Author Topic: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.  (Read 12976 times)

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Offline daddykevin

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Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« on: December 15, 2011, 02:41:14 pm »
On my 11 mile daily commute, I frequently will split lanes when traffic is stopped. I do this for several reasons, all of them safety related. I don't do it when traffic is moving, I generally ride just slightly faster than the speed of traffic in order to minimize threats, but when traffic is stopped at a light, I will split and go to the front to keep the idiots behind me.

So, along comes a caged cop who cites me for lane splitting, I'm not sure of the vehicle code section. I politely state my case, and he proceeds to write me up.

So... here's my chance to try and nullify this law, or lack of a law, or at least get some clarification. I will plead "not guilty", and request a jury trial. My hope is that a jury of my peers will include at least one or two riders.

I'm looking for facts on lane-splitting or lane-sharing. Pro's and Con's, safety statistics of distracted drivers on their commute, or other good information that can be used in court. I'm not trying to institute a law, although that would be nice, but rather to "nullify" by stating that the law shouldn't apply due to safety concerns for the motorcyclist.

Thanks for your help.
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Offline ConcoursKZ

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 02:44:15 pm »
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Offline smithr1

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 03:28:47 pm »
I am for splitting in some ways.  Mainly when it is 100* here and traffic is stopped.   I think Texas has no law for or against it though.  So what did he put on the ticket? 
I am less incline to do it since I watched a guy get creamed while splitting on my way home from work.  He failed to notice the car cutting through the two lanes of stopped traffic turning onto a side street.  I just do not think Texans are looking for bikes splitting and this idiot failed to do his part and notice a hazardous situation.
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Offline Paulie

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 04:05:44 pm »
I'd start by finding a good atty that's interested in yer cause.

Offline Ranger Jim

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 04:37:57 pm »
I wish you a lot of luck but as CA is the ONLY state where lane-splitting is permiitted I'm afraid you have a real uphill battle. The link posted above is probably the best source of info for you. Again, good luck!
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Offline S Smith

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 05:26:01 pm »
Read applicable state statue(s) to understand the infraction. They are usually posted on the state's website.  Unless the law is vague you will be hard pressed to convince that you were doing something illegal in the name of safety... "Yes your honor... I was speeding so that I not anywhere near those dangerous cages..." 

Good luck...
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Offline Centex

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 06:21:40 pm »
edit: I note from your profile you're in Ft Worth, TX.

If a jury of your peers includes native Texans that have been riding motorcycles on the street for 30+years, I'll qualify.

If I'm on your jury you will lose your "safety related" arguments and the ticket will stand.

I am not in favor of legal lane splitting in Texas.  IMHO one lane width should = one vehicle in the lane, and violation of that tenet presents a safety hazard.

If you choose to ride on the street, "to keep the idiots behind me" as a safety tactic is a BS argument, IMHO.  To argue that getting ahead of inattentive drivers by splitting between them is "safe" or "safer" than maintaining traditionally recommended clearance distances is nonsense, IMHO, at the very least because you have reduced your clearance and therefore the time available to react to an un-predicted move by the inattentive driver (all other things being equal).

The sole logical justification for splitting is: to get to the destination quicker than if you don't split, assuming no accident in the process (again, IMHO).  This is supported by the info at laneshare.org, where all of the justifications for splitting relate to traffic congestion, none relate to safety.  I recognize that some space at laneshare.org is dedicated to suggesting that splitting does not present a greater risk than non-splitting riding; that is NOT the same as saying it is "safe" or "safer" to split, and the website does not point to any scientific basis for its contentions in this regard.

Just my opinion, it's a settled opinion and I'm entitled to it.

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« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 06:38:11 pm by Centex »
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Offline Dave Scott

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 06:22:56 pm »
what state are you in?  laws vary widely from state to state.

Offline oldsawfiler

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 06:30:24 pm »
I have to agree with "centex".  And as far as getting ahead of the "idiots", there will always be more up ahead where you can see them.  Those behind still pose a threat.
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Offline daddykevin

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 06:37:17 pm »
If a jury of your peers includes native Texans that have been riding motorcycles on the street for 30+years, I'll qualify.

If I'm on your jury you will lose your "safety related" arguments and the ticket will stand.

I am not in favor of legal lane splitting in Texas.  IMHO one lane width should = one vehicle in the lane, and violation of that tenet presents a safety hazard.

