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Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite

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Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 10:33AM
HI,

Yesterday I was heading back from the valley. I slowed down at the 120 junction (where the gas station is located) to 25 miles per hour, and then a little bit after passing Crane Flat, I resumed speed to 40. A white SUV came up fast behind, and I signaled to pull off to let it by, but then it turned on the flashing lights. (The location where I pull over is 37.75362,-119.82117.) The officer said that he got me on radar going 47 mph in the 25 mph zone. I don't think I was. When I got home, I looked at google maps and did a street view going west on 120 to see where the speed limit signs were. I noticed that the 40 mph sign (at location @37.747397,-119.805286; which can be seen from location 37.747223,-119.804041) when traveling west was much closer to the gas station than the first 25 mph sign when going east (at location 37.748059,-119.807308) So, I think the officer got me in the place where it was 25mph going east and 40 mph going west.

Can someone that travels 120 please verify?

Also, can anyone with experience with fighting a ticket in Yosemite offer any advice on fighting this ticket.

Thanks!
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 10:57AM
Just a question, and I don't know the answer; can a road have a different speed limit for each side? Or does it have to be the same for both sides?

I know different speed limits make no sense, but many laws make no sense to me anyway.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2011 10:58AM by Dave.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 11:55AM
The red dots on the map below is where the Big Oak Flat Road has a 25 MPH speed limit WESTBOUND through Crane Flat.

avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 11:57AM
That map is not correct. It is 25 well past (west of) Crane Flat Lookout Rd.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 12:24PM
I've notice that a significant amount of traffic doesn't seem to heed the speed limits around Crane Flat. Often the lollygaggers even speed up, negating the last passing zone before the end of the park. I'm as pedal-to-the-metal as they come, but many times I've slowed the train myself at that spot, it's a big honking speed trap.

Sorry to hear you got the pinch, but thanks for the heads-up that they are enforcing it.

If you don't mind me asking, how much was the damage?
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 01:45PM
Quote
QITNL

But many times I've slowed the train myself at that spot...

Same here. I have mixed feeling passing any vehicle (so I usually don't) on the westbound passing zone right before Crane Flat because I know right afterward I'll be slowing down to the 25 MPH speed limit so I will most likely be slowing down the car I just passed. Which is a unfortunate, because when soon after we get to the 40 MPH speed zone, I'll be stuck until the next passing zone (past the Merced Grove parking lot) probably traveling BELOW the 40 MPH posted speed limit.



avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 01:23PM
Quote
chick-on

That map is not correct. It is 25 well past (west of) Crane Flat Lookout Rd.


Not during the spring, summer and fall months. I just verified this using the Google Maps street view.

(During winter driving conditions the 25 MPH speed limit zone is lengthened to just past the Merced Grove parking lot -- if not all the way to the park boundary if Big Oak Flat Road is under chain control.)



avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 02:06PM
You do whatever you like. I just drove by there Sunday. It's not 40 NOW until well after the Crane Flat Lookout Rd.

EDIT: OK, I'm right. But you're right (sort of) too. The map is not correct. That second road that says
"Crane Flat Rd." does not exist. The road west of there is Crane Flat Lookout Rd.



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2011 02:16PM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 02:28PM
When I drove past Crane Flat a week ago (on Tuesday evening), the 40 MPH speed limit sign was where it's shown on the Google Street View photo that I had posted below. For the longest of time, the 40 MPH used to be further west, but either this past spring (or the summer before), they moved it closer to Crane Flat. This might have been done as a result of a speed survey because they use radar enforcement on the 40 MPH segment of Big Oak Flat Road too. So maybe as the result of a speed survey they had to adjust where the 40 MPH speed zone started westbound.


avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 01:34PM
Here's the Google Street View™ photo (along with the Google Map) of the westbound 40 MPH Speed Limit Sign past Crane Flat:

avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 11:55AM
My 2 cents worth (and I presume you want some support)... is ... u is screwed.

Either go to court and complain... or just pay the ticket.
It's uphill that-a-direction... so I dunno man.

As for this a way, that a way:
As you enter the park ... right there... sometimes they will have quite the different speed limits on entry and exit.
20 on way in... sometimes up to 40 on way out... depending on time of year. At least that is what I recall.

