I got a traffic ticket on Saturday -- first in over 20 years. I'm going to contest based on the following reasons:
- The ticket was for "failure to obey a traffic sign."
- I was in an unfamiliar area, following directions I was given. What happened first was that I got off the highway, turned right at the end of the exit ramp, and then realized that I needed to make an immediate left turn to get onto the right street. I missed that left turn, and it would have been unsafe to try to turn there at that point.
- I instead went up the next light and made a left turn into a gas station so that I could get turned around the right way.
- As I was making that left turn, I noticed the "No left turn, No U-turns" sign next to the traffic signal.
- On seeing the sign, I had two choices: To abort the turn and merge back into normal traffic coming up behind me, or complete the turn (there was no oncoming traffic). Completing the turn was the safer option, so I took it.
- A sheriff's deputy saw me and wrote the ticket.
I would like to contest the ticket because I WOULD have obeyed the sign had I seen it. Because I had just made a wrong turn in an unfamiliar area, my attention was focused on safely getting back to where I needed to be. I did not see the sign until I had already started the turn, and at that point it seemed safest to carry through.
Is this a decent or valid argument? Are there any phrases to avoid or to make my point more effective? Is it a good idea or a bad idea to mention my spotless driving record? (I had one ticket over 20 years ago, but I think they took it off my record after I went to defensive driving.)
The basic fact is that, yes, I did make a turn where I wasn't supposed to. But, it wasn't intentional or malicious, and I feel that in following through with it, I made the decision not to put other drivers around me at risk.
Thanks for any advice. The ticket says I can contest by registered mail, so I think I'll probably do that instead of going to court.
(Jurisdiction: Placer County, CA)