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  1. #1
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    Default How to Present a Speed Trap Defense Based Upon Invalid Survey

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California

    Hey y'all...

    Long time reader and poster, first time asker....
    I'll start by saying I am glad I don't have me to contend with...
    Then again, Quirky suggested he might play prosecutor on this one... Question is, can he do as good a job??? (Oh, he can try!!!)

    First, some qualifiers:

    This occurred in an area more commonly referred to as “East L.A.” where LASD has full jurisdiction for law enforcement simply because this is an unincorporated are of Los Angeles county. But, as you will see from the survey, the CHP has jurisdiction over traffic enforcement. You can even throw in a little LAPD in the mix with this area bordering the City of Los Angeles, they do run through there quite often if not as part of their normal patrol, then on their way for a taco run on something... Point is, law enforcement has a heavy presence there which makes it an unsuitable area where you can test your driving skills.

    With this being a normal route that I take at minimum twice a week at the same time of the (wee hours of the) morning, I have seen a certain CHP unit, sitting at a certain location in a certain stance (headlights out, parking lights on, two officers on the ready with engine running) ready to stomp on someone. Reason it stood out in my mind was simply because I though to myself there is no way they could be running speed enforcement, not from that location and not with that orientation. For one, it could NOT be Lidar since both officers are inside the vehicle, and two, Radar would be much less than accurate at that angle “I'm sure they learn that in training”...

    Needless to say, I happen to come across that same location as it was manned by a CHP cruiser, and as I approached, I saw the orange glow of their front side makers, checked my speed and was within the acceptable range, yet as soon as I passed them, lights came on, and on my tail they were...

    Officer approached asked five time if I knew why he pulled me over, answered in the negative.
    He said “I pulled you over for your speed”... And “do you know what the speed limit is here?”...
    I answered “yes, I just passed the sign, its 30mph”.
    Then came round two with questions about “how fast I was going?”... Only this time, he was insisting I “take a guess”, still declined.
    So he comes out with “well, I measured your speed at 57mph”...
    Shocked as I was, I paused for a few seconds, and the asked him: “measured my speed? How did you do that?”...
    Radar”, he answered...
    I was under the impression that Radar isn't too accurate at that angle” and I motioned like a “T” with my hands...
    To which he replied “I was using a handheld, I have a handheld in there with me”... “License, registration and insurance please”.
    So as I handed him the docs, I said “even with a handheld, you couldn't determine what angle you measured the speed at, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss all that”...

    Comes back later, has me sign the citation and then he says “oh, that's right, you wanted to discuss the speed measurement later, let me get you that Radar unit number, so hang tight, I'll write it on your citation for you”...

    I have since verified with a CHP officer friend of mine that some cruisers do indeed have the older handheld units as well as the built in front/rear antenna unit. Whether the unit number he listed is one belonging to a handled, I am yet to find out since I am yet to receive any response to my discovery request.

    I have requested and am in possession of the most recent E&T Survey (published 04/13/2009) and though I have seen quite the variety when it comes to surveys, I can't say I've even seen one that is intended to “justify the existing posted limit” (see last line in paragraph under “Background” on page one below)... But they wished that this would be the only issue that this survey has.

    Question then becomes, how knowledgeable will the judge be of speed trap laws and how receptive is he/she of arguments suggesting an invalid survey (if one is indeed invalid) and the existence of a speed trap. I will sure find out...

    Here is the 7 page survey I received from LA County DPW:

    Page 1


    Page 2


    Page 3


    Page 4


    (Only 4 images per post - Continued in post #2)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    Page 5


    Page 6


    Page 7


    And the specific details from the citation are:

    Cited for VC 22350
    Posted Speed limit: 30mph
    Estimated Speed: 57mph
    SMD Used: Radar

    And last but not least, the overhead view of the location with as close as I can get to a description of where he was parked. I am working on refining that part simply through the fact that it is a narrow sidewalk and his front end would have to extend into the roadway for a clear view of westbound traffic.... And actually hoping I'd catch him in the act where I could either video tape him or simply take a picture. And yes, I realize that at low angles, the effect on the reading is quite minimal, I also realize how the effect normally favors the driver at higher angles. The question then becomes, where did he come up with 57 mph when in reality, his reading should show somewhere in the high 20s!!!







    ETA: I forgot to say that “I was polite and respectful throughout the entire incident!” LOL













    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    How did it change my thread title so quickly, I don't know...

    My original title was "There is no Short Version of my question"...

    And no, I don't know if it is an invalid survey yet... I just have never seen one like this one before!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    Here's a PDF of all 7 pages of the survey for easier browsing.

