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Got a Speeding Ticket in my BMW, Seeking Advice

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Before I start, I am not trying to start an argument with anyone or have one start between other people. I also have a great deal of respect for police officers and I generally feel their job is a thankless one which deserves more respect than they usually receive.

First a bit of background; I was driving back to my dorm, from sears after buying a 3/8" to 1/2" converter for my socket set which conspicuously went missing recently. I was pulling onto North AZ-89, heading north from Prescott Lakes Parkway. The posted speed limit for this stretch of 89 is 50 MPH. Over the past month or so, I have noticed (among other problems with my gauge cluster) that my speedometer is either not working at all, or indicating speeds significantly different from the speed I am actually traveling at. While driving on this stretch of road, my speedometer was not functioning at all. I was driving with the flow of traffic which happened to be 4 cars up to a roundabout which I proceeded to head east after driving through. Shortly after departing the roundabout, I was pulled over by a police officer who elected to not use his sirens, but rather just his mars lights. It took me a minute to realize I was getting pulled over, but once I did, I pulled on to the gravel shoulder and waited for him to come up to my car.

Once the officer came up to my car, he told me to roll my window down. I motioned that I couldn't roll my window down (my kick panel was off so the circuit breaker was disconnected). I then opened the door and the officer asked if I knew the speed limit on the stretch of 89 I had just departed. I replied, "I am not sure, 45 or so?" He then replied, "You're close, it's 50." He then asked how fast I was going. I replied, "65 or so like the four other cars I was traveling with." He then stated I was driving at 70 MPH. He subsequently asked for my license, registration and insurance. I supplied him with all of the requested items. After this, the officer shut my door, walked back to his car, but did not enter. He simply grabbed a clipboard and began writing me a ticket, indicating to me that he likely did not check my driving record which is absolutely spotless. I have never been pulled over, never been in an accident and never had any sort of ticket, citation or infraction.

After this, the officer returned to my car with the clipboard and handed back my insurance, and registration. He informed me that I would be receiving a citation for the full infraction of 20 MPH over the posted speed limit and that I could either pay the ticket cost of $265, or attend a driving school for around $100 less than the ticket to have it expunged from my record. I signed the form authorizing I received the complaint. The officer gave me the violator copy then told me to have a good day. I wished him the same. After this he returned to his car, and before I could even realize it, he had his sirens on again and was pursuing another car in a group of six which were all traveling on the road beside me.

Here is my problem, I feel this ticket was given to me not because I was actually violating the law, but rather because my car is a prime target in my area for a few reasons: 1. It has CA plates, 2. It has an Embry-Riddle parking sticker (my university), 3. It is a BMW. In addition to this, I feel that if I were driving a Corolla in the same group of cars at the same speed without a Riddle parking sticker and with an AZ plate than I would likely not have been cited.

During the time I was pulled over, I was so intimated by the police officer who was festooned with a thick flack jacket, a rather large semi-automatic pistol and a tazer, which he kept putting his hand on, I neglected to say anything about my speedometer and other functions of my gauge cluster not working. I simply complied with his instructions, did not argue, and signed where I needed to. I even apologized for not noticing him behind me.

Because I feel I do not deserve this ticket, and because I have no way to pay for the class or ticket, I plan on taking it to court, citing my speedometer problem and the flow of traffic which I was adhering to. To back this up, I have evidence both on PayPal and and in emails that I would be receiving a new speedometer and other cluster parts as recently as 3 days before the ticket, and as far back as 3 months before.

In the end, I feel I was unjustly targeted for a ticket. I have talked to a few other students on campus with nicer cars all of which have had speeding tickets given to them recently. The general consensus seems to be that Riddle students, particularly with nice cars, are being targeted for tickets.

I have a legal consultation with an attorney scheduled, but I wanted to get the board's advice on this.

Where do you stand on what happened to me? I have been getting a lot of mixed signals from everyone. My parents are encouraging me to go to court, but others are saying to simply take the driving school. I feel taking it to court is the right thing to do, because I feel I was wronged, but I know the driving school is the easy way out, but I simply can't afford it right now, and if I could I would have a hard time letting my hard earned money go to a corrupt government body which is likely to waste it anyway.

So, what do you think?

Thank you for your time and thoughts.

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Since you told him you were doing 65, along with the rest of traffic, you are screwed--the cop can prove intent.

Even if he did pick you out because of your car, sticker, and out of state registration, it's legally irrelevant. The court is trying you, not the other people on the road, and you admitted your guilt with intent to the cop.

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Steve nailed it, you gave up your 5th Amendment right when you started answering questions and incriminating yourself. The best you can hope for is the judge sympathizes with your broken gauge situation and your incentive at fixing it and lowers the fine.

