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How can you be guilty of driving at an unsafe speed for conditions after an officer testifies in his own words in response to certain questions that you were maintaining a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you and that no unusual conditions existed?

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  • There are always conditions: road maintenance, vehicle maintenance, traffic levels, position of the sun, etc. What may be a safe speed for a driver in a well-maintained Bugatti Veryon could be unsafe for a Volkswagen Bus with four bald tires.
    – Mark
    Jun 11 '15 at 9:58
  • That's obviously not what "Unsafe Conditions" means in regards to that particular offense in CA. But it's certainly the legal way to avoid following your own rules and laws.
    – izraul
    Jun 11 '15 at 10:16
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    The law is not meant to be impressed by the legal magic of word wizardry because of intentional ambiguity.
    – izraul
    Jun 11 '15 at 10:28
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    This seems to be really just a complaint about a specific legal issue that happened to you, not an actual question.
    – HDE 226868
    Jun 11 '15 at 12:27
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    This question is really about a specific set of facts, and so is difficult to address as a legal question. The answer to the question taken literally is probably 'no', but obviously the court didn't accept the premise that the question takes -- a judgment of fact that is both impossible and pointless to usefully discuss on the Internet. Jul 11 '16 at 12:32
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California Vehicle Code chapter 11, division 7, article 1, section 22350:

No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

Section 22358.5:

It is the intent of the Legislature that physical conditions such as width, curvature, grade and surface conditions, or any other condition readily apparent to a driver, in the absence of other factors, would not require special downward speed zoning, as the basic rule of section 22350 is sufficient regulation as to such conditions.

Without knowing exactly what questions the officer was asked, it's impossible to know why you were ticketed and why you were found guilty, but "reasonable or prudent" and "endangers the safety of [others]" covers a great deal of ground.

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Any time you see magic words like "unsafe" or "reckless" or "control" or "reasonable" or "prudent" and it's a cop's word against yours you are going down. Why? Because cops are specially trained to identify when people are being unsafe or are out of control. The reason we have statutes about "safety" are so that cops can use their judgment. They are the experts and they are on the street watching with their expert judgment.

Let's say you come tearing ass out of a parking lot. It's a clear day, there are no cars in sight, and you're burning rubber. You get a ticket for something like unsafe driving, or failing to use caution when moving out of your lane... whatever.

You challenge the ticket and the cop testifies as to what he saw and what his report says - basically that you were driving in an unsafe manner. Now you cross examine the cop. You ask if anyone was hurt, you ask if there was anyone even close enough to be hurt, and on and on and so forth. You're thinking you're Clarence Darrow or the To Kill a Mocking Bird guy because how could you be unsafe if no one got hurt. I mean that's obvious right? Wrong. You were unsafe because the cop said you were unsafe.

The ONLY way you win on something like this is by showing a legal impossibility. For example the statute you were ticketed under was for "unsafe lane movement while changing lanes" and you can show that you did not change lanes.

In your example the cop did not say what you think he said. Or if he did, what he said did not mean what you think it means. Or if it did, it doesn't matter because often in this cruel unjust world judges believe cops. Especially with this subjective stuff. For real man, what would happen if judges started believing untrained citizens over the word of cops? Anarchy and mayhem, that's what. Is that what you want? That sounds like what you want. You better be careful or you're gonna end up on a watch list if you're not already on one. And you're going to take all of us down with you. You should've just paid the ticket. You are being watched.

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    oh, the last paragraph. Jul 21 '15 at 18:39
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    lol what the? How is he on a watch list for simply defending himself.
    – user900
    Sep 23 '15 at 23:57
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California Vehicle Code 22350. I was actually in court on the day of this particular incident. The young man asked the officer legitimate questions. I remember he asked about the weather, traffic and visibility conditions. The Officer was annoyed and reluctantly stated it was clear, and no construction or pedestrians dangers were present. When he asked the about the vehicle distance and the officer replied he was maintaining a safe distance, my thoughts were the same as his, and everyone else that was there. Clearly he established through the officers own testimony that no imposing or obstructing conditions existed, and no persons or property were ever in danger. His flawed closing argument of "Well, I couldn't be going faster than cars in front of me" was his fatal mistake. But it still doesn't change facts. He obviously wasn't speeding or he would have been cited for that. 'Unsafe Conditions' is the controlling factor, and no violation for that offense could occur without it.

His real issue is obviously clarity. Not a punishable offense, but definitely a factor.

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  • So can you explain if and why he was found guilty of 22350?
    – feetwet
    Jul 10 '15 at 15:18

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