    Some preliminary thoughts:
    • Which courthouse? And is the little night court box on the bottom of your citation checked?
    • I don't think East LA is a city...do you know why LADOT isn't doing the surveys?
    • Note that these 7 pages are still just a summary, no raw data indicating individual speeds, number of vehicles, time of day, accident stats, etc. is included. See People v. Ellis (1995) for more details:
      Quote Quoting People v. Ellis (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th Supp. 25
      In People v. Ellis (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th Supp. 25, the court held that the 8 “People cannot rebut the presumption of a speed trap…by producing a summary of 9 the current…survey….” (Id. at Supp. p. 27.) The summary in question did not 10 include all of the raw data and was hence held an “unacceptable substitute for the 11 complete survey” because any inadequacies were “immune from attack” by the 12 defendant. (Id. at Supp. p. 29.)

      "However, it is at least possible that a review of the complete survey could have established the existence of a speed trap. For instance, the summary might have erroneously reported the 85th percentile speed or the date, or the survey data might have shown that too few cars were included or that the survey was taken during rush hour. Suggesting, as the lower court did, that appellant could only review the "actual survey" if he found it himself at the Newport Beach Traffic and Engineering Department is inconsistent with the legislative antipathy toward speed traps. Allowing a defendant to attack the adequacy of an engineering and traffic survey is an empty right if the document is not available for his or her use at trial."

    • They seem to be using a bizarre method of measuring speed only in one direction at each point -- eastbound at Hicks, Eastman and Hazard; westbound at Ford and Kern. But, this includes both directions in the stretch between Hazard and Ford (which includes Marianna Ave.), where the eastbound critical speed is 39 mph and westbound is 34 mph.
    • The survey does correctly average the critical speed on the entire stretch to 36 mph (it's 35.8 mph by simple avg, 35.96 mph by a weighted avg)
    • Also, the 5 mph reduction--which is your bane--is faulty per LADPW's own policy. See page two of this document from West Covina, which says:
      County guidelines classify as excessive any collision rate that exceeds 1.6 times the County expected rate determined from the Countywide experience charts. If the City mid-block collision rates are in excess of the 1.6 times the County expected rate, a 5 mph reduction of the speed limit may be justified.
    • The survey's collision rate is 2.28 which is LESS THAN 1.6 times 1.55 = 2.48. No reduction is therefore justified. Per another West Covina document, this policy may be found in the LADPW publication called Guidelines for Uniform Traffic Controls which does not seem to be available online. Suggest you request the relevant parts of it asap via a public records request.


    Edit: See pages 37 onwards of this set of 2010 LADPW surveys (City of Commerce) to know what kind of raw data the LADPW collects. Whether your cop brings is all to court is another question. If it comes to down to a trial in the end, I suggest you get a few pages of raw data (for one survey) -- full document here -- from the Commerce City clerk and maybe have it certified by them.

    Also, I'm not sure if the LADPW guidelines have changed, or the engineers are ignorant of them OR ignoring them under city pressure -- as far as the 1.6x rate is required. If it is either of the latter, it's a possible cause for reporting them to the P.E. licensing board...




    Quote Quoting That Guy
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    Then again, Quirky suggested he might play prosecutor on this one... Question is, can he do as good a job??? (Oh, he can try!!!)
    I think we're both temperamentally suited to our existing personae So why don't you try prosecuting yourself and let us deal with the defense!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    Thank you for your reply Quirky!

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    Here's a PDF of all 7 pages of the survey for easier browsing.
    Much appreciated... It is much easier to browse that way however, I know some people would refuse to download... This way, they have an option. That way!


    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
    View Post
    Which courthouse?
    East Los Angeles... (I get claustrophobic in that court but oh well, might as well get used to it... I will be inquiring about their trial days/times... I want to see who the judges are and what they are all about)!

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
    View Post
    And is the little night court box on the bottom of your citation checked?
    Nope! (Please elaborate briefly if you can).


    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    I don't think East LA is a city...do you know why LADOT isn't doing the surveys?
    You are correct. East LA is not a city. It is an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County (I stated so in my post, LOL). As such, it would be the county's responsibility to conduct the survey. And Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LADPW) is the agency to do so.

    LADOT, as you may already know, is the City Of Los Angeles Department Of Transportation. They won't do county work!


    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
    View Post
    Note that these 7 pages are still just a summary, no raw data indicating individual speeds, number of vehicles, time of day, accident stats, etc. is included. See People v. Ellis (1995) for more details:
    Agreed.. And have Ellis ready in my stack of citations.

