Recently in traffic tickets Category

March 27, 2013

D.C. Traffic Ticket Defense: Red Light Cameras Called "Scam" By Judge

Fighting back against red light camera traffic ticket in D.C. can prove challenging. It's essentially your word against the snapshot on the camera.
trafficlight1.jpg
But our D.C. traffic defense attorneys know that the reality is, most of them aren't challenged because most people mistakenly believe they have zero chance. The $21 million the district raked in just in February as evidence of how few people even bother.

However, a recent ruling made by an Ohio judge regarding the controversial devices has set an interesting precedent that could potentially influence the way future challenges are approached in other areas.

In a small village of Elmwood Place, just outside of Cincinnati, a judge ruled that the speed camera ordinance there amounted to a constitutional violation. Specifically, he ruled, the cameras were an infringement on the 5th Amendment right to due process. His reasoning was that defendants in these cases are not given the chance to contest the maintenance of the cameras or their effectiveness.

Although the speed camera program has been controversial, challenges of violations have been spotty throughout the country. What this case shows is that it is possible to successfully challenge them, even here in the Washington area.

Since the District's fiscal year began in October, the city has pulled in nearly $50 million from traffic camera enforcement operations. That is a nearly 70 percent increase from the amount collected by this time last year, when nearly $30 million had been collected.

In January, the cameras had raked in about $26 million - 113 percent more than the $12 million received from the program in January 2012.

Officials say public safety is the main goal, but clearly, the city has a clear profitable interest in keeping these cameras operational.

A few proposals by council earlier this year would reportedly reduce the chances that a person would get a ticket. For example, one councilman has proposed that the yellow traffic signals match the recognized national standard for length, so as to ensure the district isn't manipulating the signals just to generate revenue.

Given the amount the district is collecting each month, there is little confidence that that isn't already happening.

In the Ohio ruling, the judge called the cameras a scam that drivers can't win because the case tends to be stacked against the defendant.

However, in Maryland recently, an attorney who was representing himself in a speed camera ticket case argued that the police couldn't put a camera too far from a residential zone. He was successful, and later told a reporter he believed everyone should be challenging these cases in court.

So do we.

It's worth noting that a Metropolitan Police Sergeant, who had previously tried to convince traffic officials to rescind some 100,000 speed citations he said weren't valid because the speed cameras weren't reliable, was successful in challenging his own case in court. In that case, the hearing officer agreed that the speed limit was improperly enforced near the Third Street Tunnel. The matter was being referred for a review by the Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether thousands of tickets should be rescinded.

Continue reading "D.C. Traffic Ticket Defense: Red Light Cameras Called "Scam" By Judge" »

March 11, 2012

D.C. Criminal Traffic Charges for Councilwoman

A councilwoman for Prince George is facing Maryland criminal traffic charges in a case that has stirred controversy and garnered unwanted headlines for the public official.

speeding.jpg

Washington D.C. criminal defense attorneys knows that criminal traffic tickets are more than just an inconvenience. As this case illustrates, they can be a stain on your career and reputation. Because they are public record, any employer can look them up, and they could even serve as a basis to deny you employment, depending on your line of work and the nature of the charges.

An experienced Washington traffic defense attorney can help you determine your best options, and fight to have charges dismissed or reduced.

In this case, Prince George County Councilwoman Karen Toles was stopped in late February for traveling more than 100 miles per hour in her county-owned vehicle. The officer who stopped her cited her for an unsafe lane change, but didn't give her anything for speeding. This would have resulted in a small fine and a warning.

But then a panel was asked to review the incident - likely given Toles' high-profile position - and then police announced they would be giving her another citation for reckless driving. The police chief said that the officer who made the stop should have issued a ticket for speeding, but didn't because he wasn't armed with his radar detector gun at the time of the incident.

More than likely, it had a great deal to do with the media attention on the situation, which hounded the councilwoman for comment following the incident.

She later gave a press conference statement, in which she apologized for what happened, and expressed a desire to move forward.

Toles later said she was running late to a meeting. She added, however, that didn't justify her actions.

Given those two charges, it could be enough to have her license suspended. A charge of reckless driving can be worth as many as six points on your license. Toles already reportedly has two points on her license for previous offenses.

Criminal speeding violations are those for which the driver is going more than 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. They can be punishable by a fine and three months in jail. In this case, however, the fact that the officer didn't have radar detection calls into question how anyone could tell exactly how fast the councilwoman was going. This would be an aspect of the case that an experienced traffic defense attorney might want to examine, were she to take it before a judge.

Reckless driving is considered operating a vehicle with careless disregard for the safety of others on the roadway. This can include the speeding mentioned above, or it could mean not stopping or slowing down for police or other emergency vehicles, following too closely or any other conduct that is deemed dangerous. In addition to the six points you could get on your license for this charge, you're also at risk for a 90-day jail sentence.

Continue reading "D.C. Criminal Traffic Charges for Councilwoman " »

February 16, 2012

D.C. Traffic Violations Plague Man with Unusual Vanity Plate

Fighting a traffic ticket in Washington D.C. can be a headache.

For one jokester, it has become a serious nightmare.

parked.jpg

According to media reports, the D.C. resident has racked up more than $20,000 in fines that he attributes to a clerical error, originating from his vanity license plate.

For 20 years, the man has had a vanity plate that reads "No-Tags." This has reportedly led to him receiving a ticket every time someone without a license plate is cited for a non-moving violation.

Our Washington D.C. traffic ticket law firm has seen many instances in which a person was unfairly cited by traffic attendants for non-moving violations, or by officers itching to hand out tickets.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, the district hands out more than 1.5 million traffic tickets annually. This is three times as many tickets as are issued per capita in Baltimore or Los Angeles. Consider that for just a moment. The District of Columbia has a population of about 600,000. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has a population of about 4 million people.

We have more than half as many parking tickets as Los Angeles, and yet we are less than a quarter of the size. It has become an easy revenue stream for government leaders. The actual violation is typically of little consequence.

In the vanity plates case, the man reached out to a local media outlet, after he had taken off countless days at work to have each of the tickets dismissed.

According to the new station, the man has had the "No-Tags" plate on his Chevy Avalanche for decades, and gets many smiles and good-natured ribbing from strangers. But folks at the Department of Motor Vehicles don't consider it a laughing matter.

He has been charged tens of thousands of dollars for traffic tickets in Washington D.C. that he has had nothing to do with. Any car with missing license plates or that is abandoned - he's going to get the ticket for it. Even though it has been fairly simple for him to get a dismissal on tickets that are clearly not his vehicle (different makes, models and years), any ticketed, no-tag Chevrolet is going to be his problem. Court officials have said they are unsure how the man can prove the tickets aren't his.

That has resulted in a DMV record that is so extensive, the man can't get his registration or license renewed.

This is unacceptable.

Some have asked the man why he doesn't simply change his license plate to avoid the hassle. He feels he shouldn't have to pay to have them changed, when the issue is the district's failure. He should be free to have a license plate that says whatever he wants it to, as long as it isn't profane or extremely offensive.

DMV officials said their computers aren't able to red-flag tags like his, other officials said the problem could be solved by ticketing agents writing either "xx" or the last several digits of the VIN, rather than "none" or "no tags" if someone is missing a plate.

This policy is now supposed to be in place. We will see if agents follow through.

Continue reading "D.C. Traffic Violations Plague Man with Unusual Vanity Plate" »