How Seahawk Law navigates accident related tickets
Negligent Driving, Speed Too Fast for Conditions, Following to Close are very common tickets issued to drivers involved in accidents. Failure to Yield and Inattention to Driving are less common. It is the policy of Washington State Patrol, the Seattle Police Department and most every other agency in King and Snohomish counties to issue a ticket to the at-fault driver in an accident. This means that at least one driver, and sometimes all of the drivers, typically receive a ticket in the mail a couple of weeks after the accident.
Usually the officer was not present at the accident and, thus, has no first hand knowledge of what actually happened. Actual "accident reconstruction" is rare. Instead the officers often rely on witnesses if there were any. If no witnesses, then a wild guess as to what happened seems to be sufficient. These tickets are very hard for the prosecution to win if you have a good ticket attorney. Most reports I have seen follow the following "logic."
Following Too Close: "The driver rear-ended the car in front, so it must have been following too close." Of course there are many other reasons this could happen; brake failure, sneezing, talking on cell phone, sunlight in the eyes or any number of reasons. Absent an admission by the driver or a witness, this charge seldom holds up.
Speed Too Fast For Conditions: "The driver missed the turn and drove off the road, thus she must have been going to fast to make the corner." Again, any number of completely legal actions could explain this accident. Without witnesses, long skid marks, or damage that suggest very high rate of speed this can be a hard case for the prosecution.
Negligent Driving in the Second Degree: "The driver would not have been in an accident unless he had been driving in a negligent manner. An accident can only be caused by negligence." When a Neg 2 ticket is issued by an officer's first-hand observations this ticket can be very difficult to beat. When the officer was not there a good ticket lawyer can almost always win these.
Accidents happen! Many accidents are not the result of something illegal that the driver was doing. This is not to say that speed and other poor driving habits do not sometimes contribute to accidents, but the default assumption that a driver must have been doing something illegal if he or she was in an accident is unfair. Fortunately, the courts and traffic ticket attorneys exist to remedy wrongly filed traffic tickets. If you have been issued a ticket by WSP, SPD or other police department, because of an accident we can help!