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  1. #1
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    Feb 2019
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    Default Contesting a VC 22350 Ticket by Trial by Written Declaration

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

    Hello experts, I received a 22350 (Unsafe Speed) ticket last night in a city within Los Angeles County and I am planning to contest this and plead not guilty through a trial by written declaration. I will not be getting a lawyer (a friend suggested I use TicketClinic but I don't want to pay them $200 if I can help it.) Could you please have a look at my incident overview, my evidence so far, and my plan for contesting via a trial by written declaration and let me know your thoughts and recommendations? Much appreciated!

    Overview of citation incident:
    • At a little past 11:00pm on 25 February 2019, I was pulled over by a police officer for 22350 V.C. Unsafe Speed. Officer’s verbal statements and the citation stated I was going approx. 47 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. ‘Laser’ checkbox was ticked, suggesting the Officer used a laser to measure my speed. Citation also shows LT (light) traffic, CLR (clear) weather, DRY street, DARK light, and BUS zone.
    • The officer did not show me his laser/radar gun with the alleged 47 MPH reading.
    • In my dash cam (I have front and rear footage captured), audio can be heard in which the Officer specifically identifies the stretch of road between the [210] freeway and Huntington Drive (see map below).
    • This is my first speeding ticket and I am planning to contest this ticket and plead not guilty through a written trial by declaration.


    My plan to contest this citation and my request for your advice:
    • I am planning to contest this ticket with an aim to prove I was not driving at an “Unsafe Speed under the prevailing conditions”. I am also considering whether I should use a “Speed Trap” defense.
    • My current evidence (whether it will help or hurt my case, I defer to your expertise) includes my dash cam footage. This footage and the timestamp shows that my average speed on the stretch of road identified by the officer (which is 0.31 miles) was 39.8 MPH. (Note, the footage shows a Speed Limit sign of 35 MPH, but I am not sure if this will affect my defense at all).
    • Additionally, the video footage from my dash cam shows that the road was nearly empty with VERY light traffic, no pedestrians or buses, no obstructions and I always kept a safe distance between the car in front of me (which were very far away anyways). I traveled in a straight line on the same lane throughout the entire time and it was green light for me all the way. Please see a summary map/timeline I have provided at the end of this post.
    • I am planning to request an Engineering and Traffic Survey from the city to determine whether I have a case for a “Speed Trap” defense.
    • I am also planning to use the video and audio evidence (perhaps image screenshots in my written trial by declaration) to show that I was not in violation of 22350 which cites me for “Unsafe Speed” rather than specifically citing me for going over the speed limit.
    • I am also planning to submit an Informal Discovery Request to the Police Department to obtain the Officer’s copy of the citation and his notes on the backside, as well as any witnesses, dash cam footage from his vehicle, etc.
    • Question: Do you think I have a solid case for a defense? Are there any weaknesses in my case? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for me to strengthen my case?
    • Question: Should I use the evidence from my dash cam including pasting a few images into my written trial by declaration (see images below)?
    • Question: Do you have any doubts about the Officer’s claim that he used laser to clock in my speed at 47 MPH on the specific stretch of road, and since his police lights did not turn on until 35 seconds after I passed the stretch of road? My rear dash cam also shows that the Officer’s vehicle was far behind me from the beginning – does this suggest he might have not used a laser and/or he drove at an even more unsafe speed to catch up to me?
    • Question: Should I still pursue an Engineering and Traffic Survey for a “Speed Trap” defense?


    Timeline of incident as supported by my dash cam footage
    • 23:04:00 – I turned right from Central Avenue (after exiting the 210 W freeway) onto Myrtle Avenue traveling northbound (captured from front dash cam)
    • 23:04:28 –I reached the intersection of Huntington Drive and Myrtle Avenue (captured from front dash cam). Note: Distance between the 210 freeway and Huntington Drive: 0.31 miles. Time traveled: 28 seconds. Average MPH on the stretch of the road: 39.8.
    • 23:05:03 – Officer’s police lights turns on (captured by rear dash cam). Note: 35 seconds elapsed between me passing the stretch of road between the stretch of the road specifically identified by the Officer and the officer’s vehicle police lights turning on. My rear dash cam also shows that the Officer was initially very far behind me and had to catch up.
    • 23:06:28 – After we were pulled over on the side of a street, Officer’s voice was captured on dash cam specifically referencing the stretch of road between the freeway (210) and Huntington Drive.



    Road conditions as shown in dashcam (my video/image evidence)
    The conditions on Myrtle Ave between the 210 freeway and Huntington Drive was dry, clear, dark with VERY light traffic and the footage from my front dash cam supports this.

    • Immediately after entering Myrtle Avenue from freeway exit (Note: the 35 speed limit sight can clearly be seen on the right hand side of image: not sure if this will affect my defense argument?)

    • 14 seconds after I began traveling on Myrtle Avenue towards Huntington Drive (halfway into the stretch of road specifically mentioned by the Officer)

    • 28 seconds after I traveled on Myrtle Avenue and reached the intersection with Huntington Drive


    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    Let's talk about a couple of things.

