Thanks for such a wonderful website!
I learned a lot of things from your website — such as a magistrate hearing is not a full trial (unlike most states?) and that the original officer does not report.
I was ticketed on a 4-lane, divided stretch of 110 in Lowell, MA known as the VFW Highway. When travelling northbound approaching the intersection with University Avenue, the speed zones go abruptly from 45 to 30. This is a popular speed trap, with the officer parked in the UML Treatment Lot.
Perhaps I was speeding during the 45 zone, but what is important to me was as I crossed that 35 threshold (and some feet prior) I’m 100% certain I was doing 27mph. The officer was using radar to establish speed, but the road actually takes a double-curve “S” shape. You’re still heading towards the officer, but the speed sign is 190 feet from the center of Treatment Lot.
(Tip: After a ticket, you can save time measuring distances by noting if there is a guardrail, and if so how many posts there are. All posts seem to be evenly spaced at 60-something inches. That beats a 1/4 mile tape measure! 🙂
Anyhow the officer pulled me over, asked for my ID, then asked me why he stopped me. I answered “not sure.” He replied I was speeding, then returned to his car.
I t was a bit of a shock to be handed a 55-inside-30 ticket, which is 100% untrue. I might have just paid the ticket if it were 50 in a 45 but now I felt violated as if someone stole my wallet!
The citation was a mess — the officer checked off 9PM (it was 9AM), noted the address on the front of my license – not the back. This indicates he did not even look at my registration. He checked off MGL 90/17 (wrong), and never asked me to sign it.
I requested a hearing, and got my notice mid-December. Hearing was just after the New Year (96 days after my request).
I went to the hearing armed with printouts from the mass.gov website, of 90/17, 90/18, and section 90C (citation signature requirement). The officer immediately scoffed about “stuff I found on the Int-ah-net.” I asked the magistrate if the online edition of MGL from mass.gov was any different from what is in the legal books, and if so could we use the relevant chapters from his legal books. The cop looked irritated, but the magistrate conceded my papers were OK for now.
I started by saying I could not have been violating the terms of Ch 90/17, because from the officer’s vantage point, clocking me for 1/8th or 1/4 mile was not possible. The officer actually said “that doesn’t mean anything – do you really think an officer has to let someone speed for 1/4 mile before ticketing them?” I answered “I am only qualified to read from the MGL, sir. My opinion would be irrelevant.” The officer had a blood pressure problem I could see. 🙂
Next I stated the officer made gross errors on the citation, such as my address, and even the time of day was “not possible” (12 hours off). Lastly, the officer failed in his duties according to MGL90C, and did not request a signature. The officer got cranky and said that was “like asking the officer to give you a weapon (the pen!)”
Throughout this, I tried to not to address the officer, and stick to the magistrate. The officer kept making comments irrelevant to my evidence, and actually seemed to want to engage me in a debate (which I knew would hurt my case). Remember, the officer is not a witness. Do not engage him even if he makes wild remarks and wants to debate. Face the magistrate when you make your statements and let the magistrate question the officer. If the officer asks you something, divide your gaze between both of them. Don’t let he officer bait you into a meaningless debate, as he was trying to do with me.
About 10 minutes into this, the magistrate told us the “officer clearly made a mistake,” and that “90/17 was the wrong code” since VFW is posted. NOT RESPONSIBLE!