Fight Speeding Ticket


NMA Alerts & E-Newsletters


NMA E-Newsletter #309: NMA Reviews Member Benefits Package, Needs Your Input

Posted on December 14th, 2014 in , , , | Comments Off

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As part of its 2015 strategic plan, the NMA will be reviewing its member benefits package to make sure we’re meeting your needs as the premier drivers’ rights organization in North America. We’re particularly excited about a possible new benefit. It would consist of a trip mapping feature, similar to MapQuest’s Route Planner (see sample screenshot), overlaid with speed trap and roadblock location data from our extensive Speedtrap.org and Roadblock.org databases.

members-benefits-package-survey

We’d really like to know what you think. Would you use such a tool to plan your next trip? What other NMA benefits do you find most useful? Would you like to see changes to our benefits package? Let us know by taking a short (honestly) survey. Simply click the link below. Your responses will be completely anonymous. As a reminder, you can review current NMA member benefits here.


NMA E-Newsletter #308: Trigonometry Can Set You Free

Posted on December 7th, 2014 in , , , | Comments Off

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The NMA spells out several proven strategies to fight a speeding ticket in our Fight That Ticket! ebook — a free download for supporting members, a $9.95 purchase for non-supporting members. One such technical defense is based on cosine error. It is an underutilized strategy perhaps because it brings back unpleasant memories of high school math class, or maybe because the error usually produces a lower-than-actual speed reading on a radar/laser gun that already favors the driver.

To first explain what cosine error is and how it can come into play when a law enforcement officer uses radar or laser to gauge the speed of a passing vehicle, we’ll snip a couple of pertinent pages from Volume 2 of Fight That Ticket!:

 

 

Cosine Error pg 24 - ebook

This page from the CopRadar.com website allows you to dig as deeply into the trigonometry as you’d like. It also provides online calculators to determine measured vs. actual vehicle speed based on the cosine angle. The calculators are helpful if you want to try to avoid unpleasant flashbacks to 9th or 10th grade.

All of this leads to one of the cleverest uses of the cosine error to beat a speeding ticket that we have seen. In fact, we published the following successful defense strategy in the November/December 2005 issue of National Motorists Association Foundation News, the forerunner to the current NMA member magazine, Driving Freedoms. Zamir Bavel incorporated his knowledge of cosine error with strategic questioning to discredit the testimony of the ticketing officer and win his appeal.

Cosine Effect article Nov-Dec 2005A little bit of math mixed with the same courtroom ingenuity may turn out to be your best defense against a speeding ticket someday.


NMA E-Newsletter #307: When You Hit the Road this Thanksgiving, “Do the Right Thing” and Let Faster Traffic Pass

Posted on November 30th, 2014 in , , , , , , | Comments Off

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Just in time for the holidays, here’s the latest NMA news release highlighting the kickoff of our Lane Courtesy public awareness campaign:

Waunakee, WI – November 24, 2014: The National Motorists Association (NMA) in conjunction with the nonprofit NMA Foundation is kicking off an ongoing Lane Courtesy awareness campaign in time for Thanksgiving, one of the major driving holidays of the year.

“Lane courtesy is the act of keeping or moving right to allow overtaking traffic to pass on the left,” said NMA President Gary Biller. “It is one of the most important driving principles, both from a safety and a traffic flow efficiency standpoint. Those are interrelated, of course, and yet most American drivers have difficulty yielding the right of way.”

He added, “We highlighted the keep-right conundrum between motorists and law enforcement officers in a NMA e-newsletter, ‘Lane Courtesy Redux.’ The goal of our ‘Do the Right Thing’ campaign is to have all drivers recognize the value of practicing lane courtesy, making it an integral part of our driving culture.”

The NMA first promoted keeping right for faster traffic over a decade ago when it designated June as Lane Courtesy Month. The membership-based drivers’ rights organization lists several benefits to keeping right on multi-lane highways:

  • Drivers are less likely to be in accidents: Letting faster traffic pass creates smoother traffic flow, minimizing stress and aggressive tactics like tailgating;Lane Courtesy Laws by State.
  • Fuel economy will increase: Efficient traffic flow results in less braking and accelerating as well as fewer forced lane changes;
  • Yielding to faster traffic reduces congestion: Motorists get to their destinations on schedule more consistently;
  • Keeping right is the law in most states: The driver who camps in the left lane and holds up traffic, regardless of speed, frequently is violating the law.

