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  1. #1

    Default Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: WA

    Hello, I was involving a car accident. In an intersection a car in front of me wanna make a left turn in a green light, so I slowed down and try to change a lane. But I didn't thoroughly check the right line and there is a car in my blind spot side sweep me and smashed me to the left, so i hit the car in front of me as well.
    The police came in and I was too nervous that time (my first traffic ticket). I told the police I have to change the lane in order to avoid hitting the car in front of me. The police issued me a speeding ticket with code 46.61.400, Speed too fast for conditions. But after I came home and watched my dashcam, I realized that my speed was actually only 13 mph on a 35 mph road. I hit the other cars because I didn't check the blind spot or the car driving behind me was too fast. It's also rainy and dark that day (you know the Seattle's rainy season).

    So what should I do? Since this's my first ticket, should I simply ask for deferral? Or how much possibility to win if I contest? The problem is I don't think I should receive the speeding ticket. But if the judge determines I was actually driving carelessly, is that sound more than like a "neg-2" infraction which is more serious?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    When we talk about an unsafe speed, it is not necessarily that you drove above the speed limit, but that your speed was too high for the conditions present at the time. It would seem that in the opinion of the officer investigating the collision, your speed was too high for the conditions. Typically, most collisions involve an unsafe speed - most often because the only safe speed for the situation would be zero. In other words, stopped.

    Based solely upon what you wrote, it would seem to me that your action might have constituted the WA equivalent of an unsafe turning movement, not unsafe speed. But, since I do not have access to all of the statements and physical evidence, I won't wander too far out on that limb.


    46.61.400
    Basic rule and maximum limits.
    (1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
    (2) Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with subsection (1) of this section, the limits specified in this section or established as hereinafter authorized shall be maximum lawful speeds, and no person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed in excess of such maximum limits.
    (a) Twenty-five miles per hour on city and town streets;
    (b) Fifty miles per hour on county roads;
    (c) Sixty miles per hour on state highways.
    The maximum speed limits set forth in this section may be altered as authorized in RCW 46.61.405, 46.61.410, and 46.61.415.
    (3) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.
    **********
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting superwangcheng
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    So what should I do? Since this's my first ticket, should I simply ask for deferral? Or how much possibility to win if I contest? The problem is I don't think I should receive the speeding ticket. But if the judge determines I was actually driving carelessly, is that sound more than like a "neg-2" infraction which is more serious?
    If you contest, it will only be for the speed charge. In Washington State, no ticket ever gets amended to anything worse like neg-2 so don’t worry about that. However you will need more information in order to know whether the speeding charge will stick. You get that information through a discovery request.

    If you have not already done so, be sure to read the sticky thread Procedural Guide to Traffic Tickets in Washington State which contains a link to a discovery template. If you want help reviewing discovery, upload digital photos or scans (with your personal id and citation number redacted) to any free image hosting site and link them here in your thread.

    The discovery information will tell you what if any witnesses will be called. Also you will receive a copy of the officer’s sworn written statement which they normally file along with the ticket. Sometimes there is no statement and only an accident report which is not admissible evidence. If there is a statement then it might include the officer’s version of whatever you told him/her, which can be considered by the judge. If there is no sworn statement and no witnesses show up in court, you would have a good shot for dismissal or a finding of “not committed”. If witnesses show you will probably lose.

    I would contest, request discovery, show up in court and decide whether to proceed or ask for deferral based on witnesses and the statement. Also if a prosecutor is present you might be offered an amended charge to a non-moving violation.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting superwangcheng
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    The problem is I don't think I should receive the speeding ticket.
    The speeding ticket was correct.

    You admit that you had to swerve to avoid hitting the car in front of you.

    Even at 13 mph that was too fast for conditions.

    If you hadn't been going too fast for conditions you would have been able to stop without swerving, and not hit the car.

    That's how it works.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    The speeding ticket was correct.

    You admit that you had to swerve to avoid hitting the car in front of you.

    Even at 13 mph that was too fast for conditions.

    If you hadn't been going too fast for conditions you would have been able to stop without swerving, and not hit the car.

    That's how it works.
    Why a speeding ticket? It is not illegal to make a lane change when a car slows in front of you.

    Why not unsafe lane change, or inattentive driving, tailgating, distracted driving, reckless driving, failure to use turn signals, etc? To say "you hit the car because you were moving" sounds stupid. Also, the lane change caused the accident, not speed. There is no speed a car can travel to safely execute changing lanes into a car in your blind spot. Therefore, speed did not cause the accident. Abruptly turning into another car caused it.

    To always claim a person is speeding when he hits something in front of him seems like an inaccurate, catch-all citation. Example: If a pedestrian stepped off the curb in front of you and got hit, the cause was be the pedestrian was inattentive or had a death-wish. Sure, if the car was going much, much slower the accident could have been avoided...but speed would not be the reason for the accident. Another: If the car in front of you came to an instant stop from hitting the car in front of him, and you hit that car, would the cause be speeding? Are we to expect and always be prepared for the car in front of us to come to an instant stop? If so, we should all be guilty of tailgating because we cannot always come to a complete stop in a matter of feet.

