Day 301 – Dilemma

Yesterday afternoon, I was pulled over by a Michigan State Trooper for a traffic violation. I received a citation for violating code 257.637: passing a vehicle on the right.

After reviewing the code, I believe I was not in violation of that code.
Here is the situation: A vehicle in front of me stopped to make a left turn off of a two lane road into a driveway. There was a line of vehicles in the other direction, so it was clear he was going to sit there for a little while. The shoulder was fully paved, and as wide as a normal lane, so I slowed down and went around the vehicle in front of me–on the right. I thought this was perfectly okay, but apparently not. A State Patrol car happened to be traveling in the other direction and pulled me over immediately. I was not speeding, I was wearing a seat belt, and following all other traffic laws. The only thing I was cited for was passing on the right. The Michigan Vehicle Code has a clear exception for passing a vehicle on the right if that vehicle is making a left turn. The code also states, however, that “the driver of a vehicle shall not overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway.” I did not drive off the pavement (the very wide shoulder was paved), but a shoulder is not technically the “main-traveled portion of the roadway.” Still, the vehicle in front of me was making a left turn, I slowed down, and was fully on the pavement.

Should I challenge it? My ticket is $100 and there are no court costs involved if I decide to schedule a hearing, so the most I can lose is $100 plus my time in the hearing. How much of a chance do I have of winning the case? I realize the odds are stacked against me, as it is my word against an officer of the state’s word and another officer of the state’s interpretation.

By the way, since I am an out-of-state driver, the court needed either $50 or my driver’s license as bond, to make sure I pay the ticket. Since I did not have $50 in cash on my person, I had to hand over my license, so I have to at least pay $20 to get it back. If I lose the case, that $20 goes towards my total $100 fine. (I was told I am allowed to drive without my physical license for the time being. If I am asked for it, I just need to show the ticket I received, which shows that my license was posted in lieu of bond.)

What do you think, should I challenge it, or suck it up and hand over $100?

9 thoughts on “Day 301 – Dilemma

  1. I say challenge it. If there are no court costs you have absolutely nothing to lose. The government should not be able to take your money for a “possible” infraction of the law. It should be clear-cut. If you’re going to hand over $100… or even $1, make them fight for it.

  2. If you feel you can beat this, go for it. If you do, don’t go in with a chip on your shoulder, and be extremely polite. Just make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Just remember what you store in your vehicle. This officer may make your life miserable.

  3. Defiantly challenge it. You weren’t harming anyone by passing on the right, and you made a logical decision. It’s not like you went off-roading to get around the car. Joe’s idea is good too, though 😉

  4. I have thought about this for a bit and I say you should challenge the citation. Not because I think you have an open and shut case, but the hearing will open your eyes to our legal process. Since Amanda is interested in law, take her with you! Dress well, be polite and come well prepared. Talk when talked to and stay calm. I am hoping that Hillsdale County is not a good ol boy court system. At this point the hearing is not going to cost you anymore than you owe now. Good Luck!

  5. Nice comment from Joe, But as your dad I don’t advise it! A non payment will lead to a possible cuff and stuff the next time your out. And possibly losing your Saturday class supplies. 😮 / + a unwanted visit from Dr. Arnn.

  6. I’d say challenge it Chuck, even if you do lose (you have to be willing to invest in the headache though). Most people let things fly like this, but we’re actually supposed to argue for justice. Haha, I’m probably making it sound like a bigger deal, but I’ve been in the same situation and I was advised to challenge it. I’m glad I did, even if I did lose, because it shows that I actually care. There is always a chance of winning! 😀

  7. You know my position on this. Challenge it, be polite, point out what you clearly thing the law is and was at the time you did it, and say nothing further than that. You can’t lose anything but a good time! Going to court is lots of fun.

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