Northfield's finest have nothing better to do...
April 24, 2007 6:38 AM   Subscribe

North Chicago suburbs speeding ticket with a CA drivers license. To plead guilty or not?

Just off of North-bound 94 late last night, I realized I had gotten off an exit too early and took a road parallel to the freeway to head up to my hotel. Unfortunately I was doing freeway speed in a 35mph (Northfield, IL, fwiw).

He said he clocked me at 46mph and then paced me up to over 70mph. He first said 80mph but he realized I was contrite and really didn't think I hit even 70, so he wrote me up for 65 in a 35, or 30 over (31 would have involved handcuffs apparently). The actual description on the ticket says "Speeding (Paced) 65/35."

My options:

A) Plead guilty, pay $95. Conviction is reported to the Sec of State for entry on my public driving record. No court appearance.

B) Plead guilty, pay $135, go to traffic school, no court appearance or public record entry.

C) Plead not guilty, request court hearing.

Please note that I have a California drivers license - I've had other out-of-state tickets where I've paid the fine and never seen anything show up on my CA record. That said, I work here in IL on a weekly basis so my main concern is that they keep a state record and I get in bigger trouble the next time I get pulled over.

So, two questions:

1) Which of the three options, and why?

2) Do they keep a state record on out-of-state licenses that should make me consider an option other than A (which I'm currently leaning towards)?
posted by allkindsoftime to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure how it works for CA, but I was a MI resident when I got an IL ticket. I took the class and it STILL showed up as points on my license. I tried to fight it, but there was just too much red tape to keep fighting for one point. Your speeding ticket is more possible points. You might want to take the class and make sure it does stay off your record.
posted by eggerspretty at 6:46 AM on April 24, 2007

I don't see how C is an option. You are guilty. You admitted it to the officer apparently. Aren't they going to slap you with the worst of both A and B if you try to weasel out?
posted by DU at 6:54 AM on April 24, 2007

DU: It's always possible that the officer won't show up. I'm not sure how often it happens, but it does happen. I guess that's what allkindsoftime is hoping for.

If I were in your position, I'd take traffic school. I mean you know you did it, right?
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2007

Can you do traffic school online? No kidding, I did it for a Chicago moving violation once. Took an hour and I had a beer while I did it.
posted by mrbugsentry at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2007

Ask to plead down the charge, usually they will turn it into an exotic parking ticket. The only place I know that didn't had a large concerned, under worked mom contingent who got a law passed disallowing pleading down. According to my lawyer it so overran the courts with cases they got rid of it immediately. Unless you come off as an asshole the county/city would rather you pay them $400 for your handicap parking ticket.
posted by geoff. at 7:26 AM on April 24, 2007

I'm in Evanston. Got a moving violation with a date in court. Officer never showed up. Thrown out. The practical penalty was having to take a day off work.

On a second note, you can do traffic school online. Done that as well. And as mrbugsentry notes, a beer while doing it is that much better.
posted by rryan at 7:52 AM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: IAAL, but IAANYL.

If you are feeling lucky, punk, you can try C. But I would not think that it is very likely to be successful in the Northfield, because those cops are way more likely to show up and you are way more likely to pay a "trial tax" if you are ultimately found guilty around there, and it sounds like you will be. It's not Chicago or even Evanston, and the cops in Northfield may very well not have anything better to do.

I'm not sure if you will be able to do traffic school online for Northfield, but it is universal for certain offenses in the City of Chicago, and common in other places, too. It took me about 4 hours, though, as you have to let stuff play for a certain amount of time before you can click through, but I just did it at work and kept it on another monitor. Your speed may put you out of the range in which you can do that. Read your ticket closely, it will say which offenses are eligible for traffic school; you will need to make sure that yours is eligible.