The campaign’s “Do the Right Thing, Yield to Faster Traffic” theme is being utilized in public service announcements and conveyed through promotional items such as laminated posters and display magnets. The NMA and NMA Foundation hope to raise enough funds to produce a lane courtesy educational video that can become part of the curriculum in driver education classes across the country.

Biller noted, “Our ongoing campaign will help educate drivers, young and old, about the many benefits of lane courtesy. If we can instill a ‘keep right’ mindset among motorists, our highways will be safer to travel and more pleasant to drive.”


NMA Ohio Alert: Ohio Senate May Pass “Trojan Horse” Camera Bill

Posted on November 26th, 2014 in , , , | Comments Off

The Ohio Senate is pulling the oldest trick in the book again. In the name of “banning” ticket cameras, it is about to vote on a bill that actually authorizes the use of red-light cameras, speed cameras and bus cameras.

Here’s the shady part. In many of the 10 cities that have banned ticket cameras by referendum in Ohio, the language says an officer must be present with the camera and issue the citation personally to the driver. The current bill, Senate Bill 342, leaves out that last portion.

Under SB 342, the officer still has to babysit the camera, but “may use any lawful means to identify the registered owner.” And that includes the use of a camera.

SB 342 is not ban; it is a cynical attempt to confuse legislators and to trick the public into supporting a bill that will in fact allow widespread use of photo enforcement.

Don’t let them get away with it. Contact your Senatorand tell him or her not to support SB 342 as written. The bill needs to be amended with the following language to be an effective deterrent to the predatory use of ticket cameras:

“The city, including its various boards, agencies and departments, shall not use any traffic law photo-monitoring device for the enforcement of a qualified traffic law violation, unless a law enforcement officer is present at the location of the device and personally issues the ticket to the alleged violator at the time and location of the violation.”


NMA National Alert: Support the NMA Foundation with your Online Purchases

Posted on November 24th, 2014 in , | Comments Off

If you plan to do your Black Friday weekend shopping online this year, don’t forget about the NMA Foundation AmazonSmile program. When you do your holiday shopping at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to the NMA Foundation. Bookmark the link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/39-1951971 and support motorists’ rights every time you shop online.

Thank you and remember to drive safely this holiday season.


NMA E-Newsletter #306: The Public Records Request

Posted on November 23rd, 2014 in , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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One of the most effective ways for a NMA member to go on the offensive is to issue a public records request. Governmental transparency is a wonderful concept but it remains just a concept unless the citizenry actively exercises the right to probe the policies and actions of public agencies.

There are many reasons to use federal and state public records laws to obtain government documents. Among them:

  • To obtain agency records for historical or academic research;
  • To obtain evidence that can be used to challenge agency rulemaking;
  • To obtain evidence that can be used in civil or criminal discovery;
  • To verify agency performance of statutory responsibilities;
  • To review records involving policy issues and decisions;
  • To expose governmental wrongdoing.

Promo for NMA PRR Guide

The power of this instrument of the people cannot be understated. Earlier this year the NMA issued an 11-page guide to public records requests to demystify the process so that more will be encouraged to examine and challenge the actions of government. This is particularly true when those actions involve motorist issues, where policies seem to be driven more by the need for revenue than for the safety of the greater public.

(Click the adjacent watchdog image to review the guide.)

Last month the opportunity arose for us to use our own guide. As outlined in E-Newsletter #303, Masking an Agenda, AAA Idaho publicly questioned the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) plan to increase the posted speed limit on several segments of interstate from 75 to 80 mph. While AAA used public statements to delay action by the ITD, the NMA decided to use the power of actual information.

In #303, we noted that it took but 30 minutes to issue a public records request to the ITD, an action that within days provided proof of the due diligence performed by that agency before it made the decision to raise the interstate limits.

The brief, four-paragraph October 8, 2014 letter from Gary Biller to the chief administrative officer of the ITD is displayed below. A quick review of the NMA public records request guide, and in particular of Appendix 1—Public Records Request Examples, and Appendix 2—State Public Records Laws, made the letter a straightforward task.

Of course, not every information request can be summarized as simply. But with the NMA Guide to the Freedom of Information Act and State/Municipal Public Records Requests in hand, you’ll be able to effectively challenge governmental actions through discovery.

And remember, if there is a processing fee from the agency to respond to your information request the NMA has another resource at your disposal. Our Community Support Program can provide a grant to help cover such costs. As the NMA tagline says, “Empowering Drivers since 1982.”

PRR to Idaho CAO for Interstate Speed Studies

 

 

 


NMA E-Newsletter: #305: T’row de Bum(s) Out!

