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santospdx
08-28-2007, 03:40 AM
Okay, first, this is a serious enquiry.

A while ago I posted a request for other people's experiences in traffic court for one of those infamous $242 tickets for running a stop sign (or red light). I have been patiently waiting for weeks for a reply. Just one. But my court date is fast approaching, and so far, nothing.

So I'm wondering if it would help if I repeated the request while typing in the nude... because... wink... I'm naked as a jaybird! And I also just happen to be the gender you prefer and awfully cute. (Imagine....) Feel like answering now? Pretty please.

Here's the link to the original post, and the full text is copied below:

http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1137

ORIGINAL POST:

Hi all,

I am yet another person in SE who has gotten a $242 ticket for riding through a stop sign (coasting right in front of my own house on a Saturday afternoon, as a matter of fact -- not even on a major street or bike route). I have read all the other posts about how people handled the situation, but I can not figure out exactly what will happen when I go to court.

Assuming the cop shows up, what should I do to get that class that everyone says they have been offered? Some people have been stuck with a $180-plus fine, while other people get off with a $30-ish class. What is the difference in what those two groups have done?

Do I go to court?

Do I plead guilty or not guilty or no contest?

Will the judge ask me questions? Do I have to admit what I did? or should I plead extenuating circumstances?

(I should mention that I am unquestionably guilty of the offense, but also entirely unappologetic. So it would be preferable for me to not have to make up something, since I don't want to incriminate myself nor contradict the word of the officer, and I also don't want to slip up and give my real opinion of all of this b.s. either.)

Will the judge offer me the class? or will I have to ask for it? or does the cop suggest it? When does this offer/request take place?

Finally, has anyone had a bad experience with a particular judge? and what was the result of that?

THANKS very much to all of you who have posted your experiences here before, and thanks in advance to all of you who reply to these questions. I truly appreciate the effort.

Santos

beelnite
08-28-2007, 08:27 AM
Hey Santos - I haven't had this happen to me but I've thought about - and think about it every time I roll through.

I've found the best thing to do is not to try and talk and answer only what you've been asked. OK, OK, I mean, that's what Judge Judy et al on TV always demand - and I sat in on a traffic court once - also got a no insurance ticket - and that's how it sorta went down. No Judge ever seems really interested in my side of the story. "Yes, but..." You are done.

So practice: "Yes, sir." "No, sir."

If he/she says: Do you have anything to say? THEN go for it. Maybe make some notes, but you know what? I've never really heard of anyone getting to testify to their defense for any lengthy amount of time in "traffic court."

If you get any opportunity at all - I wonder if claiming you felt safer just getting through the intersection rather than stopping and exposing yourself to danger is why you decided to override the letter of the law. Perhaps you can respectfully ask for mercy from the court and allow an individual interpretation to protect your safety? I dunno. It's slim.

Good luck - Citizen Beelnite

nishiki
08-28-2007, 08:55 AM
Okay, first, this is a serious enquiry.

A while ago I posted a request for other people's experiences in traffic court for one of those infamous $242 tickets for running a stop sign (or red light). I have been patiently waiting for weeks for a reply. Just one. But my court date is fast approaching, and so far, nothing.

So I'm wondering if it would help if I repeated the request while typing in the nude... because... wink... I'm naked as a jaybird! And I also just happen to be the gender you prefer and awfully cute. (Imagine....) Feel like answering now? Pretty please.

Here's the link to the original post, and the full text is copied below:

http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1137

ORIGINAL POST:

Hi all,

I am yet another person in SE who has gotten a $242 ticket for riding through a stop sign (coasting right in front of my own house on a Saturday afternoon, as a matter of fact -- not even on a major street or bike route). I have read all the other posts about how people handled the situation, but I can not figure out exactly what will happen when I go to court.

Assuming the cop shows up, what should I do to get that class that everyone says they have been offered? Some people have been stuck with a $180-plus fine, while other people get off with a $30-ish class. What is the difference in what those two groups have done?

Do I go to court?

Do I plead guilty or not guilty or no contest?

Will the judge ask me questions? Do I have to admit what I did? or should I plead extenuating circumstances?

(I should mention that I am unquestionably guilty of the offense, but also entirely unappologetic. So it would be preferable for me to not have to make up something, since I don't want to incriminate myself nor contradict the word of the officer, and I also don't want to slip up and give my real opinion of all of this b.s. either.)

Will the judge offer me the class? or will I have to ask for it? or does the cop suggest it? When does this offer/request take place?

Finally, has anyone had a bad experience with a particular judge? and what was the result of that?