Further, you mentioned the office being 'intimidating.' This is part of their job. He only had his hand on his taser? Traffic stops I've been involved in I've noticed the officer keeping a hand near his sidearm. They are trained to do this. So many officers get shot by assholes during traffic stops, I don't blame them one bit.

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Your defense is that you unfairly got punished for breaking the law, because you saw others get away with doing the same? I really hope you get to Court, the Judge's reaction will be priceless.

It's not true you didn't deserve the ticket, you did. You are wasting the time of a Court that is meant to handle the cases of people who were actually wronged, not those who baselessly "feel" they were wronged because other law breakers got away and they got caught.

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Tough break; it doesn't sound like you were doing anything dangerous - so long as there are other cars on the highway you have a reference to keep yourself at safe speeds.

Selective enforcement is not surprising, nor is it easy to prove. I'd steer clear of that angle. If the judge is a softie and you are respectful while in his courtroom, you might get the fine reduced. Probably not below the class price, though. Admitting your guilt was a mistake. While I will never do that, my brother did once and got away with a warning.

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Here is my problem, I feel this ticket was given to me not because I was actually violating the law, but rather because my car is a prime target in my area for a few reasons: 1. It has CA plates, 2. It has an Embry-Riddle parking sticker (my university), 3. It is a BMW. In addition to this, I feel that if I were driving a Corolla in the same group of cars at the same speed without a Riddle parking sticker and with an AZ plate than I would likely not have been cited.

Why do you "feel" this? You haven't really given any evidence to support why he would be giving you a ticket BECAUSE of these reasons. What you have given evidence to is that you were speeding and Occam's Razor suggests the simplest explanation is that you were stopped for that reason.

Secondly, just because other people were doing it and did not get ticketed is not a valid defense. The judge recognizes that a single police officer (or even several) can only realistically stop one car at a time no matter how many others are violating the law at the same time.

Officers frequently rest their hands on objects on their duty belt, including their gun. Often this is simply a matter of having some place to rest their hand (from a practical viewpoint) and sometimes they are not realizing or thinking how this may look to a citizen. He may have been trying to intimidate you or he may simply have been just resting his hand somewhere on his belt. When you wear that belt 8 hours a day, it becomes a part of you that you just kind of get used to being there.

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As a related hypothetical, RB, what would his situation be like if he had answered "I'm not sure; my speedometer is broken and I was matching the speed of other traffic" when asked how fast he was going?

(I know I personally can sympathize with his plight--the speedometer on my car crapped out once. It was amusing to see it pegged at 140 MPH/225KPH while stationary in a parking lot. I wish I had remembered my cellphone had a camera in it; a shot from the driver's seat of a car apparently about to ram the post office at warp speed would have been priceless. In any case, I spent a couple of days wondering how the heck fast I was going; fortunately the problem had been intermittent for a couple of days before it totally died and I was able to learn to use the tachometer to get a slightly better than vague idea how fast I was going.)

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I actually had a busted speedometer scenario happen in my teens. I had gone out of town to see a girl and on the way down, my speedometer stopped working. After our date, I was taking her home, and we got pulled over. I told the cop I was sorry, I couldn't gauge my speed because the speedometer had just stopped working that day, and if he would like I could show him (invited him to ride with me). I got a warning, end of story.

But that's all beside the point. OP was speeding. The rules say speeding is illegal. Case closed. Why you got pulled over, or that you got pulled over where others didn't, isn't relevant. They got away with it, you didn't. They deserved to get caught, you don't deserve to go free.

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Over the past month or so, I have noticed (among other problems with my gauge cluster) that my speedometer is either not working at all, or indicating speeds significantly different from the speed I am actually traveling at.

........

I motioned that I couldn't roll my window down (my kick panel was off so the circuit breaker was disconnected).

A BMW with electrical problems? Get used to it. Really though, if you thought the speed limit was 45 or so, you shouldnt have been going 70. Thats why you got the ticket. Ive always heard the stories about people getting tickets for having a red car, a sports car, a hot girl in the car, a backwards hat, its all BS. Cops have better things to do than pick on innocent motorists in an attempt to balance some cosmic scale. From what Ive seen, most cops are pretty objective, and respect begets respect.

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You said you didn't want to start a fight, so it's up to you how you take these thoughts you asked for:

You acknowledge you were speeding, or that you didn't know what speed you were going because of a speedometer failing which is just as dangerous. It doesn't matter what speed other cars are going. When everyone feels like they can just go whatever speed it poses HUGE risks for everyone on the road. I'm not saying you feel this way, but 'going along with traffic' is not an excuse is my main point. Here in Colorado there are areas where 70% of accidents on interstate highways are due to speeding. Speeding is very serious, but I unfortunately don't see too many people taking it seriously.