Posted on November 16th, 2014 in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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By Gary Biller, NMA President

Popular lore has it that the phrase “throw the bums out” originated during the 1941 World Series when the New York Yankees faced off against the Brooklyn Dodgers. A man supposedly walked into a bar—stop us if you’ve heard this one before—in Brooklyn in the midst of the games and loudly toasted to all in attendance, “May the best team win.” New York hospitality being what it was, the man was set upon by the resident mob with shouts of, “T’row de bum out!” The Yankees won that series four games to one which probably didn’t improve the mood or diction of Brooklynites.

Today “throw the bums out” is more commonly applied to the world of politics where it is demonstrated all too often that our elected officials forget who they are representing and why. No better an example of this exists today than with the Brooksville, Florida, city council which has fought tooth and nail to prevent citizens the right to vote on how they are governed and regulated.

The United States is a federation of states with a republican form of government where the governing power rests with the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Most of us know this from Civics 101 but it bears repeating for those cretins in elected office who are more interested in preserving their power status than in representing the interests of the people.

Earlier this year Brooksville’s Pat and Shirley Miketinac gathered enough signatures to submit a petition, subsequently certified by the city’s supervisor of elections, which would allow voters to decide whether to approve a charter amendment prohibiting the use of red-light cameras by Brooksville. City administrators, supported by the vendor whose cameras were already in place, filed a lawsuit to prevent the up-or-down vote on the ticket cameras from ever being placed on the public ballot.

A week before the November elections, a county judge ruled in favor of denying Brooksville voters the opportunity to decide the fate of the cameras, determining ironically that a vote now could prevent a similar vote at some future date. Higher courts in California, Ohio, and Texas previously overturned similar rulings that would have prevented the people from determining the fate of red-light cameras in their communities. With election day come and gone, it is not certain that the ruling in favor of Brooksville cameras will be appealed.

Our advice to Brooksville voters: Throw the city’s leadership out at the earliest opportunity for opposing the will of the people.

Postscript 

The Brooksville issue aside, November 4, 2014 was mostly a good day at the ballot box for motorists:

  • Four cities voted to discard red-light cameras—Cleveland; Maple Heights, OH; St. Charles County, MO; and Sierra Vista, AZ—by more than 70 percent majorities in each case. This brings the number of communities that, when given the chance to vote, rejected ticket cameras to 32 out of a possible 35.
  • Maryland and Wisconsin passed constitutional amendments that prevent their transportation funds from being robbed for non-transportation projects.
  • Texas voters overwhelmingly decided to allow the transfer of up to 50 percent of oil and gas production tax revenue that has been going to the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to the Texas Highway Fund under certain economic circumstances.
  • Bond issues to authorize new mass transit projects were voted down in Florida (in the Gainesville and St. Petersburg areas), in Texas (Austin), in Kansas (Wichita), and in Washington (Seattle).

NMA National Alert: Red-Light Camera Class Action Suit Filed in Florida

Posted on November 13th, 2014 in , , | Comments Off

If you received a red-light camera ticket in the state of Florida since July 1, 2010, you may be eligible to join the plaintiffs in a class action suit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami on October 27, 2014.

Potential plaintiffs for this class action are individuals who received a Notice of Violation or Uniform Traffic Citation in Florida as a result of an image or video taken from a red-light camera administered by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) during the period noted.

The lawsuit alleges that ATS made ticketing decisions that by state statute can only be authorized by law enforcement officers who are government employees. By doing so, the suit claims, the due-process rights of those charged by ATS with red-light camera infractions were violated.

To help determine if you are a potential plaintiff in the $5 million class action and who to contact, click on this link to visit the site of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC. You can also find the text of the formal Parker v. American Traffic Solutions complaint there.


NMA Illinois Alert: Will County Considering Unfair Towing/Storage Fees

Posted on November 13th, 2014 in , | Comments Off

The Will County Board is considering a resolution to charge towing and storage fees to motorists who have not been found guilty of any crime or violation. Board member Steve Balich believes that if a motorist is found not guilty in court, he should not have to pay a storage fee or a towing charge resulting from a stop by police. We support Balich’s position and urge you to do the same.

You can learn more about this issue here and here.

The Will County Board will continue its discussion on this topic and reach a resolution at its January meeting. Feel free to contact board members and voice your opinion:

Phone: 815-740-4602
Fax: 815-740-8395
Email: CountyBoard@willcountyillinois.com
Web: http://www.willcountyboard.com/board-members.html


NMA E-Newsletter: #304: Wiping Out While Riding the Wave of “Smart Growth”

Posted on November 9th, 2014 in , , , , , | Comments Off

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Editor’s Note: In a recent e-newsletter we discussed how planners want to remake the urban landscape to discourage automobile travel. But as often happens with such schemes, the law of unintended consequences comes to bear. This is what happened in in Long Beach, California, as described in this first-hand account by a California NMA member.

