Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

sunshine_1
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Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by sunshine_1 »

I was ticketed for speeding back in 2009 and was charged with 15 over, but other than that, no other tickets; until recently.

So, back around Christmas time I was out getting some Christmas shopping done for loved ones. The traffic was bumper to bumper, to say the least. There were two lanes heading in my direction (and I was in one of those lanes), and two lanes next to me heading in the opposite direction.

I just remember travelling at the same pace as the other cars. I was driving a fairly low to the ground vehicle, and there was an SUV in front of me. I remember there being a car length between us, and the SUV all of a sudden slamming on their brakes. I tried to see around her car while it was happening so I could figure out why she was slamming on her brakes, but because I was low to the ground, I didn't see anything.

Next thing I know, the police were there, asking for my account of what happened. I was charged with following too close.

I now have an upcoming court date with the prosecutor. We'll be speaking over the phone since I live a good distance away from where the accident happened.

1. Does the prosecutor take into consideration someone's driving record during discussions? Because I am hoping to maybe plead to a lesser charge.

2. Do prosecutors normally strike a deal?

3. Are there any defences to this?

4. If we cannot negotiate a deal, and I decide to proceed to trial, is this a wise idea?

5. And if I proceed to trial, do they normally summons the driver of the other vehicle to attend court?

Thanks to everyone in advance for your responses. I'm extremely nervous about this telephone conference with the prosecutor and just about this situation in general.


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Radar Identified
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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by Radar Identified »

sunshine_1 wrote:1. Does the prosecutor take into consideration someone's driving record during discussions? Because I am hoping to maybe plead to a lesser charge.
Often they do. However, your record is pretty good. So that means...
sunshine_1 wrote:2. Do prosecutors normally strike a deal?
In this case, probably. You'll likely be offered something like "fail to turn left to avoid collision" or "start from stopped position - not in safety" which don't look as significant as "follow too closely." Plus... they're fewer demerit points, from a licensing perspective.
sunshine_1 wrote: 3. Are there any defences to this?
Unless you can provide some evidence that the other driver cut you off and you had no chance to avoid the collision (which wasn't the case), or the other driver brake-checked you to be an @$$ (don't think it was the case), there aren't too many defences.
sunshine_1 wrote:4. If we cannot negotiate a deal, and I decide to proceed to trial, is this a wise idea?
I don't think it would hurt, unless the other driver was injured. Often (but not always) where the other driver is injured (and I don't just mean 'ow that hurt,' I mean as in whiplash, stitches, broken bones, contusions, etc.) the JPs usually slap a pretty heavy fine on the convicted motorist. I witnessed a collision 2 years ago (driver went through a red light and broadsided a Kia at Leslie & McNicoll in Toronto), got summoned to court as a witness, and although the Prosecutor dropped two of the charges against the driver (fail to surrender insurance & fail to surrender licence), the "red light - proceed before green" stuck. The "victim" got whiplash. The JP slapped the driver with a $600 fine.
sunshine_1 wrote:5. And if I proceed to trial, do they normally summons the driver of the other vehicle to attend court?
In this case, yes they will. The other driver will get served with a summons with words to the effect of "WE ARE ORDERING YOU TO ATTEND COURT"... actually it is more like "you are commanded to..." but you get the idea.
* The above is NOT legal advice. By acting on anything I have said, you assume responsibility for any outcome and consequences. *
http://www.OntarioTicket.com OR http://www.OHTA.ca


karra
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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by karra »

Here's the thing about Follow too Closely;

In order to obtain a conviction at trial the prosecution must have a witness who can testify as to the closeness of the following vehicle. Prosecutors know this and the proper ones, not having that witness, will withdraw the charge. The witness can be the police officer who observed - an independent witness, or the driver of the vehicle struck.

There is case law that supports this - you'll have to look it up.

If there is an independent witness, obviously the crown's position is strong and hopefully you'll be able to negotiate down to a lessor charge.

It's my understanding that a FTC conviction is nearly as serious as a Careless conviction - re insurance implications.


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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by bend »

karra wrote:In order to obtain a conviction at trial the prosecution must have a witness who can testify as to the closeness of the following vehicle.
Yes, any witness has to attend. That being said, they technically have to show up. Once they are there, the case is a slam dunk. There was an accident, therefore, too close.
karra wrote:It's my understanding that a FTC conviction is nearly as serious as a Careless conviction - re insurance implications.
I'd strongly disagree.

Following too closely is a huge step down from careless driving. In most cases, Following too closely would probably fall into the "minor" category along with speeding below 50, signalling, failing to yield, handheld, etc.

