+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1
    SilencedMessage is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    3

    Red Light Violation

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? MA

    Hi everyone,
    I'm new to this site and I've never had any kind of ticket or experience in court so this whole process is very new to me.

    I was pulled over for apparently running a red light in Lowell, MA. I was behind another car and I was pretty sure (not positive) that it was green. A cop turned on his lights and sirens and came out from the street on the right side of the intersection. After pulling me over, the only thing he said was "Not only was that light red, it was very red. License and registration (and also asked for my friend's license who was in the passenger seat)."

    After he went back to his car, he came back with a citation and I tried explaining, "I honestly believe that light was green when I was going through it. I'm not saying you're wrong for giving me the ticket, I just really don't believe I did anything wrong."
    Officer: "Accidents happen, drive more carefully. I was going to ticket the guy in front of you until you blew through it. You just made his day. Put on your seatbelt, drive safe."




    The real problem is that I'm not 100% sure the light was green. Not that it's an excuse I'd use, but I was having a pretty stressful day, and was just trying to get back to my place. I plan on fighting this ticket, but as stated, I'm really not too sure where to start.

    As of right now, my only real resource is google, and I don't know what to trust and what not to.

    Once I get a court date, my plans include utilizing the "discovery process" requesting information on the timing of the traffic signal, any maintainence logs for the lights at that specific intersection, the arrest record of the police officer for three months prior to the date of your offense and his log for the day of my citation.

    If they provide all of that and I cannot get it dismissed on that alone, then I could try to argue the angle at which the officer observed the violation, and also ask him details about the day which may lower his credibility?


    I'm really not sure where to look, what to look for, and just how to go about this.

    If anyone could provide me with some advice, resources, etc it would be much appreciated.


    Thanks!
  2. #2
    The Occultist is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,408
    The best thing you can do if you plan to fight this is to hire an attorney. A local attorney knows best what the courts want to hear, and as such has the highest potential for yielding the most favorable results. Many attorneys will offer a free/cheap consultation, so take advantage and sit down with a couple to see what insight they may have to offer.

    With or without an attorney, my guess is that fighting this ticket is not in your best interest. My advice is to go to court with your clean driving record and attempt some sort of plea bargain. A plea bargain is something offered by the prosecutors whereby you agree to plea guilty, and in return the charge you'll be pleading guilty to will be a lesser offense. These typically will end up with you paying a higher fine, but less (or no) points against your license, which will save you quite a bit of money as far as your insurance premium is concerned.
  3. #3
    SilencedMessage is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    3
    Thanks for your reply Occultist. This may seem like an idiotic question, but how exactly do I go about trying to arrange a plea bargain? Also, would you find it plausible to try to get community service instead of a fine? I'm a college student and do a lot of community service as it is; however, I already know playing the "Hey look at me I'm a good kid!" game in court will not get me far...


    Thanks!
  4. #4
    The Occultist is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,408
    Quote Originally Posted by SilencedMessage View Post
    Thanks for your reply Occultist. This may seem like an idiotic question, but how exactly do I go about trying to arrange a plea bargain?
    Unfortunately, the court will hold the cards on this one. If they won't want to offer a plea bargain, they don't have to. But, if you have a clean record, it might be likely they'll just come right out and offer it to you. I've never attempted any sort of plea bargain on my own, but from what I've seen from sitting in a courtroom is that some people will just outright state that this was a one-time mistake and that they'd appreciate some leniency. Perhaps you should keep checking back to see if others have any insight to offer.

    Also, would you find it plausible to try to get community service instead of a fine?
    I've never seen this happen for traffic violations, but that doesn't mean that it hasn't happen, nor does it mean you can't do it; all you can do is ask.

    I'm a college student and do a lot of community service as it is; however, I already know playing the "Hey look at me I'm a good kid!" game in court will not get me far...
    Well, sometimes being a "good kid" helps out more than you might think. It's not like you're up against hard drug charges or murder or anything like that, right? It was a simple driving error (well, maybe or maybe not, but that's not the point I'm making). Proof that you are otherwise a good driver, showing remorse, and showing that you're willing to do whatever it takes to make things right can actually go a long way.


