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Physicist uses academic paper to defeat traffic violation

When most people are issued a traffic violation, whether for speeding, failing to stop at an intersection or failing to yield, they vow to fight the ticket using every possible tool at their disposal. While some people ultimately honor this vow -- perhaps by hiring a traffic ticket defense attorney -- others simply give up and pay the hefty fine.

Interestingly, one California man -- who just happens to be a physicist at the University of California, San Diego -- decided to use a very unique tool to fight his traffic ticket: his science background.

According to reports, Dmitri K. was issued a traffic violation for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, a driving infraction that comes with a $400 fine.

Understandably outraged, Dmitri K. penned a four page academic paper entitled "The Proof of Innocence," and submitted it to the traffic court judge. Here, the paper -- complete with equations and graphs -- explained in very complex mathematical terms how it was that he didn't actually fail to stop at the controlled intersection.

A brief sampling of Dmitri K.'s paper shows the full extent of his knowledge and his belief in his innocence:

"We show that if a car stops at a stop sign, an observer, e.g., a police officer, located at a certain distance perpendicular to the car trajectory, must have an illusion that the car does not stop, if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) the observer measures not the linear but angular speed of the car; (2) the car decelerates and subsequently accelerates relatively fast; and (3) there is a short-time obstruction of the observer's view of the car by an external object, e.g., another car, at the moment when both cars are near the stop sign."

According to experts, Dmitri K.'s argument is essentially that he did indeed stop at the stop sign, but that the officer simply failed to see it and that his view was partially obscured by another car.

However impressive this tactic, did it succeed in convincing the traffic court judge of his innocence?

As it turns out, the traffic court judge ended up acquitting Dmitri K.

It is worth noting that after his acquittal, Dmitri K. added a subtitle to his academic paper: "A way to fight your traffic tickets. The paper was awarded a special prize of $400 that the author did not have to pay the state of California."

Stay tuned for more from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


ABC News, "Physicist beats traffic ticket with mathematical paper," Ned Potter, April 16, 2012

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