Day 301 – Dilemma

October 28, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, I was pulled over by a Michigan State Trooper for a traffic violation. I received a citation for violating code 257.637: passing a vehicle on the right.

After reviewing the code, I believe I was not in violation of that code.

Here is the situation: A vehicle in front of me stopped to make a left turn off of a two lane road into a driveway. There was a line of vehicles in the other direction, so it was clear he was going to sit there for a little while. The shoulder was fully paved, and as wide as a normal lane, so I slowed down and went around the vehicle in front of me–on the right. I thought this was perfectly okay, but apparently not. A State Patrol car happened to be traveling in the other direction and pulled me over immediately. I was not speeding, I was wearing a seat belt, and following all other traffic laws. The only thing I was cited for was passing on the right. The Michigan Vehicle Code has a clear exception for passing a vehicle on the right if that vehicle is making a left turn. The code also states, however, that “the driver of a vehicle shall not overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway.” I did not drive off the pavement (the very wide shoulder was paved), but a shoulder is not technically the “main-traveled portion of the roadway.” Still, the vehicle in front of me was making a left turn, I slowed down, and was fully on the pavement.

Should I challenge it? My ticket is $100 and there are no court costs involved if I decide to schedule a hearing, so the most I can lose is $100 plus my time in the hearing. How much of a chance do I have of winning the case? I realize the odds are stacked against me, as it is my word against an officer of the state’s word and another officer of the state’s interpretation.

By the way, since I am an out-of-state driver, the court needed either $50 or my driver’s license as bond, to make sure I pay the ticket. Since I did not have $50 in cash on my person, I had to hand over my license, so I have to at least pay $20 to get it back. If I lose the case, that $20 goes towards my total $100 fine. (I was told I am allowed to drive without my physical license for the time being. If I am asked for it, I just need to show the ticket I received, which shows that my license was posted in lieu of bond.)

What do you think, should I challenge it, or suck it up and hand over $100?