From the Forum – Worth challenging a moving violation ticket?

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Worth challenging a moving violation ticket?

“So this weekend I got popped for “not coming to a complete stop” at a stop sign in DC, though I am sure I did. It is a $50 ticket, but I am wondering if it is worth challenging. I can afford to take the time out of my day, so that is not an issue. Here is what I do not know:

1) If I challenge the ticket at a hearing, are there court costs that would make this more expensive?
2) It would basically be the officer’s word vs. mine, is it worth challenging?
3) Would it just be easier to pay for it and how would I go about doing driving school to avoid points?

Thanks in advance for and help!”

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43 Comment

  • You can head down to traffic court by yourself on Friday mornings. The judge seemed leniant towards district residents and seemed to throw the book at out-of-towners the last time I went. You don’t need representation.

  • I had the same exact thing happen to me a few months ago and I challenged it. I was at the courthouse (near L’Enfant) from 9:30-11:30 am, and the police officer’s argument trumped mine and I had to pay the ticket regardless. I should have just paid it from the beginning and saved the Metro fare and lost productivity.

  • This happened to me on Friday, on Warder St. I saw the cop car and distinctly recall thinking “better come to a full stop”. Then I got snagged anyway. They must have been having some sort of zero tolerance campaign. It was pointless to argue so I will just pay the fine. And be happy that I’m making plans to move to a different city!

  • on a bike?

  • I think your best case scenario would be like a $25 dollar reduction

  • There are no fees associated with going to DMV and arguing (besides transport to/fro). I have often been quite successful at contesting tickets there, with the caveat that none have been related to a rolling stop. Generally, having some sort of proof – photographic or otherwise – helps quite a bit. I realize that may be difficult here. Sincerity and lack of a bad record may go a long way though. If you have the time, I say it’s worth a shot.

  • Since you claim to have time to spare, I say you should contest it, but not expect a positive outcome. It is clearly an abuse of authority to issue BS tickets knowing that people would rather pay the fine than go to court, and unless people challenge that practice, there will be no record of it having happened in the first place. So unless you can pay the fine while protesting it, I’d say it’s important to challenge it, if anything to help identify a pattern of shitty behavior in the MPD.

  • if you do go, get there way before it opens, bring your license and registration, and coincidentally, a lot of people ended up getting parking tickets while I was there because all the nearby meters were two hour meters, so people ran over b/c court takes at least 3 hours, so I’d recommend taking the metro.

  • Contest this.

    I actually received a Moving Violation on my BICYCLE! It was a $25 fine. I paid it. Figured it wasn’t worth it. Because I showed the officer my Driver’s License as ID, it got hooked to my insurance. And now I am paying about $100 more per year for car insurance for the next few years – because of a moving violation on my bicycle. DMV told me I should have contested it after they laughed at my tale, The DC insurance commissioner laughed as did my insurance company. But I’m the one paying for this crazy thing. Moral of story? Never show a Driver’s License as an ID on a bicycle. There is no law that you have to carry identification.

  • DC CapHill

    What’s the % of Officers that actually show up to Court, to tell their side of the story? My GF just got out of a $200 doozy for “speeding at the airport” to get around a vehicle going way under the limit. Officer never showed, boom, case dismissed. That said, this was in VA. DC Cops and the DC Parking Mafia are another story altogether. I’d fully expect them to waste our money by sitting in traffic court and fighting each $50 citation they issued.

    • More than you’d think. In January 2012, I got a ticket for changing lanes without signaling. The officer set the court date for August. Much to my surprise, he showed up.

      OP, make sure the ticket was written for the correct fine. Mine was allegedly a $100 fine, but when I checked the DC Code, it was only supposed to be a $25 fine. I got it knocked down to $25 and they waived the points as well.

  • bustyredhead

    I had to wait for my date to be rescheduled three times as the officer couldn’t make the earlier dates. I had been ticketed for making an illegal left turn, which I hadn’t. (Evidently my confusion and that of my passenger didn’t make sense to the officer. We had no idea why I was pulled over. Even though he asked me for “my story,” he walked away while I was telling how I had arrived at that spot. He didn’t care.) In the end, the officer had failed to fill out the ticket correctly, so the ticket was thrown out. I didn’t even have the chance to tell my side at the hearing.

  • i’d suggest stopping at stop signs instead of whining when you are busted for breaking the law

  • If you have proof bring it – if you don’t then don’t count on winning for these kinds of things.
    Since it costs nothing to contest it – nothing wagered nothing won.

  • I received a $50 failure to come to a full stop (at a stop sign) ticket while riding my bike at Haines Point. I wrote in a protest and it was dismissed. I did this all via mail. I did have to pay for the stamp. I received the ticket in April sent in the “deny” notice and received confirmation that my ticket was dismissed in August.

