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wrong wayWhat does a tow-away zone sign in Los Angeles have to do with the traffic signs in other big cities like Fresno, as well as smaller towns like Mojave?

J. David Sackman returned from a brief vacation to find his 1999 Sienna missing from its parking spot on the street. The City of Los Angeles had towed the vehicle, pursuant to an ordinance that forbids parking in the same space for more than 72 consecutive hours. However, the city never bothered to post any warning signs. Although the municipal judge reversed the ticket and refunded both the $275 impound fee and $95 fine, he said he could not rule on the larger issue of the incident’s legality.

A federal District Judge ruled that the citation itself served as notice of the ordinance, and that question is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Signage Laws

There is a long list of signage requirements in California law. Some of these regulations probably have no bearing on a traffic ticket, such as the sign’s size. However, other rules give specific directions about the sign’s placement and content.

If the correct warning isn’t on the sign, there is a good argument that the driver did not have legally sufficient notice. Assume that you are on a rural two-lane road and the speed limit suddenly drops because of a city limit. If an officer is lurking just inside the city limit, and there was no warning sign regarding the change, there is an argument that you couldn’t have possibly slowed down in time without slamming on your brakes and endangering other drivers.

A similar line of reasoning applies if the sign is obscured, perhaps by trees or vandalism. As a very general rule of thumb, most judges will throw out a ticket if the sign was more than 75 percent obscured and throw the book at you if it was less than 25 percent. There is a big grey area in the middle, where an experienced attorney has a chance to shine.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive lawyers at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-859-1177 or email to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-376-0214.

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