Running a stop sign is among the most common types of signage violations, and many people will receive a traffic citation for this type of crime at some point in their lives. In some cases, the driver is well aware that he or she violated the law and will pay the fine without question. However, in other cases, the driver may feel as though the traffic citation was unjustly or unfairly issued.
If you feel that the citation was unfair, you do have the option to fight your charge in a court of law. However, when you fight your case, you will need to build a solid defense and prove your case.
Common Reasons for Challenging a Signage Violation
There are several common reasons why individuals may challenge a signage violation in court. These include stating that
- The sign was not visible at a reasonable enough distance away from the intersection for you to stop the car safely, or
- The sign was new and was not clearly visible farther away or stating that you stopped farther back behind the line where the police officer could not see you.
With each of these reasons, it will be up to you to prove your case as well as up to the police officer to disprove your case. Keep in mind that ignorance of the law is not a defense, but stating that the signage was not clearly visible can be a defense.
Building a Defense
It is important to build an accurate, true defense that is based on the facts. Take time to learn about the law, and understand how different defense strategies have successfully been used.
By focusing on the specific facts surrounding your case as well as by understanding the successful strategies that have been used, you can build a credible, truthful defense. For example, if the officer stated that you did not stop close enough to the line, you may state that the line was not clearly marked on the road and state how close to the intersection you did stop at.
Using Video or Photographic Evidence
If you have plans to bring your case to court to fight your ticket, it can be helpful to have documentation that verifies your claims. For example,
- If you are stating that the sign was obscure until you were too close to stop the vehicle safely, you may consider taking photographs of the sign from your vehicle at various distances.
- Depending on the speed limit of the road, you may use cones or other markers to show the distance from the sign at 25 feet, 50 feet and 75 feet.
- Then, you can take a picture in your car of the sign from each of those distances. This works particularly well if the sign is obscured by low-hanging trees, tall bushes or other obstacles.
- Some may show the point where the sign becomes visible and will state that this distance was too close to the intersection to stop the vehicle.
Keep in mind that most judges prefer to see photographs rather than videos. This is because it can take more time and effort to set up a TV in court than to simply review photographs. However, use your judgment regarding the format that may be best for proving your case.
Fighting a traffic violation can be challenging, but many people who have a sound defense and who take the time to develop a case to present to the judge will have the charges dismissed. If you believe that your citation was not issued fairly or that you have solid grounds for having the charges dismissed, hire an experienced attorney and take time to build a case to present to the judge.