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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Seattle, WA
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    2

    Default Reckless Driving/Racing Ticket in Washington State

    On Feb. 25, 2006, I received a ticket for reckless driving/racing. I was doing neither (in my opinion).

    I was traveling south-bound on I-5 on my way to Portland to visit a friend. I had my boyfriend and my friend's boyfriend in the car with me. In an attempt to make good time, I decided to follow a brand new Acura RSX who was cutting lanes in the traffic while testing the abilities of his new car. Along the way, another brand new car decided to race the RSX. As they continued to cut lanes through the traffic, I continued to follow them. They began driving recklessly (passing on the shoulder, cutting drivers off), which I was unwilling to do in an attempt to keep up. Instead, I would simply wait for a lane to open up and was able to keep up with them without driving dangerously.

    The two new cars got caught up in traffic and I ended up passing them somehow. It was then that I noticed a black SUV racing closely after the Acura. I assumed that it was road rage and got over into a right-hand lane in an attempt to distance myself from the situation. They passed me and shortly after, the Acura exited and the SUV returned to normal driving. The other new car (I believe to be a Chevy Cobalt) was still on the road and still cutting lanes through traffic, so I continued to follow that driver. I planned to follow her through the traffic until we got away from "the pack", at which point I would go about my driving as usual.

    We were able to separate ourselves from the pack, at which point I slowed to the legal speed limit and got out of the left-hand passing lane. The other car (Chevy) continued on speeding down the road. A lane of traffic was merging onto the freeway to the right. I soon noticed a newer gray Impala with tinted windows pacing me, approximately one car length behind, in the passing lane. This car then took off traveling down the road quite quickly and pulled over the Chevy, which was at least three dozen car lengths ahead of me at that point.

    Soon after passing them on the side of the road, I noticed what looked like a state trooper headed north-bound across the median. He then took advantage of a turn around point in the median, flipped on his siren and lights and came straight for me. I immediately pulled over. He asked for my license and upon returning to the car, asked me to step out of the car. My read me my rights and asked me to tell him how fast I had been going (gave me the impression that if I lied, he'd place me in cuffs and take me in). Scared, I said "I don't know. I think I might have hit 110mph at one point." He replied, "Well, I was pacing you at 95mph." I knew this was impossible, but having never been in trouble before, I wasn't about to argue the point.

    He then asked my passengers if they had valid driver's licenses. They both did. He asked my boyfriend to get into the driver's seat, then told me to get in to the front passenger's seat. He told me not to drive for the rest of the evening, but sent us on our way.

    Neither police officer saw any behaviour that would warrant a ticket like this. It is my belief that the SUV driver (or perhaps another) called in the plates of the three cars and mine was included simply because I was following them.

    I have a court date on Wed., March 8th (this Wed.). It is a criminal violation that I was cited for. I am in the process of contacting a lawyer.

    What are the general odds of me getting convicted of these crimes? I do not feel that my driving warranted either ticket and I am shocked that they can issue such a severe ticket based solely on the account of another driver on the road.

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for your consideration!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: Reckless Driving/Racing Ticket in Washington State

    Quote Quoting Athena
    Scared, I said "I don't know. I think I might have hit 110mph at one point." He replied, "Well, I was pacing you at 95mph." I knew this was impossible, but having never been in trouble before, I wasn't about to argue the point.
    What's to argue, when he gave you a 15 MPH break from the top speed you told him that you were going?

    Quote Quoting Athena
    What are the general odds of me getting convicted of these crimes?
    I'm not clear on what you were ticketed for - reckless driving, perhaps? From what you describe of your driving conduct, that charge would not surprise me. You may be able to negotiate a deal to a non-criminal offense. You may wish to consult a criminal defense lawyer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Reckless Driving/Racing Ticket in Washington State

    Quote Quoting aaron
    Quote Quoting Athena
    Scared, I said "I don't know. I think I might have hit 110mph at one point." He replied, "Well, I was pacing you at 95mph." I knew this was impossible, but having never been in trouble before, I wasn't about to argue the point.
    What's to argue, when he gave you a 15 MPH break from the top speed you told him that you were going?

    Quote Quoting Athena
    What are the general odds of me getting convicted of these crimes?
    I'm not clear on what you were ticketed for - reckless driving, perhaps? From what you describe of your driving conduct, that charge would not surprise me. You may be able to negotiate a deal to a non-criminal offense. You may wish to consult a criminal defense lawyer.
    Speeding, sure. Was I speeding? Yes. At no point did I hit 110mph. I threw that number out because I had been placed under arrest and I was afraid that if I gave him a speed below what he was told by whoever called in, I would be taken away. Not my brightest moment, I admit. However, I know for a fact that he could not have been pacing me at 95mph. I had been going the legal speed limit (70mph) for quite some time before I saw the officer, which had been traveling in the opposite direction when he made a u-turn.

    I just can't believe that they can issue such a heinous ticket without witnessing such behaviour themselves.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate your feedback.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Poor you

    I'm no lawyer but I think you put yourself in a terribly bad spot. You can go to court and say you were lying to the police officer or you can tell your story and sound as though you're lying to the court. I don't see how you could possibly prevail.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    174

    Default

    I think this one would be tough... for the Prosecutor!!

    All his witnesses would have to be present in court, including the observing citizen, or else their comments (as stated by the officer) will be "Hearsay" and not admitted.

    Info on "Pacing" here: http://www.tipmra.com/kgb/WEB/tipmra5.htm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default

    Self-incriminating statements to a police officer, admitting to speeding, are admissible both as statements against interest and as admissions by a party opponent. (I cite to the Federal rules, but I am not aware of any U.S. jurisdiction which does not utilize equivalent rules.)

  7. #7

    Default

    You can see what the cop has on the incident - request discovery and see what he has on you. In the officers' notes, he might have indicated such incriminating statements. You can then tailor the defense based on this.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default

    Keeping in mind that I am not an attorney, I have a few comments. First, I assume the court date tomorrow is your arraignment, since reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor. The officer(s) will probably not be there. However, you could take the opportunity to talk with the prosecutor before the arraignment begins.

    Explain your position that you were just "following". The prosecutor may allow you to plead to "speeding" and drop the "racing" and "reckless". Racing connotes some form of competition. If you were content to follow, you obviously weren't competing.

    BTW, a complaint from another driver is not grounds for the issuance of a citation, however, observation by another officer is. Check RCW 46.63.030 (1).

    The best advice, though, is to get a good attorney. Remember, you could be facing up to a year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, plus, if convicted, your license WILL be suspended for a minimum of 30 days.

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