Definitely it's 25 WAY before Crane Flat lookout coming in. Maybe it's scewed a bit ... but I don't recall it being huge distance.
You can't technically go 40 until you PASS the 40 MPH sign either.

On a related note. The same diff. speed thing-a-ding is present in Oakdale. 30 one way, 35 the other.
I never speed thru Oakdale or in the park or 120 near 108/120 split. ... or at least try not to... wink
Also in Oakdale... on some side streets... painted in the road "25". Speed limit sign 30.

Go figure
Good luck



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 01:18PM
If one was caught speeding through Crane Flat's 25 MPH speed limit zone by a Yosemite ranger pacing the vehicle with his vehicle, then one probably doesn't have any chance on beating the ticket.

On the other hand, if the ranger used RADAR to catch the driver, then the driver MIGHT have a chance on winning his case in front of an impartial federal magistrate that understands California motor vehicle laws. The reason being is that one could quite reasonably argue that then 25 MPH speed zone around Crane Flat is a de facto speed trap as defined by California law.

California law states that law enforcement is prohibited in using radar enforcement on roads where more than 15% of the drivers exceed the posted speed limit. In other words, a speed limit of a road needs to set at or above the 85th percentile of the speed of drivers who are driving down that particular segment of the road. To be able to use radar, the law enforcement jurisdiction MUST conduct a "speed survey" to officially document the speed of the drivers who drive down that particular section of the road. Then the speed limit needs to be set at or above the 85th percentile as calculated by the results of the speed survey. And IIRC, a speed survey needs to be conducted every five years for the law enforcement agency to be allowed to still use radar enforcement.

I truly doubt that the 25 MPH speed limit on Big Oak Flat Road is set correctly in this regard.

But there are exceptions that a jurisdiction can use to get around the above requirement. The main one: a history of accidents on the segment of the road that justifies using a lower speed limit than what the 85th percentile would normally dictate. But this history of accidents MUST be documented in the official paperwork before the law enforcement agency is allowed to use radar.

This exception to the 85th percentile rule MIGHT be applicable to the Crane Flat area. If so, then one is hosed even if they were caught by the use of radar.

So do some research on this matter to see if the Park Service has done all the legal steps required by California law to use radar enforcement on Big Oak Flat Road through Crane Flat.



Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 02:24PM
HI,

Thanks all.
The ticket is a little over $200.
They used radar.
They didn't pace me.
There is a number to call on the ticket for more info. Unfortunately, I left it at home and I'm now at work, so I have not called yet.
The court date will not be set until "later" (at least 4 weeks). The court is in the valley, so if I decide to fight it, it will be somewhat of a drive for me.
On the GOV web site, it said that I have to go to court and ask the judge for traffic school.

And the part that upsets me the most was that I was trying the best I could to follow the speed limit on this trip. I was told that lately, quite a few bears have gotten killed by cars, and I didn't want to do that, since I want to protect top predators like bears and sharks.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 03:59PM
Quote
plawrence
On the other hand, if the ranger used RADAR to catch the driver, then the driver MIGHT have a chance on winning his case in front of an impartial federal magistrate that understands California motor vehicle laws.

Except for this being a federal matter.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 04:15PM
In Yosemite National Park, California motor vehicles laws are the ones that are enforced by the rangers. If you don't believe me, next time you visit Yosemite just ask a Yosemite law enforcement ranger (or the Federal Magistrate at the Yosemite federal courthouse).

(You could probably also ask the court's clerk if the magistrate isn't in the courthouse during the time of your visit. wink )


avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 07:53PM
Quote
plawrence
In Yosemite National Park, California motor vehicles laws are the ones that are enforced by the rangers. If you don't believe me, next time you visit Yosemite just ask a Yosemite law enforcement range

I don't believe you and I have been told by a LE ranger.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 08:13PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
plawrence

In Yosemite National Park, California motor vehicles laws are the ones that are enforced by the rangers. If you don't believe me, next time you visit Yosemite just ask a Yosemite law enforcement ranger

I don't believe you and I have been told by a LE ranger.

