My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California
I was recently issued a citation for following too closely and the situation leading up to the citation was highly unusual and I believe the citation was simply issued to me as the officer was angry and frustrated and wanted to issue some sort of citation to appease his anger. Having been somewhat involved in law enforcement myself in the past, the one thing I am aware of is the need to write a narrative as soon as possible after the incident in case the issue goes to court, and this is something I did, and I signed and dated it as well. I am also aware that the courts generally rule against the plaintiff in traffic cases as they assume the officer is the expert and will not lie, however we all know this is not always the case, so I am wondering if you might provide an opinion on the chances I'd have of winning by submitting my narrative as a part of a trial by written declaration.
The citation notes that I was traveling at 40 MPH and here is the narrative:
I was driving in the number 3 lane in light traffic with vehicles to the left, right and behind me, traveling approximately 65 mph. I observed a California Highway Patrol cruiser enter the freeway from the right approximately 800 feet in front of me with it's emergency lights on. It began crossing back and forth across the lanes. I've seen them do this before so I know they were slowing down traffic, and I and the vehicles to the left, right and behind me followed at a distance of approximately 500 feet. I then noticed 3 or 4 vehicles exited to the right and once there was a cement median between their exit lane and the freeway, instead of exiting, they continued in the "through traffic OK" lane past us and then re-entered the freeway approximately 500 feet ahead of the patrol car. I can't speak for the officers involved, but knowing that they are trained to be aware of what is going on in a situation, I have to believe they also noticed what these vehicles did. We continued to follow the cruiser for about 1/2 mile as it continually decelerated until we were traveling less than 5 mph, at which point I saw the reason for the action, to let a Caltrans truck safely cross the freeway. We continued at 5 mph or less with the patrol cruiser maintaining the traffic break action and I saw the Caltrans vehicles proceed down the carpool lane with the rear vehicle displaying a flashing keep right indicator as they began retrieving emergency cones that had been placed between the carpool lane and number 1 lane.
At this point I've changed to the number 4 lane and we are continuing to follow the patrol cruiser at a safe distance and traveling less than 5 mph when it then makes a right and pulls off of the freeway, over the right median and into the off/on ramp. Having seen this before as well, it is my understanding from past experience this is the indicator that it is OK to proceed, so I and the vehicles to either side of me begin to accelerate intending to continue on our way. Once I've reached a speed of approximately 10 mph, I observe the patrol cruiser jump in behind me and it turns on its lights and siren. I pull immediately into the right median to clear his path thinking he is taking off on a call. Then the patrol car passes me, uses his car to force me all the way to the right and to stop, then makes a large u-turn to the left across the lanes of oncoming traffic and stops with his vehicle across the number 3 and two lanes. The officer driving gets out of the car, and facing the cars on the freeway puts his hand up and yells at them to stop.
At this point he then walks over to my car and I can see from the expression on his face and his mannerisms he is very emotional and angry. He begins yelling at me, asking me what I am doing. Being confused I tell him I thought his action of pulling off to the right indicated it was safe to proceed. He doesn't let me finish continues to yell at me as I am trying to answer his question, saying I am endangering the lives of everyone on the freeway and asking me didn't I know what he was doing by pulling off the freeway. I apologize and again attempt to tell him I thought his action of pulling off the freeway was an indicator it was safe to proceed as that has been my experience in the past with this sort of action, and he yells no, I was trying to prevent some vehicles from entering the freeway. I don't say anything in response but think to myself how is it possible for me to know that? He is visibly angry and continues to berate me as I once again attempt to explain my actions, and as I am doing so I look at his partner who has exited the vehicle, and he is observing what is going on with a body expression that indicated to me he was not necessarily in agreement, head bowed down slightly, standing relaxed with his shoulders forward.
The office then asks me for my driver's license, never verbally indicates what alleged infraction I had committed, then walks back to his cruiser and spends about 5 to 8 minutes there. The entire time the officers have the freeway blocked and at some point I hear him ask his partner the number of so and so infraction. He returns, still doesn't tell me what infraction I've allegedly committed, and tells me to sign the notice to appear, and I comply without question as I wish to say nothing further to rile him up any more than he already is.
He returns to the vehicle and he and his partner enter, he then comes over the loud speaker and tells everyone to stay 300 feet behind his cruiser when they depart if they don't want to get what I got. He then turns off his lights and proceeds down the freeway, and I and the vehicles next to me, all having been given a good scare by this officer, stay in excess of 300 feet behind him. Even though we are no longer required to remain 300 feet behind since his emergency lights are no longer flashing, nobody dares get any closer due to his threat.
Thank you in advance for your opinion on this matter.