    However, look at the related section in the survey:



    ... this survey does in fact mention the "accident rates". In fact, I think it takes that a step further and to the detriment of its using the "accident rate" as justification to reduce the speed limit to 30mph from 35, it actually lists the "No. [Of Collisions] With Speed Related Violations" as 3 out of the total 68.

    So, my questions are:

    1) Should they be considering the 68 accidents which (I assume) translate into the 2.28 C/MVM, or should it only consider the 3 speed related accidents as part of the justification to reducing the limit (which in this case, would clearly have no impact whatsoever on the 35mph 85th percentile)?

    A citation from People v. Smith wherein the Appellate division of the LA Superior Court only utilized "speed related accidents" as part of its evaluation of the validity of the survey in the Smith case:

    Quote Quoting People v. Smith, 118 Cal. App. Supp. 3d 7 - Cal: Court of Appeal 1981
    With these guidelines in mind, the survey in question is quite sufficient to justify a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. It indicates that 85 percent of the traffic travels at 35.4 miles per hour or less and that a desirable speed limit would be 35 miles per hour. Speed-related accidents are not excessive. Under the category of traffic and roadside conditions which are not readily apparent, it lists the area as densely commercial with many driveways and crosswalks; with heavy parking and high turnover. Under additional remarks, it is noted that the speed (presumably the prevailing or desirable speed of 35 miles per hour) should be reduced by 5 miles per hour. Finally, the survey recommends a speed of 30 miles per hour. The upper-right corner of the survey bears the initials and dates indicating approval. There is sufficient evidence for the trial court to have concluded, as it did, that the posted speed was shown to be reasonable by the survey.
    2) How is the Collision Rate Calculated? I mean we have the "number of accidents over that set period", we have the "County Average Rate", how do we come up with the 2.28 C/MVM rate? Is it as straight forward as it seems or does it require knowledge of other variables that aren't available to us?

    3) This is more of a general question but I have seen some surveys and rather than utilizing a "County Average", actually go as far as developing an average per road classification (meaning: a rate for each of: Principal Arterial, Minor Arterial, Major Collector, Minor Collector and Local...)? Is that a decision of the authority/agency conducting the survey?

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    They seem to be using a bizarre method of measuring speed only in one direction at each point -- eastbound at Hicks, Eastman and Hazard; westbound at Ford and Kern.
    I don't know if I'd agree with that interpretation... At least, I know I don't want to agree with it. Simply because it would make it more difficult for me to argue a speed trap...

    So here is a different view: My initial gut reaction was that the locations mentioned are actual points where the surveyor was located. Meaning, they took spot measurements at the following locations: Just East Of Hicks Ave, JEO Eastman Ave, JEO Hazard Ave, Just West Of Ford Blvd and JWO Kern Ave. At each of those locations, traffic volumes were measured to be at the amounts listed in the table shown on page 2, and prevailing speeds were measured as listed on the table shown under section F, on page 3. However, the survey is missing the actual survey sheets where the data was collected and there is no indication anywhere in that entire document as to whether those speed measurements were of eastbound traffic or westbound traffic, or both... There is no indication as to the number of vehicles actually surveyed or how many in each direction... No indication of weather conditions or more importantly the time of day when the data was collected and the survey was conducted... Which brings us back to Ellis and what actually makes this an invalid survey.

    But there's more to the reason why I simply don't like their method. And I will explain that *in a bit*...

    Also, let us for the sake of argument (and in hopes that I will be fully prepared for both outcomes) assume that they did only measure speeds in the directions indicated, meaning....



    Particularly for the section that concerns me, they only measured speeds of vehicles going EAST from Hazard towards Marianna → Eastern... Well in my case, I was headedWESTbound.. Meaning Eastern –> Marianna towards hazard... So could they really only survey one side and use those results to post a “valid” limit for both sides (both directions)???

    I would think not. Simply because road conditions maybe different for opposite directions... And in this case they certainly are...

    For example... Heading from Hazard towards Carmelita and then to Marianna, you are going downhill and have a full view of the entire roadway ahead of you (this is in spite of the fact that the entire stretch of roadway is listed as “FLAT”).

    (View, eastbound from Hazard towards Carmelita and Marianna [you can actually see Humphreys from here – 0.5 miles away-])


    Whereas if you are headed in the other direction, you are going uphill, with (what I would call) “limited sight distance” of 0.1 miles as you reach the top of the hill.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    it got me on images again... So to continue...



