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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 32818
Experience:  16 yrs. of trial experience
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My 22 year old son ran a stop sign and sent 5 people to the

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My 22 year old son ran a stop sign and sent 5 people to the hospital in a 2 car crash. The other car had 2, 90 year old occupants, one being the driver.
My son was texting. Some of the texting refers to marajuana being available to smoke. None was found on my son. Some pot was found on a passenger. He had 3 female passengers around the ages of 18 or 19 years old. No one has died. No one from our car was admitted to the hospital. We do not know about the other car's occupants.
My son was charged with running a stop sign and has a mid April court date.
We would like to wait and see if a lawyer will be needed. SHOULD WE HIRE A LAWYER RIGHT AWAY? My son says there shouldn't be any THC in his blood.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Can you tell me, was your insurance up to date? And what is your liability cap on the policy?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes, insurance is up to date (Allstate). Cap on liability is 100,000.


I ask since that would be my larger concern...potential liability claims.

What you describe, if there is no evidence that he was under the influence of Cannabis at the time he was operating the vehicle, I think his criminal liability is reduced significantly.

You need to wait and see...but if the test comes back negative for THC or other illegal substances, then the best the state can do, if they attempt to prosecute, would be reckless driving associated with the texting.

Tell me mention texting at the time of the that part of the evidence in the case? That is, have any of the witnesses stated he was texting at the time? OR did he admit to that?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No He sustained a closed head injury and does not remember the accident. the officer was showing me his phone alot and talking about the times my son was texting. he did not keep the phone.

also, should we plead guilty and pay the fine or get a lawyer first>


If all they have is the phone and the texts...if there are no witness statements to show texting and no blood tests to show drugs? Then the state has an uphill battle to prove a criminal case.

Not saying it is not possible...just that the case is more complex.

To criminal reckless driving (or, if someone dies, negligent homicide) the state must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

I see this as three separate issues

1. The traffic ticket (stop sign)

2. Potential criminal case (reckless driving...perhaps negligent homicide)

3. Potential civil suit

They are all tied together.

Example, if he pleas to the traffic ticket, that can be used in both the criminal and civil cases. would have more impact in the civil case...since that plea would allow a "negligence per se" claim...basically if he admits to running the stop sign, he will likely loose the civil case. In the criminal case, they still have to prove "recklessness"...they have to prove he was texting or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. So admission to the traffic ticket will be more significant in the civil case.

If you have insurance they will protect you up to the policy limit...but if there is a claim for more than that, someone could be on the hook for that extra amount....and your insurance company is not concerned about your potential losses...only their own.

SO to answer the question, do you need a lawyer?

You certainly need one if he is charged criminally.

And you may need one if he is sued (if the potential damages exceed $100K)

One thing he can do to buy some time is ask for a delay. He can enter a plea of not guilty and ask for a delay...this will buy you some time to see what evidence surfaces (like the blood work, or perhaps witnesses statements)

It is not difficult to get a month or 2 delay to the traffic ticket if you tell the judge you are looking to retain a lawyer.

If pressed on this, one option would be to enter a plea of "no contest"...this allows him to resolve the traffic ticket without admitting responsibility.

He certainly does not want to make any statements to the court that can be used in the criminal case or the civil best to try and delay this for some time to see what will happen on both fronts.

But at the end of the day, if he is forced to address this, a no contest plea would resolve the traffic ticket while minimizing liability to the other cases.

P. Simmons and 9 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FYI-NYS does not have "no contest". You have to plead guilty or not guilty.

Ma'am you are correct. NY is one if the very few states that will not allow this.

In such a case, it may be best to plea not guilty and take no action (that is, enter a plea of not guilty but do not present a specific defense). A plea of not guilty does NOT require that the accused present any evidence. If the state can convict, the result of such a strategy would be the functional equivalent of a nolo contendere. There will be a conviction, but your son will have taken no action that could potentially harm his civil or criminal case. And conviction for running a stop sign is, as you understand, the least of his worries now.

Sorry for the confusion

Let me know if you have more questions