My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Nevada
Background details of stop:
I was pulled over after passing this stop sign, and I told the officer I believed he had pulled me over for failing to stop at the sign. He later told me that he thought I was drunk (probably due to the slow rate of speed), and that I appeared to panic when I saw him. And I think that is the true reason he pulled me over because when I think about it he was probably too far behind the bend of the hill when I rounded the corner to have seen me at the sign. Did I fail to execute a proper stop? That was my guess, as I couldn't think of any other reason for him to have pulled me over when he asked me why I had been pulled over. The law only requires a complete cessation of movement, and I may have done that but I thought I had read in my driver's ed class years ago that we were supposed to stop for three seconds or something, and I knew I didn't stop for three seconds, assuming I didn't roll through as I have been charged. There was only two cars in miles, my car, and his car. He gave me a ticket for failure to obey traffic control devices and said that it was a lot smaller fine ($200) than what he could have cited me for.
Based on my statements, I presume that I would have no chance of arguing that I may have stopped, unless I could get a dash cam video that showed me stop, which probably doesn't exist because I suspect that the officers car was not even within sight of the stop sign. I kind of doubt it will be conclusive, assuming there even is dash cam footage. I have been told the newer patrol cars are no longer being equipped with them.
I suspect this was approximately the view the officer had, from the base of the on ramp, except that it was at night:
Even though it is to nobody's benefit and is probably of no use in my defense, I took some video footage of the intersection and out of about 15 cars that went through only one came to a complete stop.
It looks to me that traffic offenses in Nevada are all misdemeanor offenses, and being extremely concerned about my criminal record I began a shotgun approach of looking for all things that might be useful.
The law here states that one must obey official traffic control devices, and an official traffic control device by definition cannot be inconsistent with NRS 484A-484E, where it is basically described that traffic control devices must adhere to the MUTCD.
Therefore, if a stop sign does not adhere to the MUTCD, it is not an official traffic control device, I believe.
I took a lot of measurements. The sign is about 9 feet from the paved section. If the shoulder is legitimate, it looks to me that the sign is in compliance with lateral displacement for a rural sign (12ft) because it appears that what may be a shoulder is more than three feet wide. If it doesn't count as a shoulder then the sign might be 3 feet to close if I am correct in my judgement that this is a rural stop sign. I don't know if the lack of a white line makes it not a shoulder, but the cars here almost all drove all the way to the edge of the pavement when making right turns here.
The main MUTCD problem that may exist is the placement of a one-way sign below the sign. The road to turn onto is a two way street, and the one-way sign indicates that the off ramp is one way. It is clearly not being used to supplement the stop sign as it is clearly intended to be viewed from the cross traffic and not those stopping at the stop sign. Thus it seems to me to not have a legitimate cause to place two signs on one post.
In the MUTCD I see some one way signs can be placed on stop signs meant to be viewed by the person stopping. (Parallel w/ the sign rather than perpendicular like my sign.)
The sign on the left also has the same one way sign in the same configuration, but from my reading of the MUTCD, the sign on the left does not matter.
Other potential problems with the sign include that from certain positions, a park and ride side obscures the stop sign on the right side.
There are stop sign warning signs farther back:
At night, the sign is also poorly lit.
I have a gut feeling that the prosecutors in this case will not want to go easy on me. This is my very first traffic offense and I have never been given any other citations or charged with any other crimes. Police with the same department stopped me to figure out what I was up to while I was measuring the sign up, so they'll probably be prepared for my defense.
The main options I am considering:
1) Traffic School Form
There is a form I can fill out with a guilty plea that would request for the judge to amend the traffic charge to a non-moving violation upon completion of traffic school. I'm not too upset about the fine, and I wouldn't be even if it was twice as much as it is right now, because the fine won't have a lasting impact on my life. And although I'm concerned about my DMV records, I'm much more concerned about my conviction record. There is also no guarantee that filling out the form will cause the judge to agree with my request and it specifies that I could be penalized with the maximum penalty, ($1000 and up to 6 months in jail for any misdemeanor, which I believe the traffic offense in question is considered to be.) Even if it is reduced to a non-moving violation, according to the court clerk, I will still have a misdemeanor conviction on my record.
2) Another option is to contest the ticket with the strategy I have described. This also means for me that I will have to miss several college classes and just hope I don't have any exams. I'm guessing I probably won't have the option for traffic school if I choose this course and lose.
Frankly, I don't like any of the options. Having zero legal experience I have no idea whether my arguments are going to be laughed out of a court, or what not. Of course I don't want a conviction. But I suppose minimizing damage to the driving record would be nice if it looks like conviction is the only way to go.