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Just got a Ticket for a U-Turn!!! - Any tips?

23 March 2005
St. Louis, MO
I know there aren't many NSX owners in the St. Louis area, but I'll give you a brief story on what happened. The state just started doing work on the bridge that crosses the Mississippi River on 70E going from St. Charles towards St. Louis. Of course, this totally screwed up my general course to work. The ramp I usually get on is the at last exit before you get to the bridge. Well, because they closed two of the five lanes on the bridge, these morons in our government decided to close the ramp from my exit (5th street) to get on 70E (to reduce the traffic getting onto the highway, even though the highway traffic is moving just fine, even w/ the 2 lanes closed). However, they left the 70E ramp open for the other side of fifth street (I usually get on going North on 5th street, which is the one that was closed, however if I go South on 5th street, I can get on 70E). So, I figured I would just go up to the next light and turn around. I pull a U-turn at this light, not seeing any No-U Turn signs on the street lights (the police officer said there was one on the median, but I swear I didn't see one, or else I wouldn't have pulled the stupid U-Turn!!! :mad:

Well, I thought the police officer might let me off. I was very polite, did everything that was asked of me, and plus, they just started doing this damn construction!!! :mad: I mean, give me a warning to let me know I shouldn't be doing this, and I'll find an alternate route. Nope, that wasn't good enough. I've got a clean record, only one ticket for speeding in my life, and I get this stupid ticket for a U-Turn. :mad:

Well, anyways, since my experience is severely lacking in this area, I was wondering if anyone had any tips on what to do. I figure my options are:

(1) Just pay the ticket (probably not a very good option, since I think points would be assessed).
(2) Show up on my court date and ask the judge to withhold judification and explain the circumstances and my clean record - I've never done this, is it fairly easy?
(3) Hire one of those damn law firms, like Traffic Law Center. This is probably my worst option, as I'm sure the costs are high and not really worth it.
(4) Take one of the online traffic classes to get the ticket fixed - I've only heard about these in advertisements, does anyone know anything about these? Is there one site or multiple? Has anyone used any of them? How do I notifiy the court that I am taking it and does it automatically fix the ticket?

I appreciate any comments or help. I know many of you have experience in this area :wink: I haven't had a chance to do a search yet, :eek: I'm still too frustrated after getting this stupid ticket, but I'll do one later as well. Thanks for all of your help!
get pre-paid legal plan..... :wink: :smile:
I'd go back and see if there really is a sign in the median as the officer said. If there isn't or if it's knocked down/hard to see/etc, I might take the ticket to court and see if the judge would cut me some slack.
bodypainter said:
I'd go back and see if there really is a sign in the median as the officer said. If there isn't or if it's knocked down/hard to see/etc, I might take the ticket to court and see if the judge would cut me some slack.

I did this for a U-Turn ticket I received in downtown St. Louis. It was a poorly marked intersection that was an "X" rather then a "+". The "no U turn sign" was posted across the street where as it was on the traffic signal you look at on all other directions. Anyway - I showed up in court armed with pictures and the judge forced me to pay the court costs but threw out the ticket.

Was it worth my time, money for pictures, risk of getting stuck with the bill and the points, etc vs. hiring a lawyer to have it reduced to a parking ticket? Probably not - but if you feel inclined - you do have another option.

I know exactly where you are talking about and it is a real mess. Good luck...
Listen to these guys.

Go back to the spot ASAP and, if you can do it without getting killed, take as many pics as you can of the approach to the interesection. If the sign is not there or poorly marked the judge will probably just throw it out. :wink:
I agree with what everybody else said, but if you go back and there was a clearly posted sign that you missed, just hire a lawyer to take care of it for you. It is not expensive at all and no big deal. Traffic law charges about $75 for their service, but there is an attorney in St. Charles named Dan Nack that charges $40 the last time I looked. (few years ago) The price of the ticket will go up to get it erased, but the total cost for the legal fee and ticket wouldn't be more than $150-$200 which is worth it compared to the rise in insurance rates. :rolleyes:
Not sure about MO -in California if u fight the ticket and the Cop does not show up its dropped. I've done it before.
Also a cop showed once (actually, on a U-turn ticket) and I told the judge I would like to take traffic classes. Ticket dropped again after completion of classes.

Good Luck!
Well, I went back after work to the scene of the (supposed) crime. And of course, there was NOTHING there to indicate I couldn't do a U-Turn. Going North on 5th street, there is first a place to turn left to get on the highway. This is where the stupid No-U Turn sign is. :mad: I went to the light up ahead, where there is NO sign anywhere to be found (not on the median leading up to the light or on the light itself). The U-Turn that I mention is clearly not related to the place I was turning, but rather a turn a 1/4 mile before that.

So, of course I was excited (after b*tching and moaning all day at work). I ran to my nearest Wal-Mart, got a $4 disposable camera, and proceeded to take 27 pictures of the scene. I was standing on this center median w/ traffic going both ways. People probably thought I was some kind of nut. On a side note, I of course saw about 4-5 cars during that time proceed to pull U-turn's at the very same light :mad: (no cops around though).

So, now I have further questions for any of you that have experience in fighting tickets. Since I am clearly in the right and committed no offense, I will show up and fight the ticket. Right now, I only have the yellow ticket they gave me, but I think I get something else in the mail and I'm hoping this will also answer some of my questions. My basic understanding of the process is as follows (please fill in the blanks for those of you that have insight):

(1) I show up for my arraignment and plead Not Guilty. Is that it? Can I do anything else or present any evidence at that time? I am clearly in the right and a busy man, so I don't like the idea of having to re-appear in court. If I can't get the case thrown out then, do they just set a trial date or do I have to request anything special - I went to one of the links I found in a search and it talked about some kind of trial in absencia (not the right term, but basically you first can have a trial w/out having to show up and then if that doesn't work, then you can have a trial in person).

