Legal Question in Traffic Law in Ohio

Yesterday I was being followed on a 4 lane rd. by my house by a local police officer. I needed to switch from the right lane to the left lane as the left lane ended ahead. I put on my signal and got over. The officer followed. He then pulled me over. He said that the department received a complaint about me earlier (when I was on the highway) that I had been driving "Recklessly." First off just let me say that this could have been filed by anyone with a grudge against me. There were no witnesses to this alleged driving. So he tells me that and then says that he is just going to run my license and he will be right back (never telling me why the reason was that he pulled me over). 5 minutes later he comes back and says (and I do have this entire thing captured on my cell phone video) "I forgot to tell you why I originally pulled you over. You failed to use your turn signal properly." I asked him what he meant that I had used my turn signal. He says "It's a little known law that you must signal 100 yards before you intend to switch lanes. You signaled, but not far enough ahead. Normally this would not be a problem and I would not pull you over or give you a ticket, but since someone complained about you, I wrote you a ticket. We have to get you driving safe." He then went on to tell me that turn signals are his biggest pet peeve and again he said that if I had not had some random person complain against me that he would not have wrote me that ticket.

Isn't this some form of bias or discrimination? I feel that instead of being innocent until proven guilty, I was guilty until proven innocent. I did not have the means to prove myself innocent so the officer decided that since somebody (could have been someone with a grudge, someone who just didn't like the way I was driving, or even someone I knew just messing with me not expecting me to actually get a ticket) that he deemed me a bad driver and was going to find something to give me a ticket for regardless. Do I have any legal ground to stand on with that video? I mean he does admit that A. it is his pet peeve, B. that he would not have pulled me over if that complaint had not come in, or C. that this normally would not have been a problem, and that the only reason I got a ticket (for something completely unrelated) was because there was a random complaint earlier.

I DO NOT have 149 dollars to pay this ticket! And I really feel that this officer was in the wrong, that he acted as judge, jury, and executioner of a situation he knew nothing about. He has no idea that I have this video. What should I do? I really need some legal advice here!!

Asked on 5/10/11, 5:52 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy Hess T. Hess & Associates, LLC

Appear in court on the date provided. You might have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor that day to resolve this. If not, enter a plea of "not guilty" and get your next court date to meet with the prosecutor. Either way, when you speak with the prosecutor, explain to him the situation. Show him the video and request that the charge be dismissed.

If he will not agree to that, provide him with a letter requesting the dispatch recordings for the date in question. Particularly for the times that you were driving on the road. If someone really did call in to report you, it will be on the call log. Once you have that information, and especially if there is NOT a call on you, you can defend yourself.

Also, take a look at Ohio Revised Code, section 4513.261 Directional Signals. There is NOTHING in the law about a 100 yard rule. That is just a recommendation from the department of Safety.

Good Luck.

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Answered on 5/10/11, 9:48 am

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