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Ticket for not using headlights, when it's 2pm and not raining

Ticket for not using headlights, when it's 2pm and not raining

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  #1  
Old 12-01-14, 09:21 AM
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Ticket for not using headlights, when it's 2pm and not raining

Fayette county, Tennesee.

It's 2pm on Wednesday 26th November. Driving from Brownsville TN to Memphis airport by I-40W. The weather is overcast but bright, and they are very few rain drops every now and then. It does not necessitate the use of my windscreen wipers (lighting regulations 55-9-406 - Headlights on motor vehicles Operation during inclement weather Violation Penalty Costs. :: 2010 Tennessee Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia).

I'm in the left hand land when all of a sudden a State Trooper, one that was sitting in the median, rolls out behind me and pulls me over. I get over immediately, and when the Trooper comes to my window she asks why I don't have my headlights on. I reply stating that I didn't think it's dark enough, and she tells me that it's against State law not to have my headlights on in inclement weather conditions. At that point I turn on my headlights and wipers just to comply.

She takes my license and registration and goes back to her vehicle, and at that point I set up my camera to film the window to capture everything. The video lasts about 8 minute and shows minor drops of water on the windshield, as well as other vehicles driving without headlights on (maybe 20%). It shows that the highway is clearly dry and the headlights of vehicles don't even show up on the road.. it's clearly a bright enough day.

She returns and hands me my ticket and I protest a little. She tells me that there are signs on the interstate telling all drivers to have their lights on, but there are not. There were only signs that said "I-40 Challenge. Troopers every 20 miles." She tells me I can either pay the fine or go to court, up to me, but she is adamant that I deserve this ticket.

The two pictures below are screenshots from the videos. One is while I'm pulled over, the other is immediately after I set off after being given my ticket.

I'm not made of money.. I can't afford to throw $250 away on the fine or the court costs. What can I do about this? If I go to court and plan to ask for my court costs to be waived, what should I have ready to defend my case?



 

Last edited by Mark Gunther; 12-01-14 at 09:39 AM.
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  #2  
Old 12-01-14, 09:30 AM
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There should be a specific statute listed that you violated. You would need to go to court and prove you did not violate it.
 
  #3  
Old 12-01-14, 09:53 AM
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She listed 55-9-406 regarding inclement weather conditions, which is the code I linked to.

It's clear to me that I must go to court to contest it, but what I'm asking is how I can best contest it and not have to pay court costs?
 
  #4  
Old 12-01-14, 09:56 AM
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Right. And I answered - you have to prove you did not violate this statute. I have no idea what the statute says but regardless of guilty until proven innocent, you now need to be able to make a case that either that statute did not apply or you did not violate it.

You also may have to pay court costs regardless; that is something you will need to research.
 
  #5  
Old 12-01-14, 10:01 AM
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I thought court costs only applied if you were guilty

If you bring a detailed weather report for that day including a hour or so before/after the time of the citation - that along with your time stamped video should help with your defense.
 
  #6  
Old 12-01-14, 10:03 AM
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Tennessee is well known for "revenue enhancement" tactics and this is a good example.

RR
 
  #7  
Old 12-01-14, 10:25 AM
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I thought court costs only applied if you were guilty
I think this is something which varies by state but you could be right.
 
  #8  
Old 12-01-14, 10:43 AM
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I'm going along with what Rough stated. I suspect that most people that get such a citation simply pay the fine and move on, regardless of whether or not they were technically guilty. I also suspect that this is exactly what the Trooper was thinking, that the cost of going to court far outweighs the cost of the fine.

I don't know anything about your situation but for me it ALWAYS paid for me to go to court, even when I lost the judge would assess a much reduced fine or perhaps no fine but minimal court costs. You DO want to subpoena the ticketing officer to appear, you need to ask the court clerk how to do that as sometimes it is as easy as merely asking the clerk to do so. If you are lucky the Trooper won't bother to appear and then you can have the case dismissed. (Yes, that has happened to me.)
 
  #9  
Old 12-01-14, 10:51 AM
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I would research just what they call "inclement weather conditions", I would think it could be defined quite broadly, I remember someone of high stature trying to define what "is" is!
 
  #10  
Old 01-16-15, 09:58 AM
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Update: Case instantly dismissed, without court fees, by DA. She was astounded that I was ever given a citation in the first place.
 
  #11  
Old 01-16-15, 10:00 AM
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Good day for you but I wonder what the issuing officer thinks of this DA....
 
  #12  
Old 01-16-15, 10:26 AM
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I'd be having a TV station ask why officers are issuing trumped up tickets. Poor training of the officers or are they operating under orders from superiors to issue tickets not supported by the facts.
 
  #13  
Old 01-16-15, 01:21 PM
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Another post I completely missed when it was posted.

My advise would have been as the others. I never payed court fees when it was dismissed outright. And I've had several tickets dismissed under similar circumstances.

Of course they are told to get a certain quota, esp in TN. And the senior guys tell the younger ones...."Here's how you do it...".
 
  #14  
Old 01-16-15, 01:27 PM
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If you're really lucky, the officer won't show up on court day. Instant dismissal by the judge. You can't cross examine a document, so the ticket is worthless. Glad it worked out for you.
 
  #15  
Old 01-16-15, 01:53 PM
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I had a similar problem a long time ago, relating to the use of fog lights (driving lights). These were the factory fog lights on a 96 Saturn. It was night, bad driving conditions and snowing hard- big flakes. A state trooper I met, swung around and pulled me over. Gave me a ticket for failing to dim my fog lights for oncoming traffic. I tried to explain that they aren't considered high beam (they go off when you turn the bright lights on) but he didn't care. Said they were high intensity and that I needed to turn them off for approaching traffic. He was a real a-hole, the kind that would never back down from a good fight, especially since he was the one with the badge and gun.

He not only gave me a ticket, but checked the box (must appear in court). Unfortunately I lived 70 miles from that county courthouse. So I had to take a day off work (lost pay) and then pay the giant fine + court costs on top of it. Knowing what I know now, I should have explained it to the judge, I bet it would have been thrown out too. I even asked a state trooper who was a friend of mine, and he said it was kind of a judgment call... but that he wouldn't have pulled someone over for that.

Another time I had a county deputy (or was he BIA?) pull me over for passing him and a state department of roads snowplow that were doing 40 mph in a 60 mph zone. It had snowed overnight but at 11 am, the road was now totally wet since it was about 50F and sunny. If you want to see his picture, just look up the word "prick" in the dictionary... it'll be right there. I have never felt so threatened as I did that day- he was just plain hostile. I just about headed straight to the county courthouse to lodge a formal complaint about him.
 
  #16  
Old 01-16-15, 02:49 PM
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Here, you can't pass any snow removal equipment, sand trucks or plows, period, unless they pull over to the shoulder. We only have two, so chances are slim. Of course if they are not plowing, dropping sand, etc. that's different.
 
  #17  
Old 01-16-15, 02:56 PM
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Thing was, I never got any sort of ticket, warning, or anything of the kind.... I apparently just pissed him off that morning but there wasn't anything he could cite me for... he must have just wanted to slow me down that day.
 
  #18  
Old 01-16-15, 02:56 PM
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You can pass them here but you want to do so on the left - pass them on the right and you may lose all visibility.
 
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