The righteous indignation of the egregiously wronged!

I am about as law-abiding a citizen as there is, mainly because from the time I was a wee child growing up in Chicago, I was taught to fearóer, to have a healthy respect for the law.

So when I got pulled over this morning on Wilshire (doing 15 mph) just past La Brea, my heart clutched in fear even though I knew I was probably just getting a warning for some unknown busted tail light.

Instead, I received my first moving violation EVERóin over 37 years of driving, folksófor turning against a red arrow on a green light.

(More frothing at the mouth after the jump…)

You see, a year or so ago, they added a standalone left-turn signal at the intersection of Wilshire and La Brea, which was great since it’s such a busy intersection…except that people coming from either direction are always turning on the regular yellow (and red), cutting into the arrow time. But since some of us do it, all of us do it, so I figure it kind of evens out to where it was before we had the arrow. (And god help you if you sit at that red arrow because o, the horns you’ll hear!)

Anyway, you turn on the arrow if you can; you wait for oncoming traffic to clear the intersection at the end of their green if you don’t. Everyone does it…EVEN COPS! Still, it’s a terrifying thing, so one day, I looked it up on the CA DMV site. The information is a little…um…unclear:

RED ARROW- A red arrow means ìSTOPî. Remain stopped until the green signal or green arrow appears. Do not turn against a red arrow.

So I’m supposed to stop if I see a red arrow (which I did)…unless there’s a green light, in which I should go (which I did).

Now, if there was a sign anywhere clarifying this, fine. If it had said, “Left turn on arrow only” as it does at intersections in other parts of the city, heyówrite me up; I’m an asshat. But this is so not marked and so not clear and the standard is so “move your ass or I’ll run it the hell over with my gigantic SUV” that I feel at the very least, I should have been let off with a warning. And believe me, not only would I never have done this again, I would have come right here and posted so everyone else would know the law in the absence of signage that clarifies it.

Instead, I’m going to go back and take pictures, including as much video as I can get of people turning against that #%@*( red arrow. I’m praying I can catch a cop doing it. I’m going to take pictures of some of the other intersections around town that DO have signs (if anyone can point me towards a few, much appreciated). I’m going to save the HTML on that DMV page and print out a PDF. And I’m going to fight this incredible wrong in court.

Respectfully and politely, of course…

/rant, as Sean would say…

15 Replies to “The righteous indignation of the egregiously wronged!”

  1. I don’t know what’s so unclear about it. If there is a red arrow pointing in a direction, you are never ever allowed to turn in that direction. Frankly I’m surprised this is your first moving violation if you didn’t know that.

  2. I’m surprised that you did not know this either. I understand your “everybody does it” plea as I’ve probably made some not-so-legal driving moves with that idea in my head too. As far as red lights go, I’ve become more patient and don’t really run red lights as much as I coast through yellows (which some may consider even more dangerous).

    Perhaps you’ve confused the Red-arrow light with the Green arrow-to yellow arrow- to no arrow light at which you can make a left turn at the green light when it is safe.

  3. Don’t get me started on red arrows. I always turn against them if it’s safe. I don’t understand why I should have to wait even if the road is clear. So I will continue to do it in solidarity with you my traffic violating sister :P

  4. i got one of those too. it was at the carson target. i didn’t think it was illegal because, well, everybody does it. i know it’s a lame excuse for something that i should have known. the true bummer comes when you get your official citation in the mail. i had to pay close to 300 dollars, and go to traffic school. i hope they’re more lenient to you.

  5. As far as not understanding why one should have to wait at a red arrow even if the road is clear, well, uh, that’s just how traffic lights work. Just like if you’re sitting at a normal red light with no one at all coming down the roads with the green, you wait there too before crossing the intersection. It’s really pretty straightforward.

  6. Can’t help you with fighting the ticket itself, but I can help with minimizing the potential cash outlay. Drop me an e-mail. There’s no need to pay $300, regardless of what the bail notice says.

  7. Some of the commenters have judgmentally scoffed at you for “not understanding” or “not knowing.” Man that irks me. You come here with a wide open grade-A rant and people just add insult to injury by flogging what they allege to believe is your subordinate knowledge of traffic laws.

