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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27435
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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I received a citation to wear a seat belt (Alaska).

Customer Question

I received a citation for failure to wear a seat belt (Alaska). I didn't notice til later that the officer totally misidentified the vehicle I was in (White 2000 Isuzu Trooper). However, the vehicle ID'd on the citation was for a different vehicle that I also own (Black 1995 Isuzu Trooper). He must have pulled up the wrong info on his computer and got confused since they are both Isuzu Troopers.
Is this worth contesting and going to trial? Its a $40fine and 0 points. (I know)
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I will be assisting you with your question.
You can send the ticket back with a plea of not guilty and get your court date. When you go in you can ask the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that the accusatory instrument (the ticket) is defective and names the wrong vehicle and therefore the court lacks jurisdiction over the case.
Sometimes, the judge will just dismiss the charge, and although the state can refile it, they may not. Other times, the judge will just let the officer or the prosecutor amend the ticket to reflect the right car. So if it doesn't work you'd be expected to go on to an immediate trial, assuming the police officer shows up, which means you'd actually need a defense in order to win.
Whether it's worth a day of your time to possibly save $40, is entirely up to you, but you can make the jurisdiction argument above based on the error on your ticket and see where it gets you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank You. Def not worth a DAY of my time - maybe a few hours. If I set a court date, I imagine I might have to wait to see the judge in a courtroom full of other minor cases. As you say, the officer may not even show up for such a minor offense.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 2 years ago.
My experience is that cases with lawyers get called before those without them. So it can take a while to get your case called. If the officer doesn't show up you can ask for dismissal on those grounds and depending upon the jurisdiction, it will be granted. (In some, the court will set a new date and give the officer a second chance to appear).
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I was wondering how he got the wrong vehicle. I just checked my glove box and somehow I had both registrations in the White Trooper and unknowingly handed him the wrong one. I suppose that's why it took him a while to process me because when he came back he said "OK everything checks out" so he may have had to figure out from his database that the vehicle I was in was registered to me too. He didn't mention anything so I didn't have a clue that I gave him the wrong registration til now. He probably thought he did me a favor by only giving me a seatbelt ticket. In any case, he wrote the ticket wrong.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 2 years ago.
Yes, he did. And you don't have to establish how that happened. But you would have to establish that you were not driving the car on the ticket.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hmmmm. I was driving alone no witness. I haven't driven the other vehicle for a year and only my tenant could verify to that. A written affidavit from her OK or would I need her to testify? I was thinking I could ask the officer if he remembered what color rig I had (white - the citation says black). Maybe I could ask if he has a dashcam picture of my rig which the year, color and plate number not matching the one listed on the citation.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 2 years ago.
Yes, you could ask about a dash cam. If he doesn't, you don't have the jurisdictional argument to make and you then have to worry about winning the case.