THANKS very much to all of you who have posted your experiences here before, and thanks in advance to all of you who reply to these questions. I truly appreciate the effort.

Santos

Hi Santos:

1- On your ticket is a date. Usually 8am in the morning in the downtown building. Go there at 7:30am. There is a lot of people and everyone has to talk to the "behind the counter lady".
2- The behind the counter lady will ask you "Guilty or not guilty"? She will also make you a deal: "If you plead guilty right now, I will lower your fine to x amount of $$"
3- Say "Not guilty"
4- She says "Ok you will receive your trial date" within two weeks"
5- You get your new trial date in the mail
6- you go to court.
7- The cop will be there (or not!), go talk to him (if he does not talk to you)
8- Offer to settle this quickly with the class: "Sir, since it is my first offense may I suggest to the judge for quick case resolution and STR class?"
-OR-
7- Get in front of the judge, the cop will tell his story, you will say why you did not stop (PS: you cannot say that you did not know you had to stop... you can say you did not see the stop sign)
8- The judge will find you guilty and if he does not offer the class, suggest it to him.

Haven_kd7yct
08-28-2007, 09:35 AM
6a) Dress business-casual or business-dress. Even if it's not how you usually dress, you are trying to make a good impression on the judge. Don't wear jeans and a t-shirt.

nishiki
08-28-2007, 10:27 AM
6a) Dress business-casual or business-dress. Even if it's not how you usually dress, you are trying to make a good impression on the judge. Don't wear jeans and a t-shirt.


+1...
and...
6b) Be prepared, do your homework

cecilanne
08-28-2007, 08:30 PM
Hi Santos:

(... you can say you did not see the stop sign)

Not if he saw it; that would be perjury.

Matt P.
08-29-2007, 09:35 AM
Be polite, say "yes sir" or "no sir" to both the officer and the judge. (referring to the judge as "your honor" or "the court" is also still appropriate, and to some extent, expected. Do not get visibly agitated, do not raise your voice.

You would be AMAZED at what a positive response that can bring to your situation.

If the judge says something to you, do not contradict the judge or tell him that he's wrong, he's high, or he has no idea what he's talking about. That's a sure-fire way to get the judge to not look at your case favorably. Instead, take ownership of your reply. Example:

Judge: "You can't just ride your bike through a stop sign" (indicates that the judge already believes that what the cop saw was correct - he believes you rode through the stop sign)

You: (BAD response) "I didn't ride through the stop sign, your honor."

You (GOOD response) "Your honor, that's not how I remember the incident. The stop sign was behind a construction sign, and I didn't see it until I'd already ridden into the intersection. I did not intend to run the stop sign."

You have a better chance if the sign is partially obscured by other signs, parked vehicles, trees, brush, etc. If this is the case, take pictures of the sign (with the sign obviously partially obscured) and the intersection and bring them to court to show the judge.

Good luck. The other comments are good advice - just remember to keep calm and be respectful. Yes, it's sucking up to the man. The system does not work to your benefit unless you either play by the rules or know someone on the inside - and even then, it doesn't always work to your benefit.

Matt P.
08-29-2007, 09:39 AM
Cecilanne's comment is particularly relevant - perjury can get you in big trouble quick. Remember that the cop who issued the ticket asked you specific questions and took notes while doing so. He will bring those notes with him to court, and that's pretty much all he'll likely remember about the specific ticket, unless you did something to stick in his memory (loud clothes, loud mouth, highly opinionated speech, lots of activist stickers et. al.)

Don't contradict whatever you said to the cop when he ticketed you.

Cruizer
08-29-2007, 12:48 PM
I can understand citations for failure to stop at busy, dangerous intersections, but giving people $242 tickets for slowly rolling through stop signs in residential neighborhoods with possibly not a moving car in sight sounds like harassment. And getting a ticket in front of your own house that's painful! I just don't understand why cops are spending time harassing people on quiet, residential streets.

(And Santos, not everyone who uses the forums is male, yourself being a case in point :)

dawndol
08-29-2007, 01:12 PM
And, no, it wouldn't help if you were naked.

nishiki
08-29-2007, 01:20 PM
I can understand citations for failure to stop at busy, dangerous intersections, but giving people $242 tickets for slowly rolling through stop signs in residential neighborhoods with possibly not a moving car in sight sounds like harassment. And getting a ticket in front of your own house — that's painful! I just don't understand why cops are spending time harassing people on quiet, residential streets.

(And Santos, not everyone who uses the forums is male, yourself being a case in point :)

If you were a working police officer enforcing the law would you rather:
1- Deal with a potentialy armed, under the influence individual found on the corner of W burnside?
2- Stop A clean shaved bike hipster on their commute to work/school?

