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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Criminal Defense Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 27708
Experience:  18+ years of high-volume criminal defense work from arraignment through plea or trial.
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I recently fell asleep while driving an got into an accident

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I recently fell asleep while driving an got into an accident which only involved damage to my vehicle. When the police officer arrived I told him that I believe I fell asleep and he issued me a ticket for failure to maintain control. What exactly does that mean? I live in Iowa.
Hi Jacustomer,

This is a violation of Iowa Code 321.288 which states:

A person operating a motor vehicle shall have the vehicle under control at all times and shall reduce the speed to a reasonable and proper rate:
1. When approaching and passing a person walking in the traveled portion of the public highway.
2. When approaching and passing an animal which is being led, ridden, or driven upon a public highway.
3. When approaching and traversing a crossing or intersection of public highways, or a bridge, sharp turn, curve, or steep descent, in a public highway.
4. When approaching and passing an emergency warning device displayed in accordance with rules adopted under section 321.449, or an emergency vehicle displaying a revolving or flashing light.
5. When approaching and passing a slow moving vehicle displaying a reflective device or alternative reflective device as provided by section 321.383.
6. When approaching and passing through a sign-posted road work zone upon the public highway.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Is this a criminal offense? How will it affect my insurance? I wasn't speeding, I just fell asleep.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Is this a criminal offense? How will it affect my insurance? I wasn't speeding, I just fell asleep.

Hi Jacustomer.

From what I see, this offense can be either a violation with a $35 fine or a simple misdemeanor with a 30-day jail possibility and a maximum of $500. Which way the state will go with this may depend upon the amount and kind of damage done.

You might want to confer with a local traffic lawyer, because yes, this could have an effect on your insurance, and traffic lawyers who do nothing but these kinds of cases can frequently work miracles. But you could also wait until you show up in court and see if they just offer you the violation wnich, unless you want to go to trial on this case may be as good as it will get.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
My fine was $195, I paid that already. Also, the police officer said I do not need to go to court, but on the notice it said that I must appear in court or if I choose to appear to answer to a charch which does not require an appearance, report to the above nambe court on 05/04/2011 @ 8:30am. I did not go because the officer said if I paid the fine I did not need to go to court. It does not say the offense on the ticke, just fail to maintain control under violation. It does show court costs and a criminal surcharge for fines too. Can you help me to understand this?

Before I answer, can you tell me whether it specifically says on the notice that the $195 you paid was a fine?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It says on the ticket total fine cost. I am attaching a copy for you to a scanned picture of the ticket.

From what I see, you did not have to report to court. The box that says "must appear" is not checked. You only would have had to appear if 1) it was a must appear ticket or 2) you wanted to contest the charge.

Payment of the fine has the force and effect of a plea of guilty and conviction on the charge, which is a simple misdemeanor. Had you appeared, you might have been able to bargain the charge down to the violation, which would not have been a criminal offense. You chose, however, not to come to court and to give up your right to fight the case.

I have edited your post to remove the photo in order to keep your personal information off of the web. I do still have a copy of the ticket if you need another follow up.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Is this a criminal offense?
Yes. This is what I told in you in my first response. You have pled guilty to a misdemeanor. That is why you paid a misdemeanor surcharge. The violation would have had a maximum fine of $35 and not been a criminal offense. But you would have had to go to court to try to get that, which you didn't want to do. I just wanted to make sure you didn't also have to appear and that the money you paid was not just bond.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I did not understand those were the charges. The police officer told me it was a traffic ticket. I did not know it was a criminal offense. There is no way to change that. I paid my ticket online, can they cancel the payment?

It was a traffic ticket to be sure. So to that extent, the police officer did not lie to you. However, some traffic offenses are also misdmeanors while others are not. The ticket indicated that you were cited for a misdemeanor. The payment of the $195 is a plea of guilty to it

It is almost impossible to take back a guilty plea once you have made it, and the last thing in the world you want to do is to stop payment on money due the government. That too would be a criminal offense.

Call the clerk of the court where you were to appear and fight the case and see if he has processed your case. If he says he hasn't, see if he will let you get your matter back on the calendar. If he says, however, that your plea and your payment have already been processed, the only way to overturn this would be to appeal your conviction. Unfortunately, however,while mistake is an excuse, it is not a lawful basis for an appeal.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
One more thing if you don't mind. I just paid that ticket today and I saw nowhere on the notice as to what date I should have it paid by. If it was late, but I still paid am I going to be in trouble for that?

I have looked over the ticket again and I did not notice a date either. However, if this all had to be settled by the court date, which would have been May 4, then it's possible that there is a warrant out for you for your failure to show up or to pay by the deadline.

It would now be a very good idea to call the clerk of the court where you could have appeared in the morning, just make sure that this isn't the case. It's not that long after the court date and all may be well. But if there is a warrant, you will need to ask the clerk how you can take care of it because you paid on line and do have proof of that. Maybe that can be done without you having to see the judge and incurring a late fee.
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