Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    I'm asking about a speeding ticket in the state of Washington.

    In early March, I received a speeding ticket. I was driving 32 in a school zone of 20 mph. The objections I have with this ticket are these:

    1) I believe there was a city bus blocking the school zone sign. I drove past this location the next day and observed three regular speed limit signs all for 35 mph along this road (greenwood ave n., seattle). Then, about 200 feet after the third sign, I saw the school zone sign, which I did NOT see on the day in question. I observed two things: 1) the school zone sign is just after a bus stop, and if a bus were stopped at that location, I think it would be easy to miss the sign, which is a hazardous situation acually. 2) the school zone sign is only about 200 feet (I'm totally estimating this because I don't have a good sense of distances) after the previous sign of 35 mph. It doesn't seem fair to have speed limit signs posted so close together. Too easy to see one and not the other...but I don't know if there are any rules regarding this.

    2) The other problem I have is the officer noted the approximate address of the citation as 13000 Greenwood Ave N. After driving along this route again, I noticed that the cross street, 130th, is outside the school zone. There is a clear sign marking the end of the school zone before 130th. Would I have a case for dismissal based on this fact?

    I'm wondering if photos of these facts would be helpful and admissible at my contested hearing?

    I'm also wondering if I should bother with a pre-trial conference. I don't really have the time to go down town twice. I don't want to waive my right to a deferral. This ticket falls in the jurisdiction of Municipal Court of Seattle. Do you know the rules regarding deferrals and pre-trial conferences in Seattle?

    I received my notice for a pre-hearing conference already and I need to respond ASAP not to miss my 10 day window. I appreciate your swift reply!

    By the way, the date of the pre-trial conference is set outside the 45 days required by IRLJ 2.6. Should I or can I move for dismissal based on this fact? Would I do that at the pre-trial conference? Or do I waive the conference and then move for dismissal at the real trial (which doesn't make sense).

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    By the way, I should add that when I returned my citation requesting a contested hearing, I also included a letter requesting the hearing on certain days and times of the week to accomodate my work schedule. It seems like the court granted my request by scheduling the pre-hearing conference at a convenient time for me. Would I be looking a gift horse in the mouth if I came back at them with a motion for a speedy trial if they were in fact trying to accomodate my request? Could this backfire on me? What does a motion for a speedy trial really do? Do I really want a speedier trial? I'm not sure because I'd prefer to have time to prepare, but if filing such a motion would insure my being able to get the case dismissed....

    Thanks again!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,383

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    I would say that you should probably just leave the pre-hearing conference on the date that its at. Especially if you know you don't have to work on that date. Go to it. I don't know exactly what happens at pre-trial conferences is Seattle Muni, but you should probably be prepared to argue your case. How far away is the date? File for Discovery ASAP.

    If you don't get your discovery back by pre-trial, motion for dismissal if you have to argue your case. As I understand it, some pre-trials and trials are set on the same day.

    Bring up the fact that 13000 Greenwood is outside of a school zone. It's a medium defense. Probably would hold if you are able to argue that the ticket says it's where the officer says you committed the infraction. The ticket says "DID THEN AND THERE COMMIT THE FOLLOWING OFFENSES." So a prosecution's argument that it happened within a school zone wouldn't be so strong if you pointed out that it is outside of the school zone. The ticket says you committed the infraction at that spot, not that you were cited at that spot. Although Barry might have an opposing view to this. What are your thoughts, Barry?

    Brendan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    Thanks Brendan,

    The pre-trial Conference is April 30, so I have some time to prepare. I was worried about not passing up the 10 day period to request a speedy trial if that seemed legitimate. If my trial is for the same day, shouldn't the court be obligated to tell me that? My fear would be that I may request discovery for the pre-trial, not get it, and then try to get the case dismissed, but the judge would say, "well this isn't your real trial so we'll just schedule your real trial and you'll probably get your discovery by then." Then also, I'll have to go to court twice, which I'd rather not do. Should I just waive the pre-trial? Does it benefit me to go?

    What are your thoughts (or Barry's) on getting pictures of the sign locations?

    Thanks!

    An update: I spoke with the court clerk for Seattle Municipality. She said the trial would not be on the same day as the pre-hearing settlement. The pre-hearing settlement conference would be with a magistrate and if I disagreed with his/her decision, I could request a real trial which would be on a later date. The clerk also said that the prosecuting attorney would not be involved at this point so if I want to request discovery I should direct it to the court directly.

    As I see it, the only benefit of the pre-trial is to be able to "try out my argument" more than once, which could be good...though if I request discovery this early and get it, I cannot argue for dismissal later on persuant to IRLJ 3.1.

    I'm also not clear whether all the same court rules apply to pre-hearing settlements since it is not considered a trial, as the clerk told me. Should I call the clerk again and ask that question?

    Does anyone have experience with Seattle Municipal courts directly?

    Thanks again!

  4. #4

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    I have some experience in this matter. (not a lawyer, as a defendant)

    At The Pre-Trial hearing they will read the officer's statement (back of the ticket) into the record. No officer or prosecutor will be present. If you cannot get it dismissed, the back of the ticket is now in the court record.

    Going directly to trial leaves open some doors that get closed during the Pre-Trial. I have seen it argued that the officer must recollect the incident before the ticket can be read into the record. So in order for this to work, the officer must be present. You can make a request to go directly to trial. If you subpoena the officer for the trial, he must show up or it's an automatic dismissal. On my day in court 4 of 8 cases requesting officer present were dismissed because the officer did not show. Unfortunately mine showed up.

