MUTCD: Does Anyone Have Experience with Using the MUTCD as a Basis for Your Defense?

Tallyho

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I'm interested if anyone has had experience in court with citing and using the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) as a valid defense?

What happened in your situation:
- How skeptical was the judge, what questions were asked, and how receptive was the judge in hearing your MUTCD reasoned defense?
- How did you introduce the MUTCD as evidence?
- How did you prove that the legal standards set by the MUTCD were not met and what were the specific standards required that were pertinent?

Or, from any of the attorneys here, does a MUTCD defense mean one has already lost the case in the eyes of the judge?
 
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Tallyho

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To supplement my question with answers from my further research:

The MUTCD is comprised of:
- Standards (not flexible) and
- Guidance (flexible).

Standards set the mandatory ground rules and Guidance provides latitude with which to implement them. States usually adopt definitions of Standards and Guidance that will look like this:

Standard: A statement of required, mandatory, or specifically prohibitive practice regarding a traffic control device. All standards are labeled, and the text appears in bold type. The verb shall is typically used. The verbs “should” and “may” are not used in standard statements. Standard statements are sometimes modified by Options. Site-specific conditions may lead agencies to determine that it is impossible or impractical to comply with a Standard and that they must deviate from the requirement of a particular Standard at that location or others with the same condition. In such limited specific cases, the deviation is allowed, provided that the agency or official having jurisdiction fully documents the engineering reason for the deviation with an engineering study.


Guidance: The decision to use a particular device at a particular location should be made on the basis of either an engineering study or the application of engineering judgment. Thus, while this Manual provides Standards, Guidance, and Options for design and application of traffic control devices, this Manual should not be considered a substitute for engineering judgment. Engineering judgment should be exercised in the selection and application of traffic control devices, as well as in the location and design of the roads and streets that the devices complement. Jurisdictions with responsibility for traffic control that do not have engineers on their staffs should seek engineering assistance from others, such as the State transportation agency, their County, a nearby large Municipality, or a traffic engineering consultant.

This means that obtaining the engineering study behind a decision that is based on Guidance becomes important to establishing whether the Guidance was implemented with a level of due consideration or was arbitrary and capricious.

You can look up your state's definitions here:

mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov: Information by State - FHWA MUTCD
 
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sdrawkcaB

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I just wanted to say I like your thinking style. I'm interested in what can be learned here. Unfortunately I can't add anything constructive, but admire your abstract thought process, and definitely will be following this with interest. Keep up the curiosity and creative approach thinking!
 

zMarih0e

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I used the MUTCD in a speeding case and won. What state are you trying to argue this in?

Some states have prior rulings regarding the admissibility of MUTCD in court, and those can be used as supportive evidence.

--- DOUBLEPOST MERGED ---

Some states in their constitution/laws state that motorists cannot be considered violators if signs are in violation of the MUTCD. All depends on the state. For example, in Ohio, MUTCD is essentially law based on prior court rulings.
 

bhrodeoaz

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I have used it
 

Tallyho

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I have used it
Well, that settles that. ;)

- What was the charge?
- How did you use the MUTCD to your defense?
- Did you prevail?
 

STS-134

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I am using it right now. It's for a parking ticket, but it hasn't gone to court yet. It's pretty easy to do. EVERYTHING about road signs has to be spelled out in the MUTCD or elsewhere in statute. Everything. From the height of the sign above the side of the road, to the size of the text, to the font, to the size of the sign, to the direction of the sign, to the colors used, to the shape of the sign. Otherwise, there's nothing stopping a city from putting a sign up in size 3 font only 1" off the sidewalk, and then ticketing people for not seeing it (obviously this isn't allowed). Or putting up a no U-turn sign that doesn't face traffic, but is 90 degrees offset from a typical sign orientation, and ticketing people for making U-turns. Or putting up a sign with the proper coloring and orientation in a font that looks like Klingon, etc.
 

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