    The California Vehicle Code establishes the maximum speed limits for different types of roads. However, it also allows local jurisdictions to raise or lower those speed limits when justified. Because in the past, some jurisdictions artificaly (and improperly) lowered speed limits to generate revenue from traffic citations, the law also requires that a traffic and engineering study be completed when such modification is made, determining what speed is reasonable and proper for the stretch of highway in question. As a result, when someone exceeds the speed limit on such a roadway, they are not cited for excess speed, but for unsafe speed as the have exceeded the speed that has already been determined to be safe by the traffic and engineering study. That's the case here.

    My whole point here is, it doesn't matter how clear your video shows the road to be and it doesn't matter of the officer testifoed that there wasn't another car or pedestrian around. It is the study and not the officer that has determined what speed is unsafe. To succeed in your defense, you will need to attack the study's determination as to what speed is safe, and to do that you will need to hire your own traffic engineer to conduct an independent study that challenges the existing one.

    Now, let's talk about using your video to determine your speed. If I understand it, you wish to use your video to measure the time it took to travel between two fixed points and extrapolate your speed from that. If you read the many different descriptions of what constitutes a speed trap, you will find that determining speed by measuring the time it takes to travel between two fixed points is a speed trap and that no evidence of that nature shall be admitted in court. If the police are prohibited from doing so, I suspect the court will frown on your attempt as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    Hold back on "hiring your own traffic engineer" . This is what you really should do:

    1) Obtain traffic and engineering study (TES) for that section of the road and check if it indeed justifies the posted speed limit. You can try getting it from the city, but you should also file an informal discovery request (IDR) with the PD that cited you. If the study cannot be located/produced, if it was conducted more than 7 years ago (up to 10 if certified as to no intervening changes) or if it doesn't justify the posted speed limit, you have ample grounds for the case to be dismissed;

    2) In the aforementioned IDR, also ask for officer's notes, the brand and model of LIDAR used, its lab certification records AND accuracy checking records;

    3) Even if the study does justify the speed limit, you can argue that the speed was still safe for conditions, pointing out LT (light) traffic, CLR (clear) weather, DRY street. As these things are also corroborated by officer's notes (i.e., officer's testimony), I don't think the dashcam footage is neccessary.

    Check back here once you get the TES and/or his notes, and we'll see what to do next. You should definitely fight this.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    My comments about hiring your own traffic engineer were somewhat tongue in cheek. The cost to do so would far exceed the amount of your fine and the increase in your insurance were you to be convicted. As the rules of engineering are fairly standard, I have no doubt another engineer would come to the same conclusions as the first one, leaving you with no defense.

    My whole point here is that the determination as to what is a safe speed was based on considerable expertise and training in roadway and traffic engineering and is based on more than, "gee, it looked safe." Read the study when you get it. You will see it takes into consideration many factors such as surface compositiuonm, width, crosswalks, presence of businesses, schoole, alleys, or other things that could pose hazards, It is impossible to create a speed limit that varies with the time of day, the amount of light out, when businessses are open or closed, so one "safe speed" is determined.

    If the judge allows your defense because there are no cars on the road, it opens the door to every other excuse, negating the purpose of the law or the engineering survey. Don't be surprised if the judge sticks with the survey speed as being the rule here, no matter how impassioned your plea is.

    I would look elsewhere for your defense, such as the officer's notes or whether the survey is out of date.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2019
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    3

    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    L-1 and zeljo - thank you both for your comments and advice. I will proceed with submitting a IDR for TES as well as the officer's notes, brand/model of lidar, lab certification and accuracy checking records. Once I have obtained these materials, I will come back here for further advice and recommendations from you all!

    Thanks!!

  6. #6
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    Feb 2019
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    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    Hi all,

    I have received the TES report and it confirms the 35 MPH speed limit sign. I have requested but have not received the officer's copy of the ticket with his notes, or any lab / accuracy records for the laser used, etc.

    How should I go about contesting this ticket now? Should I simply write in my written declaration that I do not believe I was driving at an unsafe speed, the road was dry, empty, no obstructions, clear, etc. (which I expect all to be confirmed by the officer's notes)?

    Thanks in advance!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    Quote Quoting Ct1382
    View Post
    Hi all,

    I have received the TES report and it confirms the 35 MPH speed limit sign.

    How should I go about contesting this ticket now? Should I simply write in my written declaration that I do not believe I was driving at an unsafe speed, the road was dry, empty, no obstructions, clear, etc. (which I expect all to be confirmed by the officer's notes)?
    All I can think of to say is,

    "Your honor, I was traveling in excess of the posted speed limit. I have reviewed the Traffic and Engineering study prepared for this stretch of road and I see where it establishes that traveling above the posted speed limit has been deemed unsafe by a traffic engineer. Nonetheless, I do not want to be guilty, so I stand before you asking that contrary to the law an common sense, you find me innocent."

    It is rare that people are refreshingly honest with judges in traffic court. You never know, it just might work.

    Seriously though, I stand by my previous remarks. In this case, for the purposes of CVC 22350, what is an unsafe speed is not determined by you or the officer. It is determined by the traffic and engineering study and all the factors that went into it such as road grade, curvature, composition, special risks and hazards, etc. You have to successfully challenge the validity of the study to win this one.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    289

    Default Re: Request for Advice: Contesting a 22350 for Going 47 in a 35 (Trial by Written Dec

    What's the date TES was done? Can you upload the relevant part, where it discusses the prevailing speed and why speed limit is set to 35mph?

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