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  #1  
Old October 9th, 2006, 19:12
93_xj's Avatar
93_xj 93_xj is offline
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Got my first ticket.

I was following a van on a road i had never been on before and i ran a stop sign. The van ran it also, and they made no intention to slow down and due to the size of the van and the location of the stop sign, i followed them, and my friend who was following me also got a ticket. i had no clue there was even a stop sign there it was in the middle of nowhere on a strait road.

124 dollars for Failure to obey a stop sign.

Never had a ticket before, and im only 17 so i was alittle nervous, but I am going to bring it to court and hope that the cop doesnt show up or that the ticket price is knocked down.

told my dad and he wasnt too mad because the insurance wont be raised, but he just wont help me pay the ticket , but its all good because i have the money anyway.

any advice? whats it gonna be like going to court?
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  #2  
Old October 9th, 2006, 19:16
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MogifiedXJ MogifiedXJ is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

Most of the time for a minor offense such as this if you go to court and plead guilty the judge will throw the ticket out and all you will have to pay is court cost. You might be given the option for the ticket to go on your record or go to traffic school to get out of it...but being your first offense and such a minor one at that I'd say it will just be thrown out.
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  #3  
Old October 9th, 2006, 19:19
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Crusher16 Crusher16 is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

I got my first ticket about a month or two ago. 86 in a 55... in the Jeep... I know I was speeding but, not that much. Maybe around 75 or 70. Eh. Either way, turned it over to some law firm so they can deal with it.
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  #4  
Old October 9th, 2006, 19:23
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rocklandxjer rocklandxjer is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

do you have bigger tires than stock???

if you have 32s your speedometer would have said 72...
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  #5  
Old October 9th, 2006, 20:17
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5-90 5-90 is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 93_xj
I was following a van on a road i had never been on before and i ran a stop sign. The van ran it also, and they made no intention to slow down and due to the size of the van and the location of the stop sign, i followed them, and my friend who was following me also got a ticket. i had no clue there was even a stop sign there it was in the middle of nowhere on a strait road.

124 dollars for Failure to obey a stop sign.

Never had a ticket before, and im only 17 so i was alittle nervous, but I am going to bring it to court and hope that the cop doesnt show up or that the ticket price is knocked down.

told my dad and he wasnt too mad because the insurance wont be raised, but he just wont help me pay the ticket , but its all good because i have the money anyway.

any advice? whats it gonna be like going to court?
Court isn't bad - it's usually a bigger hassle for me get past building insecurity than to actually deal with court (I've had a few tix myself, and I've got two boys...)

Shine your shoes, wear decent clothes, look at the judge when you're talking to him/her/it, and don't forget "Your Honour" or "Sir/Ma'am" - a little of that goes a long damn way.

If you expect to provide any supporting dox/pix/whatever, bring them with you! I can't stress this enough - the best picture of an obscured sign, for instance, does you no damn good sitting on the table at home! It's best to stuff everything into a folder (neatly!) the night before and put it on your shoes after you shine them and before you go to bed (sneaker and jeans - not a good idea! Borrow something decent if you have to - it need not be a suit, but trousers should be Dockers or better, and a collared shirt is a plus. Shoes should be leather and shined. Boots are OK, if they're clean, presentable, and shined. Iron your trousers and your shirt, as well. You'd be surprised...) Remember - dress clothes should fit. Do not "sag" (or "droop," or whatever that asininity is these days...) If you don't have decent clothes for things like this, you'd be best advised to buy some - since you don't need a suit, you don't need to spend a lot of money on this.

Plan what you're going to say before you say it. The judge won't hold anything against you at all if you take a second or two to answer, if you sound like you've put some thought into it. (This applies to coversations in general. I don't usually go "well?" until five seconds or so have passed, especially with some of the questions I ask...)

Be civil. Be agreeable. Do not be argumentative - I've seen people end up paying a few thousand for a two-hundred-dollar ticket because of this ("Contempt of Court" really sucks.) Judges expect people to argue - that's why you're there. But, there's no reason you can't be civil about it.

Organise your key thoughs ASAFP. Write them down! There's nothing saying you can't refer to notes once you're in court - but keep the notes neat, so you can refer to them easily.

If your court date is a ways off, a little research may pay off (maybe not in this case, but get used to the idea.) I buy a copy of the California Vehicle Code from DMV about each time I renew my driver's license (should cost rather less than $10 - I think my last copy was $4. The vehicle code for your state will actually tell you what you should expect to pay.) DMV/BMV should have copies on hand, and you can probably find it online as well (Google "<your state> Vehicle Code") That four-dollar book has saved me a couple thousand by now!

