I got a traffic citation tonight!!

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by dlakey, Oct 30, 2003.

  1. dlakey

    dlakey New Member

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    Hello fellow bikers.

    I had a most interesting experience tonight. I was commuting home from work. It is approximately 3.6 miles from work to home. I was about a mile into my commute home at 9:30PM riding in the right half of the right hand land of a 5 lane road. I usually average about 15 mph on my commutes. Speedlimit in this area is 40mph I believe. I have reflectors on both front and back of my bike, I have a cateye headlight on and a blinking tail light. I am wearing a helment. I hear this PA come on behind me saying, "get off the road, that's what sidewalks are for." Well my first reaction is that this must be some kid who has a PA hooked up in their car. Well I look back over my shoulder and notice it is a police car. Well at this point I'm thinking what the hell? I go ahead and pull over to the sidewalk and stop thinking he is going to stop too so I can ask him what the hell. Well he takes off and goes on. Well I have read these boards enough to know that the sidewalk is not the safest place to be. I also know the laws here in arksnas enough to know that I have a right to the road. Well I go ahead and pull back out into the road and try to catch up to the officer to ask him what the hell he is talking about. Well at this point he has gotten so far ahead I can't see him. About a mile farther down the road I see the blue lights behind me. I go ahead and pull over into the parking lot of a restaurant. He get's out of his car and I can tell right away he has a serious attitude. Hell he was just a kid. I wouldn't be suprised if he wasn't young enough to be my son. Well he certainly didn't show me any respect. He get's out of his car and tells me "I warned you once to get out of the road, now I should just throw you in the car and haul you down to jail." I'm like whoa, what is this guys problem. Anyway, I maintain my cool, and in a very sensible way try to explain to him that my understanding was that a bicycle had as much right to the road as any other vehicle. He proceeded to tell me that this was absolutely not the case, and if you were going to be on a bike you had to either be on the sidewalk, or over in the grass if there wasn't a sidewalk. I tried to tell him that my understanding of the law was that you had to have a reflector front and back and a headlight on the front. And ride on the right side of the road. He tells me I am wrong. I ask him if he could provide me with the particular law that backs him up. He tells me he doesn't have to do that and out there on the road he IS the law. I ask him if there is any one to appeal HIS decisions to he says NO. At this point he says he is just going to let me go with a warning. I guess I should have just let it go at that. Well I wanted to know what his name was so I asked him very nicely what his name was. Well this was apparantly the wrong thing to do. He's like "That's IT!" He get's his little cell phone out and calls up the station and starts asking them what he can cite me for. Well after talking to one person and not coming up with anything, she passes him to someone else and they finally come up with "Failure to obey a Police officer." Which just reinforces what I said all along, there was no law which said I couldn't ride in the road

    I'm sorry for my monoparagraph there but I am still somewhat upset about this whole thing. I never did smart off to him. I maintained my cool the whole time. The road was 2 lanes each direction with a turning lane in the middle typical of a business district.

    So is it true that the cops make up the laws while they are on the road??

    Should I fight the ticket?

    Thanks in advance for your advice

    Dan
     
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  2. lumpy

    lumpy New Member

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    Definetly fight it! You did nothing wrong and his superiors need to know they have a loose cannon on the force. Officers CANNOT make up their own laws as they see fit.
    When you go to court, show photos of you at night in all your safety gear exactly where you were on the road.
    Also swing by your local library and find a copy of your state vehicle code. In it it will spell out exactly how a bicycle must be operated on a public road. As long as you were doing what the Vehicle Code says, then you'll be fine.

    Good luck,
    Tim
     
  3. swimmeronwheels

    swimmeronwheels New Member

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    I agree ... definately fight it. In addition to the pics and code, be sure to show up in court looking your best. White shirt and dark pants go far if you are male ... even a tie and jacket. If you are a woman shoot for the conservative business look. Also, it might help you to write down as many details right now, so when the time comes you will remember them. Maybe just print out your version from here so you can be real clear and calm in court.

    Good Luck!!!
     
  4. Geonz

    Geonz New Member

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    Absolutely fight it -- this is one that needs to be weeded out and you can help that little process along. Bet he's done this kind of thign to more people than you.
     
