I proceeded into the intersection thinking it was a four way stop and did not see the car approaching on the left, my attention was on the truck on the right slowing down to turn left.
I am sure what you are asking. Were you in an accident? I recommend you provide more details for any meaningful responses.
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A law enforcement officer may, subject to certain statutory limitations, issue a traffic citation at the scene of an accident, even though the officer did not see the motorist operate the vehicle. This is a recent change in Alabama law and practice. In the 2016 legislative session. the Alabama legislature added the following paragraph to Code section 32-5-171: "(b) A law enforcement officer, as defined in Section 36-21-40, subsequent to a traffic accident, may issue a traffic citation to a driver of a vehicle involved in the accident when, based on personal investigation, the officer has prima facie evidence demonstrating grounds to believe that the person has committed any offense under Chapter 5, 5A, 6, 7, or 7A of Title 32."
The scope and application of this new section of law has not yet be determined in an appellate court. The term "prima facie" is not a commonly used legal term as applied to traffic law, and is nowhere found in the Alabama traffic code or in the revised statute itself. The general rules of statutory construction hold that when a specific word is not defined by that specific statute, then one looks to the Code chapter, and if not found in the Code chapter, then to the general title [in this case, Title 17 "Motor Vehicles and Traffic] and if not listed in the Code, then to general usage in the legal community. Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Ed. defines the term "prima facie" as: "At first sight; on the first appearance; on the face of it; so far as can be judged from the first disclosure; presumably; a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary." In the prior statute of arrest for DUI at the scene of an accident, the wording used was "upon personal investigation" and not simply "on first appearance" which is a much looser, much less rigid standard. While it appears that the officer could have issued you a citation, he choose not to do so. That is certainly within the officer's discretion to issue or not issue a citation, just like it is generally within an officer's discretion to arrest or not make an arrest, provided there was probable cause to make an arrest.
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