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    tommytoon's Avatar
    tommytoon Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Jul 16, 2013, 12:48 AM
    Should I Just Pay Failure to yield right of way?
    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Texas

    Im 19. My court date is in two days and its my first time ever going to court or getting a ticket. I'm extremely nervous because I have no experience with the law. I don't know what pleading guilty means or fight a ticket means. If I fight the ticket, do I lose anything other than the fact that I have to pay my initial fine or if there a penalty for losing?

    Here is what happened. I was driving to school and there was a bus a few cars ahead of me, I was in the far left lane and tried to merge right onto the center lane. I saw no cars on the center so I merged over but then noticed another car merging from the far right the same time as me and moved back over because we were going to collide. By doing so I rear ended the person ahead of me. I called the cops and he gave me a ticket for " failure to yield to right of way" I don't know what that means. I've been told that the officer should have gave me a violation of being too close not failure to yield and that I should fight it. Should I try to fight it or am I better off paying?
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #2

    Jul 16, 2013, 01:40 AM
    Rear ending another car is ALWAYS your fault, regardless of who merged where or when. You'll lose. There was no excuse for not keeping your eyes ahead as well as to the side. Failure to yield also includes in front of you, so the type of violation wasn't even wrong, but even if it had been, you were wrong. An experienced driver's eyes are in constant motion ahead, sides, and rear, every second or split second. If you do fight it, fight it based on financial hardships of school and a promise that you have learned something.

    There is no penalty for fighting a ticket. Feel free to do so because you never know, you might get some sympathy. I sort of doubt it.

    Where I have lived and fought a ticket, a line forms outside of a little room and it's first come, first serve, and the line moves fast. The judge is just a person at a little table, and a police dept representative is on the side. The old days of the cop who gave you the ticket having to be there are gone.

    My husband had just left me, it was the day after my birthday, my license expired on my birthday, and I was speeding. The cop took my car keys after dark in a snow storm and I had to walk home. I got reduced to one violation. Feel free to try.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #3

    Jul 16, 2013, 03:08 AM
    In my experience, what happens when you appear in traffic court is they offer you a plea bargain. You can plead guilty to a lesser charge which involves fewer or no points on your license and maybe a lower fine. If you maintain not guilty, then another hearing will probably be scheduled where the ticketing officer will appear to give testimony.

    Unless you have physical evidence to prove you were not guilty the traffic officer's judgment will probably be used. So take the plea bargain.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #4

    Jul 16, 2013, 04:29 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by joypulv View Post
    ... The old days of the cop who gave you the ticket having to be there are gone.
    ....
    That's interesting.

    How the judge can convict you without a witness is puzzling. I'm guessing they were taking guilty pleas and postponing trials to another time.

    On the rare occasion (one time actually) when I would defend a client with traffic ticket, that was my biggest hope: that the cop would fail to show up. The officer did show, I managed to keep my client from saying too much (The defendant can't be required to testify, but I decided to put him on stand anyway.), and I beat the ticket because the officer failed to tell about something critical (I forget what it was now.)
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
    current pert
     
    #5

    Jul 16, 2013, 04:52 AM
    It was in MA where I was told that the arresting officer didn't have to be present, only police dept representative. He had a briefcase that I presume was full of all the reports. This was in the 70s. The judge offered me the chance to pay the fine to a specific well-known charity so that it wouldn't affect my insurance. I took it! Years later I found out that that was squashed as illegal.

    I fought another ticket in MA in which the arresting officer was present. That was 1989. Rumor had it in the line outside the door that this cop enjoyed writing tons of tickets and enjoyed going to court.

    I fought another one in 1996 and can't remember who was there, just that I won, but it was a tragic victory. I had left the bedside of a sick friend I was taking care of and he died during the 3 days I went back to MA. The only reason I went back to fight it was that I had been driving a vehicle that belonged to a friend. For some reason the judge believed my story that the sun was directly behind the traffic light I went through on red, making it 'disappear.' It happened to be true.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #6

    Jul 16, 2013, 05:04 AM
    In NY the officer never shows for the initial hearing. If the motorist wants to plead not guilty and go for a trial, then a new hearing is scheduled where the officer will appear. I believe that works the same in NJ too.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,299, Reputation: 7691
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    #7

    Jul 16, 2013, 06:11 AM
    Georgia, police officer has to be present or case can be discussed. Many officers do not attend. ( if it is their day off or wrong shift, they do not get paid for it in the departments I worked)

    But everyone is in court, the clerk comes in and says everyone pleading guilty go to other room, and they work out the details of the fines.

    The ones who want to plead Nolo ( for civil liability issues) are told to go to another room.

    The ones fighting the case are then written down, the officers who have no cases are dismissed

    But you are guilty of failure to maintain distance or following too closely ( what it is called in your state) if you hit them directly from behined

    If you were at a angle, like the left front bumper hit them, that would be failure to yield, since you were moving back to your lane and not gong staight

    The specific charge will depend on exact position of car at the time of impact.
    If you said you were changing lanes and then hit them, that is failure to yield,
    If you were already in the lane and hit them, following too closely

    Pay the fine, you are guilty
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,966, Reputation: 6056
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    #8

    Jul 16, 2013, 07:37 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Fr_Chuck View Post
    pay the fine, you are guilty
    I'm going to partially disagree with this advice. Like I said, they will offer you a plea. Accept the plea and pay the fine for the lesser charge.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #9

    Jul 16, 2013, 08:00 AM
    "Rear ending another car is ALWAYS your fault, regardless of who merged where or when. You'll lose. There was no excuse for not keeping your eyes ahead as well as to the side."

    Well, Joy, it was going to happen sooner or later. This is why I have a job - it's not always the fault of car #1 (counting from the last care involved) which strikes #2. Again, that's why I have a job - circumstances, circumstances, circumstances.

    My story? Backed out of my driveway (and I've always driven "hot" cars). I live just over the top of a slight hill. Drove about 200 feet, Trooper comes flying over the hill, pulls me over and tickets me for 60 in a 35. I explain I just pulled out of my driveway, not me, wrong car, pretty much not possible - and, truly, I wasn't even up to 35. Had a grandchild with me in a car seat. No way.

    Went to Court - and the Judge knows me. We sit on a committee together.

    Allowed me to plead down to a parking violation but found me guilty because, "Why would the Trooper pick on [me]"?

    Good question - I can only guess he was following someone, I pulled between them, I have no idea.

    So, yes, try to plead down. Don't guess you're going to get it dismissed.

    Why is this posted under Small Claims?
    smearcase's Avatar
    smearcase Posts: 2,392, Reputation: 316
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    #10

    Jul 16, 2013, 09:28 AM
    Might be vast differences in ways different states operate and judges vary too, for sure. I have always gone to court and the worst that can happen in the states I have lived in is court costs added to the fine ($ 35 to $ 50 but I can't say about other states). Some judges will listen about extenuating circumstances-some won't.
    The last time I went (about 16 months ago), the judge actually said that he had trouble himself with the intersection where I received my citation. He walked me out to the cashier's office himself to make sure that they started the refund process because I had to pay the fine in advance. I go to avoid the points mostly. Before I am branded as a scofflaw here I have never had an accident, drove many hundreds of thousands of miles as a state highway administration employee, and had maybe 5 tickets in 50 years of driving, but anyhow I have never regretted taking the time to go to court as it has paid off every time. But never any guarantees.

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