I was pulled over in Washington, DC by DHS, FPS and received a moving violation for, as the officer describes on the ticket, “Wrong Way on one way.” Specifically, the ticket lists the infraction as T082. After some searching, the specific law seems to be 18 DCMR 2201.4 Driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

Regarding the fine, on the ticket the $100 box is checked, however when I looked it up it is a $50 fine. I am not as concerned about this as I am about the circumstances of the traffic stop.

I was going down a two-way street, arrived at an intersection with a one-way street which only allowed traffic to flow from left to right. As I arrived at the intersection, I had my left signal on. I had the right of way (everyone had stop signs), but I had to wait because a few pedestrians were crossing. As I passed the stop sign (after stopping) and entered the intersection, a cop car on the same road as me but going the opposite way stopped at their stop sign. The cop turns on his lights, and I turned left to pull over because there is open parking spot on the right side of the one-way street (only at this point I am facing the wrong way on the one-way) and the cops writes me a ticket. I would like to emphasize that before the cop pulled me over, my car was facing the correct direction. I only pulled into the left because I was being pulled over and it was the safest way to get out of the way. Not that it matters at this point… but I probably should have continued going straight when the cop turned on his lights. However, I vaguely remember the cop car as well as another cop car sort of blocking me from doing that (there were two police vehicles involved in this stop).

I can either mail in an explanation or request a hearing with the cop present in front of an Administrative Judge. I have no evidence, so I plan to file a FOIA request for the dash cam and body cam video. Since situations involving legal issues have the tendency to blindside, I would deeply appreciate any guidance on the best way to go about fighting this ticket. I am happy to answer any questions.

I am including an illustration of the situation:

enter image description here

I would like a perspective from someone who has experience with legal defense.

  • 2
    A FOIA request may well be the absolute slowest and worst way to get the dash cam. FOIA request often don't require a formal response for 4 to 6 months (depending on jurisdiction and subject matter). Certain data is exempt from FOIA (and dashcams may be part of that). Your FOIA request for a dashcam may be denied in full. Check closely to see if there is a better way, such as Discovery, to get your dashcam info. – abelenky Jun 27 at 17:08
  • Further, if you do get the dashcam video, it sounds like that from the officer's perspective, the video will show you in fact turning the wrong way on a one-way street, and immediately getting pulled over. The video will NOT be your friend in this case. – abelenky Jun 27 at 17:08
  • Thanks for the comment. The officer turned on his lights before I pulled over onto the one-way, I was hoping the dash cam would show that. It was unambiguous that he was pulling me over and not anyone else when he turned on his lights, so I complied by immediately pulling over to the nearest safe area (as I had the right of way and there was a free parking space on the one-way). I did not want to go straight and make it seem like I was evading the officer. – coffee guy Jun 27 at 17:35
  • 1
    Even if the cop turned on his lights before you turned and it is shown by the video, going the wrong way down a 1-way street was probably not the safest way for you to stop for him. The fact that you already had your turn signal on is not going to reflect well either. He was also probably justified in pulling you over before you took the turn, since from his view it looked like you were going to and he's allowed to stop someone he thinks is going to commit an offense. – IllusiveBrian Jun 27 at 20:02
  • Your graphic confirms how I understood your description. You turned the wrong way on to a one-way street, and parked facing the wrong way. You have no defense that will get you off completely. Go before the judge, plead your stupidity, and plead for mercy/probation/deferral. – abelenky Jun 27 at 21:41

One possible defense (no guarantee it will succeed) is entrapment: if you can show that, but for the cop's actions, you would not have committed the violation, then that is a valid defense.

Also, you should pursue the dashcam based on discovery, rather than FOIA.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – feetwet Jul 16 at 17:08

2201.4 Upon a roadway so designated for one-way traffic, a vehicle shall be driven only in the direction designated at all or such times as shall be indicated by official traffic control devices.

I'm failing to see the "... except when pulling over for the police" subclause. Equally there is no "... unless you think you should" subclause.

If you choose to have a hearing the evidence will show unambiguously that you drove the wrong way in a one way street and you will testify as to your reasons for doing so. For you to avoid the violation you would need to convince the examiner that a) you are telling the truth and b) that your mindset is in any way relevant. Unless the officer clearly directed you to pull into that spot, the decision to do so appears to be yours.

I'd pay the fine if it was me.

  • Thanks for the answer! I don’t want to pay in order to prevent higher insurance premiums. You’re right though, the language is not in the clause. But since most of the US has adopted a common law system, there may be a successfully argued case where courts ruled illegal maneuvers on a roadway are permitted when instructed by an officer. Have you never been instructed by an officer to do something out of the ordinary on the road to avoid a hazard? In response to a), the videos would show the truth, and b) I would hope my mindset in complying with the officer to pull over would relevant. – coffee guy Jun 28 at 2:53

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