|You Can Fight City Hall...
After receiving a ticket for a beanie styled helmet along with my friend Mario Pikus, I explained to the Beverly Hills Court at arraignment that my helmet was DOT stickered at time of purchase and that it was my understanding that the helmet was in compliance. The case was properly dismissed right there at arraignment.
I filed a complaint against the issuing deputy, Deputy Porche, with his superiors at the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station with the help of Mike Osborn, PAC Chairman - ABATE. The complaint stated that Deputy Porche was enforcing the helmet law prejudicially and improperly thus violating civil rights on the basis that he was not abiding by the Buhl, Bianco and Easyriders court decisions and that he did not have "actual knowledge" that we were in non-compliance of the helmet law. Further, Deputy Porche never even touched or inspected our helmets and only saw them from across a busy 4 way street (not that roadside inspection can determine compliance, see Roadside Inpsection - Debuncted.)
Since Deputy Porche has a local reputation of writing many helmet tickets and had written 2 previously to Mario, which had been dismissed, Oz explained to the Sheriff's Legal Department that they could comply with the Easyriders Injunction voluntarily or that a similar law suit could be brought a court near them real soon...
We were right. The Law was on our side. We knew it; they knew it. Logic prevailed...
The result of the complaint was "Indexed Briefing 96-2", which was issued county-wide (see below):
DATE: November 7, 1996
FROM: LEE C. McCOWN, CAPTAIN
TO: STATION COMMANDERS
ATTENTION: TRAFFIC SUPERVISORS
SUBJECT: TRAFFIC SERVICES DETAIL - INDEXED BRIEFING 96 -2
RE: MOTORCYCLE HELMENT Law 27803 (B) - VC ENFORCEMENT
A recent decision by the California Court of Appeals provided a clarification in the enforcement of Vehicle Code section 27803 (b) pertaining to traffic stops and citing of riders for helmet law violations.
In Easyriders Freedom F.I.G.H.T. vs. Maurice Hannigan August 19, 1996, the issue was addressed regarding the California Highway Patrol's violation of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights against improper search for helmet DOT safety standards compliance. The court held that an officer making an investigatory stop does not need reasonable suspicion of the rider's actual knowledge of helmet non-compliance providign other factors, including helmet appearance, establish sufficient reasonable suspicion. However, if the officer discovers helmet non- compliance but does not have articulable objective, and reasonable inferences to support a suspicion that the motorcyclist actually knows of the non-compliance the motorcyclist may not be cited. A written warning that the helmet does nor comply is appropriate.
It got even better than that...
I received a second beanie ticket from Deputy Porche 6 months after his first was dismissed at arraignment and "Indexed Briefing 96-2" was issued county-wide. This time I filed a complaint directly with Sheriff Sherman Block and utilized the help of the Office of the Ombudsman, Rudy DeLeon. This office was establised as an interface between the public and law enforcement. Rudy is a retired LAPD Captain and one hell of a guy! He listened to my complaint and supported me by contacting Sheriff Block and Captain Odenthal of the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station.
The Captain set up a meeting with me and Paul Lax and couldn't have been more understanding and fair. The deputy was repremanded and the Captain prevailed upon the Court to dismiss my case in the "Interest of Justice."
As "Indexed Briefing 96-2" already was issued and was now violated, he issued a "Watch Briefing" to the Hollywood Station to make certain that helmet law would be properly enforced.
WEST HOLLYWOOD STATION
SUBJECT: "HELMET LAW"
There has been some recent uncertainty in the California courts on the helmet law (27803 (b), 27803 (c) cvc). This station has taken a position of not citing a driver or passenger of a motorcycle if they are wearing a helmet. Even if the helmet appears to be in non-compliance with "DOT" Standards.
If the driver or passenger of a motorcycle do not have any helmet on or if the helmet is not fastened, then you may cite or warn the driver.