    In another courtroom long before this, I saw attorney Jeannie Mucklestone successfully argue that the officer had to recollect the incident to admit the written portion of the ticket into the record. The case was City v Chaudry on June 12, 2000. Judge Fred Yates (Bellevue District Court) told the officer to tell his Sergeant that the officers need to recollect the case.

    Chaudry's case was dismissed because the officer could not remember. I recognized the ruling as important but by the time I needed to use it, (4 years later) I could no longer get the transcript.

    I’m not sure if the argument is still valid however since it is 10 years old and new evidence laws may have been passed.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    make a public records request for the channelization drawings for the location in question. maybe thus may show that the sign is outside the location. not sure if the judge would allow it admissable but worth a try. just my 2 cents. i'm no lawyer

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    Thanks to previous two posters for suggestions about whether to go to pre-trial or not. Especially knowing that the officer's statement will be read into the record at the pre-trial...might make a difference.

    What I'm wondering is whether the same rules apply in a pre-trial. That is, can I make movements for supression or dismissal of the sworn statement at a pre-trial? (Haven't requested discovery yet, so not sure if I'll have grounds for this, but I want to know if it's an option.) If anyone is familiar, especially with Seattle Muni, I'd really like to hear from you too.

    Second: I have gathered pictures of the school zone sign and I'd like to post them to get thoughts on whether I have a case that the school zone sign is not appropriately visible (see photos below). The school zone sign is obstructed by a (albeit thin) tree, a street sign and a lot of other structures near it.


    Also, on the day and time in question, I have a strong suspicion a bus was at the bus stop right next to it and blocking the sign completely. I checked the bus schedule and it checks out, give or take 5 minutes. Would this hold up in court? That is, is not seeing the sign a defense?.


    Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the End School Zone sign, so I'll have to go back and take care of that. Regarding this, the previous poster suggested a channelization request? Can you tell me more about that? How would I make the request? Who would I make it to? Should it be included in my discovery request?

    Thanks for any additional help on this!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    3,577

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    The law you'll need to cite is RCW 46.61.050 (2), which states:

    Quote Quoting RCW 46.61.050
    (2) No provision of this chapter for which official traffic control devices are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official device is not in proper position and sufficiently legible or visible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. Whenever a particular section does not state that official traffic control devices are required, such section shall be effective even though no devices are erected or in place.

    Your argument is that since it is NOT POSSIBLE to see the school zone sign when a bus has stopped in the position shown in your third photo, and since the law REQUIRES you to yield the right-of-way to a bus, that when you are approaching one that is stopped, the BUS is your primary focus. If the bus starts to pull out (as can be seen in the first photo), and you move left to yield to it, it would completely block your view of the school zone sign the ENTIRE time.

    The only problem I see is that there are HUGE crosswalk signs directly OVER the crosswalk. Be ready to point out that this is a crosswalk with a crossing light (NOT a flashing light). Since you were only going 32 in a 35 zone, you were, obviously aware of THAT light and would have been ready to stop the moment it turned YELLOW. BTW, I have a crosswalk and light just down the road from me that is NOT part of a school zone.

    Oh, and you will probably NOT get to "try out" your argument at the pre-hearing conference. If it's like others that I've seen, it's basically just a chance to take a deferral or possibly mitigate. I've never seen the officer's statement read into the record at one. A contested hearing will be scheduled if you refuse those options.

    Since the prosecution is obliged to send you your discovery materials seven days before your "contested" hearing, NOT the pre-hearing conference, you should not move for dismissal if you haven't received it.

    Barry

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: What Approach Should I Take for Speeding in a School Zone

    Thank you Barry! That helps a lot!

    I think I'll waive the pre-trial conference because there seem to be too many uknowns and I don't want to waste my time going down town twice.

    I'm concerned about the best way to argue my case. I don't think I can argue both of them together, but what do you think? I think I have two options:

    1) To claim the infraction was given outside the school zone (but just barely...I'm talking 100 feet or so: see my original post).

    2) To claim the school zone sign was not visible as shown in the pictures.

    At the moment, I feel the second argument is stronger. If I fail with one argument, I can't really pick up the second one can I? Because admitting to one automatically negates the other it would seem.

    Oh by the way, do you know anything about channelization drawings that "dwa" posted?

    Thanks to everyone!

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Speeding Tickets: Ticketed for Speeding in a School Zone but No School Zone is Present Within One Mile
    By aleeweb in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-02-2011, 02:22 PM
  2. Speeding Tickets: School Zone Speeding Ticket Where the School is 7/10ths of a Mile from the Sign
    By Philip Ferguson in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-08-2011, 09:21 PM
  3. Speeding Tickets: School Zone 9 Blocks from School, Speeding and Mistaken Cell Phone Ticket
    By BrianWitt in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-28-2010, 12:05 PM
  4. Speeding Tickets: School Zone Speeding Ticket in Washington, with No School
    By aquanaut38 in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-24-2007, 09:59 AM
  5. Speeding Tickets: School Zone Ticket Issued After Leaving The Zone Without Speeding
    By Trying to be Lawful in forum Moving Violations, Parking and Traffic Tickets
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-17-2007, 06:32 PM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources