Summer is here in Florida. How do I know? Well for starters, the heat coming from my car door when I open it rivals my oven and by the time I've finally cooled off, I've reached my destination.
How else do I know that summer is here? How about the daily storms that pop up every afternoon just as rush hour is about to hit.
This is the time of year when we see terrible storms, and driving through them can cause everyone to grip the wheel just a little bit tighter. In case you're not sure what to do when it rains and you're behind the wheel, here are a few reminders from Smartmotorist.com:
- Slow Down (this one should be obvious)
- Stay towards the Center Lanes (the water tends to move away from the middle)
- Keep the Proper Distance from the Car in Front (3 Second Rule)
- Avoid Sudden Movements including Slamming on Your Brakes (you can lose control of your vehicle)
But let's say you did all of those things and for some reason, you still managed to get into an accident, and to make matters worse, you are the one that got the ticket for careless driving.
A normal accident ticket is bad enough, but in a storm, you have to sit in your car while it's pouring out and wait for an officer to hand you a careless driving ticket that's going to cost you money and possibly points on your license.
I hear you. Breathe. One more time.
We've got you covered. Accident tickets can come in many forms, but whether it's careless driving, its more serious relative known as reckless driving, or one of the many special hazard tickets (following too close or driving too fast for conditions), there are defenses you can use to try and get the ticket dismissed and keep the points off your record.
First and foremost, if the police officer did not see the accident (as most do not), this is a huge advantage for you. The police officer is the one who the judge is going to rely on to "put you behind the wheel" and explain what you did wrong. And most of the time, people are only able to testify to what they saw or heard, not what someone told them (that's called hearsay). Therefore, if the officer didn't witness the accident unless they have special skills in accident reconstruction, they will not be allowed to testify against you.
So now that that officer is out of the way, that leaves anyone else who may have seen or heard something. Usually, what's left is a person who was either involved in the accident or a passerby. In both of those situations, you are usually dealing with a person who isn't very comfortable testifying in court or who just isn't aware of all the technical aspects of what they must testify to, in order for your ticket to stand.
What I mean by that last paragraph is that police officers are trained in many things, and one of them is how to explain to a judge what a person did wrong after they have written a ticket. The judge can't act as a prosecutor on behalf of the state, therefore, the person testifying on the state's behalf (the police officer or other witnesses) must be able to meet the elements of the charge. Most non-police officers have no idea what they are supposed to say and as a result, can't meet the specific elements.
Most people who were involved in an accident testify like this, "I was driving along, and out of nowhere this (fill in the blank) came and hit me."
The problem with that explanation, is that they did not identify the driver in any way, nor did they prove to the court that the defendant was driving. That usually results in a "win" for the defense.
If you did get a ticket for careless driving or any other moving violation in Florida, and would like a FREE consultation, please give me a call at 866-374-8355 and I or my staff will be happy to help you.