    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    But, this includes both directions in the stretch between Hazard and Ford (which includes Marianna Ave.), where the eastbound critical speed is 39 mph and westbound is 34 mph.
    Similar to what I stated above, it is possible -is it not- that these speed readings are per location and not necessarily an indication of the direction of traffic measured? Meaning, the surveyor measured a 85% percentile speed of 39mph for BOTH East Bound and westbound traffic while being located JEO Hazard... And then another set of date was collected with the surveyor located JWO Ford Blvd, where an 85th percentile speed of 34mph was measured for both eastbound and westbound traffic. And similarly, with the other locations... all together giving us the following results (I basically changed the “East of [Location]” & “West of [Location] to “JEO” & “JWO”):



    Now... I actually tabulated those results for a reason... And I'll make my point by asking a question...

    If the typical set up of using the 85th percentile speed makes it acceptable that 15% of drives are violators, could we say that making 50% of drivers into violators would be disproportionate?

    And if that is the case, then the setting of the speed limit on this roadway at 30mph when it is clear that the average speed through each segment (with the exception of the location JEO Eastman) are all above the 30mph reduced speed.

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    The survey does correctly average the critical speed on the entire stretch to 36 mph (it's 35.8 mph by simple avg, 35.96 mph by a weighted avg)
    And the way you calculated those numbers is.... How?

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
    View Post
    [*]Also, the 5 mph reduction--which is your bane--is faulty per LADPW's own policy. See page two of this document from West Covina, which says:
    That is a GREAT find. Thank you very much.

    Matter of fact, I have contacted LADPW with a request for more info regarding their methodology for establishing speed limits. The last time I contacted them for info they made me wait for 3 days (literally said “I will call you back in 3 days and give you the information you are requesting”), then he called me 3 days later with the info I had requested. After reading your post, I searched their website for info, found the Public Records Request form but rather than dealing with them over the phone, I am going to pay them a visit tomorrow... I'll post whatever info I can come up with

    That being said, let me get back to the extra bit of expanantion I mentioned *a bit ago*... As I review that W Covina Survey, it is clear that they obviously spot surveyed several locations along one stretch of roadway, then evaluated each data set independently, evaluated the 85th percentile speed limit for each location surveyed, and looked into the viability of matching the speed limit in the entire zone... Whereas for the East L A survey, it seemed like they really did not consider each zone independently, but instead, they immediately averaged out the speed calculations (kinda sorta like you did), came up with an average 85th percentile speed, lowered it by an additional 5mph and validated the existing limit.

    Is it not obvious that if the data obtained in the East L A survey had been treated in the same way W Covina treated theirs, that they would not have been able to reduce that one zone which is relevant to my case to 30mph, and therefore the existing 30mph posted limit would have been “UN”-justified by the survey, and as a result, this entire matter goes away by virtue of a speed trap.... Correct?

    If I am correct thus far, and since it is clear that W Covina was citing the policy that should be utilized by LADPW, and as long as that same policy remained in place from September of 2004 (the date of the W Covina Survey) though April of 2009 (the date of the East L A Survey)... Then the entire procedure utilized by LADPW (for the East L A suvey) is pretty much a sham intended to justify an invalid speed limit.

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
    View Post
    The survey's collision rate is 2.28 which is LESS THAN 1.6 times 1.55 = 2.48. No reduction is therefore justified. Per another West Covina document, this policy may be found in the LADPW publication called Guidelines for Uniform Traffic Controls which does not seem to be available online. Suggest you request the relevant parts of it asap via a public records request.
    Yet another possible avenue... The one above would entail a different set of step. Whereas this one, simply voids out any possibility of using the accident rate as a means to a reduction, and with the survey being void of any other reasons to reduce the limit, that entire zone from the border with the city of L A to the border with the city of Monterey Park, is a speed trap. Am I close?

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    Suggest you request the relevant parts of it asap via a public records request.
    Now I know a specific name for the document to request!

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    Edit: See pages 37 onwards of this set of 2010 LADPW surveys (City of Commerce) to know what kind of raw data the LADPW collects.
    Lawd have Mercy... Where do you come up with all this stuff?

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    Whether your cop brings is all to court is another question.
    Yeah, it just suck that you request something from the source, a governmental agency, and its like you're begging for a hand out!

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    If it comes to down to a trial in the end, I suggest you get a few pages of raw data (for one survey) -- full document here -- from the Commerce City clerk and maybe have it certified by them.
    That's a great idea...