You've been told what by a LE ranger?
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 08:43PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
eeek
Quote
plawrence

In Yosemite National Park, California motor vehicles laws are the ones that are enforced by the rangers. If you don't believe me, next time you visit Yosemite just ask a Yosemite law enforcement ranger

I don't believe you and I have been told by a LE ranger.

You've been told what by a LE ranger?

I didn't believe they enforced CA motor vehicle laws either, but was hesitant to respond in this thread because I've never received an NPS ticket and the thread originator is asking for help with that problem.

What do you make of this, from the 2010 Supervisor's Compendium:

Quote

36 CFR § 4.21 – SPEED LIMITS (b) The following speed limits are established for the routes/roads indicated:
• The maximum speed on park roads is 35 mph unless posted otherwise.
• When and where chain controls are in effect, the maximum speed shall be 25 mph.
• The speed limit approaching and leaving all entrance station areas is 20 mph.

CA's speed trap law applies to "speed limit"s, not "maximum speed"s. And CA's "maximum speed" is 55 on non-freeway roads unless posted higher, and 65 on freeways unless posted higher (I do have experience w/ that, having investigated whether I could challenge a radar ticket on CA-120 east of 395 on speed trap grounds...not an option). Yet, here, there's a maximum speed of 35 ("unless posted otherwise" - not "higher" ).



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2011 08:49PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 09:10PM
Of course ambiguity rules...

Using Google Maps street view... (which they must have done in late fall).

JUST outside the BOF Entrance Station (heading west.. going out):


And a mile or so before the entrance... heading east:


I lead you not astray peeps.

(or I'm full of useless information)

Right now IIRC the exit speed was 25.

I'd do whatever needs to be done to get traffic school and pay the ticket.

There's a Speeding Kills Bears sign near where he got pulled over... so chances are slim w/r to getting it waived entirely imo.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 09:14PM
Ambiguity particularly rules around that entrance station, regarding west-bound versus east-bound speed limits. I recall that it also rules near Crane Flat, but can't recall the details. And I have noticed different numbers posted in different seasons in certain areas.

Edit: for example, I've noticed the 25 MPH zone in Tuolumne Meadows being 35 when nothing but the wilderness office was open, but its clearly 25 when the famed Tuolumne Grill's open.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2011 09:19PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 09:34PM
Yes. This is what I mentioned above (couple of times now). Different times o year... different speeds.

Absolutely w/r to TM. The Crane Flat area is a bit skewed. They want you to slow your
butt down to 25 before the hill starts down into CF.
On the way out 40 starts as you are heading uphill... but after CF Lookout Rd.

TMI, yeah. Stick a fork in this baby. I'm done. smiling smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 04:07PM
"So do some research on this matter to see if the Park Service has done all the legal steps required by California law to use radar enforcement on Big Oak Flat Road through Crane Flat."

A little something to ponder: NPS-administered areas have 3 types of jurisdiction - Exclusive (Yellowstone), Concurrent (Grand Teton) and Proprietary (Fossil Butte). I don't know what type of jurisdiction Yosemite has, but in Yellowstone the NPS can generally tell the State of Wyoming to fly a kite, Wyoming and the NPS share jurisdiction in Grand Teton and the NPS has little or no criminal jurisdiction in Fossil Butte.

I believe you or your attorney might also make use of the time before the court hearing to contact a Deputy US Attorney (in Fresno?) to voice your questions. I would daresay they know precisely where they stand on legal authority.

Best of luck.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 10:27PM
Quote
chick-on

On a related note. The same diff. speed thing-a-ding is present in Oakdale. 30 one way, 35 the other.
I never speed thru Oakdale or in the park or 120 near 108/120 split. ... or at least try not to... wink
Also in Oakdale... on some side streets... painted in the road "25". Speed limit sign 30.

My understanding is that on non busy days (summer week days and wintertime) there is only one CHP patrolling from the park gate out to Sonora, so you're generally safe speeding. The Park is a whole other story though. I got pulled over 4 years ago on the road going to Hetch Hetchy doing 45 where it is cleary 25 mph. The Ranger was generous and after 20 minutes of BSing with him, he let me off with a warning. It seems they are really tightening up on the rules lately.

