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What is A Stop Sign Ticket?
One of the most common traffic violations in the U.S. is not stopping your vehicle at a ‘stop sign.’ Therefore, police officers are always on the alert for motorists who indulge in this traffic offense.
You might be found guilty of a stop sign violation if your vehicle fails to come to a halt at a crosswalk, limit line, or a railroad-crossing intersection entrance. Pleading guilty or getting a guilty verdict would mean a hefty fine along with a point on your driving record. Discuss your options with an experienced traffic ticket attorney before proceeding.
How Much Does A Stop Sign Ticket Cost?
The failure to halt at a stop sign has a base fine of $35, which might not sound too bad to you. However, this amount is exclusive of the state and county fees, charges, and surcharges – the total amount might fall somewhere around $220 to 250. Additionally, if you opt for a defense driving course, that might add another $60-80 as a ‘privilege of attending’ charge.
That is not all: you will have to pay the driving school’s tuition, which might range from $35 to $50. Suddenly, you are looking at a charge of approximately $350. You might be able to conceal your ticket from public scrutiny by using traffic safety school. But, if not, your insurance company will likely raise your premium rates because of the additional risk at renewal.
How Can You Get Rid of a Stop Sign Ticket?
If your license is not being affected, it is not exactly a bad idea to pay up the fine amount and put the whole experience behind you. However, if you are getting the point on your license, do note that it will remain for an entire three years, and any subsequent points might mean that your driver’s license is suspended or revoked. If you are faced with such a possibility, it is best to try and contest the stop sign ticket to avoid suspension and reinstatement fees. The next section discusses the consequences of ‘just paying your fine.’
There are several defenses that you can build up and present to the court to prove your innocence. Remember that the burden of the proof lies on the state, which means that it needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you ran a stop sign, rather than you having to prove that you did not. So, all you need to do is create reasonable doubt in the judge’s mind, and you should be able to walk free. Some of the ways you can do that are listed below:
Discredit the officer’s observation
You can expect the judge to be biased towards the police officer’s narration of events. So, if you can cast doubt on the officer’s observations, you have a good chance of turning the proverbial tide in your favor. The best way to do this is to bring an eyewitness forward to make your case. This eyewitness could be someone who observed the entire incident from a unique angle, and therefore, can cast new light on it.
Argue that the officer’s conclusion was subjective
For instance, you might have stopped your vehicle 15 feet before the stop sign, but the officer perceived that you rolled over and crossed the said sign. However, you did stop, and you can make your case if you can produce a few pictures from the officer’s viewpoint.
Justify your conduct
For example, you did not drive beyond the stop sign, an oncoming vehicle might have collided with yours. So, you admit to the traffic offense, but you also claim that you only did it to prevent further damage. This will help shed new light on the case.
Assert mistake of fact
You can only be issued a ticket if you knowingly crossed a stop sign. You could claim that you could not see the sign as it was covered by bushes or shrubbery. Often, signs are painted over or faded, and this is another defense that your attorney can use.
Ramifications of Paying the Fine
If you pay your fine without being eligible for traffic safety school (because your previous ticket came within the last eighteen months), you will have to give up your ‘good driver’s discount’ the next time you renew your auto insurance.
An average driver in California pays approximately $165 for auto-insurance each month. When you pay the stop sign ticket fine, you are practically pleading guilty, which means that it does not matter if the police officer had a poor viewing angle or did not notice that you stopped the car before the sign – your auto-insurance amount will increase. So, depending on other factors, your $165 monthly amount will go up by about $45.
Now your monthly insurance cost is $210, and this difference is substantial when you consider that the amount is not going to return to normal for another three years, at least. So, over the course of those 36 months, you will be paying an additional $1,620. Most attorneys will cost significantly less than that, so it is better to hire one instead of falsely assuming that it is cheaper just to pay the fine and move on.
Under What Conditions Are You Ineligible for Traffic School?
- If you have taken the course any time during the last year-and-a-half.
- You were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your offense.
- Your ticket was drug or alcohol-related.
- You are obligated to appear in court.
- You received a correctable or ‘fix-it’ ticket (for having a broken taillight, for instance).
- You have been accused of a felony, or a significant misdemeanor or infraction.
- You had a ‘reminder’ from the court stating that you are ineligible for driving school. This usually happens when you are accused of exceeding the minimum speed limit by at least 25 mph.
If you tick any of these boxes, it is best to discuss your circumstances with a traffic lawyer in Chicago before proceeding. It is always possible that the attorney can get your charges reduced to a no-point offense or even get your stop sign violation dismissed altogether, not to mention that approaching an attorney might save you over $1,600 in insurance premium rates.
To conclude, this article tried to show how a seemingly innocuous stop sign ticket can evolve into something much more malignant and might culminate in you losing your driving privileges. Hence, we suggest that, if you have been served with a ticket, you should consult an attorney to discuss your options and come up with the best way to proceed. As mentioned previously, compared to the ticket amount and other financial consequences that come with the fine, an attorney will cost you much less.