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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Default Improper Lane Use on Poor Quality, and Unsafe Road

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

    First, thank you in advance for any advice you can give. I'll try to be as brief as I can.

    Environment: Nightime. Interstate highway and under construction. The highway is over 40 years old, and major divots (not sure if divot is the right word) made by decades of semi's driving it. Old highway has 3 lanes east and west bound divided by land. Construction is repairing highway and adding another lane, each direction (2 lanes total), and both are in the center, eliminating the mecian. I'm traveling eastbound. Construction is on my left. Due to construction barrier, I'm in the far left of 2 open lanes, of old highway. I have a front wheel drive, light SUV Saturn Vue, which is hard to keep stright riding the divots.

    Location: The officer follows me, maybe a mile, along the divots. At the end of the bad section, it opens to the section already completed, and goes from 2 lanes to 4. Near the end of the construction, I start to pass another driver on the right (no signal). I realize that I'm at the end of the construction, and there are open lanes coming up on the left, so I change my mind and turn on the left signal to pass on the left. Signal for 3.5 seconds (I'll explain later how I know the time), and pass. Then I see his lights.

    Citation: Officer is polite. He asks if I've been drinking, using a cell phone, eating or anything else distracting. I tell him "no" (though there is fast food in my seat, but I was waiting til I got home to eat it). He says I was all over the place and that another car tried to avoid me. I remember no car. I explained the divots, and he says that other cars were driving, and weren't having problems. I didn't argue, I said I understand, but they are driving this car. After he runs my stuff, he says he'll do me a favor and cite me for improper lane use instead of reckless driving. No subriety tests. I thank him and leave.

    Pre-Trial - DA offers me something... I forgot what, but it would have still been on my record. I choose trial.

    1st trial date - before the judge appears, DA offers one more time and shows me the video from the police car. My car is lightly swerving (due to divots), but within the lane. My right wheels do technically cross the lane markings one or twice. No car, on the video, moved to avoid me. DA says that if I proceed, he's tacking on another charge of "improper use of signal" saying I didn't have it on for 5 seconds. I ask if its legal for him to do that, and he says he can do what he wants, all the way to conviction. I'm now upset (but calm) about this and proceed with trial. I asked the judge for a continuance due to new charge that I wasn't prepared for.

    2nd trial date is in 2 days. And I wasn't really prepared for the 1st one anyway. Since that 2nd charge was added, I have done my research. The signal charge I believe is B.S. Idaho code says 5 seconds or 100 ft. I worked out that a car travels 80.3 ft/sec at 55 MPH. So 3.5 seconds would be 280ft.

    The improper lane use is harder. Code says "A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from that lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety."

    Questions: Knowing that I wasn't reckless, or distracting. And knowing his primary concern was intoxication (which he obviously figured out while talking to me), and that he gave it to me, just because he stopped me.

    -With the wheels just barely crossing, is there a loop hole in that above code that I'm not seeing? Or is there doubt that I can create?

    -I can't find anywhere where the quality of road can be used. I have found that an asphalt road has a 15yr life span, but can I push the blame to the State for their crap road?

    -Can I dismiss all charges based on the DA's bully tactic, and incorrectly adding a B.S. charge (by not completing the sentence of "or 100 yds" - expecting me to be scared)? He was clearly trying to force me into paying the fine, and misrepresented himself with a lie, by not telling the entire truth. Is there anything for lawyers of the State with regards to "behavior becoming of a Lawyer?" I use that, because I'm also in the military, and the UCMJ has "behavior becoming of an Officer."

    -Any other options?

    -Finally... I know I should dress nice. Should I wear my military uniform, or change into a suit before I go in?

    Thank you for your help. Sorry for the length, but I wanted to get you all the facts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Improper Lane Use on Poor Quality, and Unsafe Road

    You were weaving in the lane and crossed out of the lane a couple of times. According to the officer (and you should be able to see this for yourself on the video) other drivers were not having a similar problem. You can try to blame it on your car but that doesn't really help - if some issue with your car prevents you from maintaining your lane position at a particular speed, you should slow down.

    Are you coming to court from work on a military base, where you are required to wear... which uniform? (I doubt you go to work in mess dress.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Default Re: Improper Lane Use on Poor Quality, and Unsafe Road

    Thats my point. Every car is different (weight, front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, etc.). A driver of a rear wheeled axel will have a much easier, and probably unnoticable, drive across that road. And probably the same for a heavier vehicle, regardless of the drive. If there is two of us driving side by side, I have a front wheel drive and the other person has say a rear wheel drive, then of course, it'll look rediculous. Especially since there is the other "unbothered" car creating a stable factor. Try driving it on a motorcycle. I did that a couple of times, and decided to avoid it until they're done. Everything is fine if you drive EXACTLY straight (with any vehicle). But the divots are the same size as the tires... if your tires hit the edge of the divot (on a front wheel)... up you go.

    Why couldn't the state be blamed for failure to maintain the highway? The asphalt surface is over double it's expected life span. Any time you push ANYTHING'S life span, you increase the probability of negative situations (relative to the object to which the life span is referring to).

    Uniform - I'd be in ABU's (that's the newer brown camo's).

    One more question - I showed up to court. The Prosecutor wasn't there... the accuser wasn't there... just me and the Judge. Apparently, when he scheduled it, he scheduled a pre-trial continuance instead of a trial continuance, so there was no subpoena or Prosecutor to do it. The Judge apologizes... and reschedules it again. But seeing as I was there to defend my innocence, with all of my evidence and no accuser, wouldn't that be an automatic dismissal (aquital or whatever)? Is a reschedule in that situation a violation of due process?

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