Road to vindication has no stop sign


With apologies to the Bobby Fuller Four and, later, the Clash, Gina Greisen fought the law and this time the law didn't win.

She did, and she's damn proud of it. Proud and relieved. More proud, really.

"I'm obviously the exception to the rule when it comes to everything," she says ... well, proudly.

The 45-year-old Greisen is well known in local community activist circles. She's fought for everything from animal rights to banning workplace discrimination to more transparency in police shootings to - twist of irony here - crosswalk safety.

She's especially well known in these circles because she embodies passion and persistence and push. Suffice it to say, she's "P'd" off more than a few folks.

So it should come as no surprise that when she recently was ticketed for a traffic violation that "I just knew deep inside" couldn't be the letter of the law that she would fight it. Pity anyone in law enforcement, or the courthouse, for that matter, who got in her way.

It was in the late afternoon of Sept. 14, 2012, that Greisen, with her 17-year-old daughter, Erika, in tow, approached the intersection of Grand Teton Drive and Bradley Road in the northwest valley. She was traveling east on Grand Teton, looking to make a northbound turn onto Bradley.

As she came to the intersection, Greisen drove past the stop sign in the median and stopped just before the crosswalk. As she prepared to turn, she was pulled over by a Metropolitan Police Department traffic officer who cited her for a violation of "stop sign/position method of stop" - or, in layman's terms, failing to obey a stop sign.

Fine: $380.

The stop sign was 27 feet back from the intersection and to stop there, Greisen said, would not have provided proper visibility to make a safe turn onto Bradley. Besides, she contested at the time, there was no "stop line" painted on the pavement at the sign, which you regularly find with stop signs around the valley.

Didn't matter, the cycle cop said.

"He told me, 'Everyone gets it wrong on the (Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles driving) test. It's right in the DMV handbook to stop at the stop sign,' " Greisen says.

"Even my daughter, who took the test the year before, told me I was wrong, that that very question was on the test."

Most of us would've swallowed hard, cursed a blue streak under our breath and grudgingly paid the fine.

Gina Greisen, "the exception to the rule when it comes to everything," isn't most of us. Although she does admit to using bad words sometimes.

Believing that it didn't make sense to stop so far back that you couldn't see safely to make a turn, she decided to check state law, where she found something that plainly contradicted what was written in the DMV handbook and what was on the DMV driving test. There it was, Nevada Revised Statute 484B.257:

"When proper signs have been erected, the driver of a vehicle shall stop or yield at a clearly marked stop line or, if there is none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection ..."

Thus began Greisen's crusade to not only fight the ticket - which she successfully did on Tuesday when, accompanied by attorney Matthew Callister in her third court appearance, it was dismissed - but to pursue the cause for others who have been pulled over for the same presumed infraction.

In fairness, she says she was more irritated than mad at the ticketing officer.

"He was going off what he knew," says Greisen, who while being ticketed took video footage with her cellphone of driver after driver stopping just before the crosswalk, not at the stop sign.

"The question now becomes how many people around the valley have been ticketed for this very thing and paid a fine that they didn't need to pay?" she asks. "And, oh, there's the issue of how many people may have missed passing their driving test by one point because they got that question wrong.

"This isn't over."

What does anger Greisen is that in her two previous court appearances before Tuesday's ticket dismissal the district attorney's office "mocked me" and then tried to "extort me" into agreeing to a reduced infraction and penalty.

"I'd say, 'Sir, what part of "I didn't do anything wrong" do you not understand?' And he'd say, 'Riiight.' "

Along the road to vindication - which seems to have no stop signs, let alone stop lines - Greisen accomplished the unthinkable, and it's not beating a traffic ticket.

First, she got the Police Department to issue a "Metro Traffic Tip" to its officers on the rule of "Stop Sign - Position and Method." More significantly, she got the DMV to agree to correct the rule in its handbook, which it will do on its next publication order, and have the question immediately "inactivated" from its written test.

Greisen has printed documentation of both.

Oh, there's one other piece of paper she picked up in her "Perry Mason"-"Matlock"-"Law & Order: SVU (Stopping Violations Unit)" pursuit of justice. It's a letter from the senior engineering technician for the city of Las Vegas' Department of Public Works that stated at 5 a.m. on Sept. 26 - 11½ days after she was ticketed - stop lines were put at the intersection. It appears that when recent roadwork was done at the intersection, someone forgot to repaint the stop lines.

In the end, it was just one big, silly misunderstanding.

Still, that doesn't keep Gina Greisen, who contended she hated the fight, from feeling proud that she won. More proud than relieved.

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