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
    View Post
    Also, I'm not sure if the LADPW guidelines have changed, or the engineers are ignorant of them OR ignoring them under city pressure -- as far as the 1.6x rate is required. If it is either of the latter, it's a possible cause for reporting them to the P.E. licensing board...
    You know I only glanced through those Commerce surveys and didn't see any mention of the same calculation W Covina included. Could it be that their policy has changed? I don't know, I will look more carefully in a bit to see what it says.

    If in fact it is either of the latter and while I may have to pay this $480 on my end, somebody is paying a price on theirs, you can trust that part!

    Quote Quoting quirkyquark
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    I think we're both temperamentally suited to our existing personae So why don't you try prosecuting yourself and let us deal with the defense!
    Well, heck... In that case, “the People move for a dismissal in the interest of Just-Is!!!”

  6. #6
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    In the interests of promptness, here's a partial reply. Also, not referencing your quotes where obvious (I need whatever automated system you have for making sure EVERY quote contains the poster/post link!

    Quote Quoting That Guy
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    East Los Angeles... I want to see who the judges are and what they are all about)!
    It's usually Commissioner Rita Baird in Dept 1. She'll probably handle your arraignment and TBD. EVERYONE else in that court is a judge. Sometimes courts will automatically assign someone other than your TBD judge to your TDN. If not, file a challenge (even a for cause would be appropriate when a TDN is concerned). IMO, judges are typically more attentive and stick to procedure than commissioners.

    If you are eligible, you MAY want to change venue to Metro, since the usual trial judge in traffic - Dept. 67/Hon. Randolph Hammock - is probably one of the "fairest" traffic judges I've seen. The courtroom clerk is also extremely helpful, and I KNOW they will hear properly served motions (file -or mail- at the 2nd floor Criminal Operations window).

    Quote Quoting That Guy
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    Nope! (Please elaborate briefly if you can).
    Re: night court checkbox question. You may not want to bother because this is a 22350 with all its attendant defenses, but for those hard up, there is a possible demurrer there, depending on your citation date. Your citation date must be within 10 days of the "2nd Monday of the month" (when East LA has night court), or *maybe* within 10 days of when night court is held in *any* LASC branch. It asserts that because the notice to appear contains incomplete notification per VC 40502(d), it MAY NOT substitute for a complaint. Please see PM for a sample and more details (it's a complex argument).

    Quote Quoting VC 40502. Place to Appear
    If the place specified in the notice to appear is within a county where a department of the superior court is to hold a night session within a period of not more than 10 days after the arrest, the notice to appear shall contain, in addition to the above, a statement notifying the person arrested that the person may appear before such a night session of the court.




    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    ... this survey does in fact mention the "accident rates". In fact, I think it takes that a step further and to the detriment of its using the "accident rate" as justification to reduce the speed limit to 30mph from 35, it actually lists the "No. [Of Collisions] With Speed Related Violations" as 3 out of the total 68.
    Just FYI, according to the LADPW, full "backup data" consists of (pages in this PDF):
    1. Traffic Volumes (p. 41)
    2. Raw Speed Data Sheet (p. 46)
    3. A fairly informative "Summary" (p. 47)
    4. Something I've never seen before: Some sort of automated speed data sheet, showing vehicles and speed bin for each hour in a day and change! (p. 48)
    5. Collision reports from SWITRS, with LOTS of specs on the included collisions. (p. 54)


    I think #2, 4, 5 in particular are crucial to making an argument that a speed survey at trial which does not contain them is a summary/incomplete and therefore does not rebut the speed trap presumption.



    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    1) Should they be considering the 68 accidents which (I assume) translate into the 2.28 C/MVM, or should it only consider the 3 speed related accidents as part of the justification to reducing the limit (which in this case, would clearly have no impact whatsoever on the 35mph 85th percentile)?

    A citation from People v. Smith wherein the Appellate division of the LA Superior Court only utilized "speed related accidents" as part of its evaluation of the validity of the survey in the Smith case:
    I think that this is one situtation where "engineering judgment" (I know, I know ) really comes into play. Without an expert, and only one appellate div. case on point (there may be more, we don't know yet), you'd need a fairly convincing argument to hold up on appeal.

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    2) How is the Collision Rate Calculated? I mean we have the "number of accidents over that set period", we have the "County Average Rate", how do we come up with the 2.28 C/MVM rate? Is it as straight forward as it seems or does it require knowledge of other variables that aren't available to us?

    3) This is more of a general question but I have seen some surveys and rather than utilizing a "County Average", actually go as far as developing an average per road classification (meaning: a rate for each of: Principal Arterial, Minor Arterial, Major Collector, Minor Collector and Local...)? Is that a decision of the authority/agency conducting the survey?
    It's easily calculable as a little research showed me. Here's the formula: (c*10^6)/(365*y*v*l),
    where:
    • c, y = total c accidents in y years
    • v = volume per day (vpd) or average daily traffic (ADT)
    • l = segment length in miles


    This comes from this page. (It's page 70 of this very lengthy PDF.

