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  1. #1
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    Nov 2009
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    Default Careless Driving for Hitting a Parked Car

    I was pulling into a parking space on private property and scraped paint with a parked car. I pulled out and parked in another parking spot. I didn't have a piece of paper to leave a note, so went into a store and got a piece, returned to the car I hit and was told the police were called. I got a ticket for careless driving! The police said if I contest the ticket, he will change it to hit and run! I'm in Florida. Does this sound reasonable??

  2. #2
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    Dec 2004
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    Default Re: Careless Driving for Hitting a Parked Car - Florida

    As far as I can tell, the Florida law about "careless" driving reads:

    Quote Quoting 316.1925
    316.1925 Careless driving.--

    (1) Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. Failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless driving and a violation of this section.

    (2) Any person who violates this section shall be cited for a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.

    I cannot find a law that says that infractions can be enforced ANYWHERE. Since this law specifically states that it is ONLY applicable on "streets or highways", and since a parking lot is NOT considered a street or highway, it looks like you might easily get off.

    Now, "hit and run" is different. Here, the law reads:

    Quote Quoting 316.063
    316.063 Duty upon damaging unattended vehicle or other property.--

    (1) The driver of any vehicle which collides with, or is involved in a crash with, any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of the vehicle or other property of the driver's name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, or shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle or other property a written notice giving the driver's name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and shall without unnecessary delay notify the nearest office of a duly authorized police authority. Any person who fails to comply with this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

    (2) Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If a damaged vehicle is obstructing traffic, the driver shall make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or have it moved so as not to obstruct the regular flow of traffic. A violation of this subsection is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.

    The problem MIGHT stem from the fact that you did not "immediately" stop -- you moved to a different spot first. Note, also, that this is a second degree misdemeanor -- a "criminal" offense, NOT a traffic infraction.

    You do have some things going for you, however. In many states, although I'm not familiar with FL law specifically, charges can be amended -- as long as no new or additional charges are made. You would have to be charged separately. Since the new charge is a misdemeanor, you would also be entitled to a court-appointed attorney -- if you cannot afford one yourself.

    Nevertheless, I think the prosecutor would have a difficult time proving "hit and run", considering you were on the scene when the officer arrived, right? So you didn't "leave" the scene -- you went into a store to get some paper in order to comply with the law. Other than moving your car to a nearby spot, you complied, or were in the process of complying with the law.

    Personally, I'd go for it. Unless you were charged with a local ordinance applicable to parking lots, I think you've got a good chance of beating the "careless" charge. I'd also file a complaint against the officer for trying to "bully" me into accepting punishment for an infraction that does not apply, by threatening me with a "criminal" charge.

    But, you might want to discuss the whole mess with an attorney -- just to be sure.

    Barry

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Careless Driving for Hitting a Parked Car - Florida

    Parking lots that are open to the public are likely included within the definition of "street or highway". The definition discussed below ("'Street or highway' means the entire width between the boundary lines of a way or place if any part of that way or place is open to public use for purposes of vehicular traffic") is echoed in the definitions statute at issue for a careless driving charge ("The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic").
    Quote Quoting State v Tucker, 761 So. 2d 1248 (Fla. 2d DCA, 2000)
    "Street or highway" is defined in section 322.01(38) as "the entire width between the boundary lines of a way or place if any part of that way or place is open to public use for purposes of vehicular traffic." This definition has been held to include parking lots that are open to public use by vehicles, even though such parking lots may be privately owned. See State v. Lopez, 633 So. 2d 1150 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994).

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Careless Driving for Hitting a Parked Car

    Thank you, Aaron. OP, now you see why I suggested discussing this with an attorney. Aaron IS an attorney. I am not. I'd go with his opinion. My confusion came from the WA law, which states:

    Quote Quoting RCW 46.04.197
    Highway means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.

    So, in WA, at least, there is a requirement that the parking lot be "publicly maintained". I take that to mean that public funds are used to maintain it. But, perhaps I'm wrong on that point, as well.

    Barry

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