Wednesday, August 8, 2018

YDP Fought the Law - Part 2

I sat in my office is a stew of anger over my ticket.  It just seemed so egregious.  There was absolutely no reason for the way that I was treated, and I steeled myself for the upcoming court battle that I was going to have.

I looked up tactics for winning in court online.  Most of the articles were penned by lawyers, and of course, their suggested course of action was to hire them.  However, there were some nuggets: document the event while it was fresh in your mind (even insignificant things like the weather and what you were wearing), dress up, and be prepared to cut a deal.  I was down for all the advice, except the cutting the deal part.  I was either going to be receiving a dropped charge, or they were going to throw the book at me.

I also studied the Minnesota law to see if there was something that would provide leniency for passing a bike, even in a no passing zone.  Lo and behold, I hit the jackpot!  It seems that the state had passed a law just a year before that dealt exactly with my situation.  Specifically, it read:

Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 169.18, subdivision 5, is amended to read: a motor vehicle may be driven to the left side of the roadway (in a no passing zone) to safely overtake a bicycle under the following circumstances:

(1) the bicycle is proceeding in the same direction as the motor vehicle;

(2) the driver of the motor vehicle either (i) provides a safe clearance distance, in no case less than the greater of three feet or one-half the width of the motor vehicle, or (ii) completely enters the left lane of the highway;

(3) the operator of the bicycle is not (i) making a left turn, or (ii) signaling that the bicycle operator intends to make a left turn; and

(4) the driver of the motor vehicle complies with all other applicable requirements under this section.

Not only did I do the right thing from a safety standpoint, but I also did the right thing from a legal standpoint!  Bring on the judge!

I was also holding out hope for my case to be thrown out because the officer didn't show up for the court date.  In my research, that happened more often than one expected.  I felt like my odds of this might even be better as the State Patrol officer was borrowed from another area to bolster the ranks of the We Fest crew.  If he was from the Cities or points south, it'd be unlikely that his supervising officer would allow a whole day to be wasted to battle a yellow line crossing in Detroit Lakes.  My hope would be my buddy just wouldn't show, and the case would be tossed forthwith.  

In the meantime, a buddy from work stopped by my office and was shaking his head.  He moonlights as a City Counselman, had heard what happened, and couldn't believe my story.  It made him so angry that he called in a favor with the local police, stating "here's a productive member of OUR community and this is how we're treating him with our extra police activity?  We need to do something!"

The local officer must have agreed as he forwarded a contact for the head of the State Patrol's contingency in Detroit Lakes, and suggested I call and tell my story.  I felt it was a moot point as I always heard that once a ticket was issued there was no way to make it go away other than to pay for it or go to court, but at a minimum, I'd at least be able to tell my story - hopefully, away - as that was more than the first officer allowed me to do.  

Armed with my contact, the phone number, my notes of the event, and the new Minnesota statute, I picked up the phone and made a call...    

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