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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    2

    Default Ticketed for Failure to Stop at a Red Light when I Had Stopped for the Yellow Light

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of California. As I approached an intersection, the light turned yellow. I stopped with my wheels slightly over the crosswalk line. (There were no pedestrians present.) A motorcycle officer was two lanes over on my left. He looked over, but did nothing. Shortly after, a second motorcycle officer pulled up next to the first one and they began talking. The second officer looked over at me, then motioned for me to roll down my window. He said, "You didn't stop. I'm going to give you a ticket." Obviously, I was stopped.
    The light was still red and I was not in the intersection. After the light turned green, I drove through the intersection and pulled over. He gave me a ticket for VC 21453 (A) - failure to stop at a red light.

    The code says "A driverfacing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b)."

    The light was not red when I stopped, it was yellow. I chose to stop on the yellow rather than to enter the intersection and risk running the red. The officer was not present when I did stop. The officer who was present did not ticket me.

    Was I incorrectly cited?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    9,170

    Default Re: Ticketed for Failure to Stop at a Red Light when I Had Stopped for the Yellow Lig

    Quote Quoting LA2010
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    I stopped with my wheels slightly over the crosswalk line.
    Did you admit to that while you were talking to the officer? Regardless, and assuming you are going to fight it, stay away from that statement.

    You posted the code and it is not really that ambiguous:
    Quote Quoting LA2010
    View Post
    The code says "A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b)."
    Based on what you posted, it seems the you were correctly cited.

    Note that the code requires you to:
    FIRST: Stop BEFORE the crosswalk (and with your wheels being (as you described) "slightly over the crosswalk", it would be safe to assume that your front bumper was even farther ahead "over the crosswalk")
    SECOND: Remain stopped -BEHIND THE Limit line- until an indication to proceed (that being the green light) is shown...

    So, as far as the citing officer not witnessing you crossing over the line, it is conceivable that the court will rule that your presence within the intersection/in the crosswalk while the light was red does constitute a violation.
    Quote Quoting LA2010
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    The light was not red when I stopped, it was yellow. I chose to stop on the yellow rather than to enter the intersection and risk running the red. The officer was not present when I did stop. The officer who was present did not ticket me.
    You're free to make all those arguments in court if you so choose. I would be extremely careful about how you phrase and present your arguments though... If I were you, I would exercise my right to not testify...

    You can start by either requesting discovery in hope that you can get a look at the officer's notes OR you can file for a Trial By Declaration and assuming you lose that, then you can request a copy of the officer's declaration (his statement that he files in court) and that should give you an opportunity to see what he will testify to in a Trial De Novo, if you choose to excercise that option. (Do a search here on the forums for the terms I underline above and you'll find plenty of info on how to proceed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    2

    Default Re: Ticketed for Failure to Stop at a Red Light when I Had Stopped for the Yellow Lig

    Thanks for the reply...I agree with you regarding being in the crosswalk, my question though is more about the part of the code that says shall stop when facing a steady red light.. I was faced with a yellow light when I stopped. It was safer to stop on the yellow than go through it. Is there code about stopping on a yellow light behind the limit line?

    Thanks again - I appreciate your help!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    LA LA Land
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    9,170

    Default Re: Ticketed for Failure to Stop at a Red Light when I Had Stopped for the Yellow Lig

    Quote Quoting LA2010
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    Thanks for the reply...I agree with you regarding being in the crosswalk, my question though is more about the part of the code that says shall stop when facing a steady red light.. I was faced with a yellow light when I stopped. It was safer to stop on the yellow than go through it. Is there code about stopping on a yellow light behind the limit line?
    When arguing legal matters, one MUST read the ENTIRE code section and analyze it in whole as it may contain several elements that either individually or together may constitute a violation or several violations.

    So, again, 21453(a) is made up of 2 elements:
    1. You must stop behind the line,
    2. You must remain stopped -behind the line- until an indication to proceed is give.

    In this case, your claim is that you stopped on yellow because you believed that you could not make it safely through the intersection. Nothing illegal about that. However, the element that I believe the officer will contend that you violated is the fact that you were in/over the crosswalk while the light was in its red phase.

    Here are most/if not all of the code sections related to traffic control devices (specifically) traffic lights. You're free to read through them to see if any will help you develop a viable defense argument:

    Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices

    You can make the argument you suggested in court judge and see what the judge says...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    616

    Default Re: Ticketed for Failure to Stop at a Red Light when I Had Stopped for the Yellow Lig

    Quote Quoting LA2010
    View Post

    The code says "A driverfacing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b)."
    Good advice from That Guy.

    I suppose there is a narrow argument you might make- that you stopped in the cross walk WHILE THE LIGHT WAS YELLOW. There appears to be no prohibition against this activity. The light changed to red while you were IN the cross walk.

    (I suppose you might have reversed out of the crosswalk once it was red...but the law doesn't seem to address this situation.) Since you were already fully stopped you saw no need to move, given there were no pedestrians.

    Your argument might be that since you stopped on the yellow, with an abundance of caution, and acknowledged the officer, you were genuinely surprised that the other officer cited you. Based on the letter of the law you are allowed to enter a crosswalk on a yellow. You were already stopped and in the crosswalk when the 'instructions' that follow the "facing a red light" became operational, hence they do not apply to your actions that day.

    The second officer, the one that cited you, did not witness you arrive there- he only witnessed the position of your car after the red light 'faced you'. He cannot honestly say that he saw you proceed into the crosswalk.

    One might hope the judge is reasonable AND the officer honestly describes what he saw. He may not reply or he may lie.

    I'd make sure to try and emphasize how surprised you were that the first cop was fine with it but the second cited you- and you thought you were doing the right thing....

    Good luck

    A

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