Accident pics/contesting ticket

Robert Myers robert at
Fri Jun 28 09:15:34 EDT 2002

It has seemed to me, Charlie, that the prime requisite to become a local
cop in this area is prior experience as a school yard bully.  Perhaps our
friend encountered one of this type of prime example of a small town West
Virginia REO.  If so, he is very right to fight the ticket.  You are also
right - he may well be risking excessive penalties especially if the judge
is another one of the local school yard bullies made good.

At 07:52 AM 6/28/02, Charlie Smith wrote:

>A couple people have questioned the adequacy of the sign, and where
>is was placed.  I sure can't tell from the pictures.  Some of that
>probably depends on what's normally used in that part of the country.
>I've seen roads closed due to unmelted snow clear into May in more
>mountainous states like Utah.  My earlier comments were based on the
>belief (guess?) that the sign was what's normally used in that locale,
>and the belief (guess?) that entire-winter road closures are normal in that
>area.  If that's the case, arguments about adequacy probably won't fly.
>The point of the cop giving someone a ticket for "this ordeal" is that
>it's the cop's job to do that if the cop believes a law / ordinance was
>violated.  How big an ordeal the recipient went through doesn't enter
>into it, as far as the cop's area of responsibility.  It's up to a court
>to determine if the ordinance was violated, and if more (or any) punishment
>is warranted.  That's why they are called a judge.
>My comments about worse things to be cited for than driving on a closed
>road and possible penalties were just pointing out possibilities.  If
>someone goes in front of a judge and exhibits a high idiot factor, and
>if the judge doesn't believe the defendant's likely to be deterred from
>doing it (whatever) again, some judges are inclined to "improve" the
>deterrence factors.  Especially if the defendant admits to violations
>of other ordinances at the same time.  Never say something like "I was
>going too fast to see the sign" ...
>As far as penalties, check your local ordinances on things like reckless
>operation, and drag racing.  Those ordinances may well include large fines,
>a large number of points, and possible jail time.  That doesn't mean at all
>that those penalties would be imposed in total every time someone was found
>guilty of the offense.  It does indicate that whichever governmental body
>passed the ordinance thought it was a serious offense.  It's up to the
>judge to determine how much of the penalty to impose.
>Again, if someone goes in front of a judge and exhibits a high idiot factor,
>it's entirely up to the judge.  For example, and I'm sure this isn't the
>case here - consider someone that was using an empty mountain road
>for 9/10ths driving practice (and I've done it too), came around a
>blind corner and while braking madly to avoid something like an ice
>covered area flew past the normally used "road closed" sign, and
>ended up off the road.  If the person then gets in front of a judge
>and implies the cop is an idiot for writing the ticket, the judge is
>more likely to think stronger deterrence is needed.
>If he really thinks he was not in the wrong, and shouldn't have received
>the ticket, a local attorney is probably an excellent idea.
>    - Charlie
>Earlier, Jack Gagnon wrote:
> >
> > Wow Charlie, your take on this is pretty harsh!  Jail time?  Are you trying
> > to scare the bejesus out of him?
> >
> > What is the point in giving someone a ticket for this ordeal?  If you ask
> > me, the cop is an idiot for drawing attention to the inadequate sign.  If
> > the sign is deemed inadequate in court, the government agency could
> possibly
> > be sued by the driver of the car!
> >
> > The signs do not meet MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices )
> > standards.  If the sign was only 100 feet from the closed section of road
> > and the lettering is inadequate it is quite possible that the driver
> did not
> > have adequate time to slow down before hitting the ice.  It does not take a
> > whole lot of speed to roll a car after it has gone over an embankment
> > sideways.
> >
> > There must be more to this story!
> >
> > Jack
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: quattro-admin at [mailto:quattro-admin at]On
> > Behalf Of Charlie Smith
> > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2002 5:45 PM
> > To: nicksimc at
> > Subject: Re: Accident pics/contesting ticket
> >
> > Earlier, nicksimc at wrote:
> > >
> > > I finally got around to scanning some pictures of my April 2 accident.
> > > The ticket I received the next day was for "going down a closed road."
> > > This will be disputed in court at the end of July.  How's that for a
> right
> > > to speedy trial?
> > >
> > > Here is the fork in the road.  The road to the left was obviously closed
> > > by the snow berm in front of it, and by the sign 100 ft _behind_ the
> > > berm telling you it is closed (far left sign).
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I went down the road to the right.  This pic is of the sign telling you
> > > that the road ahead was closed.  It is about 100ft in front of the ice.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I never actually saw the sign because I was too busy braking to avoid the
> > > obvious hazard.  Unfortunately, I was unable to come to a complete stop
> > > before I reached the ice, and I began sliding across this:
> >
> > I think you are guilty as charged.  If you went past a "road closed"
> > sign (road2.jpg) that's the end of the story.  The fact that you were
> > going too fast to see it is no excuse.  If you told the officer that
> > you "never actually saw the sign because I was too busy braking to
> > avoid the obvious hazard", you are lucky he didn't also cite you for
> > either "too fast for conditions" or "reckless operation".
> >
> > > I am looking for a nice way to say "this is BS" in court.  Anyone?
> >
> > I think you'd better pay the ticket and stay out of court if you can.
> >
> > I'm a volunteer police officer in Columbus Ohio.  I've seen judges around
> > here that on hearing a story like yours would add the "reckless operation"
> > charge themselves and sock you with a healthy fine.  Look up the penalty
> > for reckless ops in your city / state.  It may even specify jail time.
> >
> >    - Charlie
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  Robert L. Myers   304-574-2372
  Rt. 4, Box 57,  Fayetteville, WV 25840 USA   WV tag Q SHIP
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