DUI Attorney Blog - Traffic Infractions


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Causes of Inaccurate Radar Reading

Introduction

Did you know that more than a quarter of traffic violations that are given are done in error? Faulty radar guns, laser guns, and other faulty techniques can cause you to receive a ticket that you should have not received. What makes matters worse; most people who receive traffic tickets pay their fine and never think twice about it.

Interference

One of the most common forms of a faulty reading for radar guns and laser guns is interference. Radar guns use the electromagnetic spectrum to help them gauge the speed of a vehicle. Problems arise with interference when the electromagnetic spectrum has multiple forms of energy happening at once. Air conditioners in police cars and power lines overhead are common forms of interference.

Cosine Error

A correct reading on police equipment comes with experience. A cosine error on radar guns, typically happen with inexperience. These faulty readings usually occur due to the angle in which the police care is sitting or moving.

Shadowing

If a police officer is attempting to determine the speed while moving, a shadowing effect is common. This occurs when the officer passes behind a moving object, like a tractor-trailer. Radar guns will pick up the moving truck as the background instead of the real background, causing a faulty reading.

Two Other Common Techniques Used by Police to Detect Speeders are Pacing and Aircraft:


Pacing

Pacing is commonly used by police to issue speeding tickets. When officers drive behind a car, they can determine the speed without a radar gun or laser. Officers simply follow cars and note their speed using the speedometer in the police car. For pacing to be accurate, the officer needs to maintain the same distance between their car and your car. This must occur long enough for the officer to achieve an accurate reading.

Problems typically arise with pacing if the officer follows you around curves or up or down hills, or if the pace is interrupted by a stop sign. Pacing is one of the least accurate forms of speed measurement, especially if the officer paces you but maintains a great distance between his and your car.

Air Craft Speed Detection

Air craft speed detection is used by officers to detect the speed a car is traveling based on how fast a car travels from one marker to another marker. There is a pilot who uses a stopwatch to determine this speed. The pilot can then inform an officer on the ground to pull you over.

Do not assume because an officer has used one of these speed measuring technologies, that you cannot successfully fight your speeding ticket. On the contrary, thousands of Washington speeding tickets are dismissed each year due to inaccurate readings and other errors. Radar guns, laser guns and other forms of speed measurement are not foolproof.

If you simply pay your traffic ticket, you are admitting the violation that you may not have committed or that you could have beaten in court.


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Should I Mitigate or Contest my Traffic Ticket?

What is a Mitigation Hearing versus a Contested Hearing?


The difference between a Mitigation Hearing and a Contested Hearing is if you elect to 'mitigate' your Washington traffic ticket, you admit that you committed the traffic violation. You are telling the judge that you admit you did what the police officer said you did but want an opportunity explain the circumstances.

Once you admit to the Court that you committed the traffic infraction, the traffic ticket will go on your driving record. At best, the judge may reduce your fine. Do not seek to mitigate your traffic ticket with the hope that a judge will dismiss it. A mitigation hearing is not the forum to fight your traffic ticket. If you want to try to get your ticket dismissed, you need to request a Contested Hearing instead.

Contested Hearing?


A Contested Hearing is the opposite of a Mitigation Hearing. By requesting a Contested Hearing, you are telling the judge: 'I did not do what the police officer said I did.' A Contested Hearing is like a small trial. Often, a prosecutor is present to argue the State or City's case before the judge. In some jurisdictions, no prosecutor appears. Nick George is familiar with over seventy Washington State Courts.

At a Washington Contested Hearing, the defendant does not have to appear. A defendant has the right to have his or her attorney appear on his behalf. Often, it is in a defendant's interest not to appear at the Contested Hearing. If the defendant is present, the prosecution can call a defendant to the witness stand and he or she must testify. Unlike a criminal trial, there is no Fifth Amendment right not to testify against yourself in a Contested Hearing.

At the hearing the judge first hears preliminary legal motions from both sides. In many Contested Hearings, legal motions brought by defense result in dismissal of the traffic ticket.

If legal motions are unsuccessful, the hearing proceeds. The City or State presents its case because, as the government has the burden of proving you committed the traffic infraction. Both the prosecution and defense have the right to call witnesses and present testimony. Frequently, defense will question the police officer who wrote the ticket or the speed measuring device (RADAR or LIDAR) experts who maintain the speed measuring device. The defendant also has the right to testify. Finally, both sides make final argument to the court, and the judge renders a decision. The standard of proof in a Contested Hearing is a 'preponderance of the evidence.' Preponderance of the evidence is a much, much lower burden of proof than the criminal standard of :beyond a reasonable doubt.' It means, whether the judge believes it is more than likely than not that you committed the traffic infraction (about 50% and a feather).