So-called Smart Growth has already become a reality in my former home, Long Beach, California. For the first six or seven years I lived there, traffic flow through the city was amazing. With freeway access at the east and west ends of the city, and the development oriented along the east-west shoreline, the city had set up alternating one-way streets through downtown. You could get off the freeway even during commute hours and, if you happened to land on the right timing, never have to stop, riding the wave of timed lights all the way across downtown.

If you hit a red light, it would be the first one, but you would then ride that same wave all the way through. You would see the beauty of lights turning green ahead of you, progressing not at the speed limit, but at the higher, yet still cautious and prudent speed that most people actually wanted to drive. It was wondrously efficient, both in time and also fuel- and emissions-minimizing vehicle operation. It turned out that this operation depended on having three one-way lanes on each street.

Then the hippies and totalitarians got together “for the good of mankind.” They reduced the two streets configured this way, which connected the prime business areas with the freeway, to two lanes each, to make room for a dedicated bike lane separated from the car lanes by a wide empty space. This eliminated the ability of the roadway to accommodate any sort of obstruction. Somebody has to slow or stop to make a turn? Commercial vehicle unloading inventory in front of a store?

Now there is only one lane. When drivers had three lanes to work with, having to compress down to two was easy and hardly slowed traffic. With only two lanes to start with, compressing down to just one lane was a significant obstruction, and almost everybody “lost the wave” of timed lights. It became rare to get across downtown without having to sit, burning fuel and generating emissions, not to mention wasting time, at two or three lights.

Was this necessary? No! In addition to being an ardent motorist, I am a cyclist. One of the things I enjoyed about living in a densely-organized city was that I could walk or ride a bike to run errands, go to the grocery store, etc. I am a strong, experienced and confident rider, so it was not a problem to mix with traffic. I recognize this makes me unusual. But in Long Beach, if you didn’t want to share the road with cars that were close and fast, you had other options. In between the main roads, there were smaller, less-traveled, two-way streets that were generally only used by cars to access businesses and residences on those streets. Cars on these streets were infrequent and slow. So simply by using a different route when on a bicycle, one could ride comfortably away from fast-moving cars and get to the same places with no problem.

Did the bike lanes enhance overall safety for cars and bicyclists? It did not feel that way to me. The bike lanes were set up on the left side of the roadway, the opposite of every properly trained cyclist’s instinct to ride on the right. This had the potential to create situations in which a stopped car waiting to make a left turn suddenly pulls in front of a cyclist approaching from behind, or else just takes one out from behind without slowing because the driver doesn’t expect that type of road user to be in that space traveling at that speed.

To prevent this, the city built offset left-turn lanes, where at each block, a vehicle lane crosses over the bicycle lane so that a car is already to the left of the bike lane when making a left turn. Unfortunately, this still led to vehicle/bicycle conflicts, creating significant personal risk for cyclists and liability for motorists. If cyclists had simply exercised their right to use the normal traffic lanes, many of these encounters could have been avoided.

Did the bike lanes ever lead to an increase in bicycle commuting to downtown offices or businesses? Not that I ever noticed. I was still one of just a handful out there on my bike going to the grocery store, coffee shop, or doing other shopping. It turns out that you live where you want to or can afford to live, and you work wherever you can find the best job for you. If that means you roll “from Long Beach to Compton” every day, you’re actually lucky—it’s not a bad commute at all. If you work in an office downtown, you probably need to wear nice clothes (maybe skirts for women), nice shoes and have well-coiffed hair when you get there. Helmet hair, shoes that are safe and effective for riding, possible grease on your pant leg, and arriving sweaty are not options.

On a similar point, there were commuter trains available. I could walk about six blocks from my apartment to catch one, and it was probably about a mile from my office to the train station at the other end. I looked into it but didn’t get past the schedule. Not counting the walk time, just station to station, it took more than three times as long as driving.

I could go on about how redevelopment of the downtown area systematically destroyed much of the architectural and cultural character that attracted most Long Beach residents to the town in the first place, but that’s kind of off-topic for NMA. Suffice it to say, it has for the most part been a very expensive and irreversible failure: People chose to live in Long Beach and loved the place specifically because it was not what the city managers are trying to turn it into.





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