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    Default Red Light Violation in California

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

    Hello Experts,
    I needed you feedback on my situation. I am planning to file a TBD. I got a red light violation VC 21453 (c) (on left turn on red arrow) when a cop pulled me over at a intersection. I was driving my friendís car and I had my car insurance but could not locate where I kept it in his car. So he also added violation VC 16028(a). When I mentioned that I do have car insurance, he said that you will have to mail the copy to get it off the ticket. Will there be any issues if I send the copy over or will it be taken off?
    Regarding my red light violation VC 21453(c), I did not run the light and entered the intersection when the light had just turned yellow. By the time I I was 1/2 or 2/3 way into the intersection the light turned red. The cop mentioned that I ran the red light and when I mentioned that I am pretty sure the light was yellow, he said that the light on the perpendicular road had already turned green while I was still inside the intersection.
    My defense is that I already entered the intersection when the light was still yellow. Besides the intersection is a big intersection (3 lanes at the closest perpendicular road and 2 lanes on the road where I was finishing my turn). On the ticket my speed is listed as >15 MPH and I was indeed at the same speed around 15/16 MPH. The traffic condition was listed as Heavy on the ticket. Given the above scenario, If I would have ran the red light and entered the intersection after the light turned red, I would have gotten into a tangle with the cars approaching from the perpendicular roads since with my speed and the length of the intersection, I would not have completed the turn without being involved in an accident. Also, my speed suggests that I was driving safely and normally and not trying to beat the red light.
    One more thing is that I was coming out of a shopping complex where, just before the light, on the right hand side there was fire vehicle/paramedic vehicle parked so I proceeded with utmost caution scanning the road to see if any other fire or paramedic vehicle is approaching hence I would have been slow completing my turn and thats when the officer would have seen that the perpendicular light turned green while I was still inside the intersection. But I did enter the intersection when the light was yellow.
    Do you think my defense is solid to clear my ticket? I have not had any tickets in my 10 years of driving history.

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    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Will there be any issues if I send the copy over or will it be taken off?
    You should be OK with mailing it but you'd be better off contacting the court clerk and confirming that with them.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Regarding my red light violation VC 21453(c), I did not run the light and entered the intersection when the light had just turned yellow. By the time I I was 1/2 or 2/3 way into the intersection the light turned red. The cop mentioned that I ran the red light and when I mentioned that I am pretty sure the light was yellow, he said that the light on the perpendicular road had already turned green while I was still inside the intersection.
    So how do you feel about red light cameras!

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Given the above scenario, If I would have ran the red light and entered the intersection after the light turned red, I would have gotten into a tangle with the cars approaching from the perpendicular roads since with my speed and the length of the intersection, I would not have completed the turn without being involved in an accident.
    Not necessarily true... Traffic signals (and especially those located on wide intersections) will likely utilize what is referred to as an "all red" signal where the signal, and after it terminated the yellow phase and goes into red, it stays at red for a few seconds for ALL directions to allow for slow drivers (or those who entered late) to cler the intersection prior to showing a green for that direction.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Also, my speed suggests that I was driving safely and normally and not trying to beat the red light.
    Driving slow is not necessarily always safe.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Do you think my defense is solid to clear my ticket?
    I wouldn't call it "solid"... "has potential" is probably more accurate.

    What you need to do is to contact the public works department (or whatever it is called in the city where this occurred) and request a copy of the traffic and engineering report for that intersection/signal. From that you should be able to establish yellow phase timing, all red phase timing... etc, and that might help you solidify your defense.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    So how do you feel about red light cameras!

    >> It was not a camera violation. A cop pulled me over. Also, when I mentioned that I am sure it was yellow, he mentioned that the perpendicular lights were green when I was still in the intersection. This is no way verifies that I did not enter the intersection when the light was yellow.

    Driving slow is not necessarily always safe.

    >> I agree. But in my case, event though the fire engine was parked in the complex and not emergency lights were ON, I had to make sure that there were no emergency vehicles approaching the intersection and the safest and reasonable approach was to scan and make the turn slowly. Infact, It was not that I was really slow, I was at a reasonable speed. Also, while at the signal, I saw there were some vehicles a little further behind me and I had to decide whether to go though as I still had the right of way (yellow signal) or to wait and possibly congest the internal road which could have made it for any emergency vehicles to go through.

