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Can't Cite Motorist Without A Collision Or Officer Witnessing?


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  • Can't Cite Motorist Without A Collision Or Officer Witnessing?

    A short while ago I was cycling home when a driver made a left turn in front of me. I was on a slight decline (~2% grade) traveling at 30 mph, and to make myself more visible I was a couple feet into the actual traffic lane vice riding on the shoulder, which was chewed up anyway from this past winter. When the driver pulled out he slowed to a crawl, thereby blocking the lane. Naturally, I slammed on my brakes and then swerved right such that I barely missed his rear fender. He then simply took off without saying anything. Situations like these are why I wear a helmet cam, so when I got home I reviewed the footage and was able to zoom in on his face as he was making his turn. He was looking directly at me, so I don't think he could have excused himself by claiming he didn't see me coming. I later drove to the local police station (NY state police) and spoke to a trooper there and showed him the footage. Although he said it looked intentional and was a blatant case of failure to yield right of way and probably careless driving, he said he couldn't do anything about it unless a collision occurred or unless he witnessed the infraction. If it were car vs car, I would have agreed completely, but bikes can't maneuver like cars or stop as quickly. In my area things like this aren't a frequent occurrence, so I can rationally say I was traveling at a reasonably safe speed, especially considering the limit was 40 mph. At any rate, NY state recognizes cyclists and pedestrians as "vulnerable road users", which is why we have Hayley & Diego's Law. It imposes a harsher criminal penalty against motorists who injure/kill cyclists or pedestrians. That law obviously couldn't be applied here, but I mentioned it to demonstrate that NY has set a precedent for declaring cyclists and pedestrians as entities that are exponentially at greater risk than other motorists. Given that information, I don't understand why this driver couldn't be cited even though there was an unbiased corroborating witness (my helmet cam). Many traffic lights, for example, have cameras which photograph drivers who blow red lights, and that can be used to mail them a citation. In that example it's a clear case where an officer did not witness an infraction but a camera did, and no collision occurred. In addition, it's a situation where a driver has committed a traffic violation that easily endangers other road users. In my situation a motorist committed a traffic violation that immediately endangered my life, and it was caught on tape. I don't understand what the difference is between the two.

  • #2
    Can't speak for other states but here in CO if you witness an infraction and report it YOU sign the citation in place of the officer, and YOU go to court of the offender disputes the charge. Essentially you are filing the charges, and you take the place of the officer. It's the traffic version of citizen's arrest.

    The officer is probably telling you the truth that HE can't cite without witnessing the infraction.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet


    • #3
      In Iowa an officer can cite a violator based on witness's testimony/statements.

      HOWEVER................according to your description
      #1. the car pulled out and proceeded SLOWLY (did not STOP in front of you)
      #2.. You were able to avoid hitting the vehicle
      #3 There was no injury to you

      THEREFORE there would be no violation that any LEO in my state COULD cite the driver for violating.

      Originally posted by SauronHimself View Post
      but bikes can't maneuver like cars or stop as quickly.

      That statement just plain is NOT true
      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


      • #4
        In NJ, you'd have to sign a special complaint and come to court to ID the driver.
        Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.


        • #5
          In Texas there would be nothing I could do. It's the same as arresting someone for a crime without a warrant. If I didn't see it, I can't say beyond a reasonable doubt that the subject did it.

          But I could refer you to the Justice of the Peace, as has been said, and you could file a complaint with the JP, who might or might not issue a warrant. Then you'd have to be prepared for the defense attorney to try and claim that you photoshopped the video.
          Officer Jay McGuire, Minneapolis Park Police EOW 5/14/2009 age 11
          Among Texas' finest
          Deputy Andy Taylor, Llano County SO EOW 5/9/2005
          Senior Deputy Jessica Laura Hollis, Travis County SO EOW 9/18/2014
          Darren H. Goforth, Harris County SO EOW 8/28/2015


          • #6
            Try riding your bike in a safer manner.


            • #7
              In Illinois, we require a written complaint AND when writing the complaint, you must use paragraphs.

              “Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie.”

              Miyamoto Musashi

              “Life Is Hard, But It's Harder When You're Stupid”

              George V. Higgins (from The Friends of Eddie Coyle)


              • #8
                You're not going to like my response

                I can't speak for your state, but in mine the offense you describe is an infraction, which is punishable by a fine only with no possibility of jail time.

                State law does not authorize officers to arrest or issue citations for infractions not committed in their presence absent the involvement of a traffic accident they have investigated.

                The only other way to pursue this would be by somehow identifying the driver, obtaining his driver's license photo (to determine name, address, identifying features, etc.) and photos of five similar appearing individuals, having you pick his photo out of those six pictures and confirm he was the driver. The officer would then write a crime report, present it to the district attorney for prosecutorial approval, then take the matter before a judge, obtain an arrest warrant for the driver and arrest him.

                To be blunt, with more serious crime demanding the attention of the police, prosecutors and the courts, no one is going to expend that much time and effort on an infraction that got away. For that matter, going to that much trouble to arrest someone and take them to jail for a crime that is not punishable by imprisonment, simply because that is the only means by which we can pursue this matter, is contrary to public policy and would outrage the citizenry we serve. It isn't going to happen.

                You need to let this one go.
                Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


                • #9
                  The Trooper advised you correctly. Motor Vehicle Codes are specifically written, and bicycle riders do have some important rights. They also have equal responsibilities under the Motor Vehicle Laws. Simply stated, and under the circumstances you've described, your situation is a "non-starter" from a prosecution standpoint.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                    Try riding your bike in a safer manner.
                    Come ride with me for a while first. I suspect your judgment would change.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SauronHimself View Post
                      Come ride with me for a while first. I suspect your judgment would change.
                      Maybe. But not nearly as much as yours would if you rode with us.


                      • #12
                        Get over it and move on.


                        • #13
                          Nothing could be done here unless you got a tag and driver description, and then we'd have to find said car and driver.

                          Take it as an Oh Well and move on.
                          The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                          I Am the Sheepdog.

                          "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                          that we are all that stands between
                          the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks



                          • #14
                            I don't know about NY, but in WA an officer has to witness the infraction in order to issue the citation. The exceptions to this include involving a collision, reckless driving, or driving under the influence. Unlike the moving violation you witnessed, red light cameras are not considered moving violations in WA and do not go on your driving record. That is the difference.
                            "Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned."


                            • #15
                              No. My judgement will stand.


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