  • I contested a ticket in VA once. It was a major violation that I absolutely did not commit (passing a stopped school bus). In court I asked the officer a series of questions about the intersection, whether there were stop signs and/or traffic signals nearby, whether there were other cars, and more. The judge made me pay court fees (I think it was $25) and took the ticket off my record.

    • I had the opposite experience in VA (Fairfax). A cop pulled me over my first week there and gave me two tickets– one that was unfair but legit (going 40 in a 30 mph zone where everyone else was going 50) and one that was complete BS (evading a police officer). I took a day off from work to contest the BS one. I’d never gotten a ticket in my life, and had a witness that corroborated my story, but the judge didn’t care to listen. I still had New Jersey plates at the time I received the ticket, and he noticed this and made some asinine comment about the NJ Turnpike and NJ drivers driving like maniacs. Aside from that being unprofessional on his part, it was incredibly ironic to me given that I came from a small town full of cautious, courteous drivers and still couldn’t get over how maniacal VA drivers are! I avoid driving in VA now and haven’t gotten a ticket since.

  • I noticed that the OP didn’t actually say whether or not they came to a complete stop, they just said they want to challenge the ticket. Whether it’s “worth” challenging is wholly dependent on how much $50 is worth to you.

  • It is 100% worth fighting a moving violation. I fought a distracted driving ticket several years ago. I showed up at the adjudication offices with proof that my phone hadn’t been used in the hour before and after I received the ticket and prepared to testify accordingly. To my surprise I never even made it into a court room as the ticket was thrown out by the first person I talked to. The cop hadn’t completely filled out the necessary boxes on the ticket, which invalidated it. The woman who helped me speculated that is fairly common practice when the cop knows the ticket isn’t entirely justified but is under pressure to meet a quota.

    After that experience, I say challenge all tickets where there might be any doubt.

  • OP here – thanks for all the replies. Yeah, I think I am going to challenge the ticket. So many reasons thinking back confirm (to me) that I came to a stop. 1) There was a group of bikers in front of me, that I obviously did not want to hit, so why would I have rolled through the stop and hit them. 2) A group of bikers was approaching on the left and after I stopped the gestured for me to continue. 3) I saw the cop sitting right there, so of course, why would I just run the stop sign. Oh well – it is only a short walk to the actual location of the hearing for me, so I even get some exercise. Guess I will just head down there early on my scheduled hearing date and see what happens.

    • It’s a shame because you can’t prove any of these facts in court, and even if you could they’d probably still believe the police officer because, even though a lot of officers are known to be lying scumbags, the protocol is that their account takes precedence. Maybe you’ll get lucky though. Good luck!!

  • Yep, if you have time, see what happens. Check the technical details. I got out of parking too close to a hydrant b/c the officer filled in the wrong address of where they hydrant was located. For the record, I was parked 8.5 feed away and the law says 10. Looked good until I measured.

  • You’d be better off challenging the ticket. Unless the officer is a daywork officer (6am – 3pm), then you stand a good chance of him not showing up. The department isn’t paying us anymore to go to BTA outside of our shift, so many aren’t going.

    • +1

      and if the officer does show up. “admit with explanation” and ask for leniency to wave points.” If you don’t have any other moving violations in the past two years, the hearing administrator will likely wave the points.

      The burden of proof at BTA (traffic court) is “clear and convincing testimony.” basically, if the cop shows up and can clearly state what he or she saw, and swear that it is the truth, that’s enough for a conviction.

      be appologetic, swear you made a one time mistake, and ask for leniency. getting angry, trying to “outlawyer” the cop, will get you nowhere.

  • There is an officer in Adams Morgan that is really really good at this. I stood there and watched for a while once. Folks often came to a complete stop, but not “before” the line. He nailed them every time. Of course those who rolled through got hit too, as they should. Then he finally got me one day in that very location (Adams Mill southbound). I contested it and won. Definitely worth a try. ((Or, tell them you don’t mind paying the fine, you just don’t want the points. After all, DC loves its fine money, right!)) ((But having written all that, I’d say he’s right. Later, after he nailed me, I did a California roll through a stop sign in Petworth, and got t-boned by a kid driving his aunt’s Mercedes. So happy no one got hurt. So, definitely stop! (and slow down too) & take transit.))

  • Usually how these things go down: you get there and cut a deal where you admit to a lesser violation, like driving without a seatbelt. So you lie and confess to doing something you didn’t do, so you won’t get the points for doing something else you didn’t do, and everyone in the courtroom knows it’s a total lie but no one cares to acknowledge how fucked up our legal system is. Then you pay a big fee for the seatbelt violation and try not to express frustration over what is basically legalized extortion.

  • “a California roll”

  • It’s a shame you have to go through all that trouble just so (if you’re lucky) someone doesn’t steal $50 from you.

  • Coming to a complete stop means your car has to stop and roll back. That’s how VA defines it and I suspect it’s that way in a lot of other areas too.

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