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Speeding Tickets
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SlickyBoy Offline

Posts: 2,243
Joined: Nov 2014
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Post: #76
RE: Speeding Tickets
(09-06-2017 07:02 PM)Higgs Bosun Wrote:  
(09-06-2017 06:10 PM)SlickyBoy Wrote:  
(09-06-2017 05:59 PM)Higgs Bosun Wrote:  I got pulled over by a cop recently for a rear light malfunction. I'm sitting there, parked, waiting for the damn guy to get out of his squad car. When he finally does and walks over, he says I'm not wearing my seatbelt and he's going to write me up for that as well! I tell him I'm fucking parked on the side of the road and I had the seatbelt on when I was actually driving, which is true, to which he says "I don't know that, I see you're not wearing it now."

It's beyond infuriating to be written up for not wearing a seatbelt when parked, but as this is America, I don't know if it makes any sense to show up to court and try to argue it without hiring a lawyer. Any thoughts?

Sure - ask to see the dash cam footage of when he pulled you over. So long as you don't have a dark tinted back window it'll probably show the motion of when you removed your seat belt, once the car was stopped. If he were any good as a cop he would have seen that too since he should have been watching you while you were puling over.

Better subpoena the footage soon before it gets overwritten. Call the DA office and ask how to do that.

I would also check the statute of the seatbelt law - what does it say about when you have to wear it? Does it mean when **operating** a motor vehicle or also when you are sitting in it, while parked?

If it only pertains to you while operating, he just admitted that he didn't see you operating with or without it and can only assume you were not wearing it.

Remember that the state has the burden of proof, not you.

My back and side windows are heavily tinted and this took place at night so I doubt the cam shows anything going on inside the vehicle.

Nevertheless, the cop pulled me over solely due to the rear light issue, not because he suspected I wasn't wearing my seatbelt, which he would not have been able to determine at any rate since he was always behind me and never abreast or in front of my car prior to pulling me over. He even informed me that he pulled me over because of the light, and only then asked me why I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

My argument to the judge would be that I was pulled over for a lighting malfunction and the cop only added the seatbelt to the list once I was already parked on the side of the street, which he has no right to do as the car was parked and obviously not going anywhere. If the cop blatantly lies by disputing this and claims to have seen me not wearing my belt even before pulling me over, I will show pictures of my tinted windows, note the time of night, and point out that the cop was always behind me to try and convince the judge that it's extremely unlikely the cop could have seen me not wearing a seatbelt even if I wasn't wearing one, given the lighting conditions. Whether he'll be reasonable or not is another story.

Another quick question: does disputing a ticket of this nature take more than one court visit?

Not necessarily - it depends on the jurisdiction. Many will do it right then and there. That's when you'll maybe have a chance to talk to the DA about reducing the fine or - though unlikely - convincing him to drop that particular charge for lack of evidence. Other jurisdictions will only take your plea and arrange a follow up date. If there is one, I would call the number on your ticket (or google for contact info court info of which you would need to appear) and ask the clerk of the court how the proceedings usually happen.

Not a bad argument, but did you read the statute itself? It'll be important to your line of defense. If it reads that a seatbelt is required for "operating" I would emphasize that since you were parked, you were not an operator at the time any more than someone eating a hamburger in a McDonalds parking lot in their car is operating a vehicle. You removed the seat belt only after you were stopped (car in park/neutral/ e-brake on, whatever) and needed to reach for your wallet.

If "operating" is somehow defined to include any time you're sitting in a parked car that will make it difficult - they try do this with drunk driving cases where a driver is passed out behind the wheel of a parked car and they want to nail him for driving, even if he wasn't going anywhere. Even so, I think this is not convincing in your situation. The state could reasonably argue the drunk was intending to drive, but it is more reasonable to assume in your case that you were intending to remove your wallet from your back pocket - after stopped and not while operating.

An example of a seat belt statute: New York state. They do not specifically define "operating" but from the text it suggests actually driving the vehicle, not sitting in a parked car.

Twitter: @_slickyboy
Occasional contributor at Return of Kings (while it lasted)
09-07-2017 06:51 AM
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