A Little OT-FTY ?

hadleyMarch 21, 2007

Hi all, not my usual haunt but thought with all these prolific drivers, someone might know the answer to this. Is "failure to yield" prosecutable, that is can a conviction be gotten, if there is no accident, no skid marks, no swerving of cars, nothing except one car coming up quickly behind another that is entering the way?

I know the laws are different in each state, but in general do prosecutors and courts go for this? This state law says the yielding driver must slow to a reasonable speed (this one was stopped) and only proceed when there is no immediate hazard. It also includes the line about a collision being prima facie evidence of failure to yield.

Yes, of course, the car coming up quickly behind--a very young, apparently excitable state trooper. I admire these guys and am ever grateful for their protection and service, but this incident felt more like road rage than anything else....

Anyway, I was entering from the middle way of three entrances to the same street, all within a few feet of each other and at a sharp angle to the intersecting road. The trooper was coming into town from a 45 mph highway with reduced speeds to 35 and 25 before our intersection. There is only about a 200 to 250-foot line of sight in his direction. It was night, dry pavement. I stopped, pulled forward for better sight, looked up my neighboring street, the oncoming lane, then the far lane which I would be pulling into, then up the oncoming lane again and pulled out. Mind you, I was in a 99 Legacy wagon, so I wasn't gunning across the lanes trying to cut anyone off. Glancing back in the rv mirror, I see headlights come in fast on my bumper and stay there, glued, so closely I could not see the top of his car--I thought it was truck back there--for the next hundred feet or so to a stop sign. We stopped, I signaled and turned, he followed, I worried about a road rage thing, he pulled me over. At that point, he started yelling questions at me but yelled and talked over my answers. As he handed me the ticket, he yelled "If I had hit you, I'd be really pxxxed!!" and stomped off.

The big problem with this is that I (deservingly) got a speeding ticket recently. Dismissal is conditional on not having any offenses in the next six months. I'm 48 and never got any tickets, let alone any convictions in 32 years. Now, two in two months. If I fight this one, I will most likely be seen by the same judge. I see no point in going through that embarassment if it is just going to be he said/she said with the benefit of the doubt going to the trooper. But if another dismissal is in the offing because there was no negative result--no collision, etc.--then it would be worth trying.

Believe me when I say I am driving bang on the limit and driving way defensively in all situations.

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without pictures it sounds like you cut him off. You didn't
see headlights at 200 feet? you pulled out and didn't look back again. Bottom line. Who are they going to believe, 10
of you or one cop ? You got the ticket didn't you. good luck. We have the same laws up here.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 3:39PM
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Umm, thanks for the tart words, but I wasn't asking for an analysis of whether I was right or wrong or who the court would believe--I know and said I knew the benefit of the doubt would go to the trooper if it came to that. I was asking whether prosecutors and courts usually followed through on fty if there was no actual harm done--no collision, no skid marks, no swerving. I have looked and looked through our local dockets and appeals for such a case and there are none--all the fty tickets that go to court seem to be tied to accidents. Maybe people get these all the time and just pay them and only fight if more liability is at stake? Or maybe police just don't usually issue tickets or bother to go to court when there's no harm done? That is what I am getting at, if anyone has insight.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 5:54PM
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As I read it you had 250 feet of a 25 mph zone clear as you started to pull out. At 25 mph (36.7 ft/sec) a car coming in to sight would have at least 250/36.6 = 6.8 seconds to react and slow down plus the couple seconds you were accelerating away from him. He had lots of time IF he was at 25 mph. Especially with a stop sign looming on the near horizon.

At 45 mph (66 ft/sec) he'd a had 250/66 = 3.8 seconds; still enough time.

This cop was either speeding or speeded up to create the situation. Either way you were bluffed into the ticket.

Now what to do? First you must go to the arraignment and plead Not Guilty. This will get you a hearing at a future date. Gives you time to prepare. Next-

Measure the whole scene and get the distances and locations on an accurately drawn scale map. Show the locations of the various signs etc. Take photos of same. Write up a clear brief concise account of the whole thing and send it to the DA. Use short sentences. Label the map Figure 1. Label the photos Photo 1,2 etc. Refer to them in order in your text. Drive your car thru the situation and check times etc.

Look in the vehicle code for a section that might apply and reference that too. Naturally reference your ticket/docket number etc.

Be brief concise and to-the-point. Your ticket might get thrown out. This cop might have a record for such tickets that the DA would know about.

I got a ticket for running a stop sign that didn't exist. There was a stop sign for crossing a street at a right angle but there was a merge lane for right turns with no sign or crosswalk. I went thru it legally w/o stopping. I did all of the above. The DA threw it out. The cop had issued 30+ tickets for this "violation". DA said he had a rep for this kind of thing. These tickets were all reviewed. The cop was reassigned.

When I measured the intersection the cop was there watching. When I drove away he followed 2 feet from my rear bumper. He left off at the county line.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 12:56PM
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**Is "failure to yield" prosecutable, that is can a conviction be gotten, if there is no accident, no skid marks, no swerving of cars, nothing except one car coming up quickly behind another that is entering the way?**

A lot of traffic tickets are officer discretion type deals. This sounds like one of those kinds of things.

Your position seems to be the policeman was upset about something to begin with and going a bit too fast, then you got in is way which further anoyed him. How to proceed from here depends on how big of a deal this is to you. How much the bail? Is it important enough to you to spend the time arguing the point on principle? Since I haven't had a lot of traffic tickets over a long period of time, plead guilty when I did get a ticket I had coming, and have a lot of free time to burn, I'd fight it...but not too hard. I'd plea not guilty at the hearing. Take a few pictures of the area both from the vantage point of where you were and where the other car would have been coming from. On court day, tell your story just as you did here, playing up the fact that it's a 25 mph zone and visiblity is limited so exceeding that speed at that spot makes things happen pretty fast. Mention your perception of the agitated mood of the *young* officer. Show your pictures to illustrate your story. The policeman has to justify his side of the story just like you do. On his side, he's the police officer. On your's, you're a mature driver with a clean driving record who didn't try to beat the rap when you got a ticket in the past. I'd also mention your apprehension to pursue this case this far because of the previous ticket that you did have coming, but felt you had to on principle. The possible outcomes are...not in any particular order...(1) the judge finds you guilty and you pay the fine just like you would if you just sent in the money. (2)The judge finds you guilty but reduces the fine as would probably happen if you plead guilty at the hearing. (4) The judge totally believes you and finds you not guilty. (5) The policeman doesn't show up for court so your case gets dismissed without you having to say anything. IMO, not much to loose. Unless you were standing still in the middle of the road, nothing going 25 mph should have been closing on you very fast. jmo

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 12:00AM
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