Monday July 18, 2005 9:43 pm
How Google Maps Got Me Out Of A Traffic Ticket
In January of this year, I was pulled over by a traffic officer for “disobeying a steady red”, a.k.a. running a red light. I pleaded “Not Guilty” to the charge, and today - nearly six months later – I went to court to find out the fate of my ticket violation. Check out how Google Maps saved me some serious cash - and points on my license!
There I was on a bench waiting for my name to be called at the Downtown Manhattan DMV hearings bureau. After hearing several testimonies from other drivers, I knew this Judge wasn’t going to be sympathetic to my troubles. So driver after driver, only one had a happy ending. So at this point I was worried because being found guilty would mean a 150 dollar fine, plus 50 in penalties, and worse of all points on my license. I began to contemplate how it all happened since it had been so long. I jotted down some notes on a small piece of paper, and then the moment of truth arrived.
After my name was called, I gathered my belongings and made my way up to the stand where the offending officer joined me. The judge swore her in and asked for her testimony. The officer did what I expected - after all, I had been listening to all of those prior testimonies – and began to describe the scene of the violation. In her story I noticed one fatal flaw, which I had planned to exploit but I had no proof whatsoever. The officer stated the street I was on was a one way westbound street and I was turning onto an avenue that was at a two way street separated by a concrete divider. Only thing was, I was on a two way, not one.
So it came time for my testimony and I stated that I was in mid-turn when an oncoming vehicle was coming toward me very quickly and I had decided not to make the turn until that SUV passed me. The Judge stopped and asked me how could there be an oncoming vehicle if the street was only one way. I stated that it was indeed a two way street. The officer reiterated that it was only a one way. So who was the judge to believe? I was desperate for proof so I did the unthinkable: I whipped out my notebook. I was very lucky to find an extremely bad connection via Wi-Fi. I pulled up Firefox and when to maps.google.com. I typed up the intersection and zoomed in as close as possible:
As you can see, Cathedral Pkwy (110th street) has no arrow indicating the traffic directions. However, 109th and 111th do. I mentioned this to the judge that this means that 110th is indeed a two way street. The traffic officer begged to differ. She said perhaps an arrow was just missing from the equation. So I called her bluff, and researched a new intersection, Times Square:
I asked her honor if she was familiar with 42nd Street. She nodded and I continued to mention how all of its neighboring streets have indication arrows of the direction, with one exception: 42nd Street. Everyone knows that this is a two way. The judge said that due to lack of memory of the officer she will have to dismiss the violation. Thank you Google Maps, you rule.
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