Arguments against you -
"Unfamiliar road" is not a positive defense for missing signs. Period.
If the sign was obscured by the van, it could be argued that you were following too closely.
If the sign is misplaced or obscured by environment, go take a pic immediately! If the sign is behind a bush, you don't want it to get trimmed before you can take the pic! (I've seen this happen a couple times...)
Speed? You may have missed the sign because you were going too fast. If you were speeding, the cop doesn't have to put that on the ticket (and cops do have some discretion in citing - I got hit, years ago, for 45 in a 35 (I was doing about 85 actual!) for being co-operative. I was disinclined to argue the ticket...)

Arguments in your favour -
Environment. Time of day - was it dark? Was there an overhead light near the sign? Check vehicle code for applicable sections governing lighting of signs and placement of signposts.

Don't be afraid of traffic court - unless you do something insanely stupid to get there or while you're there, they aren't going to put you in jail. Traffic Court is a step below Criminal Court, and running a sign is an infraction, if no-one is hurt.

If they offer you traffic school, take it! Yes, it costs a little more. Yes, it pisses away a Saturday. Yes, it will save you more in insurance premiums than you pay for the class! It's boring, it's tedious, and you can't usually eat or drink in class (and sleeping is an automatic failure. Out here, you can get 30 days for sleeping in traffic school!) All else being equal, it's worth it to just go, stick it out, and be done with it. NOTE - you can usually go to traffic school (and get the benefits for doing so!) once every three years.

Anything else? As you can probably tell, I've been through this a few times (for me and for others...)

5-90
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  #6  
Old October 9th, 2006, 20:23
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Re: Got my first ticket.

Don't just go to court expecting to pay less or at worst no more than the face value. In Illinois, you'd be assessed a tawdry list of court costs just for the fun of appearing in court. These will quickly add significantly to the cha-ching on the clerks register.
Your best bet is to clean yourself up and go visit the assigned prosecutor on whatever terms you can get. You're highly unlikely to get an appointment - they're just far too busy to meet with every pro se teenager charged with a minor traffic offense. Get his or her name over the phone, then ask the receptionist when he or she typically has a light call (the heavier the caseload on any given calendar call, the less likely you are to get any time). Even if you can only muster a walking-talk through the courthouse, introduce yourself and ask what options you might have to deal with an unintentional stop-sign ticket to keep your record clean. Don't blame anyone else - you were driving. Trying to avert responsibility will only work against you here.
Ask whether there's a traffic-school or court supervision program that upon completion will result in a dismissal, this keeping your record clean (at least for now!).
Good luck.
Once you're clear - get home and lift that Jeep higher so you can get a ticket for something HONORABLE!!!

(edit)
Too funny. 5-90 beat me to the long answer. I stand by my advice that if you can, avoid having your first day in the courthouse be the day of your court appearance. If, however, you wind up in court, take everything 5-90 said to heart. He's right. When I wrote to "clean yourself up", I was referring to the details 5-90 gave in his response. Take heed. A neat appearance and respectful tone and manner will take you far in the courtroom.

Last edited by What Rd; October 9th, 2006 at 20:35.
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  #7  
Old October 9th, 2006, 20:26
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Beej Beej is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

Consider yourself lucky. Up here if you'd explained that you couldn't see it because of the size of the van you were following, they'd slap a "Following too Close" ticket on you too...
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  #8  
Old October 9th, 2006, 20:29
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Re: Got my first ticket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rocklandxjer
do you have bigger tires than stock???

if you have 32s your speedometer would have said 72...
Stock tires.

Anything above 80 MPH in the Jeep is pretty scary.
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  #9  
Old October 9th, 2006, 20:29
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shortxjdoug shortxjdoug is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

i went to traffic school and the city allowed me to mail in my payment as well as my certificate that i completed the class to get it taken off my record. i never had to go to court. call down to the courthouse first and see what their policies are before you worry about going to court
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  #10  
Old October 9th, 2006, 21:43
muddinxj04 muddinxj04 is offline
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Re: Got my first ticket.

got one early the past summer...went to court, plead guilty, said i appologize, just wasn't paying attention...i realize now that driving is a privilage, not a right. I just want to ask for leniency(sp) from the court, and I think i asked for pbj. No prior offenses, judge just said ok, no priors...pay the court fees and you have probation for one year...basically if i get another moving violation, i have both tickets biting me in the ass. Uncle is a cop in another county, told me to say all that....ended up fine....just relax, remember to breathe. I thought the judge could hear my heart beat....i could barely hear what i was saying. BTW, i am and was 18 at the time, so i know how you feel. It's all good, really not much to worry about.
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