    The same page also tells us that "LACDPW average accident rate of 1.55 accidents per million vehicle miles of travel for roadways fronting industrial, residential, rural and mixed development with critical speed less than 45 mph."

    For comparison, here are the Caltrans District 7 Collision rates for various kinds of urban/rural 2-3-4... lane roads.

    To be continued...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    Wow! TG allegedly driving at 57mph in a 30 zone? That's MY job!

    Jokes aside, there are quite a few unanswered questions here (I'm assuming you were nowhere near that speed). Namely, whether there was a visual estimate prior to the radaring and the respective distances for the visual and the start/end of radar tracking. If you speed was obviously nowhere near the alleged speed, who knows what else won't add up.

    The most glaring issue with the survey you received is the lack of supporting data. Whether it'll be the same survey that the court has on file and that the officer will introduce is another question (hmm, what if the survey above is submitted by the officer in a TBD and a guilty verdict is entered?). You'll need discovery to know for sure. Also, find out if the engineer who certified the survey is still employed by LADPW. If this things get to a TDN, there might be a point in serving a subpoena to have her show up for court and testify to the issues with the survey (namely the standing policy about what constitutes an excessive collision rate since it's the sole justification for lowering the speed limit).

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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    On to Part 2...

    Quote Quoting That Guy
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    So here is a different view: My initial gut reaction was that the locations mentioned are actual points where the surveyor was located.
    ...
    So could they really only survey one side and use those results to post a “valid” limit for both sides (both directions)???
    ...
    Whereas if you are headed in the other direction, you are going uphill, with (what I would call) “limited sight distance” of 0.1 miles as you reach the top of the hill.
    I agree -- it's the location, not the direction. It is valid question to be brought up at trial or on appeal, though. The limited sight distance hasn't been mentioned as a factor, so why bring it up?

    On that note, a couple more quibbles with the survey:
    • They're using total collisions across a really wide 2-mile stretch, instead of considering it individually in each segment.
    • And now that it does that, what concrete reason is there for posting the segment from Mednik Ave to the Monterey Park boundary at 35 mph? The volume is about 10% lower, but the accident rate is the same and the prevailing speeds are lower than e.g. at Hazard Ave.
    • The predominate [sic] type of collisions were "midblock parked vehicle", which seems to happen when one of the two vehicles is either leaving its parking position OR is turning. They don't seem to have to do much with speed, if anything.
    • The segments were surveyed about 2 months apart -- #1 and #5 on 3/11/09, and #2-3-4 on 1/21/09. Apart from reliability, it raises questions of contemporaneity for hearsay purposes.




    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    If the typical set up of using the 85th percentile speed makes it acceptable that 15% of drives are violators, could we say that making 50% of drivers into violators would be disproportionate?

    And if that is the case, then the setting of the speed limit on this roadway at 30mph when it is clear that the average speed through each segment (with the exception of the location JEO Eastman) are all above the 30mph reduced speed.
    Agreed. "Makes majority of the drivers violators" is the language the traffic manual/MUTCD as well as opinions use, and more than 50% is clearly a majority. Still, it's probably not a trial-court winning argument...

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    And the way you calculated those numbers is.... How?
    Used Google Maps and its ruler to get the distances in feet for each segment, and then (I suspect your background is such that you won't have a problem understanding the following

    Code:
    --> dist = [1350 1800 3200 3200 1900]
    --> crit = [36 34 39 34 36]
    
    --> mean(crit)
    ans =   35.8000 
    
    --> sum(dist.*crit)/sum(dist)
    ans =   35.9651



    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    ...As I review that W Covina Survey, it is clear that they obviously spot surveyed several locations along one stretch of roadway, then evaluated each data set independently, evaluated the 85th percentile speed limit for each location surveyed, and looked into the viability of matching the speed limit in the entire zone... Whereas for the East L A survey, it seemed like they really did not consider each zone independently, but instead, they immediately averaged out the speed calculations (kinda sorta like you did), came up with an average 85th percentile speed, lowered it by an additional 5mph and validated the existing limit.
    Yep, the East LA survey definitely reeks of "the ends justify the means" instead of the other way around!

