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  1. #1
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    Robic speeding ticket in PA

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

    Tonight I recieved a ticket from a local police officer. I am fairly new to town, and did not see the 25 MPH speed limit sign. I was on a rural highway (45 mph), which at a stop light continues to the right. After the turn the speed limit drops to 25 MPH. I have a long truck and have to take the turn wide, and missed seeing it. The officer was in the block after the speed limit sign.

    Honestly, I thought it was 35 mph (being unmarked) and have noticed the recent surge in speed traps and wasn't speeding until this point, so it kinda bites.

    He has me down at .018 miles (95 feet) and taking 1.63 seconds = 39.755 MPH on Robic (Actual).

    I can't see this being very accurate in such a short time/distance, and I honestly don't belive I was going that fast, especially since I just stopped at a red light, and was accellerating towards another red light.

    He was also within 500 feet of the speed limit sign, and according to
    Title Code 75
    § 3368. Speed timing devices.
    (e) Distance requirements for use of mechanical, electrical and electronic devices.--Mechanical, electrical or electronic devices may not be used to time the rate of speed of vehicles within 500 feet after a speed limit sign indicating a decrease of speed. This limitation on the use of speed timing devices shall not apply to speed limit signs indicating school zones, bridge and elevated structure speed limits, hazardous grade speed limits and work zone speed limits.
    Does this appear to be a valid defense?

    I am to submit my plea within 10 days via US mail. Do I need to go to court to argue this, or can I submit these findings to the magistrates office with the plea?
  2. #2
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    Time over distance is filled with errors, but PA factors this into the law which says they can not write a ticket unless your 10 over the limit.

    I wonder if the distance was in fact 95, since most white lines on the road are in 25 ft increments. I would go back and check to see if in fact it was 95 ft. if it was not then the distance he put in the stop watch was wrong which would lead to the wrong speed being calculated.

    The next thing is PA does not allow tickets to be issues with in 500 ft of speed limit decrease. The problem is you made a right turn on to a road so that road might have already been a 25 mph road so it was not technically a decrease in speed on that road. If that was not the case and the 25 MPH sign was the very first sign of that speed on that road he can not issue a ticket with in 500 ft, again go back and look at the set up and see what the situation is.

    Then if you think you have a case... read this

    [url]http://www.radardetector.net/forums/how-beat-your-ticket/25780-pa-case-law-speeder-other-useful-info.html#post281869[/url]
  3. #3
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the reply. I went back tonight and verified a few things...

    1) No pavement markings on that road, so I do not know what he was using for marking points. Is there any way to find this out so I can take an accurate measurment and see if there are any obstructions, etc.

    2) There is a 'Reduced 25 mph Speed Ahead' sign on the road before the turn I took - it is 40 mph previous to that. But the 25 MPH sign near the officer was the first Speed Limit sign. There were no other signs or indictations on the road I was traveling on, which was a 40 MPH road.

    Does the reduced speed ahead sign count, or does it go by the actual speed limit sign? (Both highways merge for 3 blocks before splitting again, and there are no signs the other direction indicating 25 mph, or even on the continuation of the road I was on after the split).

    3) Distance to Speed Limit sign is ~225 feet
  4. #4
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    The fact no lines were placed on the road works to you advantage, that means the officer must have guest or somehow measured the distance himself, which allows you to call into doubt the distance was in fact 95ft. Some times they just pace the distance off, so any inaccuracy in the measurement can affect the actual speed. Specially if the distance he measured you was in fact less then 95 because it means lesser distance your time would be less, however, the stop watch would not know that since the officer entered in a longer distance and it used a longer distance over shorter time there by coming up with a faster speed.

    Here is the other problem the stop watch requires the distance to be entered in as miles not feet, so the officer measured feet since there is no device that measures miles except the cars odometer, that is not accurate down to .081 miles. So he must have measured feet and had to convert it to miles and if it was 95 ft, that is 0.01799 miles and the stopwatch only allows 3 decimal places so he had to round the number which works against you too. Either he paced it off, used a tape measure, (how long was it, 25ft, 50ft, 100ft or maybe a 200ft one) ever try to measure a long distance with one of those without two people, not easy, or he has measuring wheel. Many time police cars have these two thing for accident reconstruction.

    Reduced Speed limits signs are not a requirement, they are a courteous to let you what is coming. No where in the law does it talks about them, so the law as written defines the change of speed limit sign so if he was only 225 feet from the sign he was in violation of the state law. Take pictures to show where he was relative to the sign.

    With all the possible errors and the fact he wrote you for 39 and couldn't have written you for 35 by law, and the fact he violated the state law of being within the 500 ft of a change of speed limit sign, you got yourself a good case.

    The only thing you got going against yourself in PA is where did this happen. Most rural magistrates have no legal background or training except the 80 hours of how to run a court room training PA requires. Because of this you could have someone who has no clue what the laws says or care less what it say, and rule from gut or common sense not what the Legislators have written into law.
    Last edited by Maestro64; 02-23-2009 at 10:49 AM.
  5. #5
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you again!

