Question: "Pass on right" scooter law and State Police
I'm in a bit of a quandary. MGL 90-1b states in part that all moped drivers:
...shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the regulations contained in this section, except that: (1) the motorized bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way...
On my commute home today on my scooter, I was on Longwood Ave. heading from the Longwood Medical Area towards Coolidge Corner. Traffic was extremely heavy and part of that reason was the light at the intersection of Longwood and Chapel St had gone to a blinking yellow for Longwood (red for Chapel). State Police officers were stationed at Longwood and Brookline, Longwood and Riverway, and Longwood and Chapel St. I was behind a vehicle at the blinking yellow when he stopped to avoid blocking the intersection because traffic was backed up from Kent St for the entire block. I pulled out to the right of the car in front of me and passed him to enter the intersection safely. The trooper was off to the side talking to someone near the crosswalk. As I approached his parked empty vehicle on the far side of the intersection and the car in the lane on my left, he yelled "don't pass on the right" and then "you, on the scooter", then finally "sir, stop". I was already in the process of stopping since I needed to go slowly between the moving vehicles and his parked vehicle and so I just stopped at the back left corner of his car.
He began to berate me for passing on the right and trying to pass more cars on the right. He told me I was the same as a motorcycle. I waited until he had stopped and asked me if I understood. I told him no because I was under 50cc and not considered a motorcycle. I was completely respectful the entire time I was stopped there. But any time I spoke up or did not agree with what he was saying he would just repeat, "Are you listening to me?" I would say yes and he would repeat himself and add new reasons for no passing on the right: "you make no noise on that thing", "I don't want to clean you up off the road", "at least you're wearing your helmet", "what if someone opened their door", and on. He asked if I acknowledged there to only be 1 lane of traffic at our location. I did. If I said anything to contrast his reality of my illegality to pass on the right, he ignored it and reiterated his "Are you listening" mantra at me.
I waited again and when he explained that I was getting a verbal warning for passing on the right, did I understand; I again said no, because I am forced to carry a copy of the moped (something he continually misclassified and ignored) law as a half page on the bottom of my required state registration. I offered to retrieve this from my glove box and have him read it or have me point to the relevant part (above) that explains my right to pass on the right of the travel lane. I did not accept that he would stop me for something legal simply because he did not know the relevant law. I felt that the principle of it was that I knew the law and that I would not accept his incorrect statement of it said at me as if I had done something wrong.
He then took my license and began to explain that now I'd be getting a citation. I told him that for my own edification I would be getting the registration out and reading aloud, to myself since he didn't want to listen, the relevant passage. I read it and he responded by asking if he had asked me to pull out any paperwork. I said no, this was on my own volition and for me to read. He then went back to his car with my license. He came forward again and requested my title (not my registration? who asks for the title? who even carries their title around...I just happened to have it since it's also my receipt of purchase).
When he finally came back to me, he told me the citation was NOT for passing on the right. He told me to look a block away at Kent St where there was a piece of construction equipment parked on the shoulder. He said I was in a construction zone (bullshit). He said that I did not comply with a lawful order when I didn't stop immediately when he requested (bullshit, I got no further than the intersection where he was located and it wasn't until his third yell when he asked me to stop when I had already paused to begin passing his car and stopped behind his vehicle's left corner). Nevermind that when I looked at the ticket he quoted me in violation of "90-1b moped traffic violation" and the description says "passed 3 vehicles on the right, asked to stop and continued, construction zone on right shoulder" (so he lied again when he said it wasn't for passing on the right, since that *is* one of his 3 complaints against the moped law on me for the traffic stop).
He told me I could leave but to obey state law, obey state troopers, and don't pass on the right. I got off my scooter and walked back towards the intersection behind him as I took a picture of where he was standing (not in the intersection), a picture of where I stopped initially (behind his vehicle), and a picture of the distance to the actual construction equipment (an entire block away). The whole time he is yelling things like "make sure you get a picture of my good side" and "make sure that's a good picture". I asked him to be sure to appear on the court date, please. He reiterated his line about "20 days to pay or 20 days to appeal" a few times as I walked back to my scooter to leave.
So here I sit now. The ticket is as the law says "$25 for first offense". My quandary is whether it is worth my time and effort to continue standing on principle and get my day in court to argue this ticket. He was completely wrong to stop me for a legal maneuver. He finally found that out when I read the law aloud at him, for my own edification. He then trumped up the charge to claim that I ignored him and did so in a construction zone.
While the "passed 3 vehicles" complaint is going to be easy to have dismissed and the pictures will likely show that there are no construction zone signs and that the work is at Kent St and not Chapel St where I was stopped, I am most concerned about the third complaint about ignoring him.
I know I didn't ignore him. If I wanted to ignore him, I would have just kept going up the right side past his vehicle and made him have to decide to jump in his cruiser to get me. I didn't. I stopped as I was slowing when he finally told me to stop. I did so out of the intersection and he approached me from my right (not my left as he would have if he had actually *been* directing traffic in the intersection). But that is all he-said/cop-said...which is not likely to convince a magistrate of my innocence (aka non-responsibility in traffic court). Should I "fight the power" and stand by what I know to be right or acquiesce this once and fill the coffers with my $25 to just make this go away? I'm seriously annoyed by the fact that cop would not accept that he could be wrong when I informed him that I could easily access the appropriate law because of the state *requiring* me to carry it on my scooter at all times because it's a part of my registration papers! In no way would he accept reason and logic and for that reason alone I feel I should make him show up in court (if he doesn't just send some desk cop to read the back of the ticket in court) to learn the actual law. What do I do? I'm just not sure how I can win by saying I obeyed the officer when he's just going to say that I didn't.
I may still contact the State Police to make sure they correct this for their troopers so that others aren't stopped incorrectly and have to deal with the same single-minded approach to enforcing fake laws on other scooter owners. This is going to keep coming up more often as mopeds/scooters become used more in response to gas prices and traffic congestion. I feel the least I can do even if I just pay the ticket is to make it clear to the State Police that they screwed up and hope that it doesn't happen again.
I'm open to anyone else's thoughts on this. I know it's pretty long-winded but I wanted to get it all out there in the open for people to understand the full situation.