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    Is it not obvious that if the data obtained in the East L A survey had been treated in the same way W Covina treated theirs, that they would not have been able to reduce that one zone which is relevant to my case to 30mph, and therefore the existing 30mph posted limit would have been “UN”-justified by the survey, and as a result, this entire matter goes away by virtue of a speed trap.... Correct?
    Well, the MUTCD says that speed limit zones shouldn't be shorter than 0.5 mi, and this one (between Hazard and Ford Aves.) is approximately 3200 ft. or 0.61 mi, so no problem there. In that case, YES, the limit for that zone is unjustified, since 39 mph -> 40 -> 35. BUT, this is the opposite kind of argument -- one you could successfully use to sway the trial court, assuming the judge understands speed traps, but one which may not hold up on appeal (in the interests of ensuring continuity, engineering judgment, etc.) I suspect that, for the latter, it would be better if you could get some sort of LADPW policy OR 2-3 LADPW surveys showing that the East LA survey used the wrong methodology.

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    If I am correct thus far, and since it is clear that W Covina was citing the policy that should be utilized by LADPW, and as long as that same policy remained in place from September of 2004 (the date of the W Covina Survey) though April of 2009 (the date of the East L A Survey)... Then the entire procedure utilized by LADPW (for the East L A suvey) is pretty much a sham intended to justify an invalid speed limit.
    I give you page 7 of this W. Covina council meetings document, dated November 15 2011, which contains the same 1.6x language. So there is a good chance it is indeed a sham. Depends on what that document says. Semantically, there is a tiny chance that while the County may specify 1.6 times as excessive, it is W. Covina CITY policy to decrease only if rates are excessive. The initial phrase "The following analysis is in accordance with the procedures outlined in Guidelines...." makes that a very small possibility though.

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    Whereas this one, simply voids out any possibility of using the accident rate as a means to a reduction, and with the survey being void of any other reasons to reduce the limit, that entire zone from the border with the city of L A to the border with the city of Monterey Park, is a speed trap. Am I close?
    Yes, and if true, THIS argument should be convincing to any judge who knows what a speed trap is!


    Still a part 3 to come, with some more ideas/observations...

  9. #9
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    Quote Quoting HonkingAntelope
    View Post
    Wow! TG allegedly driving at 57mph in a 30 zone? That's MY job!
    And see... This is what happens when you start slacking, HA... They panic and they start going after all of us law abiding citizens!

    Quote Quoting HonkingAntelope
    View Post
    Namely, whether there was a visual estimate prior to the radaring and the respective distances for the visual and the start/end of radar tracking.
    A VERY valid point in my opinion... And one which I have considered and have it on my far side as a way to attempt to raise "reasonable doubt" if the need arises. However, he can simply overcome it by refuting my claim that he was so far back behind the building... One thing he cannot refute, is his orientation (being perpendicular to traffic)... And yet for that argument to even begin to sound remotely reasonable, we start getting into P.O.S.T. training/documentation and mathematical theorems which I have always been convinced that they a simply a waste of time.


    Quote Quoting HonkingAntelope
    View Post
    If you speed was obviously nowhere near the alleged speed, who knows what else won't add up.
    I will say that 57 is way off...
    And what is even worse, is his "handheld" comment... Combine those two elements and any tangential argument is way to convoluted to even start...

    There should be enough with the survey... And my only wish is for a reasonable judge!

    Quote Quoting HonkingAntelope
    View Post
    The most glaring issue with the survey you received is the lack of supporting data. Whether it'll be the same survey that the court has on file and that the officer will introduce is another question (hmm, what if the survey above is submitted by the officer in a TBD and a guilty verdict is entered?). You'll need discovery to know for sure.
    Its been requested... We'll see what they provide!

    Quote Quoting HonkingAntelope
    View Post
    Also, find out if the engineer who certified the survey is still employed by LADPW. If this things get to a TDN, there might be a point in serving a subpoena to have her show up for court and testify to the issues with the survey (namely the standing policy about what constitutes an excessive collision rate since it's the sole justification for lowering the speed limit).
    You know what... That is a great suggestion and one that is already under consideration. Here is how I am looking at this... I am out $480 on this one. The general consensus seems to be that if I subpoena her, her agency might only allow her to appear if I pay for her hours in court. Well, I have no idea how much an L. A. County traffic Engineer makes per year or how it translates to per day, but if that is what it comes down to, then I honestly don't care if I only net a $1 from my original $480!!!!

    The flip side of that coin then becomes a line of questioning where she won't be able to weasel her way out of answering.... Simply because admitting under oath that she screwed up the entire survey will have severe implications on her job, license and career!

    Thanks for your input!