    I called the magistrate's office and spoke with the clerk. I verified the officers name (it was difficult to read) and also asked if they had a template for a motion to dismiss. She was fairly confused, and didn't know what I was asking about.

    I need to send the ticket in with my plea on it, fee paid plus $7 for court costs.

    Can I submit the motion for dismissal with the ticket, or do I need to wait until the trial to do this?
  6. #6
    loulblades is offline Member
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    You respectfully make your motion to dismiss after the state has presented its case (ie the officer testifies and returns to his/her seat). If the officer shows up, make your case using officer's testimony (ask the officer the proper questions), assuming he has presented all the required prerequisites etc, because you have no reason to testify.

    The motion to dismiss is not a piece of paper, unless you present case law, or other documentation, to the judge/magistrate to support your request for dismissal.

    Make sure you make copies of the ticket (front and back) before you send it in (with your check) via registered mail (return receipt requested).

    Spend the time before your hearing to research.
  7. #7
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    As it was stated, motion to dismiss happens at the hearing in traffic cases. Most likely the officer will approach you ahead of time, and try to get you to agree to something lesser. If he can do that, the court saves time, and the town gets their money. If approached and you plan to fight anyway, do not tip you hand do not tell him anything you know. Many times they come unprepared and assume most people have no clue about the laws and rules.

    So do you research and get you list of questions together, and make sure you have pictures of everything. Too many time people walk in assuming the judge know what the location looks like or where the signs are placed. Make sure you have copies of law and highlight the specific section of interest.
  8. #8
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    This may be a slight stretch, but I found a copy of the city zoning map, and this area is marked as Industrial Commercial and posted at 25 MPH for about two blocks. After which, the highway continues and splits a) 35 MPH through a High Density Residential and b) 45 MPH through a Extractive Industry zone.

    This is a marked/numbered highway, and I'm curious if it goes against:

    Title Code 75

    § 3362. Maximum speed limits.
    (a) General rule.--Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with section 3361 (relating to driving vehicle at safe speed), the limits specified in this section or established under this subchapter shall be maximum lawful speeds and no person shall drive a vehicle
    at a speed in excess of the following maximum limits:
    (1) 35 miles per hour in any urban district.
    (1.1) 65 miles per hour for all vehicles on freeways where the department has
    posted a 65-miles-per-hour speed limit.
    (1.2) 25 miles per hour in a residence district if the highway:
    (i) is not a numbered traffic route; and
    (ii) is functionally classified by the department as a local highway.

    (2) 55 miles per hour in other locations.
    The only way I would bring this up, is if my motion for dismissal for inadequate procedure (violation of Title Code 75 § 3368. Speed timing devices. (E)) is rejected. I would need to word this carefully, because even if it was posted correctly as a 35 mph sign, the officers calculation still has me at 39.75 MPH - to which I would question the accuracy in such a short distance, time, and go on the show that the average humany reaction time is given at .7 seconds for a visual reaction, which gives about 50% error rate in the speed measurement, and puts me almost at 25 MPH regardless.

    I have copies of studies, calculations, etc to support this, which is probably overkill. It'd be cheaper and easier to pay the fine, but I'm never easy

    FWIW, my friend is a producer for one of the local news agencies, and said they were actually working on a story about the increased police activity, tickets, fines, etc because of how bad the economy is getting and their budgets are hurting. I probably see 2-3 out a day, and it's only a 7 minute drive to work!
  9. #9
    loulblades is offline Member
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    Good luck on showing the errors but....

    If you can get the speed limit up to 35 then you want to look at 3368(c)(4).
  10. #10
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    I would love to see someone win a ticket in PA on those grounds. However I think it would take an appeal to win the argument in PA that the speed limit was improperly set.

    There are currently two case laws on the books which one say that the town or state are given benefit of the doubt that the speed limit was set properly even if it was done a long time ago and they are not required to do engineering studies for ever road to see if the speed limit was properly set. The other case said a similar thing but it was on a road which was widen and still had the 35MPH limit when in fact it should have been raised to 45 or 55. The judge said the new study should have been done, but the fact the speed is currently posted at 35 is all that is required to say if the person was speeding.

    The only thing you have going for you is that fact that PA update the laws around setting speed limits in 2006 which was long after those two cases. The update now clearly states surveys are required where in the past it was not that clear.

    Here is what you need to look at:

    [url=http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/067/chapter212/chap212toc.html#212.2]Pennsylvania Code[/url].

    [url=http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/067/chapter212/chap212toc.html#212.108]Pennsylvania Code[/url].

    Some other useful information.
    [url=http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/067/chapter212/chap212toc.html]Pennsylvania Code[/url]

    Also look at section 3362
    [url]http://www.dot3.state.pa.us/pdotforms/vehicle_code/chapter33.pdf[/url]

    I'll see if I can find the text, but there is rule about the 25 and 35 MPH zone which says surveys may not be required as long as the town documented the fact that the area is declared residential or urban.

    I will also correct myself to at this time, in the above links it talks about reduced speed signs being required under various conditions. I missed that fact, so my information above is old for PA since this change came about in 2006, Prior to that it was not a requirement.