As for fighting it, I think it would be a long shot and basically a waste of time. You can always try though.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 02, 2011 03:16PM
Quote
oakroscoe
I think it would be a long shot and basically a waste of time

But at least it's a waste of time in Yosemite.
Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 05:33PM
It does make sense to have two different speed limits on the same road. In one direction you could be approaching a congested area, and going the other way the problem area is behind you. You might come upon stopped traffic as you approach the entrance gate for example so the safe limit would be slower than for the people that are leaving the park.

Was the ticket for a lower speed than what they said you were clocked at? One time in court I saw someone fight a ticket and the fine was increased when the officer testified that the speed was higher than what was written on the ticket. The guy asked the judge why the fine was higher and the judge said, "because the officer testified that you were going faster" or something to that effect. It seemed like a deterrent to fighting the ticket. Lose in court and the fine goes up.
Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 11:51PM
Years ago, while on a family vacation, my father was hit with a speeding ticket near Crater Lake in Oregon. He was simply trying to pass someone, but the officer didn't see it that way. So my father wrote a letter, and got his penalty reduced.

So perhaps this is something you can consider.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/2011 03:25PM by Ohnivy-Drak.
Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 01, 2011 11:55PM
I have no opinion on this particular case. However as an old guy using Yosemite roads over decades, I'm one that would like to see more tickets handed out on Yosemite roads because there are and have always been lots of drivers, (often impatient lowland urban tailgaters in large SUVs or new model sedans) that are speeding well above posted limits, even during dawn and dusk periods when wildlife are most likely out. Of course many will habitually annoyingly tailgate anyone going posted speed limits.

David



http://www.davidsenesac.com



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2011 11:56PM by DavidSenesac.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 03, 2011 11:28AM
I am and always have been a believer that traffic court is generally a Kangoroo Court. If it boils down to your word against the citing officer, you lose. Only been there once, in CA, many years ago. That was enough for me. Pay the fine and move on. Yes, you might have gotten screwed. It happens.bear trap
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 03, 2011 11:44AM
Before fighting a ticket you need to lookup the law you were sited for breaking. It isn't always what you think it is. In CA the law against speeding is (or was) often the "Basic Speed" law. But regardless, lookup the actual law, then decide if you broke it or not. Then decide what you wish to do.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 03, 2011 12:03PM
Quote
tomdisco

I am and always have been a believer that traffic court is generally a Kangoroo Court. If it boils down to your word against the citing officer, you lose. Only been there once, in CA, many years ago. That was enough for me. Pay the fine and move on. Yes, you might have gotten screwed. It happens.bear trap


If it's just a case of your word versus the officier's word, then of course you'll lose because law enforcement officers are considered by the court to be "expert witnesses" and you are not.

On the other hand, if you can supply evidence (photos, videos, diagrams, etc.) to back up your claim, if it's convincing enough the traffic court judge will side with you.

Back in 2009, the traffic court judge sided with me when I got a ticket for failure to stop at a stop sign at the end of a freeway offramp. Using video I shot the next day (after I got the ticket) was able to show to the judge that the stop sign, being poorly positioned, was clearly obstructed by the large dump truck that was ahead of me (even a midsize or larger SUV or a minivan would have obstructed the stop sign until it was too late to stop). The dump truck also got cited for failing to stop.

After viewing the video in court, the judge found me not guilty because the stop sign had clearly been obstructed. (About four months later, Caltrans finally moved the stop sign to a move visible location (and added a second one on the other side of the offramp for good measure).


Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 03, 2011 02:39PM
Try to get traffic school to keep it off your record and thus keep your insurance rates from going up. You should be able to apply for traffic school without going to court (unless you've already gone to traffic school w/i 18 months of this citation date). Wait for the "courtesy notice" which will explain how this all works (but don't totally expect a courtesy notice). Fighting it in court is a losing proposition because even if you can convince the judge it was a 40 zone you still got written up for doing 47 (in a 40 zone!). Your argument is going nowhere. Do Traffic school and move on....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2011 07:48AM by mtn man.
avatar Re: Help on fighting Speeding ticket in Yosemite
November 14, 2011 07:23AM
This thing been beat to death... just thought I'd mention:
a) Same different speed limit at S. 41 entrance. (35 on way out... 20-ish on way in)
b) It's now 40 on way out 120

Have a nice day
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