  5. dlakey

    dlakey New Member

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    Fellow Bikers:

    First of all, I would like to thank everyone for the great responses so far. I will be honest, this is not the only place I have posted my story. I have posted on several different discussion boards, newsgroups, ect. Of all the responses I have gotten probably in the low hundreds, all of the responses have been very positive, and insistent that I fight the ticket.

    I did want to give a little more additional information on exactly the kind of town I am from. This incident happened in my hometown, the town I was born and raised in, Jonesboro, Arkansas, a small city with a population of over 50,000. I will be absolutely honest and say I have never had any problem whatsoever with the police force in this town. As you can see we are not talking about a major metropolitan area here, but it’s also not Mayberry.

    The steps I have taken since this incident, in addition to posting to the forums. I have talked to the owner of my local bike shop. He was rather incensed at what had happened to me. He insisted on taking the ticket number, and all relevant information from the ticket, he said he had some contacts downtown and he was going to see what he could do about it. We will just have to see about that.

    Also, I emailed the head of the local bike club, which I belong to. I have not heard back from him yet. I also emailed my cousin, who also belongs to the same bike club as me. My cousin also happens to be a lawyer here in town. Unfortunately he is a Probate lawyer, instead of a criminal or traffic lawyer. I haven’t heard back from him yet either.

    I am pretty much resolved to fighting the ticket at this point. After all, what do I have to loose? At the worst I will end up having to pay the ticket, which as it stands right now I will have to pay anyway if I don’t fight it.

    The first step I intend to actively take is to try to talk to the chief of Police here in Jonesboro. Hopefully he will be more understanding than his rookie officer. Like I said I have never had any other kind of problems with the local police officers here. I can’t help but believe this was a case of a single rookie cop trying to prove how big of a man he was. I really believe what really got him pissed off at me in the first place was that he had to drive along behind me for a few feet waiting on traffic to clear in the left lane before he could go around me.

    If I didn’t say it in my original post, I guess I should make it clear now. He was intending to let me go with just a verbal warning, until I had the audacity and the balls to ask him for his name. That really was the straw that broke the camels back. That was when he said he was going to go ahead and give me a ticket. Actually this was after he had threatened to haul me into jail for disorderly conduct.

    I sit here now thinking about what happened out there on the road, and it really pisses me off. Fortunately I didn’t have that much time to think about it at the time, and I certainly didn’t desire to be hauled off to jail, so I kept my cool.
    The idea of threatening to sue the city does deserve some merit, and the idea of bringing in the ACLU brings a smile to my face also. If this issue is not resolved in a quick and expeditious manner, those two things are certainly options I will keep in mind.

    Please keep the ideas coming.


    Thanks again for your input.


    Dan
     
  6. jtfleming

    jtfleming New Member

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    I would be a little wary about talking to the chief without the lawyer. No need to tell the chief the lawyer is a probate lawyer. There is a bikelawyer on the threads somewhere who may be able to help you, and it comes to mind for me that the police officer stopped you in error, as his recollection of the statute is incorrect, and you may be able to counter with something along the lines of unlawful detention, but ???
     
  7. dlakey

    dlakey New Member

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    Just thought I would give everyone an update on what I have found out since my initial post. First of all many thanks to everyone who has helped by pointing out the appropriate Arkansas law concerning my case, and all the positive reinforcements I have received.

    As far as information I have received so far, I have talked to my cousin, who is a Probate lawyer here in town, and just so happens to belong to the same bike club as me. He pretty much tells me I have two different directions to go with this case. He said he can more than likely get the ticket taken care of on the QT if I want to, but he would kind of like to play it out to the end just to make a point. But then he also advised like many others have, that I have to live in this town and I probably don’t want to be making too many enemies in high places.

    I also emailed a district judge who is in our riding club at the advice of the head of our bike club. I did receive a reply from him that was somewhat restrained, but could be interpreted as very positive. It seems that if this case were to go on appeal, it would most likely come before HIM. I didn’t realize this when I sent the email. Therefore he said he couldn’t really give any advice on how to handle my particular case, but he did advise me to look up the law concerning bicycles in Arkansas, and to plead not guilty when I come to court and present my case. Then he sent me a second email, which quoted the same law 27-49-111, which everyone else has cited. It certainly couldn’t hurt to have a case like this to go before a bicycling judge on appeal LOL.

