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Sage Advice
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Sage Advice

Recognize The Threat Early

Avoid excessive speeding on sparsely traveled highways. There will be no radar cover for you. This applies to both day and night driving. Pay attention to Radar alerts, especially X-band "blips" on a rural highway. This may turn out to be K-band bouncing of a car in front of you. Learn to recognize "threat" vehicles, such as Mustang LX's, full-size Chevrolets, Dodge Diplomats, Plymouth Grand Fury's, etc. Identifying "threat" vehicles: windshield pillar mounted spotlight, stabilizer bar underside car ( especially on Chevrolets ), wide performance tires. Rules apply whenever vehicle approaches from front or rear - slow down for positive identification!

Maintain A Good Daytime Scan

Golden Rule #1 restated: Innocuous cars may pass unnoticed. Slow down when approaching underpasses - enforcer may be on far side behind the concrete. Be suspicious of vehicles parked on the inside or outside shoulder until a positive I.D. is made. Check On-ramps: give a quick look to the top of the on-ramp. Slow down whenever you notice a vehicle behind you matching your speed for a positive identification. The vehicle matching your speed will not be getting smaller in your rear-view mirror.

Maintain A Good Night Scan

Moving up on an enforcer vehicle: learn to identify taillights. Good example is the Mustang LX. Immediately look for the folded in spotlight. Prime rule for nighttime driving: drive fast enough so that all head- lights of passed motorists reduce rapidly in size. Any air of headlamps that maintains the same distance will need to be identified.

Practice Stealth, Deception, and "Hiding"

Find a "hare" who is pleased to demonstrate that his car is better than yours. Drop back to a safe distance and enjoy the radar shield. Do maintain your rear scan though. Run at times with lights, then at times without, hiding yourself in front of a group of trucks when you change illumination. The reason for this is that an enforcer, having "noticed" you from a long distance back, will be looking for a certain as-yet-unidentified vehicle with lights ( or without ) as he moves quickly up through traffic. Suddenly, he is in identifiable range of a vehicle similar in size and shape to the one he believes may have been violating, only now the illumination is different from what he saw before, thus rendering him unsure. You will have slowed down to quasi-legal speed. This will confuse the officer, especially if you have removed your radar detector from the windshield or visor. Placement and removal of the radar detector is crucial. The unit should be directly in front of you so that a following threat vehicle cannot see it. If you believe you have been actively "noticed", hide in front of a large truck, accelerate while under cover, and exit any off-ramp or rest area. You will have nothing to lose at this juncture.

NOTE: Any time an officer moves in on you, remove the detector at once and place it in the seat next to you. If you are in imminent danger of being stopped, execute the following emergency procedure in sequence: (1) remove detector and jam under seat; (2) wipe off suction cup or other tell-tale marks with moistened index fingertip, and (3) Replace the cigarette lighter ! An empty cigarette lighter is a dead giveaway to the officer that he is dealing with a chronic offender. He will treat you accordingly.

Beware of Slow Moving "Clumps"

Clumps are largish groups of vehicles covering all lanes and maintain a near-legal speed. Most "loose" clumps will contain one enforcer vehicle at the front ( usually a marked cruiser, and one in the middle or at the tail of the clump. The vehicle at the rear will usually be unmarked and looking for lane changing and in-and-out weaving. Beware of curves, crests, and grassy medians. Instant-on may be placed so that the violator can be "shot" just as he crests the hill, before he has a chance to react. Slow down - its safer.

Avoid Unprofessional and Provocative Behavior

The smart motorist does not alienate others. Slow to a moderate speed when passing other motorists. One of the benign-looking minivans you just ran off the road may contain an off- duty officer with a notebook and a phone. Avoid provocative license plates and bumper stickers: "How's my driving ? Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT" will not give you any breaks when stopped by an officer.

Behave Correctly When Stopped

Chronic fast driving will get you stopped sooner or later. Do not act blase'. A cocky stance of "OK, so you got me" is provocative. So is attempting to argue that there must be some terrible mistake - you know you were under the limit. Be courteous, candid and contrite. Trembling while handing over your license demonstrates that this situation is unusual and terrifying to you. It shows respect for the law and fear of punishment. Answer the question "Do you know how fast you were going ?" with "Truly, I don't - my mind must've been wandering". "But I must have been going over the speed limit, or you wouldn't have stopped me." Note that you were not speeding deliberately - no "late for work" excuses !

Once You Have A Ticket

I you are planning on pleading guilty to the charge you can stop reading here because the rest of this will not help you at this point. However. if you plan on pleading not guilty and are representing yourself keep reading. The key to representing yourself is PREPARATION and plenty of it. You do not want to plead guilty and then walk into the court room hoping that the officer doesn't show up. They do show up like 80% of the time so you will need a plan. One idea that I love to share is keep one of those small inexpensive disposable cameras in your car at all times. They are invaluable for parking tickets, accidents, and UFO's and they only cost about $6.00. If you think you have a case the more prepared you are with things like photos, witnesses, and documents, the better your chances of winning.

Vehicles & Traffic Law

The judge will be impressed with your knowledge of the law when you are able to recite the section that you are charged with violating from memory. The best investment you can make if you plan on fighting your own tickets is to go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles or whatever it is called in your state and buy the Vehicles and Traffic Law handbook that is available to the public. The one in California cost a around $10.00. I am not referring to the cute little book that they give when you want to learn how to drive either. I bet 98% of the entire population is driving around having never heard of this book and thus, not knowing the traffic laws.

Once you have the book in hand refer to your ticket and look for the section that you are being charged with violating. It is very common to be charged with the wrong but similar offense due to the cop's ignorance and you will be able to go free if that is the case. If the charge is accurate you will surely impress the judge with your interest and the respect for the law and may win him over just on that fact alone. If you plan on going to court to fight your own tickets it is very helpful to go to some court sessions ahead of time to get an idea of what works and what doesn't. Remember, preparation is everything!

Depositions

Depositions can go two ways. I once had a speeding ticket reduced to failure to obey traffic control device simply because I did not request a deposition. When I talked to the officer prior to court I simply told him I could not afford another speeding ticket or I would lose my license. He asked the judge for a reduced charge because I did him a favor and did not burden him or waste his time by making him write a detailed deposition of the violation. On the other hand, a deposition is another opportunity for the officer to make a mistake like dates, times, etc. The general rule is if your case is not open and shut in your favor request the deposition when pleading not guilty and you may at a later date decide to hire an attorney and he/she will need it.

Other People Were Speeding Too

I 've heard this defense a lot and the judge usually always lets the ticket stand. The reason is that you were speeding and you got caught and the others didn't. A cop can only write one ticket at a time so that does not exclude you from speeding. Some people really want to get nasty and hire an attorney and claim discrimination of some sort but you may still have to pay the ticket.

Credibility

The most import asset next to preparation you can have without an attorney is credibility. If the judge thinks you are lying you are not getting out of anything. If the judge feels you are credible they will usually dismiss the ticket. They best way to be credible short of telling to truth is rehearse your case in front of friends or family members to get it straight. When it is your word against a cop's word there is no room for error. They will usually side with the cop unless you can present a well planned defense.

Good Luck!

 

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