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I'm King of the Hill, But Which Hill Is It?

How does a lawsuit in Iowa pertain to traffic tickets along the Grapevine and in other parts of Central California?

Although the individuals on the Iowa Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Enforcement team are trained peace officers, 20,000 plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit claim that MVE members have no authority to issue citations for speeding and other moving violations. Even though Iowa law limits these officers to overweight violations and other safety infractions, MVE members say they have the authority to issue other citations in emergency situations. For example, MVE officers cited lead plaintiff Peyton Atzen was allegedly travelling 30mph over the speed limit when she received her citation; a judge subsequently threw out the ticket for jurisdictional reasons.

MVE Director Marke Lowe opined that asking officers to “cast a blind eye to that sort of blatant safety issues. . .is contrary to the concept of what it means to engage in law enforcement.”

Who Can Issue Traffic Tickets?

These jurisdictional issues often occur closer to home. For example, the Grapevine stretches across several counties and many Central California cities are in more than one county, and by law, certain judges can only consider cases from certain areas.

CHP officers have authority anywhere in the state, so the only line they care about is the state line. Typically, CHP citations go to the closest court for hearings.

These officers can issue any ticket for any purpose anywhere in the state, but everyone else has limited jurisdiction:

  • Federal marshals, MPs, park rangers, and other U.S. government law enforcement officers can only issue tickets on federal property, and they are sometimes limited to certain kinds of federal property.
  • Sherriff’s deputies normally have authority in their given counties, although California does give broad discretion for peace officers to give tickets in other jurisdictions.
  • Some visitors describe California as “one big suburb,” and it is not always easy to tell where one city ends and another one begins. That’s a problem when city police officers issue traffic tickets.

Most officers have the authority to pursue suspects outside their jurisdictions.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive attorneys at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-349-9300 or email attorney@markbigger.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-349-9755.

No matter what agency issues the citation on the Grapevine, you can count on Bigger & Harman for an aggressive defense. Call us today, and save money.