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    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    >> It was not a camera violation. A cop pulled me over.
    I realize that. My point was that this is a case that will boil down to what the officer claims he saw, versus what you claim you saw. Alternatively, and had this intersection been equipped with a red light camera, then it would be safe to assume that if you entered the intersection on yellow, the camera would not have taken a picture, and a citation would not have been issued! And with all the recent press about the legality and benefit of red light cameras (at least in the city of Los Angeles), I was just curious to find out how you felt about red light cameras.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Also, when I mentioned that I am sure it was yellow, he mentioned that the perpendicular lights were green when I was still in the intersection. This is no way verifies that I did not enter the intersection when the light was yellow.
    Is it possible that he mentioned that in addition to him seeing the light turn red before you entered? Where was he located at the time you turned?

    Edited to Add: Whether that statement will carry any weight or not will ultimately depend on the duration of the "all red" phase. So get that report, scan it, upload a copy of it to an image hosting website, and post a link here for us to review it.... And we'll see what we can find out!

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    >> I agree. But in my case, event though the fire engine was parked in the complex and not emergency lights were ON, I had to make sure that there were no emergency vehicles approaching the intersection and the safest and reasonable approach was to scan and make the turn slowly. Infact, It was not that I was really slow, I was at a reasonable speed.
    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Also, while at the signal, I saw there were some vehicles a little further behind me and I had to decide whether to go though as I still had the right of way (yellow signal) or to wait and possibly congest the internal road which could have made it for any emergency vehicles to go through.
    Frankly, I would not mention either of those matters in that they might suggest that you were not being attentive to what phase the light was showing when you entered the intersection. But that's just my opinion!

    Also, I am not sure what, if anything, you stated to the officer during the stop, but you should keep in mind that those statements can also be used to incriminate you.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    Thanks for your responses

    Is it possible that he mentioned that in addition to him seeing the light turn red before you entered? Where was he located at the time you turned?

    >> He just said that you ran a red light and when I mentioned that I am sure it was yellow, he said that the light on the perpendicular road was green. For his conversation, I do not remember him saying definately that saw me entering the entersection on a red light. Also, I was scanning left and right while I was turning and am not sure where the cop was. I think he was on my right and on the lane where I would be completing my turn but to the far right and hence I might not have seen him. The other possibility is that he would have come from behind me. But that is a rare possibility because as soon as I completed my turn, I saw him behind me in a few seconds. The cop stopped me after I made another right turn on another intersection.
    Also, My wife was in the car at that time and she also saw that I entered the intersection when the light was yellow and that I was driving at normal spped and there was no panic inside the car nor on the road. She only realized what happened when I stopped the car after making the right turn when she asked why I stopped. AT that I said that we are being pulled over by the cop. Will I be able to include her as my witness?

    Frankly, I would not mention either of those matters in that they might suggest that you were not being attentive to what phase the light was showing when you entered the intersection. But that's just my opinion!

    >> I was looking at he signal when I entered the intersection but because of the fire engine situation, I was cautious and hence could have taken extra second to complete my turn and thats what the cop would have seen when he saw me still inside the interscation when the perpendicular lights turned green. That was the reason why I wnated to mention it since it played a part in the whole incident. Do you still think that I should atleast mention that the fire engine was present which in turn resulted in the above mentioned response.

    Also, I am not sure what, if anything, you stated to the officer during the stop, but you should keep in mind that those statements can also be used to incriminate you.

    >> My only interaction with him was he sayign that it was a red light violatio nand me saying that I am sure it was yellow and he mentioning the green signal on the perpendicular road.

    Do you think whether I request for "Discovery Report" before filing the TBD? If I do not, at the moment, will I be able to request it if I am found guilty on TBD and before I go for court trial?

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    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    I'm curious to know at approximately what time of day or night this happened?

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Will I be able to include her as my witness?
    Yes, you may... Though it should be noted that in light of the fact that she is your wife, it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to assume that the benefit of your being found not guilty, would naturally extend to her as well... Still, biased as she might be, her testimony would have to be allowed however, the trier of fact can then determine how much to weigh her credibility at.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    >> I was looking at he signal when I entered the intersection but because of the fire engine situation, I was cautious and hence could have taken extra second to complete my turn and thats what the cop would have seen when he saw me still inside the interscation when the perpendicular lights turned green. That was the reason why I wnated to mention it since it played a part in the whole incident. Do you still think that I should atleast mention that the fire engine was present which in turn resulted in the above mentioned response.
    No seriously... And with all due respect, here is the way I see it... Unless you can somehow establish that seeing fire trucks (or whatever else you saw during the time you were making your turn) was such a life changing experience, then the typical average person is not likely to remember what they were doing each and every moment of routine occurrence -making a left turn out of a shopping center-, simply because during those moments that you are describing now in such great detail, there was no indication whatsoever why you would need to remember and recite what you saw, which way you turned your neck at each and every moment as you exited that shopping center and completed your left turn...