If you were speeding, it doesn't matter what your car make was, what your plate was, what the officer's attitude was... you were speeding. Pay the ticket and learn.

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As a related hypothetical, RB, what would his situation be like if he had answered "I'm not sure; my speedometer is broken and I was matching the speed of other traffic" when asked how fast he was going?

He could still get the ticket and it would be up to the judge. The judge may convict him of the speeding or of defective equipment. Knowingly driving with a defective speedometer may not sit well with the judge. The judge holds the driver responsible for operating his vehicle and as such, not knowing your speed may not hold up well as a defense since the driver may also be neglecting other driving responsibilities in his ignorance. This isn't to say all judges will decide that way, but a lot will.

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As an aside, here's info on the most and least ticketed car types;

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-10151380-48.html

I don't think color really matters from what I've heard... it depends on which color is actually most dominantly on the road which I believe at the current time is white.

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As an aside, here's info on the most and least ticketed car types;

http://reviews.cnet....0151380-48.html

I don't think color really matters from what I've heard... it depends on which color is actually most dominantly on the road which I believe at the current time is white.

Well that proves it. Get yourself a Lamborghini, and never get a ticket.

(Or a Maserati, Ferrari,Alfa,Lancia - don't you have any Italian cars there?)

Think of the money you'll save.

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I think people are coming down too hard on the OP.

Oftentimes, you can go significantly over the speed limit without putting anyone in any extra danger. (Especially if you are going the speed of other traffic.) And as long as you're driving safely, I don't think you have a MORAL obligation to follow the speed limit. The speed limit is an arbitrary dictate of the government; the roads are not private property.

Summary: If you can get away with going over the limit, do it. If you get unlucky, pay the fine. If you get unlucky and get ticketed, but you can get out of it, do it. If you don't want to run the risk of ever getting a ticket, don't ever speed.

In my area of North Carolina, the de facto speed limit is about 10 MPH greater than the speed limit, which is arbitrarily way too low; everybody drives over it all the time. Once I was going way over the speed limit (thought it was a 70 zone but it was 55; anyway, I was driving safely, given the road conditions), and by asking nicely at the courthouse, I got the ticket changed to "improper equipment" (even though that wasn't the case at all). This is pretty much standard practice.

If the government would set speed limits that were actually appropriate (not arbitrarily too low) and actually enforce the limit strictly, I would not have the attitude I do. I'd much rather that it were that way. But it's not. The applicability of my policy general suggestions re: speeding depends on where you live; your mileage may vary.

Edited by BrassDragon
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Excellent points and summary, BrassDragon.

To those whose argument is something like, "Speed isn't safe, thus any speed limit is just," I say, "Rubbish." Car shape, road and weather conditions, road seclusion, visibility as a driver and other drivers' visibility, and most importantly driver awareness and skill are all elements that contribute more to "safety" than speed.

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You are suggesting that leaving it up to individual drivers to determine what is and isn't safe would make a public road safer than if it had rules set by a government. That has been proven false by empirical evidence, the rules make the public roads much safer.

I'm not advocating throwing out all the rules. It's just that sometimes the speed limit is not what it should be. Also, it is necessary for each driver to determine how to drive safely; there's a lot more to driving safely than just following the speed limit, and much of it is highly dependent on context. If a person isn't able or willing to determine what is safe, they shouldn't be driving (and they won't survive long on the road, anyway).

All the driving skills in the world wont keep a child from chasing a basketball into the street in front of your car. And I drive expecting the stupidest possible move from every other motorist on the road.

I also drive very defensively. But there are many situations where it's safe to go pretty fast. For example, the time when I mistakenly thought I was in a 70 zone but it was 55, I was driving on a perfectly straight road with no other cars on it that went through empty fields for miles; I could see EVERYTHING.

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A lot of times officers are unable to give you a solid ticket if you won't admit to having broken the law. If you didn't have a speedometer why would you say you were going 15-20 mph over the speed limit? How did you know? The fact that you answered discredits your "faulty equipment" argument (because you KNEW your speed by confession) in court and also serves as a confession (that you were speeding) which the officer can use against you. You've no case on those grounds. I have however heard of judges reaming out police officers if they feel that the officer was abusing his end of the power relationship. In such case the judge would likely through the case out, but you have to have a pretty convincing story.

Go to court and plead for a reduction and see if the officer is willing to throw you a bone. If he initially says no, don't back down immediately. If the officer won't come to any agreements and your case goes to trial try to have a half decent argument. In many cases officers will reduce your conviction to help you to avoid losing a license, having higher car insurance bills, or what have you. Good luck.

Edited by Q.E.D.
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