Exploring Traffic Violation Defenses Based on Traffic Signage

Road signs throughout the U.S. have been around for as long as cars have existed. Yet, even with their extensive history and ubiquity on today’s streets, many road signs are still misleading, missing, or otherwise problematic, especially in a state like New York. With that in mind, if you’ve recently received a traffic ticket in Central New York, the fault might be on the traffic signs in the area as opposed to your driving.

The following are traffic violation defenses based on improper traffic signage that may help you fight back against a ticket:

Missing Road Sign

Consider the following: You pull up to an intersection, and though there are stop signs in the other three directions, none are facing yours. As such, you drive through it smoothly, assuming you have the right of way. But a few moments later, you’re pulled over and ticketed for running a stop sign at a four-way crossing.

It wasn’t your fault that the necessary road sign was missing. Perhaps it was stolen or blown away in a storm. Whatever the case, you are not expected to be aware of a sign that simply isn’t there.

Blocked Road Sign

A case involving a blocked road sign is similar to the last situation, except that the sign is still there. The difference is that there was just no way for you to see it based on the road conditions at that moment. It could be because the foliage around it wasn’t properly trimmed or because a structure was placed in front of it, keeping it from view. 

For example, if you are driving along a road at 45 mph because a sign earlier on denoted that as the speed limit, but you see a 25 mph speed limit sign immediately after passing a large building, you aren’t responsible for a potential speeding ticket (at least not if you try to slow down immediately). The building prevented you from knowing there was a change in speed limits from a reasonable distance.

Malfunctioning Electronic Signs and Signals

There is also the possibility that you were following a digital sign or signal that was malfunctioning. For example, in some areas, electronic traffic signs might change the speed limit during certain parts of the day. If those signs stop working or post an inaccurate value, you aren’t responsible for driving at the wrong speed.

These glitches and graphical errors can also apply to traffic lights, which can cause an accident. Proof of a signal’s malfunction may protect you from a ticket, lawsuit, or even criminal charges, but it won’t undo an accident, so always exercise caution if you see that any traffic light is on the fritz.

Conflicting Signs

Traffic signs are placed by local, state, and sometimes federal government agencies. Unfortunately, though, they aren’t always on the same page. So what do you do when you come to a street that has one-way signs going both ways?

Odds are, you’ll get a ticket. But the fact that you were driving the wrong way wasn’t your intention: It was due to the mistake of the road service that placed the conflicting signs.

However, unlike the other traffic violation defenses on this list, it is important to note that this one, in particular, only goes so far. If you saw both conflicting signs, you were, therefore, aware of the conflict and should have taken the most conservative approach to driving. It is only when you aren’t yet aware of the conflict that you aren’t responsible for violating an applicable traffic law.

Get a Lawyer to Fight a Traffic Ticket

These traffic violation defenses won’t work every time, and it is rarely worth attempting them on your own. But if you know your ticket is worth fighting, it is best to be represented by an experienced law firm like New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers in Central New York. Contacting us is the best way to fight a traffic ticket violation.

Brandon M. Jones is a paralegal for New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers. Experienced in Traffic Law, Brandon assists our attorneys in traffic-related matters, including DWI, CDL violations, and speeding tickets. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Brandon by clicking here.