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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    Default Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Washington, Whitman County District Court in Pullman, WA. Presiding Judge would be John Hart.

    I read Barry's sticky thread on this topic, but WA state prosecution has updated their boilerplate forms (both infraction and officer's SMD affidavit) to fix many, if not all of the loopholes mentioned in the sticky. Out of naivety and taking friends' advise, I subpoenaed the ticketing officer. After researching online, I found out that it's a bad idea. Too late, the subpoena has already taken flight from the court clerk's office. I'm now lost on how to defend my case during the contested hearing. Please help.

    My story goes like this:
    Had a car problem with transmission mount and serpentine belt tensioner. Makes a high-pitched screeching noise when driving between speeds 20-70. To avoid producing much noise, I instinctively started driving lower than 20 in cities and higher than 70 on highways. Until one day, WA state trooper tickets me for going 71 on a 55 highway (SR 270). I've been driving for 3+ years and this is my first ticket and I want to get rid of it. Contesting the hearing to keep the ticket off my driving record. However, can't find any major loopholes. Some minor ones: a) officer's SMD affidavit states weather was clear but in fact it was overcast (can show proof from weather websites), b) officer noted my car is red color but in fact it is maroon; and c) the officer ticketed me for 190$ whereas IRLJ 6.2 clearly states that the max charge for 16 above limit (in 40+ category) is 78$. Served/filed for discovery. Also, going to observe the court and the judge on Oct 15th to get to know the environment.

    At this point, if discovery is delivered in time and if the officer shows up, I'm thinking of going for a 'necessity defense'. That is, try to argue that I sped to avoid harm to myself and others. Another nooby mistake I committed was telling the officer at the time of citing that I was sorry for speeding and it was because I had car problems. I offered to show the noise problem to the officer but he didn't care. However, he didn't record the convo on the SMD affidavit either. So if the officer does show up, I gonna cross exam him and try to get him to recall the convo, which I could use a witness for my necessity due to car problems defense. I have receipts for transmission mount repair and serpentine belt repair which could also be evidence of my defense.

    Idea #1 - I asked the Court Clerk for SMD certification and they said it's online. I did find it online and everything's up to date regarding certification. However, if discovery doesn't provide me with the SMD certification (I did not ask for it), can I informally ask the prosecution to show SMD certification proof during my trial? If they fail to show or ask for a continuance, can I move to dismiss? What if they ask for continuance and the judge grants it?

    Idea #2 (very bad idea) - Attack officer's ability to discern and record info due to the minor mistakes he committed with filing the infraction, as given above. Attack him further by asking him to repeat the RADAR calibration process and if he fails to or makes mistake in repeating, argue that the officer lied on a sworn statement and move to disregard the affidavit as inaccurate. I don't want to do this, but if this has a good chance of getting me out clean...maybe?

    Any other ideas or suggestions? Maybe tips on how I could prove prejudice? Am I not seeing something? I have a feeling that I'll lose my case, best might be reduced ticket fees. The hearing is in 3 weeks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    7,652

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    You've shot yourself in the foot pretty thoroughly. There is no necessity defense here. If your car was in such poor shape that you had to speed to avoid harm to yourself or others, the proper course of action is to get it fixed before taking it out on the road. The officer will testify regarding your statements during the stop, further torpedoing your case.

    None of your minor things are going to get you anywhere. The weather and color of your car are to an extent subjective, especially when neither is a factor in your infraction. The $190 likely includes court costs and other add-ons above the legally mandated $78.

    Your best bet, since you subpoenaed the officer, is to try speaking to the prosecutor before trial to see if they are willing to cut a deal with you to amend it to something non-moving. Bringing proof you fixed the car would probably help your case.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    11

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    Quote Quoting free9man
    View Post
    If your car was in such poor shape that you had to speed to avoid harm to yourself or others, the proper course of action is to get it fixed before taking it out on the road. The officer will testify regarding your statements during the stop, further torpedoing your case.
    Can I perhaps word it so that it sounds like the problem arose while I was driving and that I read about such problems online and knew what to do in this case? I doubt the officer will remember my statements word to word.

    Does Whitman County's prosecutor do pre-trial deals? Whom should I contact about that?

    Thanks for taking time in providing your insight.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,425

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    Quote Quoting ticketnoob
    View Post
    Can I perhaps word it so that it sounds like the problem arose while I was driving and that I read about such problems online and knew what to do in this case? I doubt the officer will remember my statements word to word.
    Two things. First, this tells me you are willing to lie to try to avoid the ticket. Not a good look regarding your personal integrity. It is also the crime of perjury. I do not recommend this approach.

    Second, it wouldn't help you. There is still no necessity defense. That noise simply make your car irritating to drive at most speeds. If it truly made your car dangerous to drive at those speeds, the remedy is not to speed to make the noise go away (which may not end up making the car safer, btw). Driving over the speed limit is also considered unsafe. If you cannot operate the car safely at within the posted speed limit your remedy is to pull over and get the car towed to have it repaired.

    You were speeding. You may have to suck it up and take the penalty for your violation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    826

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    For required items on a ticket, look at IRLJ 2.1. The little things won’t matter nor will the necessity defense. For the correct fine, you need to look at the Washington State Bail Schedule which includes all fees. On page 52, “SPEEDING 16 MPH OVER LIMIT (OVER 40)” is listed as $187.

    If you want to observe the court, be sure to go when attorneys representing infraction cases are present. If you attend a session only with defendants representing themselves, you won’t learn anything about technical defenses involving the calibration certificate, or the officer’s sworn statement you will receive with discovery. If you want help reviewing discovery, upload digital photos or scans (with your personal id and citation number redacted) to any free image hosting site and link them here in your thread.