    I am not suggesting that you are being less than truthful. My only concern is that these statements that you are making here, may leave the wrong impression with the judge reading or hearing your case. But that's just one opinion. Others may feel differently! And you're free to plan your defense whichever way you see fit.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Do you think whether I request for "Discovery Report" before filing the TBD? If I do not, at the moment, will I be able to request it if I am found guilty on TBD and before I go for court trial?
    Whether you do request discovery before your TBD or after you TBD, you have the right to review the officer's declaration that he filed as his written testimony in your case. And that would likely give you much more insight into what the officer's testimony will consist of at a Trial De Novo (if you choose to go that far) than any items that you are likely to receive via discovery.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    I'm curious to know at approximately what time of day or night this happened?

    >> It happened at around 8:00 PM.


    No seriously... And with all due respect, here is the way I see it... Unless you can somehow establish that seeing fire trucks (or whatever else you saw during the time you were making your turn) was such a life changing experience

    >> Sorry, I missed out this information before. As I mentioned, I was coming out of the shopping complex. When I mention that I saw a fire truck, it was not just before making the turn or while entering the intersection. It was well before I reached the lights. So I had ample time to analyze the situation. There was a stop sign about 150-200 ft before I reached the light. Thats when I saw the fire truck on the right as it was inside the complex. So I had ample time to see what was around and also approach the lights and focus on it.
    I have uploaded the image of the intersection at http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images...ersection.jpg/
    Sorry for the naive paint job on it. The location marked red was where the fire truck was parked. Location marked blue was where the stop inside the complex was and after making a legal stop and proceeding slowly and stopping again to get a clear view before proceeding to the lights, I saw the fire truck. Location marked yellow is where the lights is.

    Thanks for your response. I am waiting for the engineering/traffic report for the intersection form the public works department and will upload it as soon as I receive it.

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    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    >> It happened at around 8:00 PM.
    OK, so assuming that this all happened recently, and while it maybe true that the sun hasn't fully set at 8:00pm, it is still fairly dark one need not be directly in front of a traffic light to see what color/phase it is showing.

    With that in mind, I can see that the traffic light pole is posted across from the exit to the shopping center (in that dirt patch located on the top right corner of the picture). If we assume that the officer was traveling in a northwesterly direction (from the general direction on the right side of the picture, towards the general direction on the left side of the picture, then not only is he likely to see the traffic signal lights facing his direction and controlling traffic movement from his side of the intersection, but depending on how close he was to the his limit line, at the time that you crossed your limit line, he is likely to be able to see at least a hue of color illuminating from the traffic signal head you're facing, or... Even in the likelihood that he was specifically looking at you as you crossed you limit line, he may have been able to see the reflection of your traffic signal light (what color it was showing) off of your own vehicle.

    In other words, I don't see him as having a difficult time proving that he could easily determine (and not just guess) what color your traffic light was showing when you crossed the limit line. Add to that the possibility that based on his position at the time, he happened to also see that the traffic light controlling his direction of travel, had changed to green all while you are still within the intersection, his version of the story may suddenly become even more believable to the court.

    I'm guessing this is going to be a difficult one to beat. But you're still free to put forth you best effort.

    I will say the following, not as an attempt to discourage you from fighting it, but only in an effort to make you aware of the potential options at different stages in the process. Just keep in mind that your best opportunity at getting a fine reduction, happens to be at the arraignment and comes along with a "guilty plea" at that time. You can still request it after a TBD or after a trial, however the odds of receiving any relief inn the way of a "discount, become less at that juncture. Additionally, your only guaranteed shot at traffic school, also happens to be at the arraignment. Similarly, and while you an still request traffic school after a TBD loss of even after a TDN loss, the judge is at liberty to deny your request and he/she would be under no obligation to inform you of a reason for his/her denial,

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    >> Sorry, I missed out this information before. As I mentioned, I was coming out of the shopping complex. When I mention that I saw a fire truck, it was not just before making the turn or while entering the intersection. It was well before I reached the lights. So I had ample time to analyze the situation. There was a stop sign about 150-200 ft before I reached the light. Thats when I saw the fire truck on the right as it was inside the complex. So I had ample time to see what was around and also approach the lights and focus on it.
    You didn't even read what I posted above about "too many details", did you?

