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I received a ticket for "following too closely" after I clipped the bumper of another car. What are my options in Atlanta court?

Atlanta, GA |

father's car (a car I'm unfamiliar with and that is much bigger than my daily driver) and clipped the bumper of a car that was turning right. The other car stopped suddenly because a pedestrian walked out. I know I am at fault.

I am not sure how to handle court, as I have never been before. I am confident the person I hit will not be in court and there were no other witnesses that the officer spoke with. I don't feel like pleading "not guilty" will do me much good, since I am at fault. I hate to plead "nolo" on my first infraction. I, like everyone, am hoping to receive a reduced fine and/or reduced points.

I'm hoping someone experienced with Atlanta's Municipal Court will be able to provide insight.

The first part of my question was cut off: I was driving my father's car...

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Attorney answers 6

Best Answer
Posted

I am a former prosecutor in the Atlanta court. I know that place like the back of my hand. On your first court date you will have to plead not guilty, and request a bench trial before a judge. Your case will be rescheduled 2 to 8 weeks for a bench trial date. When you return on that date if the other party is not there to testify against you then the case will be dismissed. You do not qualify to participate in their pre-trial diversion program where the ticket against you gets dismissed upon payment of the fine because an accident is involved. Also, if you are under the age of 21 they will try to suck you into the TLC program for teenage drivers which is a ton of work, but if you believe the other driver will not show up I would stick with the not guilty plea.

James L. Yeargan, Jr. is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. All information given is based only on Georgia law, and is not directly applicable to any other jurisdictions, states, or districts. This response, or any response, is not legal advice. This response, or any response, does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information. Any state specific concerns should be directed to an attorney who is licensed to practice law in that respective state.

Posted

There is a presumption of fault when you rear end another car. It is always best to hire an attorney to fight any traffic tickets you get. If you still will not hire an attorney, you can go to Court and see if they will plead you down to a zero points offense like impeding traffic. You still pay the fine but you don't get the points. Sometimes they will also agree to take it under advisement and if you don't get in any more traffic related tickets it comes off your record. Other times they wont cut you any deal at all. Good luck.

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Posted

I agree with Mr. Schnitzer with regards to your case. It seem advisable to hire a local attorney to represent you in court. I hope this helps and have a nice day.

Posted

Get an attorney.

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Posted

You can find the Atlanta Municipal Court Fine Schedule online. Interesting thing, it set the fine and court costs for following too closely at around $200, but notes that this is if there was not an accident. I'm not sure how you "follow too closely" without there being an accident, or at least how you prove the violation without there being an accident. However, note that your fines could be higher according to the fee schedule.

Pleading nolo is always a good practice when an accident is involved, even a minor one. You don't want to plead guilty, thereby admitting fault, and find out later that someone in the car you "clipped" was claiming an injury. By pleading guilty to a traffic violation, you are admitting negligence. Therefore, you plead no contest to protect yourself.

A no contest plea also prevents your license from accumulating any points for the violation. Therefore, the only long term impact you have to worry about is higher insurance premiums.

Posted

You've got several good answers. You likely always will do better with counsel.

A nolo plea isn't a horrible option, but you get the standard fine.

A not guilty plea resets the case for trial. Usually the other driver won't show, and the key there will be did the officer see enough to testify. If yes, you are facing a loss in court and a conviction; if no you probably get a dismissal. A lawyer would be very useful that day to make the appropriate motions.

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