I’m looking for input regarding an incident that happened in the state of Florida. The specific details of the incident are largely inconsequential, but the key points are that there was a minor collision between myself and another car. No injuries and the damage was relatively minor (nothing totaled, basically dents and some chipped paint). The other driver was agitated, threatened me and then drove off while demanding I wait there for him to drop his wife off. He took my license plate # but refused to give me any information. So I say to hell with him and decide to drive to a police station. It turns out he also called the cops and we were instructed to drive back to a nearby shopping mall to wait for the police. Basically this could have easily been settle by insurance if he hadn’t decided to be a scumbag and drive off. Two cops showed up, one of which had major attitude issues and also was apparently “in charge”. He decides that I’m at fault and issues me a citation. The fine is $179.
Basically my options are pay the fine, which, in addition to being a tacit admission of guilt, would likely involve points, pay the fine and attend a safe driving class so no points or go to court.
The second officer, who was extremely nice, suggested I go to court because he felt there was a “98% chance” that his partner wouldn’t show up. Of course, the partner gave me a scare story about how he’ll show up and explain why I’m at fault and my fine will get bumped up, blah blah blah, I’m not 12 years old, buddy.
Sorry for being long-winded but we’re almost at the end. There’s one final wrinkle - I have a PA drivers’ license. The other cop implied that if PA doesn’t recognize FL points, it’d almost be a no brainer to go to court. Odds are the cop doesn’t show up and even if he does, the worst case scenario is paying the fine with no points.
So the questions:
Does anyone in FL have experience with the likelihood of cops showing up? I’ve heard both stories, that they rarely ever do and that they almost always do, but it seems most examples are from when a cop pulls you over for an incident he witnessed. In this case, there were no witnesses and the cop’s determination of culpability came after the fact.
Does anyone know if PA recognizes FL points, or would I be safe there regardless?
A couple of other details in case they matter…it happened in Miami but Florida Highway Patrol responded. I have a month to decide what course of action to take. I’m not looking for legal advice, per se, but rather information to help me make the best possible decision. As a matter of pride, I’d prefer not to attend a class or pay a fine, as I don’t feel the situation was my fault. But the cop’s report would seem to be pretty damning considering that it’s the only real “evidence”. I would hope that my own sense of dignity doesn’t overpower my common sense, as the biggest concern I have is over points. I wouldn’t want to make a foolhardy decision because of pride and end up getting slapped with points on my license for something so stupid. The fine is, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant. Thanks.
IANAL…but I did serve on a jury in the state of Florida earlier this year in a case involving a car crash. One of the big issues involved the severity of the crash - was it enough to cause specific damage to one of the occupants, how much damage was done to the car, etc. The police report was not given as evidence.
After the case was finished, I had a chance to talk to both lawyers and the judge, and asked about the police report. Their response was that it’s considered hearsay, and not admissible.
Not sure if that would change your situation at all, but it sounds like all the cop could do is testify to what he saw after the fact…not to the details of the crash itself.
Pennsylvania won’t give you a point penalty for minor traffic violations in any other state, according the state DMV’s Driver License Compact fact sheet here:
“Digital” is right about the police report. That’s why the officer has to appear and testify as to what happened. Generally the report itself can’t be used. Except for specific violations in some states where it’s stipulated that the citation itself is evidence (parking tickets being a common example) there has to be testimony… the officer might review that report and any notes beforehand to refresh his memory, but has to recount it on the stand.
The cop could be asked to state, based on his experience and judgment, how he believes that the accident occurred and who was “at fault”.
You didn’t say in the OP if the other driver showed up at the shopping center. I assume he did. Was he cited at all? I happen to know that leaving the scene of an accident is an arrestable offense here in Maryland.
IANAL, but if all the cop has is the contemporary accounts from you and the other driver, ISTM that’s hearsay and should have no standing in court. Why would a judge give any more credence to a cop’s account of what you and the other guy told him back then than to what you have to say in his court now?
You may have the power to subpoena the other driver and also to obtain the police records of the calls each of you made, to use in your defense. Did you take any contemporary pictures of the damage to the cars?
WAG: the ticket may not even be legal, since the cop didn’t actually witness the incident. That may be why the other officer suggested that his partner wouldn’t show up.
I’d suggest you consult a lawyer who practices in the jurisdiction in question. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, a standard tactic for gaming the system when you get a traffic ticket is to call a week or two before the court date and ask to be rescheduled. This increases the chance that the officer won’t be present; no cop, case dismissed.
The details aren’t available for this incident but in Maryland I had an accident where I was rounding a turn, at the speed limit, in the rain, in a residential neighborhood. The car slipped out of the turn and I ended up the yard across the street. A policeman came and wrote a report. The only fact he could discern for sure from my account was that I crossed the center line, so he ticketed me for failing to stay right of center. He could not draw any other conclusions about reckless driving, my speed, etc., etc.
The ticket stuck in court.
My point is that a ticket written by a cop who did not actually witness the incident is not automatically thrown out on that basis alone.
Right, but he was there to see some evidence of the accident, and as you note, he couldn’t allege facts he didn’t personally witness.
