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  #1  
Old 4 Sep 2006
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Unhappy Speeding Ticket in the US

Just after a bit of info regarding the law and the severity of speeding tickets for foreigners.

A friend of mine just got caught speeding in Oregon (101mph on the interstate with a 65mph limit). It was in a rental vehicle paid for with a credit card and he has a UK license - they took the license number. The policeman produced a yellow summons and said it would be a mandatory court appearance at the end of September when my friend will no longer be in the US. The base fine is $1103 by the way - pretty harsh in my opinion.

He has a UK license and visits the US regularly for work. If he does nothing about this will the local police take action that may have consequences for future visits? Strangely enough the ticket that was issued features a number of inconsistencies - height of driver and colour of eyes for example. In the UK the paperwork really has to be 100% correct or there are no grounds for a prosecution. The fact that there is no US postal address (luckily an out of date UK address) will no doubt make it difficult to chase. There is also no link to a passport number.

The major question is what are the chances of escaping this? Will the local courts even take action for a foreigner? I think my friend has already cancelled his credit card so that the fine cannot be automatically deducted. In the UK, there is little action taken against foreigners - it's just too difficult and time consuming to pursue further.

Hope someone can help in this unfortunate case.

Many thanks
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  #2  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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With a foreign license, my first reaction is to blow it off.

I've gathered around 18-19 performance awards over the last 3 1/2 years from various States with no points recorded in my home State or showing on my insurance. Two others in CN which means I'll be careful up there next time visiting. Canada doesn't make you pay-on-the-spot.

Each State and Province have their own rules...and subjective judgement by attending officer.

Just don't do it too often...in the same place.

Do your own research, etc and don't solely depend upon what you see posted here.
Death by hanging has been dropped by most States.

Last edited by Lone Rider; 5 Sep 2006 at 04:26.
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  #3  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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Not to add paranoia, but, unlike most felonies such as robbery, burglary, and a few others, traffic tickets stay with you for a while. The Oregon authorities won't try to extradite your friend over it, but on a future visit, he may have a bench warrant sitting on his record, and theoretically can be arrested, provided the warrant is in the national database. Just tell your friend to play it cool on future visits, and keep "below the radar" (literally and figurativeley)
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  #4  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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Thanks for the info. I guess that my buddy can cancel his company credit card and therefore the rental company cannot pursue him for payment. Does this sound feasible? Anyone know if this can be done?

Clearly he doesn't want to be arrested on any future visit to the US and while he won't be coming back to Oregon in a hurry he won't want to be arrested at O'hare or Dallas on arrival because of a recipricol agreement between the Texans and Oreganos(?) when he arrives from the UK. Basically the warrant cannot be served because the police only have a UK address but does this mean that the warrant does not exist - if not how would anyone find out that it existed? From what I understand Oregon law states that these records last for 5 years. How would anyone find out about this matter?

In many countries in Europe now the police often take the money off you at the roadside if you are not a resident in that country. In Norway the cops even had a visa machine in the car! Now I am talking from my own experience. This seems the only sure fire way to collect the fine money.

What about the option to try and fight the charge? It seems that the threshold for the big fine ($1103) is 100mph in Oregon but my pal was doing 101mph. Surely the margin for error in the measurement is greater than 1% for the laser based device. The policeman also stated that the defendant has brown eyes - my buddy has blue eyes and is a little taller than the 5'9" on the ticket.

The question is should he run and hide or try to fight this? It seems bizarre to me that there is no mechanism in place for someone, a foreigner, who is just passing through the state in a rental car to contest this without having to show up in court when he will not even be in the country.

What about claiming ignorance should anything arise in future? It's not like they take your photo.

I'm sure my buddy is making a meal of this and worrying unnecessarily but some advice from people who know how the system works in the US would be much appreciated.

Cheers!
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  #5  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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"a foreigner, who is just passing through the state in a rental car"

The fact is that he was "just" passing through at a ridiculous and illegal speed, endangering others and should think himself lucky to get off with a fine. No one wants drivers like this on their streets. Your friend is trying to avoid his responsibilities and you are asking us to be complicit in this. I don't think that is what this site is about.
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  #6  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog
...............
BTW Lone, depending on which states you got those tickets in
and how long ago it was, I would be very careful riding back
there. Most records are purged every so often, especially minor
infractions but in this paranoid Homeland Security age, I would
bet a lot more data is being held onto.
...........
I neglected to say that all the US tickets were paid.
The systems are very tight now.

