I was in a pack of riders on a rural road in Plainfield during the 4th of July Metric Century put on by the Joliet Bike Club. There must have been 30 of us. As we approached the 4 way stop intersection, there wasn’t a car in sight—we thought. As several of the bikers ahead of us zipped through the intersection without stopping, the cascading calls of “all clear!” moved through the pack. None of them saw the patrol car until is was too late.
Locals had complained to the police about cyclists riding with impunity, ignoring any and all traffic control devices. So the police waited at a 4-way stop and pulled over a small group of riders that blew the stop sign. It definitely sent a message to the rest of the peloton. And yes, they did have to go to traffic court. And yes, it is the same traffic court, bike or car.
The Illinois vehicle code states:
Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Code, except as to special regulations in this Article XV [625 ILCS 5/11-1501 et seq.] and except as to those provisions of this Code which by their nature can have no application. — 625 ILCS5/11-1502
Don’t assume that the Prosecutor or the Judge is going to laugh and toss out the ticket. The anti-biking sentiment can frequently rear its ugly head in the form of a Judge who recently got stuck behind a slow biker on the way to work, or a State’s Attorney tired of answering angry calls from voters about the weekend bike club that blows through the red light by the school near her house.
Sure you might get a Judge who is an avid ironman and wants to chat about your new Cervelo, but don’t bank on it. The fines can be steep. And the points go on your driving abstract, same as if you were in your car.
A lawyer is definitely a useful tool in this scenario. And because the police don’t regularly write tickets to cyclists, the chances to win your case outright during a bench trial is a real possibility.
Defense of traffic tickets issued to cyclists is not a common service of most attorneys. The service is either not offered, or is an afterthought. Not us. While we want all cyclists to obey the rules of the road—just as we demand of the cars—our core purpose is to help out fellow riders every time and place we can. Contact us if you need more information!