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socrateaser
socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 37952
Experience:  retired (mostly)
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Here is my question. I was in an accident today (my first

Customer Question

Hi.
Here is my question.
I was in an accident today (my first ever and I am many decades old). I had 3 kids in the car and we are all safe. It was a level 3 amount of damage (on a Michigan scale of 1 - 7 ...1 being nothing). I was able to drive home.
I was in the right lane and the SUV in front of me came to an abrupt stop. I slammed on my brakes and veered to the right avoiding a direct frontal collision and damaged my passenger bumper and the SUVs back bumper with minimal scratches.
We pulled over and the driver whom was hit indicated that the car in front of him made an immediate stop, which in turn, made him have to do the same.
When the police arrived on the scene they spoke with the other driver first and then only asked me a few questions as the other driver indicated that there was really nothing I could have done as it was the driver in front of him that caused a chain reaction.
The officer came back and cited me for "failure to stop assured clear distance ahead."
The officer told me to go to court and he would speak to the Magistrate about not getting points as there was nothing I could do. I agree. While his citation cites "assured clear distance ahead", the situation (which was standard at the time) became convoluted due to the dangerously abrupt stop of the car that escaped the chain of events. The car altered the designated speed limit as what would be safe and what would a safe turning speed. (He completely stopped to make a turn into a liquor store). I guess he didn't want to pass it.
The points are my main concern with insurance costs already sky high, The citation is $130.
Thank you in advance.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

Hello,

The issue here is "proof of facts." You need the driver in front of you to testify to the fact that the driver in front of him created the problem, and (important), he barely escaped hitting the car. The point being that you need to make it clear that you were not following too closely, but rather that no reasonable driver could have avoided the collision except by sheer luck, given the weather and traffic conditions that were present at the time. Otherwise, you will lose, because the judge will find that you were following too closely (which is the same thing as saying you didn't assure clear distance ahead). Quoting the Michigan State Police website http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_30536_25802-16230--,00.html):

  • Always plan ahead. Allow no less than 2 seconds between vehicles during the daytime, 3 seconds at night, and 4 seconds during inclement weather such as during rain, snow, or icy conditions. Be especially cautious when approaching stop lights, intersections, and when changing lanes. Anticipate potentially hazardous situations that could cause the driver in front of you to stop suddenly.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you. He did give me his number in case I needed to follow up. However he does not live too close to the incident site.I am curious why the officer, with his name on the citation, told me how to proceed. I do not mind paying the fine but I am hoping the points are dismissed. I am from a family of police officers and have a neighbor who is one as well. Maybe they will have some insight, I know municipalities are hard pressed for money (I just left a Government job).I don't want to plead guilty because the situation was very unique and I had plenty of room. I do understand it is my word and the hope that an officer actually spoke to the Judge.With not accidents I can only hope they can take that into consideration.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 11 months ago.

I have no idea why the officer told you how to proceed. My experience as a driver is that peace officers sometimes tell a driver something that may or may not be true, but sounds good at the time, in order to smooth things over with the driver, while simultaneously citing the driver for an offense. In the end, the judge gets to decide the punishment, and the only way to avoid points is to have the charge reduced to an offense with fewer associated points -- which in my experience never happens, unless the driver is represented by a lawyer, because the judge knows that the driver is paying the lawyer more in attorney's fees than the citation fine is worth -- so, the driver is suitably punished, regardless.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

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