On February 29 of this year, I received a ticket for failing to drive in a single lane. I was on my way home from an area that I was not familiar with and was trying to determine which lane I should be in to turn onto the entrance lane to a highway. For two days prior, we had had wind advisories with gusts up to 58 mph, and on February 29, there had been a tornado watch in affect 2 1/2 hours prior to my getting the ticket. The reason I had difficulty knowing which lane I should be in was because the wind had blown so much dirt onto the lane, it looked like it was the shoulder of the road instead of a lane. It was also very dark at the location where I needed to turn onto the entrance lane. I was in the middle lane and then I moved over to the right lane. Seeing all the dirt, I moved back to the middle lane thinking it was the shoulder. As I got closer to the entrance lane, I noticed that there was a right-turn arrow painted on the pavement in the lane to my right. It was almost completely covered with dirt and barely noticeable. I then moved again to the right-hand lane. I checked my rear-view mirror and noticed a police car behind me with his lights on signaling me to pull over. When I explained to him what I had been doing, his response was that maybe I shouldn't be driving at night. (I'm 68 years old.) When I went to court to protest this ticket, I printed out information from the internet documenting the weather and wind and tornado advisory, along with actual wind and gust speeds. When I got to the court, my name was called along with others, to speak with the prosecutor before going to trial. When I tried to tell her about my documentation, her response was that she was not interested in that. When I went before the judge, she requested that it not be admitted as evidence, therefore, I was found guilty of changing lanes and fined $50, plus $24 court costs. I requested a retrial, but found out that the same prosecutor will be representing the City of Maryland Heights, but there will be a different judge. It seems pointless to pay the $65 bond for a retrial if the same prosecutor will be there. Is there anything that can be done that I didn't know about if I have a new trial?
The prosecutor does not decide the case or act as a trier of fact. The first judge is wrong for not allowing you to present your evidence, Request your new trial and present your evidence. It is the prosecutor's burden to prove your guilt.
Former Asst State Attorney/Hearing Officer
What do I do if I request a new trial and I get the same prosecutor and she tells the judge she refuses to allow my evidence to be admitted? I think this court system is not on the up and up.
The prosecutor can object to the admission of the evidence on legal grounds, but the judge has the final say as to whether the proferred evidence's admissible.
Is there a specific procedure that I must follow to submit my evidence, or can I just tell the judge that I would like to submit some documented evidence about the weather on the day I was ticketed that I would like him to review?
You would just ask the judge for permission to submit into evidence NOAA records of the wind conditions at the time of the ticket. The prosecutor will object and the judge will rule. The evidentiary rules in traffic court are somewhat less stringent as far as laying a foundation and such. Just make sure your information source is accredited, such as the NOAA.
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