Should I Mitigate or Contest by Traffic Ticket?


If you mitigate your Washington traffic ticket, it will go on your driving record. Further, it will cause an increase in insurance premiums. Thus, you may pay much more in the long run.

I've Already Requested a Mitigation Hearing. Can I Contest my infraction instead?


Yes, if you've requested a Mitigation Hearing from the court but now realize that your interests are better served by fighting your traffic ticket, Nick George can help. He can contact the Court and request that your hearing be changed to a Contested Hearing.


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What Should I do if Pulled Over for a Traffice Infraction of a Criminal Traffic Violation (DUI)?

1. Make sure you pull over correctly and safely.


The law requires drivers to pull over onto the right shoulder in response to a police officer's lights. Do not pull over on the left shoulder. If you do, the police officer can order you to move your vehicle to the correct side. The officer can also give you a traffic ticket for pulling onto the wrong shoulder. Minimize danger to the police officer by pulling safely off the roadway as far as possible on the right shoulder.

2. Keep all of your necessary documents organized and available.


It does not matter who you are, when pulled over, all drivers get nervous. To help yourself, keep all documents accessible to alleviate your nerves. Keep your license, registration, and proof of insurance near enough that you will not have to exit the vehicle. This will help your interaction with the officer go smoothly. An officer is more likely to give you a break if you quickly provide all of the right documents.

Do not forget to ensure you have all these correct documents in your car. Renewed your driver's license. Check if your vehicle tabs are expired. Is your Vehicle Registration signed? Many people forget to have these tasks up-to-date and more consequences can result from these mistakes. Finally, do you have your insurance card, and is it expired? Hundreds of 'No Proof of Insurance' traffic tickets, if not thousands, are issued in Washington State each year simply because drivers forget to keep proof of insurance in their car.

3. Put the law enforcement officer at ease.


An officer faces the prospect of danger during every routine traffic stop so, do your part to make the officer feel safe. Keep your hands in sight so the officer can see them. Do not make any strange or sudden movements. Including reaching for your documents until instructed. When pulled over at night or in bad weather turn on your interior light so the officer can easily see what you are doing and that you do not have any weapons.

4. Be polite and respectful.


Generally, police officers are regular people who want to make it home safe from work. When an officer pulls you over they know very little about you. Their job is, by its nature, high risk. Put the officer at ease by being polite and cooperative. The more respect you show them, the better your conversation will be. Further, the more respect you demonstrate, the greater chance you have for getting a warning or a ticket written for a lesser infraction.

Even if you encounter a police officer who you feel is rude or disrespectful, the rules for you remain the same. It may not be easy, but you must maintain a polite demeanor to end the interaction quickly. Under no circumstances should you argue with an officer or ask to see the radar reading. Arguing with a police officer will not only get you nowhere, it could make things much worse for you.

5. The less you say, the better.


Do not try to talk your way out of a ticket or plead your case. While being as polite and respectful as you can be, say as little as possible. Chances are, anything you say will be written by the officer in his police report. It may be offered as evidence against you in a contested hearing. Further, if you make an admission, it may limit what your traffic attorney can do with regard to your traffic ticket in court.

You have a duty to identify yourself and provide your license, registration and proof of insurance. Beyond that, you do not have an obligation to say anything to a police officer. One of the first questions police officers ask is: 'Do you know why I pulled you over? Or, 'Do you know how fast you were going?' The best way to answer to that question, is to say, 'I'm sorry officer, I don't know'. You've been polite, you've answered the question, and you've said nothing incriminating. If the officer continues to question you, continue to answer the same way.

6. Do not make any admissions.


Under no circumstances should you tell a police officer what you thought you did wrong or how fast you were going. First of all, you do not know why the officer pulled you over. Even if you suspect you know what you did something wrong, your statements are evidence that can be presented against you in court.

7. If you make admissions, an attorney can still fight your traffic ticket.


If you believe you've given an officer incriminating information (such as admitting to an officer that you were speeding), it is still worth hiring an attorney to fight your traffic ticket. Attorney Nick George is used to seeing traffic tickets containing incriminating statements made by his clients. He knows how to best deal with those statements, and how to get a traffic ticket dismissed despite them.


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