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How Is a Rolling Stop Determined?

As with many other traffic tickets, a rolling stop is an often subjective opinion of the law enforcement officer (LEO), except in a camera-enforced red-light stop, and then other technicalities could prove your innocence or provide enough doubt so that the traffic court judge will rule in your favor. Several sections of the CA Vehicle Code (CVC) cover what is a legal stop both at a stop sign and a traffic light-controlled intersection.

There is an actual Physics paper, The Proof of Innocence, written on this subject by a University of California San Diego (UCSD) student. Though you should have a good understanding of Physics if you are going to use this argument before a judge.

The supposition uses the linear measurement of speed versus the angular measurement, which most observers of the stop would have if viewed from anywhere but directly behind or in front of the vehicle. Directly behind is the best vantage point because there is no angle. In this position, the observer has the benefit of viewing the brake lights of the vehicle ahead. Any other location leaves the viewer with at least some doubt as to how long the stop was and where it occurred.

A Rolling Stop After a Full Stop Is Legal

In CVC 22450, Special Stops Required it is quite clear that you must stop before the “limit line,” the crosswalk, or the intersection. It becomes unclear when one or more is missing or barely visible. Therefore, if a driver stops where they thought the limit line was, but there wasn’t one, or it was faded, they might roll forward to the crosswalk or up to the intersection, making it look as if they did not come to a complete stop. And there’s always instances of faded limit lines or crosswalks and LEOs who had an obstructed view.

Raising Doubt

A rolling stop often can be disputed when the viewpoint of the LEO was or could have been obstructed; when the lines at the intersection are so old and in limited light that they are almost indistinguishable; and when stop signs are newly erected. After getting a ticket for a rolling stop, the driver should go back to the intersection during daylight to determine why they were charged and ticketed.

Where was the LEO when they observed you make a rolling stop? In most cases, it would need to have been on the left, right, or behind because a person in a vehicle facing you cannot definitively determine if you stopped or not. Just as someone behind you couldn’t except by watching your brake lights, unless they are immediately behind you.

If the sign was newly erected and you drive that route nearly every day for work, you could argue you were caught by surprise and could not safely stop in time without causing an accident.

Use of Visual Affects

Take pictures of faded limit lines and crosswalks and from the LEO’s position, or if there is a branch covering the stop sign or traffic light. Faded limit lines or crosswalks might cause a driver to have roll to up to get a better view and the LEO might not have seen the first stop. It can aid your case if you can show that the LEO was not in a good position to observe your stop.

Although the traffic court judge usually sides with the LEO on the scene when it is your word against the LEO’s, if you can raise enough doubt in the judge’s mind by providing pictures, diagrams, and any possible witnesses, you might sway the odds in your favor. Anything you can use to cast doubt on the police officer’s ability to view your stop could get your ticket dismissed. Considering what it cost now for a stop sign violation, close to $250 for a red-light conviction and nearly $500 without traffic school, you should take full advantage of any possible defense.

You should gather all your evidence and arguments and consult with a traffic lawyer. Traffic lawyers are in traffic court nearly every day it is in session, so they know what arguments work and which are without merit. One driver thought his rationale that he was on the cell phone and didn’t see the stop sign was valid. Normally, admitting guilt for another violation will not excuse the one for which you are charged.

Anytime you are disputing that what the officer testifies to is not correct, you face an uphill battle. But there are times when honest police officers can make a mistake. Make sure you understand whether you have a reasonable argument that may convince a judge before wasting your time in court.

Consult with a Traffic Lawyer from Central Valley

Remember that a ticket for a rolling stop is subjective on the part of the police officer and it can be argued that they did not have a proper position to observe your stop. Many technicalities can be used to dismiss traffic tickets, and in most cases, only a true traffic ticket defense lawyer knows which defense to use given your circumstances. Call Bigger & Harman for a consultation, (661) 349-9300, or send an email: attorney@markbigger.com.

Louis Gonzales wrote on their Facebook page, “Thanks to Mark Bigger and his associates I was able to get the ticket I received out of Shafter dismissed. I’m especially grateful as I've heard the Shafter court can be difficult to work with. I would definitely recommend this firm.”

When you are hunting for a traffic lawyer, consider the Bigger & Harman defense team from Kern County, Central Valley’s best. This is the firm that many commercial drivers trust to preserve their jobs. Read the comments left by clients on Avvo or Yelp. Avvo is one of the preeminent legal websites in America.

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