If you choose to ride on the street, "to keep the idiots behind me" as a safety tactic is a BS argument, IMHO.  To argue that getting ahead of inattentive drivers by splitting between them is "safe" or "safer" than maintaining traditionally recommended clearance distances is nonsense, IMHO, at the very least because you have reduced your clearance and therefore the time available to react to an un-predicted move by the inattentive driver (all other things being equal).

The sole logical justification for splitting is: to get to the destination quicker than if you don't split, assuming no accident in the process (again, IMHO).  This is supported by the info at laneshare.org, where all of the justifications for splitting relate to traffic congestion, none relate to safety.  I recognize that some space at laneshare.org is dedicated to suggesting that splitting does not present a greater risk than non-splitting riding; that is NOT the same as saying it is "safe" or "safer" to split, and the website does not point to any scientific basis for its contentions in this regard.

Just my opinion, it's a settled opinion and I'm entitled to it.

 ^-^
I've been riding on the street for 35 years, beginning in CA where it IS legal. I have split or shared lanes most of those years. Never down, never hit anyone, AND NEVER BEEN HIT FROM BEHIND.

It IS safer, when done properly... period.
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Offline Centex

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2011, 06:55:16 pm »
I've been riding on the street for 35 years, beginning in CA where it IS legal. I have split or shared lanes most of those years. Never down, never hit anyone, AND NEVER BEEN HIT FROM BEHIND.

It IS safer, when done properly... period.

In all sincerety - congratulations on your record, I hope it stands through your entire riding career.

However, your fortune to date does not support your argument.  That's not an opinion, that's based on a factual understanding of the concepts of statistics.

I'd welcome the opportunity to read a scientific presentation in support of your contention regarding safety.  It would certainly seem that if such a study existed, the folks at laneshare.org would give it prominent billing.

FYI, as a polite hint for your day in court, it may be to your benefit to understand and acknowledge the difference between your opinion, "expert opinion" and supported fact when facing a prosecuting attorney in a court of law.  His/her Honor is not running an internet forum.

Good Luck !
Alan in Central Texas
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Offline smithr1

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2011, 07:23:38 pm »
The ONLY safety related justification for splitting or riding on the shoulder around traffic that I have been unfortunate enough to do but not caught at was based on health reasons.   

I was stopped twice in long lines of backed up traffic on the interstate in 95+ degree temperatures.  Both times I tried to hang in my line but as I started to pass out from the heat I moved over to the shoulder and just coasted along to get some air.  If I had not I would surly have passed out.

Funny how fast you can ride when you know 10,000 upset NASCAR fans are behind you.  That time was near Talladega the day after the race.  The other time was on I 10 in La. in high heat and humidity.
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Offline rcannon409

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2011, 08:45:52 pm »
Please keep up posted on the outcome. I've been tempted many, many times, but it is illegal in my state.  I cannot see my local courts caring the least little bit about safety if there is money to be collected.
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Offline PopPop

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 09:07:01 pm »
The October issue of Motorcycle Consumer News had a very interesting article on ths very subject.  If you go on-line to their site you can get a copy of it.  I have always been concerned about the risks of lane sharing even though I have not lived in Ca where it is allowed.  The article had some statistics and observations that have given me cause to think about the pros and cons.  I wish I could remember more of the details (see what happens as you get older)  >:(but if you can get a copy of it I think you'll find it very interesting.  Maybe some of my long time beliefs need to reevaluated.  Good luck.

Offline 3greens

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2011, 09:46:01 pm »
some good info from  everyone.i am from  uk  orig  were  splitting  goes on,and on many  trips  the bike is  right besides yu  before  you  know it,and they do tend to ride  very fast,i now live in texas  and  here  turn signals are those funny things on  a stick that dont get used or inforced by  pds,on  a weekend ride we decided to hop on 1-35  which was as usual  the biggest parking lot in texas we decided not to split  lanes,a bike behind us did  and was creamed by  a bmw who switched lanes  and  no signals, we stopped to help,  the bmw didnt   the guy  was ok, we all learned  a lesson  that day,but its  your choice  if yu do it be  very  very careful

Offline fartymarty

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2011, 10:30:44 pm »
If we start sharing lanes with cages, then they are going to want to share lanes with us. I'd rather not.
If you're not in California, then I advise against it. If you are in California...I still advise against it.
I know this will date me, but more than once I've seen a lane splitter stopped hard by a car door, because the cage driver decided
that stopped in traffic was a great time to open the door and empty their ash tray on the street.
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Offline cra-z1000

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2011, 11:44:49 pm »
I used to split lanes all the time in Ca ,most drivers there are used to it, but here in Texas ? Never ! If someone doesn't hit you , they will probably shoot you   :o
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Offline 2linby

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2011, 12:14:43 am »
Pay the ticket and don't do this again. If you go to a jury trail you will lose on statute alone and nothing else. You are in Texas dude.
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Offline Gypsy JR

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2011, 12:57:08 pm »
I've been riding over 40 years.

