have been pulled over there and charged, usually with violating Buena Vista Town Ordinance, none have stuck. On the other hand, get pulled over in Bedford county by a state trooper, it WILL stick. Usually, the judge there will reduce it. The only speeding tickets I have form the past 20 years are in Bedford by a state trooper, before the same judge. Both times I WAS speeding, but not as much as the officer stated. In both cases, it was bumped back down to about what I was actually doing (less than 10 over) and I had to pay that. So on 460 in Bedford and 501 near Big Island, be careful.
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 03:08 PM
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Fight just based on the fact that Sgt.C.K. Zerkle can't spell:it's too fast-not to fast!

~Things work out best for those that make the best of the way things work out~
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-25-2011, 03:08 PM
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As described I would attempt to resolve this by mail and keep a copy of everything !
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