“I was going with the flow of traffic.” and Other Common Non-Defenses
Being in court everyday has given me a unique insight to the defenses that people try to use to challenge their traffic tickets. Here are some common defenses that the court will not consider a defense.
"I was going with the flow of traffic" is Not a DefenseThe most common defense I hear in court, virtually every day, is "I was only going with the flow of traffic." In law, this is not a defense at all. A speeding violation occurs when a driver exceeds a certain speed. it does not matter if other cars were speeding, it only matters if the driver cited was speeding. (The speed limit may be established for certain road conditions, or may be a statewide maximum speed, or may be posted speed, or may be a speed limit for the type of operation, e.g., pulling a trailer.)
"I needed to go pee" is Not a DefenseA real emergency may be a defense. However, "I had to go to the bathroom" is not a defense. One time I do recall a judge giving someone a break due to a pressing personal hygiene need. However, that did not relieve (no pun intended) the person of all liability; she just got a reduced fine.
"I merged in the carpool lane to avoid an accident" is Not a Defense when You were Following too CloselyA retired judge I used to see every other day in court used to say the same thing every time a defendant, or client, said that they had changed lanes into the carpool lane to avoid an accident. He would say, "I have been doing this 22 years, and only four times has someone had an excuse other than to avoid an accident for being in the carpool lane." He would then go on to explain that unless they had something else to say besides they were avoiding an accident, it was probably not going to help their case. The problem with a driver claiming he or she was avoiding an accident by making an illegal lane change-crossing over the double yellow lines into the carpool lane-is that the driving is essential admitting she violated the law to avoid a dangerous situation usually created by that driver from following the care ahead to closely. The DMV handbook is clear about the distances required to keep behind another vehicle. They even have calculations based on speed and distance needed to slow down. Unfortunately, if a driver keeps the distance that the DMV handbook states, that driver on the freeway will be constantly passed and cut in front of by other commuters. Reality does match the textbook. However, the textbook determines the violation.