One thing I've found is violating traffic laws is patently stupid. No amount of justification makes it otherwise.
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Offline Dave Scott

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2011, 02:39:31 pm »
Pay the ticket and don't do this again. If you go to a jury trail you will lose on statute alone and nothing else. You are in Texas dude.

I was thinking that as well, but not sure about TX law, if it's expressly illegal there, or if the ticket was for wreckless operation, or something like that.

I would think a better approach would be to work through state legislature to have the law changed to allow it if that's what you're after.  You'd have a better chance of changing the law with a large number of signatures than having a judge determine that the law is wrong.  They don't usually do that.

Offline Gypsy JR

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2011, 02:58:53 pm »
Pay the ticket and don't do this again. If you go to a jury trail you will lose on statute alone and nothing else. You are in Texas dude.

I was thinking that as well, but not sure about TX law, if it's expressly illegal there, or if the ticket was for wreckless operation, or something like that.

I would think a better approach would be to work through state legislature to have the law changed to allow it if that's what you're after.  You'd have a better chance of changing the law with a large number of signatures than having a judge determine that the law is wrong.  They don't usually do that.

Nor should a judge determine that a law is wrong, except on constitutional challenge. It is not the Judiciary's role to make law, though in the last 50 years they have done it far too much.
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Offline daddykevin

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2011, 03:11:11 pm »
Obviously a very polarizing topic. It is neither specifically legal, nor illegal.

I commute daily and observe many things. Drivers sitting in their cars texting, on phone calls, drinking coffee, eating food, reaching for the radio, putting on make-up, or frequently doing multiples of these tasks. Completely distracted and oblivious to anything around them.

Cars are quieter, with better sound systems, abs, airbags, and other safety features to make the operator feel safer and allow for even further dis-engagement. I split lanes at stop lights, and will continue to do so. I'm not trying to legislate in this endeavor, nor in this forum. However, I will try and "nullify" the jury. In other words, being found "not guilty" even though having broken the law, or not following the judges instructions. If this happens enough, it will have the effect of invalidating the statute.

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Offline Rob

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2011, 03:18:18 pm »
I commute daily and observe many things. Drivers sitting in their cars texting, on phone calls, drinking coffee, eating food, reaching for the radio, putting on make-up, or frequently doing multiples of these tasks. Completely distracted and oblivious to anything around them.

All these are reasons why I wouldn't split lanes anywhere other than where people are at least used to it, i.e., anywhere other than California.  I personally don't think you have much hope in battling the ticket, but good luck with it and I'll be interested to hear how it turns out.

Offline WillyP

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2011, 04:05:13 pm »
First you say:
It is neither specifically legal, nor illegal
Then you say:
Quote
....invalidating the statute.
So which is it... if it is neither legal or nor illegal, what does the statute say? What specifically does it say on your ticket? If it says something like, say 'Driving to endanger' then you need to show you weren't doing anything dangerous. Since you won't stand much chance of overturning a statute against driving to endanger, if lane splitting isn't specifically mentioned mentioned in the statute, what does apply? If it comes down to your opinion of dangerous against the cops opinion, I don't think you have much chance, as a cop is considered an expert witness. I think you would need an independent expert witness to testify that lane-splitting is safe, and a good lawyer to figure out how to apply all this to the law.

If lane splitting isn't specifically banned there has to be some other law the cop thinks you broke. That's the key, you aren't fighting a lane splitting ticket, look up the law cited on the ticket and see if it applies to your case. Then if you still want to fight this, seek the consul of a good lawyer.
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Offline Bergmen

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Re: Help me fight a lane splitting ticket.
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2011, 04:36:03 pm »
Take a good look around at all the efforts by many coordinated motorcycle groups in Texas to work with the legislature to get a bill passed to allow lane splitting. Your situation is not unique, the trail to getting this approved in Texas is paved with defeat after defeat.

Challenging this in court based on your citation will do nothing to change state statute, this must be done legislatively. Any attorney that you contact regarding representation in this matter will almost certainly tell you the same thing (unless he smells money, and it will take a LOT of it - from you - to take this on).

JMHO

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