Tag Archives: speed

This has gotta be some kind of Speed Trap

My cousin Nadine spotted these speed limit signs in Fishers, IN. This does not appear to be regulation…

fishers

photo courtesy: Nadine Jordan

My first thought is that this really looks like a trick situation, and totally not fair. Then my defense attorney instincts kicked in, and I thought, this is not enforceable! She said it had been up for a good week at last report, in the meantime, drive with caution!

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Myths About Traffic Tickets

Blogger Steve Lehto, who I have linked to in the past, is an attorney who write about car-related legal issues. He did a post this week about traffic tickets, and it’s pretty spot on, so I’m sharing it here. One caveat, many times we can get a ticket dismissed in some counties if the cop doesn’t show up- the policies about that are really localized. All the more reason to talk to an experienced attorney if you get a ticket!

http://carbuying.jalopnik.com/five-myths-about-traffic-tickets-1668682719

Do Not Speed in Virginia – Professional Baseball Player Learned the Hard Way

Jayson Werth, of the Washington Nationals, apparently does not read my blog. If he had read my earlier article, he would have known that Virginia does not take kindly to speeders. If they’ll lock up a car writer on a test drive, you know they will be happy to send a message to a rich ballplayer driving his Porsche 50 miles over: 105 in a 55. It also may not have helped that he told the cop he was “pressing his luck”, according to the officer’s testimony.

Now, I have major reservations about the court’s findings in this case. Apparently the testimony alleged that the cop accelerated to 105 MPH, and that Werth was still pulling away. “Still pulling away” are frequently used by cops to bolster their case when they don’t actually pace someone for an appreciable amount of time. Apparently this all happened within six tenths of a mile. It’s strains credulity that the cop gunned it up to 105, and that Werth was still pulling away, yet still saw the officer’s lights and pulled over, in that short of a period of time. Theoretically possible, but I doubt the cop was also driving a Porsche. Werth admitted going way to fast, but testified he could’ve been doing 90, but not much more.

That kind of speed is considered reckless driving in Virginia, and it’s not unusual for judges there to give out jail time for first time offenders. Werth was sentenced to 10 days in jail, with another 170 suspended. He will probably serve only 5 days, and only if he is unsuccessful on his appeal. It’s not a good idea to speed anywhere, but for the love of dog, don’t speed in Virginia!

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Nationals-Right-Fielder-Jayson-Werth-Found-Guilty-of-Reckless-Driving-in-Virginia-284892741.html

The Cop Who Arrested Bengal Sam Montgomery Was Fired

Bengals Defensive Lineman Sam Montgomery was arrested a couple months back in South Carolina; his only offense speeding. As we’ve discussed before on Crimcourts, that’s not enough for a criminal charge in Florida, as when Dodger Yasiel Puig was arrested for high speed on Alligator Alley. However, speeding alone can bring a reckless driving charge in Virginia, and that will land you in a jail for a few days, if you get popped in a town that’s far enough away from civilization. Apparently, arrest for speed is within an officer’s discretion in South Carolina… and that’s not what got the trooper in hot water.

Sam Madison Arrest Video

Sam Montgomery Arrest Video

The trooper ended up losing his job for unprofessionalism. The video is jarring. He asked Montgomery if he was military, and when Montgomery responded that he was in the NFL. As soon as Madison told him that he played football, he put him under arrest, apparently the fact that he plays in the NFL made him more arrestable. It actually goes down from there, as the trooper pulls out his taser and threatens to use it on Montgomery. Montgomery, to his credit, is nothing but polite with the trooper.

I don’t think Montgomery got arrested for being in the NFL; I think the cop just had a personal policy for arresting people, as he says, “25 over, you get arrested.” I don’t think he needed to threaten a Taser: Madison was as compliant as anyone I’ve ever seen stopped. And while the officer has the discretion to arrest, it should only be reserved for special circumstances, not mere speed (perhaps extreme speed, or someone who doesn’t have their license or ID on them). An arrest escalates the tension of the encounter. It is substantially more taxing on resources, as it involves jail personnel, booking, and it takes the trooper off of his patrol probably at least a few hours each arrest. All over a $300 ticket. It’s not necessary to arrest someone for a misdemeanor more of the time, much less for a simple ticket.

Also, I’m biased. I’m a Bengals fan… though Montgomery is not projected to end up making the team.

Car Writer Goes to Jail for His Test Drive

Camaro ZL1, photo courtesy Chevrolet.com

Camaro ZL1, photo courtesy Chevrolet.com

No, he didn’t steal the tester… he just drove like he stole it. Patrick George, a writer for car-enthusiast website Jalopnik.com, recently got charged with reckless driving for speeding during his test drive. No doubt, his speed was excessive, but so was the sentence: which entailed three days in jail on a first offense. His eye opening experience led him to write a great first-person account of his brief, yet eye-opening, time in jail: “Never Speed in Virginia: Lessons From My Three Days in Jail“. Go read it now.