    It is worth a try, but since PA has no case law on this subject and the law does not state proper speed limits are required to issue a ticket like Calf has, I am not sure how much success you will have going it alone. I lawyer might have better success on this tactic.
  11. #11
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by avid View Post
    The only way I would bring this up, is if my motion for dismissal for inadequate procedure (violation of Title Code 75 § 3368. Speed timing devices. (E)) is rejected. I would need to word this carefully, because even if it was posted correctly as a 35 mph sign, the officers calculation still has me at 39.75 MPH - to which I would question the accuracy in such a short distance, time, and go on the show that the average humany reaction time is given at .7 seconds for a visual reaction, which gives about 50% error rate in the speed measurement, and puts me almost at 25 MPH regardless.

    I have copies of studies, calculations, etc to support this, which is probably overkill. It'd be cheaper and easier to pay the fine, but I'm never easy
    !
    What studies do you have on reaction time, I would be interested in see them. Would you mind sharing them?

    I do not the best reaction times come from drag racers and fighter pilots which is around .3 second, however, they are that fast since they been doing the same thing over and over again and they know what to expect and when. Little more different when you do not know when the next car is coming and when the are going to hit the lines since their speed is variable.
  12. #12
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    Sorry for not replying earlier

    Here are the two studies I found regarding reaction time, and each points to other sources backing up their information.

    [url=http://biae.clemson.edu/bpc/bp/Lab/110/reaction.htm]Literature Review on Reaction Time[/url]

    [url=http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/reactiontime.html]Visual Expert Human Factors: Driver Reaction Time[/url]

    Each has a lot of information, some non-specific, but even if the mean reaction time is in fact 0.7 seconds, it may add enough doubt to the accuracy of my speed calculation, which only had 1.63 seconds. In my case, there is a huge difference with .7 seconds (even at only one end of the measurement).
  13. #13
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
    [url=http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/067/chapter212/chap212toc.html#212.108]Pennsylvania Code[/url].
    § 212.108. Speed limits
    (e)(i) A Reduced Speed
    (B) The speed reduction begins at an intersection and all traffic entering the roadway with the speed reduction has to either stop at a Stop Sign (R1-1) or make a turn.
    That is interesting, and basically says a reduced speed ahead sign is not required for the road I was on since I was making a turn.

    I will try and request the survey during the discovery. Although my first defense is that the officer was located within 500 of the first reduction sign.

    I am going to submit my not guilty plea tomorrow, along with a document addressed to the judge asking if at all possible to schedule the trial as late as possible in the afternoon. I am a line worker for a local utility company, and currently do not have any vacation time until June 23rd. As part of my job requirement, I am unable to take off in the middle of the day. My company also deems us as essential employees, so perhaps he'll be a little lienient...may also work into bringing up a plea to a lesser charge in order to avoid the hassle. May be worth a shot at least (I'm not concerned with the fine, only the points)
  14. #14
    Maestro64 is offline Member
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    Thanks for those links, I have seen them before, not sure if they can be using in a court.

    Here is the government study on using VASCAR or timing over a distance

    [url]http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/6000/6800/6867/706.pdf[/url]

    Something to keep in mind about reaction time, the court and officer will assume it isthe same on both ends of the measurement so it cancels itself out, which is kind of true.

    The real issue you have with timing over a distance is if the person sees you cross the first line and hits the button late, ie some distance after you crossed the line. This happens because did not see you coming. Now that he is watching closely he over anticipates the next line and hit the button too soon thus reducing the overall distance you were measures over, when that happens your time is less and the distance is less but the computer still thinks the distance is the same so it now divides a larger distance by a smaller time thus giving you a higher speed.

    This is all true and the above study verifies this, and part of the reason as I pointed out PA adds in a 10 MPH buffer for tickets.
  15. #15
    avid is offline Junior Member
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    I enclosed the following letter along with my plea. Not sure if it will work, and save me the time of going to trial or not. I figured it was worth a shot, worse he will do is say no, and we will just proceed to trial.

    To the Honorable District Justice XXXXXXXXX:
    I have enclosed the portion of the traffic citation with my plea. I wish to ask for the courts consideration with the scheduling of the trial. I am employed by XXXXXXXXXX in XXXXXX, as a power line worker. Due to the terms of my employment, I am not awarded vacation time until June 23rd, and work a weekly schedule of 7:00 am until 3:30 pm. XXXXXX has deemed line workers as essential crew employees, and I am unable to take off during the middle of the work day. Therefore, if it is possible to schedule the trial after 3:30pm, I will be very appreciative. I believe I have a good case, and I look forward to presenting it in order to prove my innocence in this matter.

    However, if it is at all possible to save both the court and myself the time and expense associated with a trial, I wish to formally request a lesser plea under Title 75 Pa. C. S. § 3111(A). As a holder of a commercial driver’s license, I am primarily concerned about the points carried by the citation I received. This is the first time in my driving record that I have received a speeding citation, despite driving over 30,000 miles just last year. I hope my record will speak for myself in saying that I am a safe driver, and allow you to extend leniency in this matter.

    I wish to thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,

    XXXXXXXXXx

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