If you are going to try some exotic scheme to get it plead to some other type of infraction, hire a lawyer. A local traffic lawyer is going to be much better at that than you are, and it's not going to be that much more expensive. But I still think that the smart money is on B. I'm not sure if it will get to your CA driving record if you plead guilty, but it definitely should not if you do traffic school.

Slow down and pay attention. You can still be a chronic speeder while being careful enough not to do freeway speeds on local access roads with 35 mph speed limits.
posted by jcwagner at 8:25 AM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: If you go to court, you can see if the cop is there when you are called up, then take the traffic school if he is there.
posted by lee at 9:03 AM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: (Not your lawyer and all that).

I don't know what the law is for "pacing," but it seems odd that he (a) clocked you at 46, then (b) "paced" you at 80, when (c) you don't think you hit 70, then (d) wrote you a ticket at 65.

Maybe I don't understand "pacing" and the answer is that you can't clock someone while directly behind them or something, and maybe he wrote you the 65 because he was being nice. But if you have doubt that you were really doing 65, you could probably make a fair argument that you weren't doing 65 and that the officer acknowledged that his only gun reading was 46.

Also, though I don't know if it is common practice in Illinois, my experience in Missouri is that if you show up and talk to the prosecutor beforehand, he may trade you a guilty plea for a higher-fine non-moving violation ("excessive vehicle noise" or something similar) that will stay off your record.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:58 AM on April 24, 2007

I'm not *your* lawyer - and I'm not an insurance agent at all. But if I were you - I would try to figure out the ramifications wrt your auto insurance. My agent told me last year that yes, they would find out about a ticket even if it was in another state (apparently this is true for all insurance companies) if it went on my record, and a ticket for going >25mph over carried enough points that they would have to cancel a policy and rewrite it as "high risk" -- even if there were absolutely no other violations on that record.

Your Option B is what I would do. For an extra $40 and some time in traffic school, Option B sounds like it just gets rid of the problem.

For the future - you might want to look into whether or not Option B can only be used X number of times per year and drive accordingly.
posted by KAS at 11:57 AM on April 24, 2007

Response by poster: Looks like my ticket says its the 4 hour traffic school option if I go that way, but it says it costs more too. Anybody happen to know how much?
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:53 PM on April 24, 2007

Response by poster: Never mind.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:06 PM on April 24, 2007

That Northwestern Traffic school totally sucks. That said, it does have humorous points, like where it asks you for the names of your loved ones, then, a screen or two later, asks you how you'd feel if ___ died. It's bizarre.
posted by rbs at 3:29 PM on April 24, 2007

Response by poster: For the archive's sake...

I decided to go with Option C and try to fight my way out of it in court. I did that after reading a number of articles encouraging this course.

Show up in the morning and caught on quickly that they were going through a whole batch of cases for this officer - the same guy who pulled me over. My name comes up alphabetically and I decided to go up, although lee's idea above is still a good idea, depending on the situation.

Anyway, its the cop, the prosecutor, and myself, all standing shoulder to shoulder facing the judge. Judge swears us in and the prosecutor starts things off:

"Officer Jones, do you hereby testify that on the night of XYZ you did in fact radar the defendant at 65mph in a 35mph speedzone on northbound Frontage Road at approximately 11:30pm?"

"Yes, I do."

(Now here's the problem - if you remember from my original question, he didn't radar me at anything over 46).

Judge turns to me, "Do you have anything to say on your behalf?"

"Well, first of all, your honor, I'd like to point out that my copy of the ticket says that the charge is 65 in a 35, paced, not radar-ed, as the Officer just testified."

Then I just waited.

Judge looks at the ticket while the prosecutor tries to backpedal, then holds it up in the prosecutor and cops direction and says "The ticket says 'paced,' as was just testified. Not guilty."

I turned and walked out of the courtroom.

(You can bet what I'll be doing with my next ticket - I had satellite images of the road and had done the math on how far behind me the officer was likely "pacing" me from, and I never even had to pull all of that out.)
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:34 PM on June 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

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