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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Run my own practice.
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I received a ticket for illegally driving my car over a railroad crossing when the warning

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I received a ticket for illegally driving my car over a railroad crossing when the warning arms were descending. This happened in Elmhurst, Illinois. I do not agree with the police officer as I made a complete stop at the stop sign which is 15-20 feet before the crossing. If I would have tried to "beat" the train, my car would have been hit by the warning arms. The violation has a mandatory court date. Do I have any options to contest the ticket at my court date? Are there any other options besides paying the ticket like traffic school to keep this from going on my driving record? Or since this is a "he said, she said" situation am I best to accept the ticket, pay the fine and move on?
Thank you for your question. I will do my best to assist you with your concerns. If you would like me to clarify my answer, I will be happy to do so.

To best assist you, I will go down the list with your questions and try to respond to your concerns.

Do I have any options to contest the ticket at my court date?
Absolutely. You have the right to appear and bring up contrary evidence that you did properly stop and that the ticket is frivolous. Plus there is a very good chance the police officer may not appear so you can get a dismissal without even further working toward a win. But ultimately you can review the code, see how you stopped, and provide such information to the judge for his or her review.

Are there any other options besides paying the ticket like traffic school to keep this from going on my driving record?
Yes, you can offer to plea bargain, see if they would choose to turn this into a 'non-moving' violation, which would keep the fine but remove the points, and therefore keep it off your record.

Or since this is a "he said, she said" situation am I best to accept the ticket, pay the fine and move on?
It is always the officer's responsibility to prove the violation took place. In that sense he has the burden of proof in proving that this violation took place as stated, but depending on the judge he may get more or less credibility. It is still a 'he said, she said' situation, but it is not solely tilted against you.


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Please be aware that if you give any rating below 3 stars then I will not be compensated in any way for helping you today. Good luck to you!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. I have a few additional questions.

One of your comments is to "review the code". Where would I find the code? I know I stopped at the stop sign. And when the police officer pulled me over to give me a ticket, he didn't say I ran the stop sign. So that fact doesn't seem to be in dispute.

Who do I ask about a plea bargin? Do I do this before the hearing starts? Or can I do ththese ring the hearing?

I don't have a traffic lawyer attending the hearing on my behalf. Is this okay? Or do most defendants have a lawyer?

This is my first court hearing and I'm not sure what to expect. What kind of evidence do police officers typically bring to show they are correct in their claims?
Thank you for your follow-up, I will be happy to respond to you further.

One of your comments is to "review the code". Where would I find the code? I know I stopped at the stop sign. And when the police officer pulled me over to give me a ticket, he didn't say I ran the stop sign. So that fact doesn't seem to be in dispute.
The code is located at the link below-you can use it to find the statute under which you were cited, and see if ALL of the conditions matched, since all have to be covered before the ticket can be given:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ChapterID=49&ActID=1815

Who do I ask about a plea bargin? Do I do this before the hearing starts? Or can I do ththese ring the hearing?
You come to the hearing early and speak either to the assistant prosecutor/district attorney, or the police officer himself, as some courthouses simply have you go against the police directly.

I don't have a traffic lawyer attending the hearing on my behalf. Is this okay? Or do most defendants have a lawyer?
Almost no defendants get an attorney. Traffic court, unless you are in it for reckless driving, a DUI, or a hit and run (the serious offenses), you can get by without an attorney.

This is my first court hearing and I'm not sure what to expect. What kind of evidence do police officers typically bring to show they are correct in their claims?
They simply bring themselves and their police notebook.

Good luck.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
This is very helpful Dimitry.

I'm trying to decide if I should go early and plea bargin or if I should state my case (which isn't more than I say I didn't try to beat the train by driving under the warning arms and the police officer said I did). My fear is that the judge will rule tougher against me if he believes I'm just trying to beat a ticket.

I read that my first offense like this is a $250 fine and maybe community service too (it's up to the judge). The fine is very expensive. I don't want to incur a fine plus community service, plus points in my driving record because I made a judge angry. I understand that you are giving advice only but based on your experience, what would you recommend your client do in this situation? Plea bargin or state your case?

Do you know how many points go on my driving record if I am guilty of this violation?

On the scale of serious traffic offenses with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, where does this type of violation fall?

Should I expect to pay court costs?
Thank you for your follow-up, and you are most welcome. Happy to help.

Attempting to plea bargain does not handicap you from pursuing a hearing if that fails. A plea deal is attempted first, and if you obtain something favorable to you, then you may choose not to see the judge. Furthermore the judge CANNOT grant you a bigger fine than the one you already have, that is not a legitimate fear to have, the judge cannot add new offenses to your hearing. I see no reason not first attempt a plea bargain.

In terms of severity, this is akin to a 2 or a 3. To put it in perspective, this has 20 points potentially on your record, same as speeding 11-15 miles above the limit. Reckless driving, as a contrast, would have 55 points on your license. You would likely be asked to pay court costs if found guilty or if you plea to a lesser offense, but the court costs are very low.

Good luck and take care. My apologies but I will be retiring for the evening. If you have additional concerns, I promise to respond to them in the morning.

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