    To always blame these type accidents on speed, because a reduced speed would avoid it is inaccurate IMO. A lot of other actions could be the more likely cause.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting CONNOR99
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    Why a speeding ticket? It is not illegal to make a lane change when a car slows in front of you.
    Because, arguably, his unsafe speed for conditions necessitated the swerve into the neighboring lane.

    Why not unsafe lane change, or inattentive driving, tailgating, distracted driving, reckless driving, failure to use turn signals, etc?
    Because some of those are not generally considered the cause of collisions. Reckless driving consists of a number of acts including, if used in this case, the possibility of unsafe speed and an unsafe turning movement. Failure to use turn signals is also part of an unsafe turning maneuver. The others could be collision factors, depending upon their use and articulation under state law.

    To say "you hit the car because you were moving" sounds stupid.
    Well, in all honesty, that's the nature of collision investigations. What's the safe speed to avoid colliding with an obstacle in front of you? Zero MPH comes to mind. The most common primary collision factor involves unsafe speeds, and they are usually because someone struck something for which a safe speed would have been zero.

    Also, the lane change caused the accident, not speed. There is no speed a car can travel to safely execute changing lanes into a car in your blind spot. Therefore, speed did not cause the accident. Abruptly turning into another car caused it.
    The beauty - or, curse - of traffic investigations is that it is often true that more than one offense might be articulated and correct for a situation. As I previously mentioned, I see a stronger case for an unsafe lane change than a case for unsafe speed, but, I am also not privy to all the facts nor am I an officer in Washington state.

    To always claim a person is speeding when he hits something in front of him seems like an inaccurate, catch-all citation.
    One is not ALWAYS at fault for striking something in front of him, though it is most often the case. The two generalities when one car rear ends another are they are either engaged in traveling at an unsafe speed for conditions, or, they were following too closely. If the car in front was stopped, then it is most often unsafe speed. If they are both traveling then it tends to be following too closely.

    Another: If the car in front of you came to an instant stop from hitting the car in front of him, and you hit that car, would the cause be speeding?
    No. But, it WOULD be following too closely. If you were traveling so close behind another vehicle that you were unable to stop if it suddenly braked, then you were following too close. That is not to say that the collision would not be understandable, but, the fault would still most often be the vehicle traveling behind that rear-ended the vehicle in front.

    Are we to expect and always be prepared for the car in front of us to come to an instant stop? If so, we should all be guilty of tailgating because we cannot always come to a complete stop in a matter of feet.
    The beauty is that the laws of physics also apply to the vehicle in front of you. So, if you cannot stop after he reacts and slows and you are traveling too closely to stop with your own reaction and slowing, then, yes, you are following too closely.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    Because, arguably, his unsafe speed for conditions necessitated the swerve into the neighboring lane.
    But a speeding citation is not written prefaced with the term "arguably." It is written with the certainty of witnessing a violation and with the ability under penalty of perjury that you are guilty of a crime. If the officer did not witness it he cannot imagine what caused the accident.

    Because some of those are not generally considered the cause of collisions. Reckless driving consists of a number of acts including, if used in this case, the possibility of unsafe speed and an unsafe turning movement. Failure to use turn signals is also part of an unsafe turning maneuver. The others could be collision factors, depending upon their use and articulation under state law.
    If an officer cannot testify in court what caused the accident, how can he write a citation for it?

    Well, in all honesty, that's the nature of collision investigations. What's the safe speed to avoid colliding with an obstacle in front of you? Zero MPH comes to mind. The most common primary collision factor involves unsafe speeds, and they are usually because someone struck something for which a safe speed would have been zero.
    Saying you could have avoided it by not being there could apply to a lot of crimes. Why was your face in front of his fist? Why were you walking through the ghetto at 2am? Why didn't you see the piano falling above you? Why didn't you see the guy in front of you brake-checking you with no brake lights?

    It just sounds silly to say you got in an accident because you were moving. If it was that simple that citation could apply to every collision, which I believe police believe do apply...but it not a reason or cause of the accident as the citation indicates. It is the physics of it.
    Speed or movement is involved in every collision. Stopping does exonerate a driver and movement does not convict a person. Yet these citations seem to say it does.

    The car in front of you is like a piano. If I threw a piano in front of your car and you could not stop in time and hit it, would it be your speed not being zero that caused the accident?

    The beauty - or, curse - of traffic investigations is that it is often true that more than one offense might be articulated and correct for a situation. As I previously mentioned, I see a stronger case for an unsafe lane change than a case for unsafe speed, but, I am also not privy to all the facts nor am I an officer in Washington state.
    I agree, but cops are trained to blame it on speed...and write it up that way. Also, we tend to think in absolutes. 100% this way or that way. Rarely is it seen as comparative negligence by cops, courts or insurance companies. For me; I will never trust anyone so see fault in both parties...not on a forum and not in a courtroom...and especially not an insurance company.

