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No Getting Off on a Technicality: Unsigned Traffic Ticket Is Valid

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

I recently received a speeding ticket from a California Highway Patrol officer for going 73 m.p.h. in a 55-m.p.h. zone. However, the officer was young and seemed inexperienced and neglected to have me sign the ticket.

Does this invalidate the ticket? While my guess is that a warrant could not be issued for failure to appear, nevertheless, my question relates to the traffic violation itself.

Diana Gold Newport Beach Is this wishful thinking? Signature or no signature, the ticket is your responsibility.

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Signing a traffic ticket is not an admission of guilt, but it is a promise you will appear in court on the date specified on the ticket, said Steve Kohler, a CHP spokesman. Usually with speeding tickets and similar traffic offenses, you will receive a courtesy notice in the mail three to four weeks after you are ticketed.

The courtesy notice will state your options, Kohler said. You may be able to avoid a court date by paying your fine through the mail or by paying your fine and attending traffic school, which also would expunge the violation from your driving record, he said.

But heed this warning from one who knows: If you don’t receive a courtesy notice in the mail, you are still responsible for showing up in traffic court on your appointed date or handling the matter in one of the other ways.

An unsigned citation also gives the patrol officer the added option of filing a formal complaint through the district attorney’s office, said Cherie Garofalo, office supervisor for the traffic division of Orange County Municipal Court. The district attorney’s office would then mail you an “appearance letter,” which is like a very formal courtesy notice, she said. You then are responsible for following the instructions spelled out in the letter.

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Dear Street Smart:

When the committee against car-pool lanes was in existence, it found that some lanes were smaller than regulation width when construction was taking place. The lanes were made wider.

Now some shoulders have been eliminated and some lanes have a very narrow width. Only one example is the right slow lane of the Santa Ana Freeway going north from Red Hill Avenue to the Orange Freeway.

Who makes the rules for freeway shoulder width and freeway lane width and who enforces these rules?

Walter Wiley Fullerton Lane width standards for federally funded highways are set by the Federal Highway Administration. The California Department of Transportation uses the standards for most state highways and freeways.

The standard lane width is 12 feet, and the standard shoulder width is five to 10 feet on the left and 10 feet on the right, said Caltrans spokeswoman Rose Orem. Standards are not always met in specific areas because of limited space, existing structures and available rights of way, she said.

Sometimes it is necessary to reduce the lane widths along construction projects to provide room for workers, equipment and safety barriers, Orem said. Construction areas are exempt from the standards, and lanes may be temporarily striped to a minimum of 10 feet wide.

In Orange County, Caltrans prefers to provide at least 11-foot lanes with two-foot shoulders, said Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Walt Hagen.

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The Orange County Transportation Authority, in cooperation with local senior centers, has scheduled a number of public forums to discuss potential changes to OCTA’s Dial-a-Ride and Access services for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Providing service for people who are unable to use regular, fixed-route transit services is required by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. Demand for such service in Orange County has increased sharply, causing the OCTA board of directors to approve an additional $300,000 in funding for supplemental taxicab service.

The popularity of the special services is expected to continue growing and has led to a number of proposed changes, including a fare increase from $1.50 to $2 and the elimination of Dial-a-Ride for able-bodied senior citizens and youth groups.

The public forums are scheduled to last an hour. The first forums are planned for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fullerton Senior Center, 340 W. Commonwealth Ave., and for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the H. Lewis Lake Senior Center, 11300 Stanford Ave., Garden Grove.

During March, forums are scheduled in Mission Viejo, Buena Park, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Irvine, Orange and San Clemente. For reservations or more information on the forums, call OCTA customer relations at (714) 636-RIDE.

Street Smart appears Mondays in The Times Orange County Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic, commuting and what makes it difficult to get around in Orange County. Include simple sketches if helpful. Letters may be published in upcoming columns. Please write to Caroline Lemke, c/o Street Smart, The Times Orange County Edition, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted.


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