My exp in CN was Alberta and Ontario.
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  #7  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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Speeding tickets

For the price of a set of aluminum panniers you are risking arrest? If you do the crime you pay the fine. Render unto ceasar what is ceasar's. Or perhaps "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him think".
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  #8  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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Unpaid tickets of this severity are issued arrest warrants, which are entered into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) database. If he were stopped again, anywhere in the USA, and the officer checks with the NCIC, as most of them do, he will immediately be hauled to jail. If he is on a business trip, would his boss approve and put up with bailing him out, paying an even bigger fine and doing without him while he serves his jail sentence.

Pay the ticket, and slow down, I drive the roads in Oregon a lot.

(And residents of Oregon are Oregonians. Oregano is a spice . )
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  #9  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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1) That speed is a crime, not an infraction. Failure to appear will result in a warrant for his arrest. That's a totally separate warrant.

2) His driving privilage will be revoked in that state and all states with reciprocity. That's about all of them. Should ANY check be made, including US entry and exit, his driving revocation and outstanding warrants will be grounds for denial of entry.

3) Canceling a credit card to avoid fines is another crime...another warrant.

Best advice I've I've seen on this string..slow down! You may want to die, my children don't. Pay the fine, you got caught. Remember the police did not commit these crimes, the rider did.
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  #10  
Old 5 Sep 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernard
"a foreigner, who is just passing through the state in a rental car"

The fact is that he was "just" passing through at a ridiculous and illegal speed, endangering others and should think himself lucky to get off with a fine. No one wants drivers like this on their streets. Your friend is trying to avoid his responsibilities and you are asking us to be complicit in this. I don't think that is what this site is about.
If this was france he would have his licence taken on the spot, and the car impounded... fines. possible gaol sentence later, and probably 12 months disqualification.... and you would be lucky, cos if it were my kids you run over you would be taking home some foreign lead too.

ex pat uk citizen.

As an aside, cancelling the credit card wont work, the car hire company have a legal right to get recompense for any charges incurred. The fact it was a company credit card involves the company also...
so best pay up and smile, or fight it in the courts.
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  #11  
Old 6 Sep 2006
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I can't speak for Oregon's laws regarding fines, etc., but your friend should try to have his speed reduced by the court (provided the threshold is 100 mph or under) by negotiating the speed down into the 80's or 90's. Other states allow you to argue by mail, and I am sure Oregon is no different. Essentially, he should agree to plead "no contest" which has the same weight as a "guilty" plea, but to a speed infraction, as opposed to the 101 mph which seems to lean toward an actual crime called "reckless driving." Once the judge is satisfied with the plea, your friend should have a much reduced fine, and can ask that the court accept payments. If your friend follows this advice, the judge should go along with it, and he (your friend) should stick to a lower speed claim. Seeing as your friend has taken the time to address the court from such a distance, and has admitted to breaking the law (even though he is admitting to an infraction rather than the misdemeanor he is most likely facing currently), the judge should and most likely would accept it as such. Like I said, the fine should be reduced dramatically, and as the judge really has nothing to lose, he or she most likely will even allow the fine to be paid in payments. (he should make sure he keeps up on the payments). Since he is most likely facing the more serious charge of "reckless driving" if he plans to visit the US again, he should take the time to have the charge reduced and pay the (reduced)fine as opposed to pleading guilty and paying the full fine as others have suggested, or ignoring the charges altogether. (unless he never intends to visit the US again).

But he does need to act quickly, because they might just find him guilty without him responding, and he would have that on his US record, and risk being jailed anywhere in the US. Again, not likely extradicted to Oregon from another state, but they might take him in to jail for a day or two until they hear from Oregon. (Not a guaranteed option, but still a possibilty due to him having been found guilty of reckless driving as opposed to just a speeding ticket).
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  #12  
Old 6 Sep 2006
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Thanks for the info everyone particularly Mollydog and Yuma - you seem to know how the system works. Not sure why a few self righteous folk got upset about speeding - the post was never intended as a discussion about the morality of driving/riding above the legal speed limit. The site is littered with stories about people getting stopped by the police all around the world and trying to get off. It's human nature!

It seems the way forward is to try to fight the ticket and get a reduction. My pal called in at the court house in order to sort something out and would have seen the judge were it not for the fact that the state trooper had not submitted the paperwork. The court clerk advised him to write a letter explaining his circumstances - the idea of the appearance is to consider the matter of license suspension which is clearly not applicable for a UK driving license holder.

Do these attorneys charge lots of money for their services? What sort of fine would might be expected with a reduction? $1103 is very expensive. WHat about getting off if the paperwork is not in order - the whole eye colour matter sounds like the stuff an attorney can make something out of.

