In traffic law, the term "crash" does not mean what many people think. Seemingly many people believe that a "crash" means that there is some degree of damage to vehicles. Some have even argued that at crash should equate to a significant amount of damage. Does a crash require damage? What then is a traffic crash?
In criminal and traffic defense a common complaint from an accused individual or their family is that the arrest affidavit, arrest report, accident report or citation contains one or more errors. For example, if there is a DUI accusation with a child in the car but the officer marks on the DUI citation that there were no passengers under the age of 18 or marking "no injury" on a traffic ticket in a case involving a near fatality. (actual examples). The ugly truth is that the police, deputies and troopers filling out these documents are people too and they make mistakes. Unfotunately, typographical or similar errors will usually not lead to a case being dismissed.
School zones are heavily monitored. Therefore, in traffic ticket defense, we seeseveral citations issued to people for failing to stop at a red light (or behind the stop bar), failing to yield, failure to obey a traffic control device and of course speeding through a school zone. The cities on US Highway 301 (Waldo and Lawtey) still write a bunch of tickets even though their signage has improved over the years.
Tampering with evidence is a criminal offense in Florida. Tampering with evidence is a third degree felony; the maximum penalty is five (5) years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. To prove tampering, the State has to prove that a person while knowing that a criminal trial, proceeding or an investigation has begun or is about to be started, then alters, destroys, conceals or removes anything with the intent to impair its credibility, availability or use-ability in trial. Many times tampering is not what is shown by the entertainment industry like fabrication or threatening a witness; instead several tampering cases begin at the all important traffic stop and escalates when an officer thinks that evidence is tossed, thrown or eaten.
There is no such thing as a traffic ticket for a moving violation being issued as "no points, no school". Unfortunately, cops on the road seem to be telling people that they can get no points by paying a citation. That is not true. (They give other misadvice too, see my blog on Bradford County Traffic Tickets). Paying a citation without talking to a lawyer first is the worst thing that you can do. This is because it is a plea of guilty, an admission to the offense, points will be assessed to your license, your insurance may increase and your guilty plea could be used against you later even if your guilty plea cannot be entered into evidence in another court proceeding. Entering a guilty plea by paying an infraction can be disastrous if you are accused of driving on a suspended license.
In order to prove vehicular homicide in Florida, the State must prove reckless driving plus one additional fact which is the death of a person. Therefore, vehicular homicide is simply stated reckless driving plus a death caused by the reckless driving.
The city of Waldo, Florida issues a lot of traffic tickets. In fact, Waldo has been designated a speed trap. Waldo traffic ticket cases have attracted national attention recently due to the suspension of the police chief and his replacement. Just days after I blogged about how officers regularly deny the existence of traffic ticket quotas, news broke that the Waldo police chief and a corporal did in fact have and enforce a citation quota.
When it comes to traffic tickets, several people claim to 'know' that officers have quotas on how many tickets they are supposed to write in any given month. If you ask any Florida local law enforcement officer, they will assure you that there are no quotas in their department. At least that is what they all tell me. The fear of traffic infraction quotas is that the officers are writing to meet quotas and not for the traffic violation itself.
It appears that Tony Stewart's crash which killed another driver will be investigated by law enforcement. A few minutes into the business day and I am already being asked "for what?" While some feel this is an incident for which Mr. Ward waived any civil actions by assuming the risk of death when he exited his vehicle and tried to confront a race car, there are others that want our police state to investigate all incidents of death with an eye towards prosecution.
Auto accidents frequently give rise to criminal cases in addition to civil lawsuits and traffic tickets. For example law enforcement may charge a driver in a car crash with Reckless Driving with Property Damage, Vehicular Manslaughter, DUI Manslaughter, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, DUI with Property Damage, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Failure to Render Aid, etc. Vehicular Manslaughter is essentially Reckless Driving with a Death. If law enforcement does not believe a crime was committed, then the driver will be charged with careless driving. (More on the difference between Careless Driving and Reckless Driving)