    So let me just offer up a little empathy and say that it’s a damn sucking shame such an awesome ticketless streak has come to an end.

    As to your plan for fighting it, there seems little merit to your “everybody does it” defense. Even if you present photo or video evidence of others and/or cops commiting the same violation at that intersection, you’re bascially saying “Look your honor they’re as guilty as I am!” And asking for sympathy from the court because that monster SUV behind you was about to run over you if you didn’t go, won’t do much either.

    Your argument of inadequate signage might carry a little more weight — especially if you can show the court other intersections where such additional signage is in place. But there seems little likelihood that it will be enough to have your ticket dismissed. And if it isn’t you might not get the opportunity to attend traffic school (check into that… from what I understand, you might be obligated to forfeit traffic school when you elect to contest the citation).

    Documenting the violators at Wilshire and La Brea and juxtaposing the differences in their actions against those at another red-arrow intersection with better signage might be something you can approach a city councilperson or traffic department official with, but troubling the court with it seems a fruitless endeavor.

    My advice would be to the bullet, pay the fine and order up an online traffic school (which you can complete in a couple hours from the comfort of your own desktop, rather than a full eight-hour class).

  8. Thank you, Will. I expected flak but, man, the general reaction to this was so nasty I’m thinking there’s a lot of kicking-the-dog syndrome going on here.

    Anyway, upon great reflection last night, I think I will likely suck it up and pay/do traffic school, mostly b/c I came to the same conclusion Will and Cindy did: while there were mitigating circumstances (my lack of understanding regarding the law and the flow of traffic reinforcing that lack of understanding), I did, in fact, break the particular law in question. So when I stood up in front of a judge, I’d have to plead “guilty,” and if I’m going to do that, why add a trip to court to my current litany of woes?

    For the record, the “everybody does it” defense really wasn’t what I was trying to cop. I wasn’t ever trying to “get away with anything”; I made an honest mistake. Maybe that cop thought I was trying to pull a fast one. It wouldn’t be the first time someone didn’t believe the incredible depth and breadth of my ignorance were authentic.

    But Will’s right: the courts aren’t the venue for this fight. And I’m pissed. Because I still think that intersection is unsafe and unclear and it’s kind of my duty to do something about it since it’s been made so plain to me and yet I really really really didn’t want another project to take on right now. Sigh…

  9. personally, i think that having a huge SUV breathing down your neck and laying on the horn is a fantastic reason to remain stationary or move as slowly as possible. the world would be a better place if more SUV commandos were removed from the roads.

  10. I gotta agree with Will on most of his points and you are probably better off (if only for time-value), just paying the ticket.

    Where Will mentioned:
    Your argument of inadequate signage might carry a little more weight — especially if you can show the court other intersections where such additional signage is in place. But there seems little likelihood that it will be enough to have your ticket dismissed.
    I wanted to add that the constitution only requires “Notice” of a law in order to issue a citation. With traffic & parking laws, notice is provided by signage…however, functioning traffic signals are nearly ALWAYS held to provide proper notice under the law. There doesn’t need to be the additional sign saying “No left turn on Red arrow” if there is a red-arrow signal.
    Just an FYI for the masses…

  11. Can’t help you with fighting the ticket itself, but I can help with minimizing the potential cash outlay. Drop me an e-mail. There’s no need to pay $300, regardless of what the bail notice says.

    Posted by: Burns! at June 17, 2005 01:40 AM

    I would like to talk with this guy if you still have his info.
    Thanks,
    JP

  12. I was in a similar situation a couple weeks ago near Pershing Square. There was a red arrow pointing left on a one way street.

    I could have totally gone, without danger to myself or anyone else. But I didn’t, and then of course an asshole behind me starts laying into the horn. I didn’t move.

    So he pealed out around me, turning left in front of me.

    A motorcycle cop shot out of Pershing Square right after him. Sirens on, motioning for him to pull over.

    Lesson here: traffic laws trump someone’s horn.

  13. I only saw the big light in the middle and turned on the red, I was taking my mother to the hospital, she was still bruised from having boxes fall on her from a man who had a dolly unsecured,I explained this to the cop, but he threated to arrest me and as my poor mother walked toward him.. he said shes still walking.. they called the paramedics for my mother and still gave me the ticket.

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