    Thanks![/QUOTE]
  5. #5
    Orcons is offline Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    183
    You can't plea bargain a traffic citation in MA. The judge (if it gets that far) can lower the fine but you can only be found responsible or not responsible for whatever violations you were originally cited for.

    The first hearing is before a clerk magistrate with an officer from the force that cited you acting as prosecutor. The officer who cited you will not be there. If you lose at that level you can appeal and go before a judge and the officer has to show up at that one, if he or she doesn't it has to be dismissed.

    If you want to fight it definitly go the discovery route. The police will have to provide you the copies of the officer's ticket, any log info (although that may not exist), etc. The timing stuff on the lights will probably come from the traffic engineering department of the town. Your best bet is to try and squelch this at the first hearing and as someone else suggested a lawyer might be useful.
  6. #6
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    16,617
    "Pretty sure" and "Honestly believe" don't equate to "the light was green."
    The expert witness is absolutely sure and as pointed out when you talked to him, believing the light is green is not a defense. Belief that the light was green wouldn't have stopped an accident from running an actual red.
  7. #7
    tunnock is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4
    I got stopped last Thursday in Ludlow MA for this. It was pouring rain, the light was changing as I entered the intersection and so I didn't feel it was safe to throw the brakes on hard so I went through and it changed red before I reached the other side (yellow when I entered). I am going to protest it. My question is are any points issued for this violation?
  8. #8
    FlyingRon is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    16,617
    Quote Originally Posted by tunnock View Post
    I got stopped last Thursday in Ludlow MA for this. It was pouring rain, the light was changing as I entered the intersection and so I didn't feel it was safe to throw the brakes on hard so I went through and it changed red before I reached the other side (yellow when I entered). I am going to protest it. My question is are any points issued for this violation?
    In pouring rain you're supposed to slow down so that you may stop safely rather than running red lights. That defense won't wash, you're just confessing to further violations by doing so.
  9. #9
    tunnock is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    In pouring rain you're supposed to slow down so that you may stop safely rather than running red lights. That defense won't wash, you're just confessing to further violations by doing so.
    Good point, but it was not red when I entered the intersection. But now the ticket is written there appears very little I can do other than protest it. But I'd hate to get points added as that makes a $100 that much more expensive!
  10. #10
    Maestro64 is offline Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    930
    No one will point this out to you, they rather tell you not to run the red light.

    However, first check the law and see what it defines as running a red light, in most stated entering an intersection on yellow and having it turn red while in the interesting is not running the light. Crossing the stop line or crosswalk when after it is red is illegal. If you were in the intersection when it turn red and the law says crossing the stop line, guess what the officer did not know the law, he thinks the simple fact of being in the intersection on red is running a red light which it not true, unless you are in VA.

    The question you have to asked is where was your car when the light turned red, and what does the law say in your state about this. Most states laws make no provision for driving condition like rain, either you cross the stop line when it was red or you didn't. Also, many times the officer does not have clear view of your stop lines and your light so they are guessing or drawing conclusion based on other things going on at the time which may or may not add up to you running a light by the definition. The other thing to do is research the MUTCD about red light operations. Many time the yellow timing is too fast which violated the MUTCD which could make the ticket invalid since all state are required to follow to MUTCD.

    The next obvious thing is what will the officer say where your car was, if he claims it was in the middle, you job is simple you show the judge what the laws say and hope he agrees with your and legislator who wrote the law and you win. Or the officer claims you cross the stop after it turns red, then you're in a battle of he said you said and most likely lose unless you can show the officer could have see the stop line location and the light at the exact same time.