The state trooper also suggested that a UK license was not valid in the US and requested an international license. Sounds like a crock of bs to me. Anyone else had any trouble with that one? I never came across that one before.

Thanks again.

Matt
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  #13  
Old 6 Sep 2006
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While I am not an attorney, I have received many speeding tickets while growing up in California; that is where I learned the law the hard way, and while I never was charged with reckless driving (although I should have been many, many times, lol) I had friends who were, and the best way out was to negotiate, or plea bargain.

Ironically, the California Highway Patrol often "negotiates" on the highway depending on what mood the officer is in, and how nice you are. I have had friends who were caught at 100 mph + and written for 85 mph.

The same attorneys who handle drunk driving cases will handle reckless driving charges, but their fees, at least for drunken driving, can run into the 1000's (no, not from personal experience!!). You can negotiate with a lawyer on his/her fee, but I would think that minimum would be several hundred dollars in this case. As far as the fine goes, usually it is a formula for how fast over the limit you were found, so it is in the best interest to negotiate (plea bargain) as low a speed as possible.

Oh, yeah, going back to the attorney thing, it is a proverbial catch-22. Your point on having the wrong description is a very valid point, however, an attorney would have to see the ticket/summons, and would most likely have to be hired and paid, and there is still no guarantee of getting off, so you are stuck. However, if an attorney was involved for a few hundred dollars (I really couldn't tell you how much, however), and he/she could negotiate the speed way down, and the charges lessened, this might be a way to go. Your friend's best bet is to look up attorneys on an online phone book for that area, and find the ones that specialize in drunk driving/reckless driving cases, and get as much free advice before deciding if this is the best route. (I am not advocating trying to trick an attorney into free advice, but an honest one should be able to tell your friend if he has a chance of getting off or not by hiring them).

I had almost forgotten your mention of the missing paperwork; if there was a slight chance this happened, this should get the case thrown out, but don't try to count on it, as well as the point of the wrong description. Again, a lawyer could maneuver this point, too, but at what cost?

I have never been successful in fighting speeding tickets (something like 15 over my life with about 4 contested in court), but I have never been charged with a "criminal" driving offence such as reckless driving or drunken driving. Ironically, for these bigger charges, there is almost always room to negotiate. As far as the morality of it all, unlike infractions (simple speeding tickets), which are stacked to find you guilty until you prove yourself innocent, any actual crime has to be proven against you in the US--you are innocent until proven guilty, or you admit to it. No need to plead outright guilt as charged; if you can plea the charges down to put you in a better position, then go for it!!
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  #14  
Old 7 Sep 2006
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[QUOTE=yuma simon]

I had almost forgotten your mention of the missing paperwork; if there was a slight chance this happened, this should get the case thrown out, but don't try to count on it, as well as the point of the wrong description. Again, a lawyer could maneuver this point, too, but at what cost?

QUOTE]

Gringo, that is true. In the above statement, I should have said "could" not "should." It really is up to the judge; if he/she feel like acting on technicalities, they can, if not, they won't. There are so many courts interpreting the same laws, if the judge says "no" because he/she wants to leave early on vacation, they could just do it and leave you in a bad situation.

Again, I stress, if you decide to admit guilt, get your speed to as low as possible--"your honor, I don't think I was doing any faster than 8(?)mph"--this way, (again if you decide not to contest it but don't want the heavy fine)the judge (and prosecutor if they have one involved) will probably take this admission and reduce the fine to a few hundred dollars (don't quote me on the fine, however). And again, only if your friend intends to visit the US, he should ask (and/or "beg") that the fine be paid in payments of say $50/month. Like I said in another post, the judge should accept all of this seeing as your friend is honest enough to admit guilt, is willing to pay a fine, and the fact that as of now, your friend is in a jurisdiction that the judge absolutely cannot touch him in, no matter how much of a power trip the judge might have (many of them do), the judge should/would really have no other choice but to accept this.

Let us know how this turns out; you will recieve my bill for legal services shortly, LOL...
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  #15  
Old 22 Oct 2006
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Unhappy Here's what happened in the end.....

Just a quick summary of what ultimately happened in the speeding case. A letter was written to the court that satisfied the need to appear in court. The judge reduced the fine from $1103 to £850. There was also a 90 day driving ban.

No attorney was used as this would have cost $350.

Sounds like speeding in Oregon is best avoided. My pal swears he wasn't doing 100+ but the word of the cop has cost him a whole load of cash.

Interestingly the paperwork supplied by the court did not seem capable of handling the UK driving license number. So it may be worth the risk if you're that way inclined.

Speeding tickets suck.

Thanks again for those that offered their advice.

Matt
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