(2) Assuming I do then have to set a trial date, what do I do at the trial. Just bring the evidence w/ me and present my case? I have ZERO legal experience, so any insight anyone can provide would be appreciated.

(3) Do I have to pay any court costs if the judge dismisses my case? If so, I'm going to be really pissed :mad: since I am cleary innocent. If I do have to pay them, anyone have any idea what they might be?

Okay, that's it for now. I should have the pics back in a couple of days, maybe I'll even post a few of the very exciting :wink: pictures. I'm sure you all can't wait to see them.

Thanks for everyone's replies so far. I know there are some more of you out there :wink: w/ tips, insight, etc. so please share. All comments are appreciated.

One last thing, I wasn't sure if this was the right forum or not :eek: so if I offended anyone here, I sincerely apologize.
First of all I am from New York originally and no 2 states work the same but "Traffic Court" is usually(?) much simpler than if you murder someone.

In NY there are instructions on the ticket itself. If you return the ticket with the "NOT Guilty" box checked off the municipality sends you a date/time to appear with all your evidence and the cop will be there as well.

If the cop doesn't show, case dismissed. If present, the cop presents his case to the judge. You rebut. And the judge decides. That's pretty much it. (In New York anyway :wink: )
FYI - on my U-Turn ticket I also got in St. Louis the officer did not show up to the 1st court date and the judge just rescheduled it for a month later. They did not toss out the ticket as others have stated. The officer did show up to the second date. The judge found me guilty - but removed the ticket from my record and no points. I believe I still had to pay the ticket and the court costs - but again - it was as if the ticket never existed.

I believe it is really up to the judge as to what they want to do if the officer does not show up in court, not some kind of law written in stone. I also believe that they couldn't find me innocent since the sign was there.
matteni said:
I believe it is really up to the judge as to what they want to do if the officer does not show up in court, not some kind of law written in stone. I also believe that they couldn't find me innocent since the sign was there.

That's true. It all depends on the judge's mood on what he/she will decide for you. If you go to court and the cop doesn't even show up, then the case is excused and no problems or fines for you. If he does show up and you need to present your case, you might want to talk to the free public defender first about how the approach that particular judge with the photo evidence (many angles of the area and different lengths from the intersections in large photos, not digital, will work good for you). I knew some people who had presented photo evidence of the area where they were pulled over for an illegal U-turn or for no stopping at a stop sign (none was at the intersection) and after the judge saw the photos, the case was dropped. When you present the photos, the cop might try to make up some other BS story as to why he pulled you over, stating that he saw you as an 'endangerment' to the other cars around you, blah, blah, blah, but ultimately just gave you a 'warning' ticket of illegal U-turn and let you go on your way. But really, it'll all depend on the mood of the judge for that day when you show up and what his/her decision will be.
Newman said:
<snip> the cop might try to make up some other BS story as to why he pulled you over, stating that he saw you as an 'endangerment' to the other cars around you, blah, blah, blah, but ultimately just gave you a 'warning' ticket of illegal U-turn and let you go on your way.

Nope. Not gonna do THAT ! (Too much downside) :wink:
I am an attorney and I have been in court a zillion times for tickets.

Normally, traffic court is very informal. You will likely show up, the judge will go down the docket asking people to plead. You will stand up and say not guilty. He will set the case down for trial, typically once he's done going through all the guilty and no contest cases.

Copsuckers usually have a day or two per month and that is their trial day. All of their taxes, I mean tickets, are set for hearing on those days. If you have the goods on film, you should be found not guilty. However, this does not actually mean that the judge will do so. If things go poorly, you may appeal, but you should win this one. It will kill your entire morning.

Just explain your situation, show the judge the pics, and you should get a not guilty verdict. Forcing you to pay court costs is ridiculous. In VA, the state eats the costs if you are found not guilty. To do otherwise is unconstitutional, but that may not stop some jurisdictions from so doing.

Do not be late. If the cop is late, sometimes, judges will, without motion or argument, continue the case. If YOU are late, the judge will find you guilty in your absence 100% of the time. Remember who the payor is on the judge's paycheck.
Ok, so I'm bored tonight and I just figured out how to add pictures on here. My skills are still rudimentary, but I'm working on them. Please disregard this message if you wish.

Anyways, I got my pictures back and they're not too bad. I'm innocent! :biggrin:

Pic 1: This is the U-Turn sign the police officer was referencing when she said "there was a U-Turn sign on the median." :mad: However, I DIDN'T TURN AT THIS SPOT. :mad: Notice how this turn lane ends and the street goes back to two lanes, and then after that, a new left turn lane opens up. This is the one I was in. IT'S AFTER THE TURN W/ THE U-TURN SIGN!!!! :mad:


Pic 2: This is the light I turned at. You can clearly (well, almost - the pic quality leaves a bit to be desired, but I was using a $4 camera and I couldn't get any closer w/out killing myself) see that there is no U-Turn sign on the light.


Pic 3: This is a close-up of the sign, hopefully you can tell it says "Left Turn Signal" (it's a bit clearer in my picture at home) or at the very least, it's not a U-Turn sign.


Pic 4: This is the median leading up to the light. NO U-TURN SIGNS!!! :eek: The one sign you do see is a one-way sign.


Finally, my dad did some research and learned that making U-turns isn't an unwritten rule in Missouri (meaning that even if there wasn't a sign posted, you couldn't make the U-turn).

I think this case is air-tight (or at least hopefully the judge realizes this and is a reasonable person).