    Good luck...
  11. #11
    tunnock is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4
    For this intersection, there is no stop line. Whether it has been worn away or never there, there is not one. Could this help me? I think I will take a picture of it today. I'm certain I was over the stop line when it changed and it went to red when I was in the intersection.
  12. #12
    Orcons is offline Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    183
    Quote Originally Posted by tunnock View Post
    I got stopped last Thursday in Ludlow MA for this. It was pouring rain, the light was changing as I entered the intersection and so I didn't feel it was safe to throw the brakes on hard so I went through and it changed red before I reached the other side (yellow when I entered). I am going to protest it. My question is are any points issued for this violation?
    As another poster suggested, what matters is what the light was when you entered the intersection. If it was yellow when you entered you did not run the light in MA. Of course the officer might very well claim it was red when you entered in which case you would have to raise doubt as to his testimony (e.g., where was he, did he have a clear sight to your light, etc.) You can google the mass general laws (abbreviated as MGL) and find the relevant section. I don't have it at hand but you are supposed to stop at the stop line or if there isn't one at the crosswalk and if there is neither of those there is some other definition of exactly where to stop. If there is no clearly marked line it might also call into question how well the officer could tell whether you were across the line or not when the light turned red.

    As far as points things are in a state of flux as MA tries to introduce competition to auto insurance. You will get points under the SDIP (the old system) and the surcharge would have been the same at any company but starting this year insurance companies can use the SDIP or can develop their own system and they have additional lattitude to surcharge or discount as they wish. Google MA SDIP (Safe Driver Insurance Plan) to learn more.
  13. #13
    SilencedMessage is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    3
    tunnock,
    While doing my own research I remember reading a law that stated something to the effect of stopping at a safe place where you will not be in the intersection or blocking anyone's way.... I cannot remember if it was in the MUTCD or if it was just a law I found through the dmv's website.

    Maestro64,
    Thank you for your reply. I've actually been reading the MUTCD the last couple days and one other thing I found is that it requires there to be a traffic survey once every two years. I'm going to assume that if there was not a traffic survey done at that intersection within the last two years, the ticket would also be invalid.... That's another document I plan on requesting, and just hoping for the best.

    I will post again later when I have a second to find the exact laws and where they're from again.
  14. #14
    tunnock is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for all your responses. I went through the intersection yesterday and noted that there is a stop line but that it about 10 yards away from the intersection, it is set back pretty far. Where he was there is no way he could have seen me cross the stop line and, if he did, he would have seen it yellow then and then red when I was in the intersection. I guess I protest and go from there. Should I bring photos etc to the clerk magistrate hearing?
  15. #15
    Maestro64 is offline Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    930
    If you are going to use the MUTCD defense, you will need to show the statue or legislation that the state has adopted the federal MUTCD or their own version as the standard which all traffic control devices in the state are controlled by. I have heard where the officer/state will attempt to argue the state is not required therefore not relevant which is not true since any state or location which accepted Federal highway funds are immediately bound to the requirements even if they they did not formally accept them. But if the state clearly states they follow them it helps your case that much more.

    One thing to do is measure the yellow time many times these are fast and people are caught in the lose/lose situation and the locals know it and use it to their advantage

    [url=http://www.radardetector.net/forums/how-beat-your-ticket/31910-red-light-camera-ticket-win.html]Red Light Camera Ticket **WIN** - Radar Detector Jammer Forum[/url]

    Read that this guy did lots of research on the subject and has the equations that govern red light timing

Similar Threads

  1. Red light violation or Right Turn on Red Violation?
    By cincuel918 in forum Speeding and Other Moving Violations
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-19-2010, 12:53 PM
  2. Red Light Violation
    By mixinmaster in forum Speeding and Other Moving Violations
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-08-2009, 03:31 PM
  3. Moving Violation fine vs red light violation photo
    By danamay13 in forum Speeding and Other Moving Violations
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-12-2009, 10:11 AM
  4. Red light violation
    By Sadlar in forum Speeding and Other Moving Violations
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-19-2008, 01:10 PM
  5. Red light violation
    By ejowens in forum Speeding and Other Moving Violations
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 10-18-2003, 01:18 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

© 1995-2012 Advice Company, All Rights Reserved

FreeAdvice® has been providing millions of consumers with outstanding advice, free, since 1995. While not a substitute for personal advice from a licensed professional, it is available AS IS, subject to our Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions Of Use.