Traffic tickets have a tendency of ruining my day, sometimes week. Speeding tickets are the worst for me, primarily because I have a tendency to speed. However, stop signs are another common failing of mine, although I have yet to receive a ticket. I don’t know about you, but when I saw that Dmitri Krioukov got a $400 ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign, I was in shock. Is that possible? How do the California police justify such an outrageous charge?

It seems that Dmitri was of a similar mindset. After receiving a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign, a charge he still vehemently claims is false, Dmitri took to Physics to prove that he did in fact stop at the sign and the reason he was given a ticket was that at the critical moment when he stopped, the police officers view was obstructed by another vehicle, a Subaru Outback.

If you have some basic knowledge of physics, the proof itself is a very easy read, and quite entertaining. You can find the proof in PDF form here, or just visit the Cornell site here for more options. If you simply ignore the mathematical formulas and take them as a given, even basic physics isn’t required to understand the logic used by Dmitri.

This then begs the question, how much physics did the judge know? Did the judge simply take the proof as a given and acquit Dmitri, or did the judge truly know enough physics to understand Dmitri’s argument? Of course, an even simpler solution would be to assume the judge wanted nothing to do with this case and acquitted Dmitri on the grounds that arguing against this was out of the question. Only the judge really knows the answer, and in all honesty it doesn’t really matter. The fact that a physicist managed to use his talent in such a way is more than enough for me.

If you think that you can at some point use this type of argument to get out of a ticket, think again. It is important to note the circumstance surrounding the case … as Dmitri was pulling up to the stop sign, another car obstructed the view of the police officer so it was impossible to tell whether or not Dmitri fully stopped. A normal person would have simply argued this fact in the hopes that the judge would take their side over the officers, but Dmitri’s proof is obviously much better. By showing that it is impossible for the police officer to be definitively sure of whether or not Dmitri stopped means that there is no way that the judge could fine him, and hence must drop the case. 

Well done, Dmitri. If I lived near you in California I would offer to buy you a beer for that, or maybe 50 grams of vodka, but unfortunately this is not possile. None the less, great job!