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Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices  

We have all been ticketed at least once in our lifetimes. Very often you get ticketed in a ticket trap. A ticket trap is any "area" where there are a large volume of ticket issued. These areas are indicative of improper, confusing  and  unlawful traffic regulation posting. This "trap"  ticketing results in large fines, points in licenseing, loss of license and job if you are required to drive, increased insurance rates and a disruption of of your everyday life. Too often drivers just plead guilty when in fact or under the law they are clearly innocent.

 Its a fact that many tickets are issued more as a form of collecting revenue for local, county and state governments this is how they keep their police paid. Too often either intentionally or ignorance by the police,  the local government or the courts signs are not clearly marked, identified or properly posted. Did you know that all states are required by law to place all signs in a lawful manner or they have no force of law and when they fail to be placed as such that the signs  have no legal effect and any summonses written are without basis in law? Yes, any sign not correctly posted that is the basis for a summons must be dismissed by the court under state law.

What is the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)?

It is the National Standard approved by the Federal Highway Administrator in accordance with Title 23 of the US Code, Section 109(d)., 114(a), 217, 315, and 402(a), 23 CFR 1204.4 and CFR 1.48(b)(8),1.48(b)(33), and 1.48(c)(2).


ALL STATES MUST COMPLY!!!! or they get NO federal funding!

What is its importance?

It assures standard and uniform signs sot here is no confusion as to what action a driver must take upon the public roads and highways. All states to be able to obtain federal funding for their highways must comply to the standards set by the MUTCD.  To assure such compliance all states have written in their statutes law that states something to the effect that   all    "signs or markings"  SHALL comply with the specifications of the MUTCD.  The most important word in law is the word SHALL which means the condition of the installation of the sign, posting or marking absolutely MUST be in conformance to the MUTCD standard. Absent such conformance the effect of law is non existent or void


How do I use it?

Signs MUST be authorized by your state and not by the towns. Often towns will post ticket traps without authorization to collect revenue-it is illegal and the sign has no force or effect of law. You must get you department of transporation report requesting the authority for the placment  of such signs.

When you get a ticket or summons for any traffic violation where the sign  or road markings are not properly posted. If the basis for the summons is any such sign or markings that are improper the ticket must be dismissed.

Many states have laws fining those who put up such fraudulent signs.


Common Examples:

Sign is hidden behind bush or obscured some way.


Wrong speed limit or an abrupt speed  change without warning.                  

Sign is posted too low.
Sign is too far away. Road markings or lines are not clear, confusing or placed in the wrong location.

How do I proceed to Defend in Court?

Easy enough as long as you prepare properly and have a case where the sign, posting or markings are wrongful you can and will win. Here is what happens and what you do before, during and after the ticket stop and when you get to court.

1. At the Ticket Stop- Be courteous and only give required information. Ask officer to detail why summons is being issued. Identify the sign and markings. Ask the officer from where you were observed committing the violation and which signs, marking or postings  were involved. Review the position of these signs and take notes. Admit to no guilt.

2. During the Stop. If you know that you are right and wrongfully issues a summons examine the location  of the signs an take measurement and photographs immediately or as soon as possible after  being given the ticket or summons. Even if you are in violation of let us say speeding 60 in s 40  you may still not be guilty if the sign is too high, too low or not observable or otherwise not lawfully posted. It does not matter even if you knew you were above the recognized limit if the sign is not in compliance with the lawful standard. It does not even matter if hundreds of prior drivers were given summonses for the same sign and pled guilty. If the sign is wrong then the sign does not exist. Again, the sign SHALL comply with the MUTCD or the law does not exist and the summons has no basis and must be dismissed as a matter of law and not of contested evidence other than the law not applying because of the improperly posted sign.

3. Process  the Scene of the Alleged Violation. Document with witnesses present (include using the police officer as your witness) obtain  photographic evidence  and make measurements as soon as possible during or after the summons is issued. Compare the information and evidence gathered with the specifications required under law contained in the MUTCD. Note  ANY conditions of the sign, posting or markings do not comply with the standard required by the  MUTCD.

4. Due Process Rights- You have the right to have your evidence (pictures, MUTCD, measurements and state law) weighed against the allegation and to  demonstrate your no guilty plea by bringing this evidence to the police, prosecutor, court clerk and judge prior to trial. Then asking for a dismissal from the prosecuting attorney based upon the evidence with a "motion to dismiss" as a "matter of law". 

5."Make the legal record" Making the legal record is important at trial. It means that you have preserved the evidence for future appeals or legal action. If you evidence is not in the record you may not introduce it later especially on appeal. If you go to trial bring the book and your state's law requiring that the signs comply with the law read it into "the record" by reading it to the judge or the police during the court hearing.

6. What to Do IF Your Evidence is Ignored - It is not unusual for the police officer to try to cover up or play ignorant along with the prosecutor or judge. Do not be surprised. But that is not going to be a problem as long as you "make the record"  at trial and you tell them you will appeal and that the court that is ignoring the law will be sued for costs of an appeal. Appeals are easy.

7. Appealing an Ignorant Court - Immediately after you are found guilty and the court just ignored your evidence and the law ask for a trial transcript and notify the court that you are appealing and ask for an appeal form which they must provide you.

8. Appeals Process and How It Works - Traffic matters are dealt as an administrative function by the courts and your appeal can be dealt with in one of two ways. One way is for a "trial de novo" which mean a new or retrial as you never had one in a higher court with a new judge or the other way which is more common is the filing of a "brief with a copy of the trial record" . When filing a brief with trial record everything is done with paper and rarely do you go to court except for the final hearing or if oral argument is requested by you or the prosecutor. Make sure to demand court costs for appealing in your filing for such an appeal.

9. Completing Your Appeal - If in fact the basis of the summons is a sign, posting, marking or  other traffic control device as outlined in the MUTCD and you present such evidence you can not lose if you proceed as the Court requires. Ask the court for a copy of any and all rules for appeal and ask for any information you need. They must provide it. You may also purchase a copy of your state's court rules which is available  in the U.S. Law Books catalog. You can also go to your local or court library to review  a copy.


Download (free) the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)  If you have already a court date and are not prepared write the court and tell them you need more time to prepare your case-you have a right to do so. The court's failure to allow you adequate time to prepare is also grounds for an appeal.

Order the sample legal filings, brief with notices motion to dismiss and or to appeal. The Standard Court Brief with Motion to Dismiss will be sent with the complete MUTCD eManual (900+ pages) via US Mail First Class.


For more information e-mail Mail Image your questions and comments!