:)

beelnite
08-29-2007, 02:52 PM
I thought about the whole "242 From the Boys in Blue" thing that seems to be more common these days... and the sting operations... on my ride in this morning.

You know it occured to me that in their breifings our officers are asked by the higher ups to pay special attention. To their credit many of our officers do feel they are enforcing this law a little stricter in order to promote the common good. These things go in cycles (pun intended) and are sometimes based on perception of a problem more than reality.

One thing that's great about Portland is that our biking community is so visible, but that's also a bit of a downside because now we as a whole are more in "the man's" focus. We're on the radar screen. Stuff like the Critical Mass rides were great for promoting Portland as a bike city, albiet a somewhat pleasently weird bike city...

Ah random thoughts... do you all understand what I'm pedaling towards? It's ok if not... I guess I have to wonder if there aren't certain stereotypes about bikers in Portland that maybe we've all helped perpetuate.

I don't want to point the finger at stuff like Critical Mass, but we have to be conscious that when we en masse make public statements, dress up in wild costumes and own the streets (as we should!) we open ourselves up to criticism, external definition, derision, etc. It wouldn't surprise me if "normal" people viewed most bikers as "lawless hippie punks". Heck I've been guilty of this type of thinking with the kids who've taken up residence outside my building downtown. I mean... "They just seem so different... how frightening! AND they're sitting in the fountain... or on the sidewalk... it's just too weird!"

Of course our local media loves the CM rides...especially if someone gets arrested, then it's news... comon it's a protest and you know how protestors are treated in this country - only this time it's a bike protest so now you don't need long hair or a burning draft card or an unbathed in months odor -- no, you don't need a sign or round glasses... you just need a bike and your part of the protest.

Weird huh... thanks for bearing with the random thoughts - I'm sure it relates to the thread somehow... harrasment by police? I dunno if I'd go that far, maybe "more conscious and deliberate application of the law to solve a percieved community problem" is more accurate?

Citizen Beelnite

bikerinNE
08-29-2007, 08:42 PM
I'm sure it relates to the thread somehow... harrasment by police? I dunno if I'd go that far, maybe "more conscious and deliberate application of the law to solve a percieved community problem" is more accurate?

Citizen Beelnite

Harrasment by police? No.

They got a ticket for allegedly, not coming to a complete stop, at a stop sign. Thats not Harassment.

santospdx
08-31-2007, 04:42 PM
It's good to see your comments beelnite. I'm glad to hear a reasoned opinion from the other perspective.

I personally do not think that my ticket was due to "harassment," but instead from special attention. It doesn't really matter though, does it? The widespread perception among riders (and their friends) is that the police are picking on cyclists, which is really what "conscious and deliberate application of the law to solve a percieved community problem" translates into. Cops are picking on bike riders because they're annoyed at them as a group for the actions of a few assholes.

Well, it's easy to counter that the police are just stopping people who actually violate traffic regulations, which is probably 99% true. However, everyone knows that traffic enforcement is almost all selective. Just by *choosing* a particular intersection, you've consciously decided what kind of person you want to catch violating which kind of law. Hiding along a very popular bike route with relatively little automobile traffic is a conscious choice on an officer's part to catch a cyclist, not a driver. That goes well beyond merely paying attention to riders who happen cross your path.

So they actually WERE violating the law, you might say, and have to deal with the consequences. I won't argue with that. However, we all know perfectly well that virtually everyone on the road -- drivers, bikers, skateboarders, pedestrians -- everybody -- at some point or another they will violate the law, probably intentionally. C'mon, are you going to tell me that you *always* stay at or under the speed limit everywhere all the time? No way. Every driver goes over the speed limit every time he drives (except my old granny maybe) and knows it. So *choosing* to target cyclists is exactly the same as *choosing* to *ignore* the violations of other street users.

The problem with that, and with the logic of "it's for your own safety," which is what the (very nice) officer who stopped me said, is that by spending time on me, targetting me and people like me, the police are right at that moment ignoring people who actually ARE a danger to me -- MUCH more than I ever am to myself. The other problem with that logic is that, while there have been stings to catch cyclists, there have been no stings to specifically target drivers who are a danger TO cyclists. We don't really need protection from ourselves. We need protection from cars. By picking on US, you are not protecting us. You are just working out a personal grudge that 99% of us have nothing to do with and have no control over, but have to suffer the consequences for. Plus we have to listen to the sickening "it's for your own protection" lectures through gritted teeth while getting a ticket whose cost if far far far out of proportion to any violation by a BIKE RIDER.