    I have also been in contact via email with the Arkansas Bicycle club. The president of that club replied and told me he was going to forward me email to a couple of lawyers they have in their club and get their take on things. I have not heard back from him since then.

    I also emailed the head of our local parks and recreation department here in town that is also in our bike club. He expressed a lot of interest and wanted all the pertinent information on the ticket. He implied he was going to make some contacts of his own downtown.

    My court date is currently set for 10 December 2003 so I have some time to do some wiggling before things have to come to a head. As things stand now, I believe my approach is going to be something like this. I am going to approach the Chief of Police here in Jonesboro, probably with my cousin, or some other legal representation at my side. Present him with my story, and ask him to clean this entire mess up. Part of the agreement to clean it up would have to be the young officer properly educated on what Arkansas Law has to say about bicycle rights and responsibilities.

    If the Chief is unwilling to make things right, then I suppose we are going to go to court and rock and roll. The main point being, if humanly possible I don’t intend to have to pay any kind of fine related to this citation.

    Really the only question would be the actual citation itself. Disobeyed a police officer.

    “27-49-107. Obedience to police officers required.
    No person shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer invested by law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.”

    Now in reality this is also a false charge in and of itself. I did not willfully fail or refuse to comply with his order or direction. As a matter of fact as soon as he ordered me only the sidewalk, and I realized he was an officer ordering me there I got on the sidewalk. And when he was speaking over the PA, he never did say how long he expected me to stay there. Then you are going to have a great big question about whether or not it was a lawful order. And I am going to argue to the best of my ability that it was not a lawful order.

    You know, here I am on the eve of being Forty years old, and all of my life I have done my best to be a law abiding citizen, who gave the utmost of respect to those charged with enforcing the law. In my life of driving, in at least half of the states in the Union, I have received only ONE traffic citation in my life and that was for speeding, and that was honestly caused by a malfunction of my speedometer which I had repaired after I received the ticket. Really not a bad record for someone driving over twenty years, but I digress. Incidents like this cause a law-abiding citizen like myself really question where they put their trust. Would I really want to have to trust that little pimply pip-squeak cop with my life? As someone who served six years in the US Navy, I found it was usually the Johnny Bad Asses who were the first to turn tail and run when the **** hit the FAN. I just really have to ask myself, how my of “our boys in blue” are like the young officer I ran into that night? I honestly don’t know, but I sure do hope It isn’t many.

    Dan
     
  8. dlakey

    dlakey New Member

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    You know looking back on this whole situation, I believe I have come to one general rule which all law enforcement personel should use when they are making decisions out in the real world.

    If an officer has to call headquarters, or ask one of his buddies what he should be citing someone for, or arresting someone for, then more than likely he shouldn't be citing them or arresting them for anything.

    To me, this only means that either they shouldn't be in their law enforcement position because they don't know the law, or two, they really don't have any grounds for taking ANY action.

    just my idle thoughts on the matter.

    Dan
     
  9. HellonWheels

    HellonWheels New Member

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  10. jvolz

    jvolz New Member

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    DO NOT talk to the chief of police about this. Your avenue of redress is the court system with the rule of law on your side. Come prepared, know the law and look nice. You'll have no problem. Good luck.

    Joe
     
  11. HellonWheels

    HellonWheels New Member

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    >>>

    I'd like to co-sign on this one. I had a problem in our town recently (not bike-related), with a cop who was on a power trip (long story.) We made the mistake of going to Internal Affairs. After making us think they were out to help us, they ended up c learing the cop because he was the leader of the police union and I guess they felt they had more to fear from a lawsuit from the cops union than froim me.


    ALWAYS go straight to a lawyer, not IAD.
     
  12. Geonz

    Geonz New Member

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    Me 2 -- just go to court as if you are sure it's just a mmisunderstanding of the law on the part of the cop.
    If hte chief knows the cop is a wild card and has a problem with it, it would probably be more effective for him to be able to use your appeal as evidence of a need for the cop to improve his ways... if the chief doesn't have a robelm with teh cop's attitude, then he isn't the one you want to go to.
    This really isn't a "little misunderstainding" -- it's a pretty major misunderstanding of what it is to be a civil human being.
     
  13. shamanmartan

    shamanmartan New Member

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    Fight damn'it /You were, in every bit of what rights that we have left, demands.
     
  14. methusulah

    methusulah New Member

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    To Dan...

