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Fighting a stop light violation in Ohio

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by spikechiquet, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    I am from Michigan originally and so I know how the rules go there to fight a misdemeanor ticket there, but am trying to get info about how the process goes here. It looks like there is an actual arraignment first before I even get to state my case, correct? My buddy said it's a drawn out process in Wisconsin as well.

    If so, wow, what a waste of time. Michigan is very easy...show up, plead not guilty and the cop has his say, you say yours and you either have the ticket thrown out or you have to pay.

    I fight every ticket I get, but they are few and far between...so that's why I am a little rusty on the law, especially since I am new to the state.

    Since I am sure I will be asked, here is what happened:

    Wife and I were driving around, trying to a find a maternity clothes store that we were not sure where it was on a 6-lane (3 each side) business route that has an overpass over a Interstate (so a major intersection on both sides).
    I am following a state trooper in the middle lane and he moves over to the left as we approach the light (I am under the assumption he was going to turn left, so I paid him no mind) on the west side of the Interstate. About 3-4 car lengths before getting to the light, it turns yellow.
    He slams his brakes on, I keep going through the intersection (which is in a yellow light still) and pass under the light (which is on the far side of the intersection, mind you) as it turns red (I even remember looking up at it and it turn right when I got under it).
    I did not speed up or slow down during this.
    I look back in my side mirror (and wife looked back as well) and for a second, he does nothing, then flips his lights on and gets behind me. Then he turns his lights off and follows me. I stay in the center lane, get to the stop light on the other side and he sits there. Light turns green, we go through the next intersection on the east side of the Interstate and he flips his lights back on.
    I still had a Indiana drivers license (which I switched to Ohio this past Friday) and had to give him my new address. He asked why I still had a Indiana license and I told him I had just moved for a 3rd time and didn't want to have the wrong address on my new license (we just moved July 1). I do have Ohio plates already.
    He gave me a stop light ticket ($125 and 2 points) and also indicated on the ticket I could have caused an accident (I still have no clue how since there was no one else around me).

    My wife usually gets mad when I get a ticket...this time she is on my side. So I feel pretty confident in this fight.

    1) I feel that I did not have proper time to stop without slamming on my brakes. Plus, it's not illegal to drive through a yellow light. I feel he feels that I was showing him up (words from our traffic reporter at work) and is hoping I don't fight it and just pay the fine to help his quota.
    2) He is a trooper and they all have dash cams in their cars. I want to see the video to prove I was already on the other side of the intersection and that I was nowhere near able to cause an accident.
    2a) Plus, why would I run a red light on purpose when there is another one on the other side? It's not getting me there any quicker. Again, just doing normal driving.
    3) I showed I was being truthful by getting a new license within days of being pulled over (I told him I wanted to establish residence before getting my stuff in order)

    Since this happened, I have seen 2 other police vehicles do exactly what I have done (and one was clearly in the middle of the intersection when it turned red)...but of course, I won't bring that up, it just steams me to see crap like that happen.
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member


    Maybe you'll become a good litigator if the judge is impressed with you.

    In all seriousness, from your first sentence, you call it a misdemeanor. Seems pretty strange to call it that. Most of the time, in my state at least, it's just a violaton.

    I'd doubt that there's an actual arraignment. In my state, you mail in the ticket with your plea (guilty or not guilty). The court then sends you a paper acknowledging your plea, which, if not guilty, they set a date for what they call a pre-trial conference.

    Basically, it's your chance to plea bargain it down, as long as your license is already pretty clean. Usually then it's just a fine.

    But if you want to fight it, you tell them that and then usually they have the trial right there. Unless the cop doesn't show, then they might reschedule it, or find in your favor.
  3. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    There are usually some books (NOLO Press comes to mind) about how to fight a traffic ticket.

    1 - The first thing to do is to make sure the light is legally installed. In some states, traffic signals need to be approved by the state. Sometimes cities put up signals first and then go for state approval.

    2 - Sometimes municipalities use this to raise money. The officer issuing the ticket may not show up at the hearing - the city has to pay the officer, who may have to wait two or three hours. Since most people pay without contesting the ticket, it is an easy way to raise money.

    3 - Take measurements of the area. You might not be able to go with a tape measure, but if you know how far the signals are (the city traffic department should have that information) and you know how far streetlights are from each other, you might be able to get an idea on distance. If the cop is wrong on the distance, that will be a point in your favor.

    4 - From reading your description, it sounded like the officer wasn't careful in driving when he pulled you over.

    5 - You have your wife in the car, so you have a witness. The cop doesn't.

    6 - Before the court date, find out if the police car has a camera and find out how it is activated. If it is activated when the siren goes on, it might not have the violation on tape. Find out the mechanics of this. Asking an officer you know or an officer in a neighboring town might be helpful.
  4. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    I don't know if it's true, but living in Ohio we've always been told Ohio State Troopers are among the most aggressive and least empathetic when it comes to handing out tickets in the nation. They don't seem to be men and women with senses of humor.

    I've been picked up by a state trooper in Ohio five times and received a warning all five times. Maybe I unknowingly look like a celebrity. A short, fat celebrity. I don't know.
  5. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    Most of the time in Maryland, the police give you a ticket and advise you of your options on the spot. Either you pay your ticket, which you can do online, through the mail or in person or you mail the ticket back requesting a court date.

    If the cop doesn't show, the ticket gets thrown out PERIOD.
  6. Diego Marquez

    Diego Marquez Member

    Since you are not in the Southeast, bringing pictures of the intersection showing anything that supports your findings from above suggestions should help.
    In the Southeast, the judge just asks the cop "Is what they're saying true?" The cop says "no" and nothing else. Judge then bangs his gavel and calls you "guilty." Of course, in many places, the cop just asks you how much cash you have on you when you get pulled over.
  7. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    In my experience driving across the country, this is true.
  8. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    My last speeding ticket came in Ohio and it was the biggest, most ridiculous crock of shit ever. And of course, since I lived several states away, I couldn't do jack shit about it but pay up. But it was a load of total fucking shit.
  9. In Georgia, every municipality seems to do things a little differently. Had lots of experience in Atlanta traffic court 15-20 years ago. In the ATL, I always went to court, pleaded Not Guilty and if the officer didn't show I was off the hook.

    Cobb County is rigged against the defendant. 71 mph in a what was then a 55 zone on an Interstate in metro ATL. Showed up, said I wanted to plead Not Guilty, they said, "OK, we'll set a trial date (I've got to go back to f-fing Marietta - no thanks) and if you lose you pay the ticket and court costs." Fuck that. Just paid the ticket right then.

    Last ticket I got was similar to OPs but in another metro county. Light was yellow, changed maybe once I was under it if that. Nobody around except this cop in the weeds. I didn't have a witness but I figured it was my word against cop's. Used my newspaper connections at the time, called the solicitor general, told him I knew cops and courts reporter Joe Blow from the Podunk Times, explained the light was yellow and I wanted to fight it. He offered me a plea over the phone. "Too Fast for Conditions," no points on my license, smaller fine. Deal!
  10. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    And if you're from a neighboring state, the troopers likely won't cut you a break at all.

    And they are even worse during UM-OSU football week. If the Fuckeyes lost and you had a Michigan license plate, you made sure to drive the speed limit on the way home.

    Worked at a paper once and the UM beat reporter would always rent a car to drive down. He'd make sure the car had a license plate from any state besides Michigan, partly because of the OSU fans and partly because of the Ohio troopers.
  11. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    Devil's advocate time:

    • What was the speed limit? Unless you were going 45mph, seems like 3-4 car lengths is plenty of time to brake.
    • If you saw the light turn red, you were not directly beneath it.
    • And, unless it was an incredibly short yellow, you should have had ample time to stop before it turned red, which it apparently did as you were going through the intersection. It really does sound like like you were pushing it, spike.
  12. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    My dad, who is from Ohio, has always told me to be careful when driving there. If the speed limit is 70, he says to drive 65-69 mph just to be safe. I drove through Ohio several years back with an ex of mine, and saw a guy get pulled over for going 60 in a 60 zone. He was going the same speed I was, yet the cop busted him. As I passed, I caught a glimpse of his license plate: He was from Michigan.
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