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Traffic Citation for "Following too Close" While Stopped at Light

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  • Traffic Citation for "Following too Close" While Stopped at Light

    First of all, I am not trying to get out of a legitimate citation or take advantage of the system in any way. I am questioning if the law was correctly enforced, here in North Carolina, by the state highway patrol officer.

    Here's the situation...

    My wife was sitting behind several cars at a traffic light on a two-lane road (one lane in each direction) for a few seconds before a car hit her from the rear (estimated to have been traveling around 5 mph). As a result, she hit the car in front of her. The cop gave the driver of the car behind my wife a citation for failure to reduce speed. The officer gave her a citation for "following to close" saying that she was too close to the car in front of her. I suspect that the police officer thought that my wife's car was still approaching the car in front of her (which was not correct). My wife told me that she had a hard time understanding the cop (heavy southern accent, and my wife is fairly new to the country). My guess, since I was not there, was that there was a communication problem.

    I also noticed errors on the police report (it indicated that my wife was traveling at 2 mph at the time of impact and the car behind her was traveling at 3 mph. Since there is $1400 damage to her car, the rear bumper was raised so that the tailgate is unable to open, and my wife suffered from minor whiplash, clearly the car behind my wife hit our car faster than 1 mph even if she was moving at the time (which she was not).

    The report also stated that my wife's car did not move any distance following the impact. This is clearly a mistake since she hit the car in front of her.

    I should note that the insurance company from the car behind my wife took full liability for the entire accident (all three cars).

    How should my wife proceed? Is there a way to correct a police report or have the citation dropped before going to court?

    Many thanks for your time and attention!

    Caleb

  • #2
    Have you looked up the charge on line to see what constitutes that offense?

    You might be able to get the officer or his supervisor to explain the reasoning for the citation to you since there was a possible communication problem between the officer and your wife.

    As I tell everyone, if you feel the citation was issued in error, go to court on this date and time and plead not guilty.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by just joe View Post

      As I tell everyone, if you feel the citation was issued in error, go to court on this date and time and plead not guilty.
      Read this 10 times..............................
      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for your reply, just joe!

        I have looked into the law behind the citation my wife received. To me (a layman) it seems like there is an implication that the car has to be in motion. Since this is a 4-point violation, I am trying to make sure that I do the right thing to try to fight it.

        This is the text of the law:

        § 20-152. Following too closely.
        (a) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.
        (b) The driver of any motor vehicle traveling upon a highway outside of a business or residential district and following another motor vehicle shall, whenever conditions permit, leave sufficient space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy such space without danger, except that this shall not prevent a motor vehicle from overtaking and passing another motor vehicle. This provision shall not apply to funeral processions. (1937, c. 407, s. 114; 1949, c. 1207, s. 4; 1973, c. 1330, s. 17.)

        Comment


        • #5
          I figured I had to go to court, I was just hoping to avoid surprises and a "he-said she-said" scenario.

          Would it help to get a notarized statement from the car in front of my wife (the one she hit) saying that she and my wife were waiting at the light for several seconds before the impact? That driver has been very nice to us and I don't want to ask more of her unless it will really help.

          Comment


          • #6
            Please let me remind you of a long standing, albeit rather informal policy of the forum. We do NOT typically second guess, critique, analyze, or Monday Morning quarterback the actions, decisions of other officers or agencies. The reasons for this stance are many and varied, but at the very basis, we weren't there.

            Additionally, we do not dispense legal advice, as that is the province of licensed attorneys. In the event your spouse feels she was inappropriately , unfairly, or improperly charged, she should enter a plea of "Not Guilty" and request a court date.That is a basic right, and one she should exercise if she feels the need to

            You may wish to engage the services of an attorney, realizing that there will be some cost involved should you make that choice..

            Comment


            • #7
              We there skid marks from her tires at the scene? If she was stopped, her foot would be on the brakes and if she was propelled forward by the impact of the rear-end collision with her foot on the brake the tires would have been drug across the roadway, leaving some type of indication. In the absence of evidence of complete stoppage, even at 1mph she was moving forward.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks, PhilipCal and careerchange#2!

                I agree and am not asking that you critique the officer's decision as you were not present and only have the information provided by me. In fact, I just asked how to best proceed and if it was possible to correct a police report and/or have the citation dropped ahead of a court date.

                I did not think about the skid marks and should have checked (I will ask my wife). I doubt there are any marks because it was slightly uphill (so her foot was probably not to heavily on the break). Perhaps this was her error (she should have pressed harder).

                Thanks for your feedback!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CalebC View Post
                  .

                  Would it help to get a notarized statement from the car in front of my wife (the one she hit) saying that she and my wife were waiting at the light for several seconds before the impact? That driver has been very nice to us and I don't want to ask more of her unless it will really help.
                  I don't know of any judge that would consider a written statement from ANYONE.

                  If you want a witness---------------------they need to be there in person.
                  Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                  My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Iowa #1603 View Post
                    I don't know of any judge that would consider a written statement from ANYONE.

                    If you want a witness---------------------they need to be there in person.
                    Agreed, they would need to come with you to court and testify in person.

                    Bottom line is, like the other officer stated, if you feel the citation was wrongly enforced, go to court and contest it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Correction: Your wife needs to go to court. Unless you're an attorney, you cannot represent her in court.
                      Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                      I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks all. I appreciate the advice.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My understanding of NC traffic law is that anytime you strike another vehicle from behind, you are the one cited. if she had been a full car length away from the vehicle in front of her, would she have been forced into it? At only $1400 in damage to her vehicle, I doubt it.

                          The distance of travel after collision on HER ticket/wreck report is referring to the distance traveled after she struck the vehicle in front of her, not the initial collision that forced her into the tertiary vehicle.

                          The bottom line in NC is that you won't find a group that are more professional and expert at traffic law, wreck reconstruction and reports than the NCSHP. They're damned wizards at it, among other things.

                          I say this with the caveat that I do not do wreck reports myself. However, if I see a trooper or one of our traffic guys tonight, I'll ask for further clarification.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks a lot, AppState! I appreciate the clarification you provided.

                            One question: does your first paragraph apply if the cars are not in motion? I have never seen anyone intentionally provide one car length when waiting at a stop light.

                            I would really appreciate an update if you see one of your traffic guys.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CalebC View Post
                              Thanks a lot, AppState! I appreciate the clarification you provided.

                              One question: does your first paragraph apply if the cars are not in motion? I have never seen anyone intentionally provide one car length when waiting at a stop light.

                              I would really appreciate an update if you see one of your traffic guys.
                              I'll find out for sure, but she's in a lane of travel and in control of her motor vehicle, that's enough for DUI in this state, regardless of movement. The burden falls on the driver at all times, in NC, to have your own vehicle in a safe area. If she had been at a safe distance, the secondary collision would not have happened.

                              For now, I'd be happy that the primary vehicle's insurance claimed full liability. Pure contributory negligence is followed in North Carolina and could have been argued, in which case your insurance could have been responsible to the front end damage to your vehicle and the rear end damage of the tertiary vehicle.

                              Comment

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