    One is not ALWAYS at fault for striking something in front of him, though it is most often the case. The two generalities when one car rear ends another are they are either engaged in traveling at an unsafe speed for conditions, or, they were following too closely. If the car in front was stopped, then it is most often unsafe speed. If they are both traveling then it tends to be following too closely.
    True, but hitting a stopped car or object in front of you is typically seen as the moving car's fault, when many factors can place blame on the stopped car. Examples: no lights on the vehicle at night, stopped around a bend, inadequate warning on a high speed road, object too small to see, object suddenly jumps or is thrown onto the roadway, car brake-checks you, etc.

    No. But, it WOULD be following too closely. If you were traveling so close behind another vehicle that you were unable to stop if it suddenly braked, then you were following too close. That is not to say that the collision would not be understandable, but, the fault would still most often be the vehicle traveling behind that rear-ended the vehicle in front.

    The beauty is that the laws of physics also apply to the vehicle in front of you. So, if you cannot stop after he reacts and slows and you are traveling too closely to stop with your own reaction and slowing, then, yes, you are following too closely.
    Not if the physics are that the car in front you hit a vehicle in front of him that you could not see. We don't always see all the traffic in front of the car in front of us. Cars can stop faster than their brakes will stop them.

    What I hear you saying is that blame is always applied and it can be applied to the moving car when they did nothing wrong and could not avoid the accident under normal, everyday, safe driving habits. Kinda like walking through the ghetto at 2am and getting assaulted. He could have avoided it but was he at fault?

    What I am saying is that just because 20/20 hindsight says the moving care should have been stopped to avoid the accident, it doesn't mean he is at fault. Similarly, I am legally allowed to walk through the ghetto at 2am but many would say it is my fault when I got assaulted because I could have avoided it. Not so!

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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting CONNOR99
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    But a speeding citation is not written prefaced with the term "arguably." It is written with the certainty of witnessing a violation and with the ability under penalty of perjury that you are guilty of a crime.
    No. It is written with the officer's belief that there is probable cause to believe the person committed an offense. Whether the person is actually guilty is another matter and that it only determined by the court after a trial or by a guilty plea of the defendant.

    Quote Quoting CONNOR99
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    If the officer did not witness it he cannot imagine what caused the accident.
    Cops do not have to witness most crimes/offenses to make arrests or citations for them. They make arrests and issue citations for crimes and offenses all the time for events they never witnessed. If they don't see it, however, then they need to have sufficient other evidence of the offense to get the probable cause needed for the arrest or citation. A traffic accident investigation may provide sufficient evidence to do that.

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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    No. It is written with the officer's belief that there is probable cause to believe the person committed an offense. Whether the person is actually guilty is another matter and that it only determined by the court after a trial or by a guilty plea of the defendant.
    An officer's collision report is easily not allowed into a personal injury courtroom because he was not a firsthand witness, and his report is full of hearsay. Therefore the officer himself would not be allowed to testify either with his hearsay. Yet if that officer wrote a citation which placed fault on a person for causing the accident, why is that allowed? If that person fought that citation, would the officer be allowed to appear in court to testify to support the citation? If so, why is he allowed into one courtroom and not the higher courtroom? The actions of a higher court should set precedence over a lower court, right? No witness, no evidence, no citation!

    Also, cops do not write traffic citations because they believe or assume you broke a law. They write citations knowing you broke a traffic law. Knowing so well that they should always be capable to testify under penalty of perjury that you broke the law. Not so with collision reports or citations resulting from a collision.

    [FONT=Georgia][SIZE=3]Cops do not have to witness most crimes/offenses to make arrests or citations for them. They make arrests and issue citations for crimes and offenses all the time for events they never witnessed. If they don't see it, however, then they need to have sufficient other evidence of the offense to get the probable cause needed for the arrest or citation. A traffic accident investigation may provide sufficient evidence to do that.
    Correct, they don't have to witness the crime but they then must have a witness to the crime. So, how can they write a citation that nobody witnessed. Isn't that strange to you?

    Cops are not professionally trained and educated accident reconstructionists with engineering degrees. They cannot calculate the length of a skid-mark, size of tire, weight of car, slope of street like an accident recon professional can do, and determine speed. So when you fight his citation in court, what does he say, "I think he was speeding but I don't have a clue as to what that speed was?" "I wrote him for speed because some bystander said he was speeding." That doesn't fly!

    If he wants to write a speeding citation, it should be AFTER professionals scientifically determine that he was indeed speeding. Hitting a stationary object does not automatically mean you were speeding. Skidding out of control does not always indicate excessive speed either. It could be done to save your life.

    IMO, a cop on the scene of an accident can testify as to what he saw firsthand...blood, dents, skid-marks. He should be able to testify to that in court. But he has no business writing citations for things he did not witness or can prove in court. By doing so he taints the jury pool which are the insurance companies that determine fault 97% of the time.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Speeding Ticket in a Three Cars Accident

    Let's all remember what the OP told the officer.

    I told the police I have to change the lane in order to avoid hitting the car in front of me.

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