In the OP’s case, both parties left the scene and later met the police at another location. The cop has nothing to go on but the stories told by the parties, and possibly any minor damage visible on the cars.
The OP didn’t mention what the citation was issued for.
In Louisiana, it would probably be “failure to maintain control”, which is pretty much indisputable if you run into someone or something. This is what they use when it’s not blatantly obvious that you were doing something very wrong, such as 60’ of skid marks in a 20 MPH zone, etc.
You have nothing to lose by denying responsibility for the ticket except the time it takes you to go to court.
I was recently in an accident where I hit a guy who jumped in front of me. The cop gave me a citation based solely on our two statements, where the other guy apparently claimed something wildly different than what actually happened. I went to court and the cop was there to testify. She summarized both our statements and pretty much all I had to do was say “yeah, that sounds right, and let me emphasize that what he claims would be really unlikely.” The judge was not an idiot and understood that a cop making a judgment call on two conflicting stories is not enough evidence to uphold a citation.
So unless the officer in your case presents further evidence, his summary of what both of you said ought to be completely meaningless as far as determining guilt. Just argue your case honestly.
Of course, if you actually were blatantly at fault, be a good citizen, man up, and pay the fine.
I got tired of the he said/she said crap many years ago. Nothing infuriates me more that some sack of crap hitting my car and lying their ass off to the cops.
I put a dashcam on my truck 10 years ago, and have been hit or hit-and-run many times. All I say now is “let’s go to the tape!” and I’m exonerated every time.
Note how Miss UPS is in the far left lane when the light changes, then crosses 3 lanes and a solid white line (verboten) to run me up on the sidewalk.
She was fired.
In this, had I not been paying rapt attention and hit the brakes, I would have nailed this bitch, and I promise her excuse would have been “he was speeding so fast!”
I also put one in back so no one can say I cut them off, or changed lanes, or whatever.
When my son started driving last year I got him this.
It’s not to spy on him, although he knows there will be random checks.
No, it’s there for him, so when someone hits him, pulls out in front of him - whatever - it’s all recorded and indisputable. It’s his witness 24/7.
Check out the link; the software is awesome. It shows the video, and a moving Google Map as well as the speed and g-forces. I can tell if he stops at stop signs.
I can tell how hard he brakes or accelerates. But mostly, I can tell if he’s speeding on the way to school or wherever. So far, he hasn’t.
I think every car should have a camera front and rear. You behave better, and the truth will out!
No battery, just 12v from a cig lighter, or hard-wired into the fuse panel.
It came with a 2GB card, but I put in a 32GB card instead. Recording 24/7, that’s 14 hours of history. For my son who drives 10 minutes per day, that’s more than 2 weeks of trips to/ from school!
The only thing I don’t like about his is it’s only 15 frames p/s on “always record mode” or 30fps in “event” mode. Event mode always records, but an impact (you decide how hard) will save 10secs before and 10-20 secs after. That’s ok if you only want a recording of a crash, but I think there’s great value in showing that your driving for the past hour has been calm and legal and not an “accident waiting to happen”, should it be called into question.
Oh, and it has no audio recording. Which I suppose is good, 'cuz I cuss like a mofo when people do stupid shit in front of me, impact or no!
I know $279 is more than lunch money for most folks, but I think it’s priceless when you get to point out to some asshat that their whole road-rage bullshit is on tape.
There are similar devices for less, but try to find one that records 30fps if you can.
No sense having a video you can’t really make out. This one was 15fps, I believe. See if you can spot the near miss. Or near hit, if you will…
Was there contact between the two vehicles? Were the police called? Wondering how you got the driver fired.
It’s clear that the UPS driver violated the law. It’s hard to judge speeds in this video, but it’s also clear that when the truck illegally started to cross into the right lane, it was still completely in front of you. At what point did you start to brake? Looks like you waited until you hit the curb, rather than braking as soon as UPS continued to move over. Although you didn’t break any laws, that seems aggressive, like you were trying to hold your ground to keep the truck from coming over any farther.
While I believe it is my (and your) duty to avoid contact if possible, what on earth makes people think I have to bend over, spread 'em, and apply a liberal coating of lubricant for every jackass who wants to violate the law and usurp anyone’s right of way just because they want to?
My jumping the curb was a risk because a) there are ususally many pedestrians there, and I know my attention was focused ahead, then on the truck. What if I didn’t see one? And b) whacking the curb like that is a great way to bust a tire and damage a rim while Miss UPS drives away.
I followed the UPS truck for a block or so, to get the tag number, and in that time, she kept on driving aggressively, changing lanes illegally again. I called UPS, and sent them a copy of the tape.
Her driving is a clear liability to the company, and she’s clearly a danger to everyone around her. “My” UPS driver for our office is a neighbor and a friend. He’s the one who told me she got canned.
FTR, driving down a turn lane, bounded by a solid white line is not agressive driving. It is called driving. Crossing 3 traffic lanes and forcing your way in front of another vehicle by using your size or aggressiveness while illegally crossing a solid white line is aggressive driving. I learned that in policeman school.
In over 30 years of driving, I’ve never caused a wreck, or gotten any tickets other than a speeding ticket. I’m satisfied with my driving.