Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

What is a Traffic Crash in Florida?

In traffic law, the term “crash” does not mean what many people think. Seemingly many people believe that a “crash” means that there is some degree of damage to vehicles. Some have even argued that at crash should equate to a significant amount of damage. Does a crash require damage? What then is a traffic crash? 

The Courts have held that the term “crash” is interchangeable with the word “collision”. In other words, there is impact with another vehicle, person, animal, or any object, even plants. Therefore, the answer to the common question of whether a person can be cited for a traffic crash with no damage is YES.

In one case a passenger was separated from a moving vehicle, hit the pavement, died and the driver left the scene. The vehicle never touched the decedent. The driver was accused of leaving the scene of a crash with a death. The Florida Supreme Court interpreted the meaning of the term “crash” to include the passenger hitting the ground. However, because the hit and run statute requires that the vehicle be involved in the crash, the conviction could not stand. Gaulden v. State, 195 So. 3d 1123 (Fla. 2016). Furthermore, the Court in that case specifically included plant life such as a tree as objects that could be collided with to equal a crash.

Once a person is formally accused, then any arguments or evidence pertaining to whether a crash occurred or how it happened must be presented to the court in a formal proceeding. No one can promise what another person or a judge will decide, and every case is different. For help presenting any type of traffic case, call or click.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

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GET OUT! Asked to exit vehicle after a traffic stop

In criminal and traffic cases a common concern is that the officer requested the driver or other person to exit the vehicle. There is a line of thought that being removed from the vehicle requires a safety concern or other good reason. Some may question what issue(s) exist getting out of the car, others do not like the feeling of being seized, however in the context of criminal cases, exiting from a vehicle often discloses damaging evidence.

Presuming a valid traffic stop for speeding, failure to maintain a lane or other traffic infraction, law enforcement can request those inside the vehicle to exit and there is no need for a specific valid safety concern. The United States Supreme Court has said that once a vehicle has been lawfully stopped, police officers may have the driver get out as a matter of course without violating the Fourth Amendment (searches and seizures). In other words, the officers do not have to be able to articulate anything in specific.

This matters in a criminal case because upon opening the door, the driver or passenger could reveal drugs or firearms that are in the possession of a felon or were concealed without a license. In addition, other criminal cases like violation of injunction or violation of pre-trial release and the obvious criminal traffic violations such as suspended or no valid license can all start when the overhead lights are activated on the patrol car.

All this means is that analyzing the traffic stop can mean a great deal. Please call, click or fill out the form to hire a criminal and traffic defense lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Roadblocks or Roadside Safety Checkpoints

Roadblocks or “Roadside Safety Checkpoints” as they are referred to by law enforcement are legal only if the police follow the rules. Yes, the Constitution does still apply as do the laws of the State of Florida, even though it certainly does not feel like it or a particular law enforcement officer’s god complex has raised its ugly head. In order to be legal, they have to have followed several steps including publishing an operational plan, communicating the plan and then actually complying with the operational plan. 

The inspiration for this blog was that the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) announced that it will set up a roadblock or checkpoint along with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), University of Florida Police Department (UFPD), High Springs Police Department (HSPD) and City of Alachua’s Police Department (APD) on Friday, June 26th, 2015, at 3200 SW Archer Road in the westbound lanes between 9:00 PM and 3:00 AM.

According to GPD’s announcement, they are looking for people who are driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages and those driving without a valid driver’s license. They claimed that “[d]rivers who are able to provide a valid driver’s license upon first contact will be allowed through the checkpoint without any further delay. Suspected impaired drivers will not be allowed to leave the checkpoint unless a lawful level of sobriety is confirmed.” This implies that they will be running the driver license through the police database and removing anyone who smells like alcohol or drugs in order to do a DUI investigation.  They will surely also find marijuana and people impaired by other drugs such as prescriptions.

I have never heard of a person with an active warrant being allowed to leave a roadblock/checkpoint. Surely, if a warrant is detected, that person will be arrested. Likewise, several people will be cited for driving without a license, no valid license, failure to display, driving with a suspended license, driving outside restrictions, and other civil and criminal traffic violations.

If you or a loved one is caught up in this or any other roadblock/checkpoint click, call or fill out the form to hire a lawyer today. The firm represents people in all criminal and traffic violations.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

GPD’s announcement

Traffic Crashes Involving a Death

Tony Stewart’s crash that killed another driver, Kevin Ward Jr., will be investigated by law enforcement. A few minutes into the business day and I am already being asked “for what?” While some feel this is an incident for which Mr. Ward waived any civil actions by assuming the risk of death when he exited his vehicle and tried to confront a race car,, there are others that want our government to investigate all incidents of death with an eye towards prosecution. 

What then could be the outcome of said investigation of Tony Stewart? A close look at the video shows that the vehicle fishtailed. If there were evidence of intent to strike the pedestrian, then Mr. Stewart could be charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Some people are surprised to learn that vehicles are deadly weapons when used as a weapon. Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon is a second degree felony in Florida.

Another possible charge would be Vehicular Homicide. Vehicular Homicide is when a person operates a vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another and then does cause a death in a traffic crash. While it may be true that racing is reckless per se in Florida, I do not think the fact that the death occurred in this race will meet the reckless requirement. However, if there is evidence of intent then that could meet the reckless requirements.

We have to also consider that this could have been an accident and Mr. Stewart was trying to avoid the fatal impact. If there was no intent, then the State could charge a civil traffic ticket case of careless driving with a death. While there would be no incarceration possible in a traffic ticket case, there would be a mandatory driver license suspension.

All death cases are serious cases but just because somebody died does not mean the government can prove guilt. The question is always causation and not the resulting death because the result is always death in death cases. No person should face the government alone. If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been accused of any traffic accident causing a death, then please click call or fill out the form for a consultation.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529