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Can I Use a Speeding or Texting Ticket to Prove My Claim?

06/7/2021
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Do you currently have a personal injury claim that involved you being injured by someone who was texting or speeding? Are you wondering if the ticket that the other driver received can be used as evidence in your claim? Our Florida accident lawyer wants you to first note that there is little, if any, difference between a ticket and a citation. A “ticket” is simply a less formal term for “citation.”

Speeding Tickets

Back in the very beginning of the automobile days, speeding tickets were unknown because the Model-T topped out at 40 m.p.h. But, as cars got faster and the law developed, speeding tickets became an issue. Nonetheless, it was still a small issue, because the fines were negligible and your driving record was not really an issue. 

Today, however, traffic tickets are taken more seriously. Penalties (per county, but generally) include:

MPH OVER LIMIT

NO TRAFFIC SCHOOL

SCHOOL/CONSTRUCTION ZONE TRAFFIC FINES

6 to 9 MPH

$129.00

$154.00

10 to 14 MPH

$204.00

$304.00

15 to 19 MPH

$254.00

$404.00

20 to 29 MPH

$279.00

$454.00

30 MPH & Over

Court Mandatory

Court Mandatory

Taking a 4-hour online traffic school carries a variety of advantages, including:

  • Avoiding points on your record
  • No insurance rate increase
  • Your Safe Driver status will be maintained

Texting and Driving Tickets

The Florida Wireless Communications While Driving Law defines texting while driving and describes the penalties, with some exceptions, that may be incurred. Drivers in Florida can be pulled over for:

  • Texting on a wireless communications device while driving.
  • Using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a work or school zone.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) described the potential penalties for violation of this law. A first-time texting and driving offense is subject to a $30 fine. A second-time texting and driving offense is subject to a $60-$100 penalty. In both cases, the driver will also be required to pay any court costs.

There are no points added to a driver’s license for a first-time texting offense. Yet, three points get added if a driver receives a second texting and driving offense within a five-year period. Beyond direct penalties, drivers should also know that texting and driving is sometimes used as the basis to cite a motorist for careless driving or charge them with reckless driving. Most often, this happens after accidents.

If any traffic citation seems clearly erroneous or appears to be handed out as a purely punitive measure, contact a Florida accident lawyer at Searcy Denney.

About the Validity of a Ticket or Citation  

Any discussion of using tickets and citations as evidence needs to start with the validity of the citation in general. Pur another way, if the citation was issued as a “best guess” or even issued as a penalty against a driver the officer didn’t like for some unrelated reason, from having been caught egging the officer’s house last Halloween, or some facial expression or words showing disrespect, or even the driver’s race or gender or because of the driver’s inclusion in any protected class, then the citation shouldn’t even have been issued, let alone used as evidence in a more serious claim.

If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in a car, truck, or boating accident, and a ticket or citation was issued, be sure to let an experienced Florida accident lawyer at Searcy Denney know during your free consultation. We’ll analyze the ticket/citation, along with all of the evidence related to your case.

Can Traffic Citations Like Speeding or Texting Be Used as Evidence of Fault in a Car Accident Personal Injury Claim?

In most Florida motor vehicle accidents, the police officer at the scene will issue a traffic ticket to one or more of the involved drivers. The ticket is essentially an expression of the investigating officer’s opinion as to who was at fault. And no, the ticket itself is not admissible as evidence of fault in a civil claim arising from the accident, but the defendant’s response to the traffic charge may be.

With some exceptions, Florida law (Florida Statute Section 318) allows any person charged with a noncriminal traffic infraction to pay the civil penalty by mail or in-person without any effective admission of guilt being used as evidence in any other proceedings. “[O]ther proceedings” includes a civil action arising out of a traffic accident. So, simply paying the fines of your ticket is not an admission of guilt, and therefore, like the ticket itself, cannot be used as evidence in any other proceedings.

For purposes of motor vehicle accidents, there are exceptions to Section 318 contained in Florida law, which contains a list of traffic infractions requiring a mandatory hearing. Those infractions are:

  1. Any infraction which results in a crash that causes the death of another
  2. Any infraction which results in a crash that causes “serious bodily injury” of another
  3. Failing to stop for a school bus
  4. Driving or moving on any highway unless the vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, shifting, leaking, blowing, or otherwise escaping therefrom
  5. Various instances of exceeding the speed limit

Unlike the allowance contained in Section 318, a guilty plea in one of the exceptions can be used as evidence in any other proceedings, including a civil case for damages.

Let a Florida Accident Lawyer Held You Understand How a Traffic Ticket May Affect Your Civil Personal Injury Claim

The laws regarding using a traffic ticket as evidence in a personal injury claim are statutory in nature, interlocked as to their purpose, and quite complicated. Fortunately, a Florida accident lawyer at Searcy Denney understands these laws and can help you decipher them and answer any questions you may have. Contact us for more information. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis.

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