    However for the most part I agree with free9man that with the officer present you will probably end up needing to make a deal or ask for a deferred finding. You can ask a clerk if a prosecutor will be present at your hearing. If so you can arrive early and speak to him/her a few minutes before.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    11

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
    View Post
    ...this tells me you are willing to lie to try to avoid the ticket...
    I would never lie in a court of law, just brainstorming hypothetical ideas for academic purposes :P
    Thanks for your insight though, appreciate it.

    Quote Quoting searcher99
    View Post
    ...If so you can arrive early and speak to him/her a few minutes before.
    I'll post the redacted discovery materials once I get them. And yes, I checked through IRLJ 2.1 required items. They're all there in my NOI form. Thanks a lot for the resourceful reply, especially the tip about bail schedule and asking clerk about prosecutor.

    Edit - I can't help but laugh out loud at that schedule. It says the penalty for going 1 mph over speed limit is $105. Good going Washington state law, good going.

    Obtained discovery in 2 days of sending the request.

    Officer's Affidavit: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1y0V...ew?usp=sharing
    Certification(?): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1exV...ew?usp=sharing
    Ticket: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Bh5...ew?usp=sharing

    The response letter from prosecutor for my discovery request also states that the prosecutor's office will not negotiate any infractions. I guess that seals my fate...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    11

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    Obtained discovery request in 2 days.

    Officer's Affidavit: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1y0V...ew?usp=sharing
    Certification(?): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1exV...ew?usp=sharing
    Ticket: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Bh5...ew?usp=sharing

    Additionally, the response letter to my discovery request says that the prosecutor will not negotiate any infractions. I guess this means that I don't have much chance for negotiating a move to non-traffic violation.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    826

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    I’m posting on behalf of ticketnoob, because for whatever reason the last few months this forum has had a problem where some new members are being cut off from posting to their own threads. Due to that issue I’m going to quote follow-up information from PM’s to me that he wants in his thread.

    Quote Quoting ticketnoob
    Hi,

    Reference: https://www.expertlaw.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=244913

    I'm not able to post on threads anymore. I keep getting "moderator needs to approve your post" notice and the moderator doesn't look like they are going to approve my posts anytime soon.

    Anyway, here's what I got in discovery:
    Certificate: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1exV...ew?usp=sharing
    Affidavit: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1y0V...ew?usp=sharing
    Ticket: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Bh5...ew?usp=sharing

    Also, the prosecutor's response letter to my discovery request states that the "Prosecutor's Office WILL NOT NEGOTIATE ANY INFRACTION, please direct any attempts for negotiation to the District Court Clerk". I'm feeling like I'm gonna be screwed pretty hard...

    Looking forward to hearing back. Thanks for your help!
    Based on what you said previously, I’m assuming you’ve gone to court today to observe, and that your hearing is at least a week from now. Have you asked a clerk whether it’s possible to rescind your subpoena of the officer? If so I would do that.

    One thing that I find interesting on the officer’s report is that he appears to state conflicting facts. In one place he states that you were “Passing a vehicle that was at 60 mph” then later states “I did not see the defendant pass any other vehicle.” Those two statements are mutually exclusive and could be used to question reliability of his sworn written statement and/or subsequent testimony, as those statements are part of his visual estimate and justification for obtaining the radar reading.

    I would make a preliminary motion to exclude or suppress the speed reading based on those conflicting statements.

    As for the radar calibration certificate, the officer simply states, “my certifications are on file with the WSP.” First they are not HIS certifications as he is not an expert, and second he is not making it easy for you to look up that certification. Washington State Patrol has a website for certificates, but the certificate cannot be found on that site by using his 6 character unit id. You would need to play around with variations of the supplied id in order to view the cert. I would make a preliminary motion to suppress or exclude the speed reading because the certificate is not available on the WSP site using the officer’s unit id.

    Furthermore it could be argued that per IRLJ 6.6(d) the cert should be filed at the court. I would check to see if a copy is indeed filed by going early to the hearing or visiting the court anytime prior. If it is not filed I would make a preliminary motion to suppress or exclude the speed reading due to noncompliance with the last sentence of IRLJ 6.6.

    Yet another issue is the penalty on your ticket—listed as $190. There is not a single offense on the entire 102 page Washington State bail schedule with a fine of $190. Your fine should be $187, and initially I thought that you were just rounding it up. IRLJ 2.1(a) states that “Notice of Infraction forms prescribed or approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts are presumed valid and shall not be deemed insufficient by reason of defects or imperfections which do not prejudice substantial rights of the defendant.” I would make a preliminary motion for dismissal arguing that the higher fine amount prejudices substantial rights.

    You should announce that you have motions immediately when your case is called, before the officer’s statement is read into the record and before you are sworn in for testimony. If any motion to suppress or exclude is granted, then move for dismissal.

    Ultimately it’s your call whether to contest or request a deferred finding and depends on how big a priority it is to keep the ticket off of your record. If you do not rescind the subpoena then of course you can move for dismissal if the officer doesn’t show. You can also ask the judge if he/she can hold your option for a deferred finding pending outcome of preliminary motions. If the judge is willing to do that then you have a free ride on the motions.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    3,283

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    @ticketnoob was likely blocked because the Google Drive links needed to be checked for a Jr. Member.

    Did you check them, searcher?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    826

    Default Re: Contesting 71 Over 55 on Washington State's SR 270

    He had a previous post which was deleted and contained no links at all. Also I’ve seen others blocked who were not posting links. Yes I checked them and my response is based on that content.

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