My question involves a speeding ticket from the State of: Maine
I'm looking for advice on how to handle two summonses and a ticket for an incident that occurred in Maine.
- Pulled over for speeding (alleged 69 in 25).
- I didn't see the officer until he was right on me, after making a turn (following passenger directions to his home).
- Officer thinks I was running from him, and is belligerent as a result.
- Officer thinks I'm drunk - but I pass OUI test.
- Officer claims cruiser video will prove I ran from him.
- Officer writes ticket for crim. speeding, failure to stop for sign, and failure to stop for officer.
- Wondering if I can prepare well enough to handle this myself, or if a Lawyer is a must
- Wondering what I have the right to discover, and how soon?
- Skip to other questions and information, below
- thank you for reading!
I was driving two friends home from a night at the bar on Thanksgiving-eve, and made a bone-head move to floor it on an empty, well-lit (street lights), straightaway near my friends house. It's 1:30 in the morning and there is no one behind or infront of me, and after getting to the end of the road, I slowly roll through the stop and continue left. (I can see both ways and again, no one around).
In the car, I'm taking directions from my passenger (to his house) and operating the touch-screen in the dash.. unaware that a 1/8 mile behind me on the previous street was a State Cop chasing after me. I haven't been speeding since the reaching the end of that straight road I mentioned earlier, and so suddenly he's right behind me - and I pull over immediately.
The officer is visibly belligerent right from the get-go, and I already assume this is for my speeding on the road before. He starts in with accusations about my running from him, and I try to explain that I didn't see him until just a moment ago - where I immediately pulled over. He continues with his accusations and his attitude, even claiming I'm the one giving attitude.. I'm clearly dealing with someone who's emotions are about to make this situation hell.
He asks where I'm coming from/where I'm going. I tell him we were at the bar and I'm driving my two friends home. He claims he's smelling alcohol on my breath and asks what I had to drink, I tell him two beers and a whiskey drink. I'm not trying to lie; not about seeing him, not about drinking, not about anything.
He says he clocked me at 69.. which I find hard to believe. I knew I was going fast, but I certainly didn't think I got up to ~70. He then tells me that the road I was on happens to be a 25; a school zone. I immediately understand this means I was criminally speeding (hell, even in a 35..) so I ask him if I can see the radar. He pauses for a few seconds.. and then just says no, you can't see the radar.
He asks me to get out of the car, I assume this is the OUI test, and it is. He asks me to do the straight line, then the balancing act, and then the pen-test. I pass all three tests and he dismisses the other two local officers from the scene who have shown up to help, and has me get back into my car.
At this point I'm accepting the fact that I'm about to get a massive speeding ticket, and I'm worried about being arrested because I'd heard that's what criminal speeding entails.
I sit in the car for the next 20 minutes wondering what he's doing. In the mean time, my rear passenger (girl, pretty drunk), has to go to the bathroom and wants to know if she can get out.. I said if she wants to put her hand out the window and get out slowly that's all I could suggest. She ends up getting out, talking with him for a quick second. Apparently he questioned her at this time -- asked if we saw his lights, asked what was going on in the car, and she repeated that he thought something was going on in the car... mind you, we're just sitting there talking, and waiting.
He eventually comes back after what seemed like forever, with a ticket (failure to stop at stop sign), and two summonses (failure to stop for officer, and speeding >30mph over).
I ask him what signing these means - and he assures me they're not an admission of guilt, and that my options are either to sign them or be arrested and taken to jail, and have my car towed. I again say that I really didn't see him like he thinks, and he says "It's ok the judge will see my video tape and.." - I interrupt "and that's going to prove that I saw you?" To which he replied that he wasn't going to argue about it and to just sign the papers.
So I sign the papers and he rips off in the cruiser, I bring my friends home and go home.
I grew up in this town, but have moved away - and have been living in Massachusetts for the last 6-7 years.
I did not realize the road I was speeding on was a 25. Not sure it would have mattered, but given that I grew up here - I'm sure the question will be asked.
The address on my license (in mass) is old, I moved to a new apartment in the same town, one block away, about 3 months ago. The mailing address on the ticket is for the old address. I didn't notice this on the tickets - so I didn't write in my actual mailing address at the time, I just signed.
He got the name/address of my passenger (not the girl). My passenger later asked why - and he said because he was a witness. He didn't take the information of my rear-passenger (the girl), that I know of. She had told him she's been living in Virginia, and that I was just showing off my car, blahblah (I probably should get more exact info from her on what was said).
I suspect that I didn't see him due to his distance behind me, my attempt to focus on driving/taking directions/interacting with the touch-screen (nav), as well as the fact that my rear-view mirror significantly dims all lights to a pale green at night. This means no "bloom" effect. In my rear view mirror at this time would be streetlights, and his lights off in the distance.
I've never been arrested, never had criminal charges posed against me - and the only thing on my record will be a few speeding tickets.
I'm 24, the car is a newer red Audi, and my testimony would certainly include an air of anger on the part of the officer. In my opinion, he wanted me to fail that OUI test.
The Stop sign ticket is for $130.. I think I'm just going to pay that. The Criminal Speeding and FT Stop for Officer summonses ([29A 2074-3] and [29A 2414-2], respectively) are class-E crimes in Maine.
Is this something I can fight myself? Or - is this something I should most-certainly hire a lawyer for?
How difficult would it be?
I'm looking to learn about what I have the right to discover before my court date (on 2/8/11). I know I'll want to see the video he's referring to - perhaps even before deciding if I want to fight it, right?
I know I have to go to court for these - but is what I'm reading about filing for a Jury Trial really helpful? I'm sure getting the time off of work on 2/8 is going to be tricky, and may be impossible without disclosing exactly what is is for. I'm reading if work issues arise, I can file a continuance two weeks before the hearing date -- and that may even reduce the chances of the officer showing up to court. Keep in mind, he's a state cop and I don't think this was his usual route or area.
All other advice would be greatly appreciated. I don't have the kind of money to pay $2000 (2x1000 maximum) fines, nor do I really have the money to pay a lawyer either. What I did was incredibly dumb -- despite my assessment that the risk was minimal at the time -- but I don't think it's worth thousands of dollars in fines, especially when one of the two charges is absolutely not-true. This officer convinced himself that I was running from him, and yet this entire thing took place over the course of maybe 20 seconds.
I don't run from, or lie to police.. and yet I'm feeling like this officer's emotional reaction to an mistaken feeling of being run-from, is what escalated this situation beyond a speeding ticket.
Again, any advice appreciated - thx.