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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Quick Yellow Light Defense

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

    At 44 yrs old, I have no tickets and recently was stopped for driving through a red light. The light turned yellow as I was entering the 5-way intersection and turned red before I could complete the left hand turn (in front of the officer... yes it was a bad day).

    I thought the yellow light was quick. I have since timed the yellow light at 2.83 seconds. The distance from the white stop line for the light, to the entrance of the road for the left turn is 85 feet. Given this information, I calculate that I would have to drive 30 miles per hour through the intersection and make the left turn, to not have the light turn red. The speed limit is 20 MPH.

    Do I have a reasonable defense stating that it is not realistic to expect a car to stop after crossing the white line?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,576

    Default Re: Quick Yellow Light Defense

    As far as I can tell, there is NO law in Connecticut preventing you from ENTERING an intersection on YELLOW. Nor does the law state that you must CLEAR the intersection before the light turns RED. GSC 14-299 states (in pertainent part):
    Quote Quoting GSC 14-299
    (2) Yellow: Vehicular traffic facing a steady yellow signal is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter, when vehicular traffic shall stop before entering the intersection ...

    (3) Red alone: Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal alone shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and remain standing until the next indication is shown....
    The officer, however, will probably testify that you ENTERED the intersection AFTER the light turned RED.

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Quick Yellow Light Defense

    Based on your response, it seems like the focus needs to be around my circumstances and the written law, and not around the fact that the light does not stay yellow long enough to allow traffic to clear the intersection. I don't want it to boil down to my word vs. the officer. Somehow I think the officer will win that scenario.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,576

    Default Re: Quick Yellow Light Defense

    Why not submit a discovery request for the officer's notes (if it's permitted in CT). If the officer indicates that you entered the intersection AFTER the light was red, you're pretty much toast -- as you indicated, it would be your word against the officer's, and the officer normally wins that contest. If not -- if it doesn't precisely say that -- then, yes, you must argue the LAW.

    The short yellow has absolutely NOTHING to do with it, since there is NO requirement to clear the intersection BEFORE the light turns red. The law itself even supports that premise:
    Quote Quoting GSC 14-299
    (1) Circular green alone: Vehicular traffic facing a green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign or marking at such place prohibits either such turn or straight through movement, except that such traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and vehicles lawfully within a crosswalk or the intersection at the time such signal was exhibited....
    If there were a requirement to CLEAR the intersection, there could not possibly be vehicles "lawfully within ... the intersection at the time".

    Barry
    Where am I going? And why am I in this handbasket?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Quick Yellow Light Defense

    Quote Quoting blewis
    View Post
    Why not submit a discovery request for the officer's notes (if it's permitted in CT). If the officer indicates that you entered the intersection AFTER the light was red, you're pretty much toast -- as you indicated, it would be your word against the officer's, and the officer normally wins that contest. If not -- if it doesn't precisely say that -- then, yes, you must argue the LAW.

    The short yellow has absolutely NOTHING to do with it, since there is NO requirement to clear the intersection BEFORE the light turns red. The law itself even supports that premise:If there were a requirement to CLEAR the intersection, there could not possibly be vehicles "lawfully within ... the intersection at the time".

    Barry
    I am very familiar with the short-yellow-light interval situation you have described. Here in Chicago this traffic deception is automated with over two hundred red light ticket cameras. I have become quite immersed in this controversy. I recommend that you visit motorist.org as an educational experience; it’s like a good book you can’t put down.

    I strongly suggest that you video tape the traffic signal in question and have this as evidence of the yellow light’s deficiencies.

    Since you can appear before a judge and confront your accuser I would use the officer’s proclivity for issuing tickets against him. When as usual the officer starts his testimony and reads from his ticket book you may object on the grounds that the officer is “reciting” from notes and it is obvious that he has no independent knowledge of the case before the court at this time. Further add if needed that you cannot “cross-examine the ticket book” so its hearsay evidence. Ask to have the case excused for lack of evidence. If the judge denies your request go to next step. Next make sure that the prosecutor “rests his case”.

    Ask the officer the circumstances surrounding his presence at the intersection where he wrote you the citation. The answer is unimportant, but it infers that the officer was there for a pre-ordained reason, it wasn’t just casual. Ask the officer how many tickets he writes everyday for traffic signal violations in a three month period. Try and get him to admit to a general number, 5 to 10 or 25 to 40 and so on. A hard number is not important. The argument is used to demonstrate to the judge that the yellow signal timings at these intersections “appears” not meet accepted traffic engineering standards.

    There is a federal minimum of three (3) seconds for the yellow light interval, but it is subject to increases for local conditions. There are other physical factors that when added may increase the needed interval. These may include forward visibility, weather conditions, 85th percentile speed, the intersection’s width, aggregated traffic flow, turn considerations and so on.

    You can also request a copy of the latest TRAFFIC SURVEY (must be with in five years or newer) of the intersection. Check if very thoroughly for details like signal timing and so on. Don’t bring it into evidence! Ask the local prosecutor if he can provide a “certified” copy of the traffic survey for the intersection in question. He will not have this with him. He may ask for a continuance, but strongly object on the grounds that you came to court today prepared. Since the prosecutor can’t prove what the traffic signal timing should be move to have the case dismissed. If the judge denies your motion don’t even blink, just move on to the next case.

    After you ask to show your video tape make sure if you can, display a time counter in the corner of the screen, some video cameras can do this. This will clearly show the short yellow, pause and repeat as needed. Have a watch that can count seconds if no screen display is available. After you show the tape ask the officer after issuing all these tickets did he ever contacted the city’s department of streets and sanitation or your local equivalent to report the problem. If he says yes does he know why it wasn’t fixed? If he says no just move on. You can take his answers and gently suggest that the intersection’s signal should have been made safer for the public’s good rather continuing to allow the traffic signal defect to endanger the public. Use the words you think most appropriate.

    If the judge challenges the three-second rule refer to the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices on line that is supposed to be followed nationally. I used this technique to fight three tickets last year, one for a rear license plate cover, 12 over speeding ticket with LIDAR and no front plate displayed. I paid the fine for the front plate which is only a mechanical violation. The prosecutor wanted me out of court ASAP. Your state laws may differ. Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: Quick Yellow Light Defense

    Barnet,

    Most excellent post!!! You, as I, recognize that the State should be held to a higher standard than the general public. However, common practice is that they are held to a lower standard. I'd bet that the prosecutors involved don't understand what half of your post means... much less comply with all of the standards. Traffic infractions are simply a tax to most Americans. When a cop writes you a ticket, you are simply presumed guilty. The State does NOT typically follow its own rules when seeking to punish you for not following the rules. This is not justice at all. Since this act of taking your money is NOT an act of justice... it can only be one of two other things: theft, or a tax. Since I am still optimistic enough to beleive that my government is not STEALING from me... I'll assume it is merely a tax. However, this certainly is NOT a tax that has been apportioned appropriately. This is a tax that is levied at random. This is the kind of stuff that caused a bunch of guys in our history to dress up in costumes and dump a bunch of tea in a harbor....

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