    Quirky, I'll work on commenting on your posts in a bit!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: There is No "Short Version" of My Question

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post
    You know what... That is a great suggestion and one that is already under consideration. Here is how I am looking at this... I am out $480 on this one. The general consensus seems to be that if I subpoena her, her agency might only allow her to appear if I pay for her hours in court. Well, I have no idea how much an L. A. County traffic Engineer makes per year or how it translates to per day, but if that is what it comes down to, then I honestly don't care if I only net a $1 from my original $480!!!!

    The flip side of that coin then becomes a line of questioning where she won't be able to weasel her way out of answering.... Simply because admitting under oath that she screwed up the entire survey will have severe implications on her job, license and career!
    Uhhh, guys, I say this with all due respect...but you two must be in la la (not LA LA) land to think this would work (or if it's even worth it!)

    Look, the trial traffic court will probably take anything an established expert says as the word of God, even if it is "weaseling" out (because it's so rarely done). You can't directly contest anything said, short of trying to trip her up in your direct examination, because you're not an expert. There's a very good chance that one unfavorable statement may sink your case.

    On appeal, the testimony is not going to be reweighed. Also, this may not apply, but usually appealable issues from testimony that you elicit on direct (from your own witness) are waived under the "invited error" doctrine.

    Why do you think the defense always calls up THEIR OWN experts?

    If you wanted to go this far ($$$), the right way is to do what Ms. Goulet did --- call your own experts to testify how the survey is wrong in every which way. If you want to play "dueling experts" for some reason, go ahead and call the DPW traffic engineer as well.

    BTW, the Goulet court was impressed but still held that a traffic engineer is almost never necessary:

    Quote Quoting P v. Goulet
    ...In this case, two licensed traffic engineers testified there are no driveways that affect safety for traffic traveling in the direction of appellant.

    The two traffic engineers gave compelling testimony explaining the insufficiencies of the engineering and traffic survey in this case. We have not dwelt on their testimony for several reasons.

    A trier of fact may, at least under certain circumstances, reject the testimony of expert witnesses. ... traffic infractions, with the attendant consequences of fines, points toward suspension of driver's licenses, and increased insurance rates, ought not depend on the ability of a driver to obtain the assistance of a licensed traffic engineer.

    ...

    In the supplemental brief we requested, respondent argues that the survey states the opinion of the city traffic engineer that the accident or roadside features warrant additional speed zone reduction. Respondent concludes: "The established speed limit of 35 miles per hour was based upon a proper compliance with procedure and the law. Although experts in traffic engineering may disagree with a specific speed or conditions, the law requires only that a proper procedure be followed to establish a given speed in a given location."

    Disagreement of experts will not necessarily invalidate a prima facie speed limit. But if respondent is arguing that an engineer's stated opinion is merely a procedural prerequisite not subject to judicial review, we disagree.
    How likely is it that a trial judge or commissioner will think this deeply if the DPW engineer simply states "In my opinion -- professional engineering judgment -- the reduction is justified." And technically, he/she may be right, because DPW policy, unlike say, the MUTCD, does not even have an argument for being mandatory....




    IMO, although it may take an appeal, the way to win this is by burying the People under a pile of documentary evidence.

    Edit: Assuming TG can get his hands on a DPW document that mentions 1.6x, I would send a polite letter to the engineer/supervisor (Jalaine Madrid) asking her to explain her justifications. Certified, etc. A lack of response may be helpful for a bombastic trial lawyer-style showoff in court.

    BTW, as of October 14 this year, she is still employed by LACDPW, Traffic and Lighting Div., and may be contacted at 626-300-4708.





    I've been interested in researching and learning more on how two constitutional HAMMERS used in real criminal cases may become very applicable to our 22350 survey cases. These are the Confrontation Clause and the constitutional (Brady) discovery requirements. Since a speed trap is presumed, the defendant is not guilty, unless a survey rebuts the presumption. There is no question that it is thus material--or highly probative--in the verdict.

    If the survey turns out to be exculpatory--and it was asked for in discovery to the DA, to be safe--there's a very good case for a Brady violation which would automatically be of a sufficient magnitude to warrant reversal.

    Also, most surveys state upfront that they are for the purpose of enabling radar enforcement, i.e. for use in criminal prosecution. There's certainly a strong argument (david may have more to add) that they are testimonial in the context of the Sixth Amendment, and you therefore have a right to confront the engineer who prepared the report (long line of recent Supreme Court cases). This is also automatically reversible.

    I'll post more as I learn more. An appeals argument aside, these MAY just sound scary enough that invoking them will goad an otherwise jaded traffic commissioner into thinking twice before convicting you as a matter of course.

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