Careless driving is always going to be under the "serious" category along speeding 50+, driving without insurance, driving while suspended, etc. You should expect a 100% rate increase and the possibility that your insurance company will drop you altogether.


karra
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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by karra »

bend wrote:
karra wrote:In order to obtain a conviction at trial the prosecution must have a witness who can testify as to the closeness of the following vehicle.
Yes, any witness has to attend. That being said, they technically have to show up. Once they are there, the case is a slam dunk. There was an accident, therefore, too close.
karra wrote:It's my understanding that a FTC conviction is nearly as serious as a Careless conviction - re insurance implications.
I'd strongly disagree.

Following too closely is a huge step down from careless driving. In most cases, Following too closely would probably fall into the "minor" category along with speeding below 50, signalling, failing to yield, handheld, etc.

Careless driving is always going to be under the "serious" category along speeding 50+, driving without insurance, driving while suspended, etc. You should expect a 100% rate increase and the possibility that your insurance company will drop you altogether.
Looks like we'll have to disagree - case law states there must be an independent witness who can essentially tell the court just how close the offender was - fact there was an accident is not proof in-and-of-itself - no witness, no conviction, as I stated above. Furthermore, while any witness has to attend - strictly speaking, yes - in reality, there are no consequences to ignoring the subpoena.

Re insurance - I understand there's an insurance expert or nearly so who posts regularly - he would be in the best position to speak to this - or a defendant who made the mistake of accepting a FTC amended from a Careless - or even worse, just plead guilty as charged. As well, the fact FTC comes with 4 points and Careless at 6 indicates the seriousness of the charge, which as you say may put it in the minor category.


jsherk
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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by jsherk »

You could try to get any statement you made thrown out so it cannot be used as evidence against you and then hope none of their witnesses show up. If the police officer did not see the accident then he cannot testify that you were following too close. Read this:
http://www.trafficticketparalegal.com/s ... s-victory/
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


sunshine_1
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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by sunshine_1 »

Thanks for the replies, guys. I had my meeting, and I was offered either 1. A trial or 2. Plead to improper stop at intersection, which involves 0 demerit points. Just have to figure out how this affects insurance now.


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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by Stanton »

The plea deal would not likely make any difference in terms of insurance. Follow too closely and improper stop would both likely be considered a minor offence. The only way demerit points will make a difference is if you're a G1 or G2 driver since follow too close is a 4 demerit point offence which would result in a 30 day suspension.


bend
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Re: Charged with following too closely. What to expect?

Unread post by bend »

karra wrote:Looks like we'll have to disagree - case law states there must be an independent witness who can essentially tell the court just how close the offender was - fact there was an accident is not proof in-and-of-itself - no witness, no conviction, as I stated above.
Yes, there has to be a witness. I wasn't disagreeing. I never said there didn't need to be. I said technically the witness has to show up, so be prepared for such a scenario. If they show up, the case is practically impossible to win considering it's hard to argue you're not too close when you smack into the rear of the car in front of you. It's best that anyone be prepared to show up to court under the assumption that everything is going ahead as planned. If the witness doesn't show up, great. If they do, now you're better prepared to make a decision and you know what to expect. "Maybe the cop/witness wont show up" is not a good way to walk into your trial but many do without a clue what to do if they do. OK, everyone is there. Now what? Should I continue to trial? What are my chances? Should I consider the plea deal? Am I considered a novice driver? If so, i'd probably want to take that deal.
karra wrote:Furthermore, while any witness has to attend - strictly speaking, yes - in reality, there are no consequences to ignoring the subpoena.
A warrant? Yes, maybe unlikely. That being said, if anyone who is ever asked to show up to court comes across this thread in a search engine or while browsing the forum, they now know the risk rather than assuming there isn't any.
karra wrote:Re insurance - I understand there's an insurance expert or nearly so who posts regularly - he would be in the best position to speak to this - or a defendant who made the mistake of accepting a FTC amended from a Careless - or even worse, just plead guilty as charged. As well, the fact FTC comes with 4 points and Careless at 6 indicates the seriousness of the charge, which as you say may put it in the minor category.
MTO regulated demerit points are irrelevant to insurance rates. Speeding 30-49 is also 4 points and most of the time will fall under the minor category. Practically all 3 point violations will also fall under the minor category and there's still another category in between "minor" and "serious" (it's major). I'd also take any one individuals specific insurance rates with a grain of salt. There's a hundred factors when it comes to rates that would make it impossible to make any valid conclusion (age, gender, home address, vehicle, whether that vehicle comes with a built in immobilizing device from factory, who lives at your address, etc)


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