My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California
Here's the issue- I was driving home around midnight in an unfamilier area. My mind was on trying to figure out how to reach the freeway so I was looking around a bit surveying the area. When approaching a 2 lane intersection, I was deciding if I needed to go left or right and realized I had passed the freeway. I stopped in the left turn lane and when the light turned green I made a U-turn. As soon as I completed the turn I heard the siren, saw the lights go on. At first I didn't realize it was me, but looking in my mirror, I saw the "No U-turn sign."
My first mistake was admitting fault. I was tired and totally nervous. I think the first thing I said was, "That sign back there said no U-turn, didn't it?" I'm still kicking myself for that one. The officer said, "Yes, there's a pretty big sign back there. When did you realize it was a No U-turn." Instead of telling her I just saw it in my mirror, I told her that I knew I wasn't speeding and she didn't pull me over till after the turn so I kind of figured it was a no U-turn.
She was very nice but said she couldn't let me off with a warning, despite my hystarical crying, due to the fact that it was a very unsafe manuver because cars coming from the left had a green arrow.
I cried for days and kicked myself for not seeing the sign. After I calmed down, I went back to the intersection and realized why I had missed it. There is one sign and it's about 3 feet high on the island. I SHOULD have saw it, had I not been focusing more on where a right turn would have taken me. I also sat there for about a minute with the sign on my left, although it was dark and I haven't gone back at night to see how illuminated or noticable it was during the night time. I understand it is my fault for not seeing it, however there is no sign on the actual street lamp itself or on the far side of the intersection. The only sign present are a few Do Not Enter signs, because it is the freeway exit, and a sign that displays two arrows- Right and Left turn only.
I did some research and California's MUTCD states:
The No U-Turn (R3-4) sign shall be used where U turns are prohibited except
when Intersection Lane Control signs (R73(CA) Series) signs are used at
signalized intersections with separate left turn phases.
The No U-Turn/No Left Turn (R3-18) sign shall be used where both, left turns
and U turns are prohibited.
The appropriate R3-4 or R3-18 sign should be placed as follows:
A. On undivided roads without traffic signals, place on the near right and far
left corners of the intersection.
B. On undivided roads with traffic signals, place on the far right and far left
corners of the intersection, or on the signal mast arm.
C. On divided roads at both signalized and unsignalized intersections, place in
the median on the near and far side of the intersection, and on the signal mast
arm at signalized intersections.
I already took traffic school in January, the ticket was in November. They moved my court date to next month. At first I was going to pay the $260 dollars and be done with it, however I'm still extremely frustrated that there was no sign present on the signal lamp itself. Especially since the officer had explained what a danger making a U-turn posed to traffic on the left making a protected right turn. I'm afraid if I plead not guilty and present my case, if I even have one, I may not be able to do traffic school any longer. I'm a very careful driver and I'm still kicking myself over not seeing the sign. I always check the signals to make sure U-turns arn't prohibited before I turn, stupid me didn't realize the sign was right outside my window.
I'm wondering what my best option would be. I thought about trying WTBD and noting how the signage does not comply with the MUTCD, however, I'm not sure legally if the signs do or not. I also thought about writing a letter to the city about how another sign should be present on the signal arm itself to help prevent accidents, then pleading guilty with an explaination and telling the judge that I also made a suggestion to the city to improve that intersection- may make it look like I'm actually serious about the whole thing instead of just trying to get out of the ticket. I've heard the court I'm going to will offer most people a reduction- although I'm sure it depends on the judge. My boyfriend got a speeding ticket for going 23 over, went and told the judge he was guilty and already did traffic school, and got the fine reduced by about $50- the fee you have to pay to go to traffic school.