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    I have uploaded the image of the intersection at http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images...ersection.jpg/
    Sorry for the naive paint job on it. The location marked red was where the fire truck was parked. Location marked blue was where the stop inside the complex was and after making a legal stop and proceeding slowly and stopping again to get a clear view before proceeding to the lights, I saw the fire truck. Location marked yellow is where the lights is.
    And based on this latest chunk of additional details, I really honestly do not see how the fire truck or any other emergency vehicle would have any impact on what happened AFTER you passed that group of vehicle and AFTER you passed the access driveway to the parking lot where they were all gathered.

    As for you're attempt at being super extra cautious as you went through the intersection so as to be fully prepared to yield to another emergency vehicle arriving at that scene, I am sure you already know that although we have a duty to yield the right of way to an approaching emergency vehicle with lights glaring and sirens blaring, it is the emergency vehicle's driver who also has a duty to announce his presence or arrival at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal by way of using his lights and siren. So while I can understand and as I am sure many will appreciate you're being extra cautious as you prepared to enter the intersection, there was no need for you to continue at such a slow pace; in fact, and assuming that another emergency vehicle were to appear out of nowhere one you've made entry into the intersection, it would benefit you more to try and get out of there in as time efficient a manner as you can do safely...

    In summary:

    I see no relevance between the fire truck (or any other emergency vehicle present nearby) and whether you entered on yellow or entered on red;

    I see no need for you to have been so cautious and slow while entering and traversing
    through the intersection in spite of the fact that you had heard no siren and seen no lights;

    I see no need for you to tell the long winded, over detailed synopsis of where you looked at each and every moment as you proceeded through the intersection, or which way you turned your head as you completed the turn...

    And lastly, I think this will mainly depend on the officer's location and vantage point at the time you crossed the limit line and whether he can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the light was red when you cross into the intersection. You may want to make a discovery request including but not limited to requesting a copy of his notes but only to see if he had made any notations as to an exact location at the time that he claims to have witnessed the alleged violation.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    I am waiting for the engineering/traffic report for the intersection form the public works department and will upload it as soon as I receive it.
    Well, we can still review that in an attempt to establish the legality of general standards such as the yellow phase and its duration relative to the posted approach speed limit on that roadway. Typically, the protected yellow turn yellow time is set at 3 seconds (with a variety of an 'all red" timing cycle)... But we'll wait and see what the report will say.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    Thanks for the detailed response.

    OK, so assuming that this all happened recently, and while it maybe true that the sun hasn't fully set at 8:00pm, it is still fairly dark one need not be directly in front of a traffic light to see what color/phase it is showing.

    >> I looked up the ticket again and saw the exact time was 19:29. And it was very bright as the sun sets around 8:30 - 8:45 around this time of the year.

    I will wait for the engineering/traffic report and might also request the discovery to get the relevant details. Is their anything I need to be aware of or use as a defense in my case?

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    Default Re: Red Light Violation Feedback Needed

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    >> I looked up the ticket again and saw the exact time was 19:29. And it was very bright as the sun sets around 8:30 - 8:45 around this time of the year.
    OK, so go back to the location (if you're close by) an hour or so before sunset, use the cross walk to get over to where the dirt patch/traffic light is erected/that train station symbol is (close to the top of the picture) and take a look at whether you can determine which phase the traffic light is in by looking in the general direction of the exit from the shopping center. That is assuming this was close to the location where he will testify he was.

    Also, let me make one more comment regarding the length of your presentation and/or testimony during a trial. Typically, the court's time is extremely limited by virtue of the number of cases scheduled on calendar each and every day. That would suggest that if you have a long statement to make, the judge will likely find it necessary to cut you off and say "OK, I've heard enough"... Now, whether you've made your point at that point or not, who knows... So it would be in your best interest to be brief, concise and to the point.

    Quote Quoting bpat
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    Is their anything I need to be aware of or use as a defense in my case?
    If you can determine with any certainty the officer's location at the time you crossed the limit line, that will, more likely than not, be the one single way for you to attempt to raise any doubt as to his ability to determine with any certainty whether a violation was committed or not. if he happened to state an exact location in his notes, that might be a good start; if he didn't then you will likely hear him claim a good vantage point from his location.

    You might find a possible argument through a review of the engineering report in the way the traffic signal is set up, but for now, that is a shot in the dark and I would expect everything to be legit until it can be determined that it is not!

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