Yasiel Puig Arrest

Yasiel Puig Arrest

The legal issue that stood out for me was that Virginia automatically considers high speed to be reckless driving, and therefore a criminal offense. In Florida, speed alone cannot constitute reckless driving. That’s why when baseball all-star Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers got pulled over flying across the Alligator Alley a few months back, the state ultimately dropped the charges. That didn’t keep an overzealous Trooper from throwing him in jail instead of issuing a citation in the first place, but that’s an argument for another post. But speed alone can be a crime in Virginia, subjecting drivers to up to a year in jail.

I suspect that not many first time reckless drivers actually end up in jail… frankly I hope not. Not only does it cost taxpayers money, it goes against well established principles of recognizance for first time offenders. Sheesh, make a guy pay a fine or do some community service if you have to: something to benefit the community instead of taxing it. I don’t practice in Virginia, but this reeks of small town justice. The national media writer from DC gets popped in a small town, and they hammer him to teach a lesson. This kind of abuse of power also carries the risk of discriminatory sentencing. Think of the cliche little town with an all-powerful judicial figure; Boss Hogg still lives. I keep thinking of “Nothing But Trouble“, an unfortunate Chevy Chase/Dan Akyroyd vehicle from 1991. And in that movie, Chevy Chase actually fled, in this case, Mr. George was immediately contrite. They say speed kills, but random jailings don’t really work as effective deterrents.

http://jalopnik.com/never-speed-in-virginia-lessons-from-my-three-days-in-1613604053

Is it Legal to Warn People About a Speed Trap?

  • Can a driver get in trouble for flashing their lights to warn other drivers of police ahead?
  • What about other kinds of warnings: could that be Obstruction of Justice?
Red Sox v. Twins

Red Sox v. Twins

I went to see the last Spring Training game of the year on Saturday, as the Sox took on the Twins. Before I left, my friend had posted on social media that there was a trooper camping out on I-75, watching for speeders not far from the ball park. Sure enough, I took it easy as I went to the game, and there he was, right were my friend said to be on the lookout. In a bit of Karma, since I wasn’t driving too fast, I pissed off a speeder, who proceeded to tailgate me, then pass aggressively on my right. Sure enough, he fell right into the speed trap.

And what about the driver who passes a cop on the road, and flashes his lights to warn oncoming traffic? I was asked that question this week by some astute high school students in whose class I had been invited to speak. I once saw a judge insinuate that such flashing may be obstruction of justice, so I needed to dig a little to find a definitive answer for Florida.

The law, it turns out is quite clear in Florida. Driver’s have a First Amendment right to warn other drivers to slow down. Ryan Kintner, of Lake Mary Florida, got a ticket for flashing his lights at drivers in 2011, and had the guts to fight it out in court. The judge ruled that Kintner’s actions to warn his neighbors of the hazard are Constitutionally protected. Drivers have a right to expression, and to warn their neighbors of hazards, even if those hazards are created by law enforcement. While this case was specifically dealing with a flashing lights civil infraction, the principle will certainly apply to a obstruction of justice charge as well. The First Amendment and other Constitutional protections trump statutory laws.

LCSO Patrol Vehicles

LCSO Unmarked Patrol Mustang

The legislature went a step further, and passed a law that went into affect on January 1, 2013, that clarified that the flashing of lights to warn other drivers is not a violation of the flashing lights statute, Fla. Stat.  §316.23. That’s good public policy: if there is an accident around a curve, we don’t want to discourage drivers from warning oncoming traffic about the approaching hazard. Note, this is the law in Florida, and each state has its own traffic laws. Kintner sued law enforcement to stop writing such citations, but I suspect the statutory change made his lawsuit moot.

Collier County "Ghost" Cruiser

Collier County “Ghost” Cruiser

Additionally, warnings about speed traps on social media are clearly going to be protected by the First Amendment. Again, this is good policy. The purpose of speed limits and enforcing them is safety: getting people to slow down. And the best way to do that is to get the word out that there will be consequences for speeding. That’s why many agencies, including LCSO, routinely share their traffic enforcement plans. LCSO places warnings daily on the home page of their website, and shares them on Facebook, as well. Be safe driving on these streets today:

Daily Traffic Enforcement Update

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit is providing the information listed below in continuing efforts to increase traffic safety awareness and education, plus to emphasize the importance of obeying traffic laws to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and death on Lee County roads.

On Friday, April 4, 2014, the Traffic Unit will target at least one of the following three locations for enforcement:

1.Sanibel Boulevard, Fort Myers
2.Slater Road, North Fort Myers
3.State Road 82, Lehigh Acres

Read about Collier’s “Ghost Cruiser” here.