I guess one of the most important things I can think of that might actually interest a police officer on this subject is that even people who are happy to see bike riders targetted probably know quite well that they are not really a great nuisance or a serious problem. We all sort of understand intuitively that when a sting happens like the ones on Ladd Circle, that cyclists are being picked on. And the thing is that it only makes the *police* look bad. Even people who hate bike riders and want to see them targetted know that they are easy, helpless prey. When the cops pick on them, they *look* like big bullies who are too lazy to go fight *real* crimes. Picking on cyclists really just diminishes respect for the police among almost everyone. No one -- not one single person -- is going to respect police *more* because they brave and wise enough to stop a bike rider.

I would even go so far as to say that the police probably lose a little respect for themselves. Seriously, have you ever boasted to anyone that, no, you din't stop an armed robbery, but you DID give a girl coasting on a bike a ticket? I doubt it. I even doubt you'd ADMIT to it without being specifically asked or without justifying your actions in some way (like saying "it's for their own safety").

So bottom line is that when police pick on bike riders, they are 1) actively discouraging one of the most positive parts of life in Portland, 2) intentionally ignoring the real dangers to cyclists, and 3) seriously diminishing respect for the police across the board.

And that's what I think about this whole mess. I broke the law, and I won't be a whiner about getting caught. But I do truly think that the police and the "higher ups" are doing a great diservice to everyone, themselves included, when they pick on people who really are doing no one any harm.

(I will add this brief postscript for anyone wondering about the situation: When I was stopped, I was wearing a helmet. Despite the fact that it was day time, I had on a full set of lights. It was a Saturday afternoon. I was on quiet neighborhood streets where there was very little traffic. Finally, I intentionally *coasted* through the stop sign because I do not feel safe stopping at that particular intersection due to the odd zigzag arrangement that makes it very difficult for me to accelerate fast enough to avoid cars. And finally, I said "yes sir" and "no sir" to the cop and more or less kept my mouth as shut as possible because I didn't really think that it made any sense to try to reason with someone who had just pulled me over under those circumstances.)

santospdx
08-31-2007, 05:09 PM
Just one more thing.

Thanks A LOT to nishiki for actually answering my specific questions. I noticed that you have frequently posted practical advice for people going to court, and I really appreciate it. You've been a big help.

Santos

beelnite
10-05-2007, 02:02 PM
Hey just curious - if you feel like it perhaps you could share the results of your day in court, that sort of thing.


Random FYI:

Now when I'm riding, if I don't blow the sign but the rider behind me does I holler out: "242!"

And when I decide to blow the sign I say it to myself...

Over and over and over... it's kind of working. I'm freaked out, depressed, nervous, argumentative and attentive every time I come up on the Red Octagon of Broken Momentum and Sitting Duckedness.

Random for the Record:
Yes I do think that more often than not, it is more dangerous to completely Stop at every Stop Sign. It takes time -which is ok, except it's more time than cars - in fact it takes longer to stop safely on a bike than it does for a typical driver to bring their auto to screeching halt so they can beat the OTHER car to the line... or you on your bike. Has anyone else noticed this?

So - Meanwhile the cars are getting pissed, you're of to the side, gasoholic is next to you glaring, who's freakin turn is it!?!?!

Sheesh. Just get me outta here in one piece - Does anyone else find themselves thanking drivers for not killing you?

Psyfalcon
10-05-2007, 02:17 PM
I almost learned that the hard way, my bike with steel wheels, when wet is WAY out braked by anything short of a suburban. I nearly rear ended a BMW down town :o

I really do hate stop signs. If there are cars there, at least there is a reason, but I do not like stopping at an empty intersection on a bike. I don't even like it with my car. My bike is 40lbs, I'd gladly not have to reaccelerate it! Worse though, are left turn arrows. Sitting in the middle of the street, stopped, hoping the car behind you stops!

bikieboy
10-06-2007, 07:06 PM
I can understand citations for failure to stop at busy, dangerous intersections, but giving people $242 tickets for slowly rolling through stop signs in residential neighborhoods with possibly not a moving car in sight sounds like harassment.

Cruizer, the law is the law is the law. I find it bordering on ridiculous, but nevertheless: it's the law, whether you're on you're on a bike or in a car. And i know, drivers habitually do roll throughs without John Law busting their chops.

All the more reason we need to go "Idaho style" here in Oregon...

tacohut
10-20-2007, 10:52 AM
Is idaho style when stop sings are viwed as yeild sings?

I was stoped one for rolling threw a stop sing, and asked why I did not stop I told him why and I was let off with a warning. I was very polite while doing this.