Road conditions change on a near-daily basis throughout New York. Road construction projects can alter routes and the signage that governs the flow of traffic along them. Storms may break trees and obscure signs and landmarks. Weather and visibility conditions can make even familiar paths appear new and strange.
Whether you are traveling down an unfamiliar road or a familiar one that just looks different, you can easily run a stop sign or disregard another traffic sign. What happens next can impact whether you are convicted of a traffic violation or get off with a warning.
Traffic Violations Do Not Require Intent for Conviction
In general, you cannot be convicted of a crime unless the prosecution proves that you committed a criminal act and did so knowing the nature of your conduct. Traffic violations are different, however. Many are what are called strict liability offenses. You can be found guilty of traffic violations even if you did not intend to violate the law.
For example, you can be ticketed and convicted for running a red light even if you did not intend to do so. Not seeing a traffic sign is not, strictly speaking, a valid defense against a charge of running a stop sign.
Steps to Take After Running a Hidden Stop Sign
If ignorance or lack of intent is not a defense to running even a hidden stop sign, what can be done if you are pulled over and ticketed for this offense? You should, if possible, take the following steps:
Do Not Argue with the Ticketing Officer
Resist the urge to try to argue your way out of the ticket or explain your actions to the officer. There is a time and a place to argue about the fairness of your ticket, and it is usually not on the side of the road. Remain as calm and polite as possible, and remember that you will have your day in court.
Document the Hidden or Obscured Traffic Sign
If it is safe to do so, take photographs of the sign and how it was obscured. Try to do this as soon as possible after receiving the ticket so you can document exactly how the sign looked at the time of your ticket.
Show Up to Court on Your Court Date
If you pay the fine assessed on the ticket, you are admitting guilt to disobeying a traffic sign and the conviction will go on your driving record. Instead, show up in court and request a hearing on your ticket. At your hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the story and show the photographs you took.
There could be one of three outcomes, depending on what happens at your hearing:
- If the officer does not show up to testify against you, your charges may be dropped
- If the court feels sympathy, your fine and/or the severity of your charges may be lowered
- If neither of the above happens, you may be convicted but would be in no worse a position than if you had paid the ticket.
If you believe a ticket you received was unjust or unfair, there may be a benefit to challenging your ticket as opposed to simply paying it.
Seek Legal Assistance with Your Traffic Ticket
New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers is your Central New York traffic ticket violation law firm. If you have received a ticket for disobeying a stop sign or other traffic control device, we can help. Contact us to learn what legal options are available to you and how we can help you take action to protect your driving record.