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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 117460
Experience:  Attorney with over 24 years of law and traffic law
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In 2001 I was involved in an accident with a farm tractor. I

Customer Question

In 2001 I was involved in an accident with a farm tractor. I was traveling about 7 miles an hour pulling away from a stop sign turning left onto a highway. I did not see the tractor coming across the road from the other side. I turned in front of him and hit the front wheel of the tractor. I stopped the car got out and went to the driver of the tractor and asked if he was okay, he said yes but was ranting about the damage to the tractor. The first person at the scene was a plain clothes sheriff deputy off duty. He asked both of us if we were okay and we both responded yes. He began directing traffic and called the accident in. I asked if it were okay to back the vehicle I was driving up out of the roadway to allow traffic to get by, he responded yes. I backed the car up off the highway and turned it off. My passenger was my girlfriend who was actually the owner of the car. A few minutes later an ambulance arrived and the emt's inquired if anyone needed medical attention, again I responded no and so did the driver of the tractor. At that time I asked the officer who was directing traffic if it would be okay to go into the store which was where I had just pulled out of and stopped at the stop sign just prior to the accident. The officer gave me permission so my girlfriend and I proceeded into the store to get something cold to drink. I could hear the sirens of the highway patrol getting close but they hadnt yet arrived. After getting our drinks we stepped outside and I made a poor choice and decided to leave the scene because I was driving on a suspended license so I walked away. Twenty minutes later I was apprehended and arrested for leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily injury. I was taken to jail an arraigned on charges. At the pretrial hearing all charges were dismissed because the driver of the tractor did not show up. The accident occurred on the 11th of september, 2000. 6 months later i was arrested for a warrant issued on the same charges. I was appointed a public defender who basically threw me under the bus. I accepted a plea bargain for 16 months in state prison for the leaving the scene of an accident with great bodily injury because at that preliminary hearing the driver of the tractor did show up wearing a neck and back brace not speaking any english which he spoke and understood just fine at the time of the accident. I took the deal at the advice of the public defender who knew that the driver of the tractor never even went to the doctor for the first time until the 22nd of December which was over 3 months later. My attorney never informed me of this or I would have taken it to trial. My whole problem with all of this is the matter of restitution. I never had a restitution hearing because I had already left for prison or I would have contested it. The restitution came to 3,000 plus for medical bills and damage to the tractor. Ten years later I recieved a wage garnishment for that restitution amount plus accrued interest. I tried to dispute it but was told that there was nothing I could do about it. I questioned the restitution because I believed it to be improper. After researching, I found case law to support my belief in that yes, I did leave the scene of the accident, but at the time there were no noted injuries to anyone only damage to the tractor. Case law states that although I did leave the scene, the crime I committed was leaving the scene which in no way was the cause of the damage to the tractor nor for any medical issues. All of these were prior to the crime of leaving the scene. The damage should have been a civil matter. The vehicle was not insured, although I was the driver, I was not the owner, and I did not have insurance either. Therefore the matter should have been referred to civil court. I lost my license and have paid thousands on this restitution case which should have never been demanded by the courts. The judge had made an error in ordering the restitution. Because it was ten years later everyone said it was too late to do anything about it but yet it wasnt to late for the franchise tax board court ordered debt collections to come after me the amount of that restitution plus all the interest. I am still paying payments on this matter. There has to be something wrong with this picture, any advice other than so sad too bad?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, the law about leaving the scene you have found is likely true if there was no great bodily injury, with one exception you fled the scene because you were driving on a suspended license. But really that is not the issue. The issue is this happened 17 years ago and it is now too late to do anything about the criminal charge and plea deal.
As far as the money damages and restitution, if you believe the amount they are seeking and garnishing from you is incorrect, then you can file in civil court to object to the garnishment and present proof of how the garnishment is wrong and get the court to correct the amount of restitution or possibly waive further payments, that is all you really can do about this situation.
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Customer: replied 7 months ago.
What exactly do I file for the objection, a motion?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, you file a motion, it goes on the blank motion form with the name of the court at the top, followed by the case name and case number, then you tile your document, "Objection to Garnishment" and explain your facts and why it should be stopped.