    Please do not, as you seem to indicate in your previous posts, let this one incident sour your disposition towards all police officers. It is true that this one officer was very wrong. Disciplinary actions against that officer are most certainly warranted, providing this incident occurred exactly as posted. However, the vast majority of police officers are really there to help. I'm one of them. I don't work in Arkansas, but I still feel the shame up here in Michigan when another officer acts unjustifiably. Understand that 99% of police officers agree with me that nobody hates a bad cop more than another cop. We tolerate it less within our ranks than the public does. I hope any future dealings with police officers that you may have are more positive.

    Having said that... I have been a police officer for several years. I attended a two year police academy in addition to obtaining a college degree. I have devoted my life to learning and enforcing the law. Our penal code, not including indexes and the Uniform Traffic Code (which is redundent in our state), is 870 pages long. I am not incompetent, nor am I a rookie, but you might be suprised to learn that I am only human. I do not have every single law memorized. Nor do any of the lawyers (fellows who have spent YEARS more than me studying the law) that you have ever met. If you walk into a lawyers office, you will see all of the law books they have purchased. Law books are not cheap, so one may infer that they have not been bought just to look pretty on the shelves. It is true that a familiarity with the law is required, and it is not usually a good idea to charge somebody with a law that one does not know or understand, but that is why we have appeals. If you were a victim of a crime that a particular officer did not understand, I don't think you would want him to neglect to enforce it. You would probably expect him to ask for help... maybe call another officer on a cell phone, if he needed to. Right?

    All this is not a defense for the unprofessionalism that the officer displayed to you that night. But the general public rarely, as much as they assume otherwise, know what an officer is thinking, or why he is doing something. Less that 1% of officers act in unprofessional manners (better rate than priests, doctors, and teachers), so please don't assume that the rest of us cannot be trusted.

    Off the soapbox now.
     
  15. bikinchris

    bikinchris New Member

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    WELL? What happened are you in jail and unable to reply?
     
  16. jgerard

    jgerard New Member

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    10-1 the cop didn't show. But I'm dying to know. Apparently, as a rule of thumb when receiving traffic tickets (in WA anyway), I hear the best thing to do is to always fight it, because a lot of people get off when the cop doesn't show in court.
     
  17. ruckscd

    ruckscd New Member

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    I agree fight that bad boy, but first i would check arkansas' law on bicycles on the road. I know here in Tennessee you are allowed to ride on the road but you are not allowed to ride side by side ( this only applies in Belle Meade a small area in nashville TN, and i know because i got a citation but was overturned in court
     
  18. TrekDedicated

    TrekDedicated New Member

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    If you had a mountain bike, I would have just riden off road and nto bothered stopping. But then again, I'm still pretty young and do stupid things. but after a cop cut me off without a signal last week and nearly killed me and tore my spandex, all bets are off. They'll have to catch me..

    I know at least in my town, the police are out to get anyone that looks under 30. That cop was just trying to act all big and tough, fighting it is/was the way to go
     
  19. RaleighRider

    RaleighRider New Member

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    First the key word is LAWFULL. This wanabe cop did not give you a lawful order. He gave you an UNLAWFUL order. you were under NO obligation to comply. I personally think you should have let him arrest you at that time. Everyone says fight it but that’s not exactly accurate, YOU have NOTHING to fight, it's open and shut. This wanabe has NO legs to stand on. The ticket isn't the real problem here this wanabe's ATTITUDE and IGNORANCE of your rights and the law is.









    First I'd like to know about this TWO-year police academy. Second you're minimizing this wanabe cop's actions and ignorance by saying "ONLY HUMAN" and don't have every law MEMERIZID. You must be kidding. I don't have all the laws, stop signs, and traffic lights etc. memorized either, but I shore the hell am responsible when I violate (or inforce) any of them. Ignorance is no excuse!

    Also this wanabe cop had a "lifeline", his radio. He checks with whoever (it should have been his supervisor) about the law at the time. He found no VEHICLE law to cite dlakey vbmenu_register("postmenu_371721", true); with. The wanabe simply wanted to CITE him with ANYTHING. This "COP" is a disgrace and should not be on the job.




    I'd say good luck to you dlakey, but you’re not the one that needs it.
     
  20. wweboy

    wweboy New Member

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    So what the heck happened it's been almost a year now
     
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