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Better than a Radar Detector…

For those of you who travel on the roadways in the State of Florida, especially the interstate, you must be aware that the Florida Highway Patrol still uses fixed wing aircraft for aerial speed enforcement. Everyday across the State of Florida, pilots, some with over 20 years of experience, fly their airplane in an oval race track format while clocking cars from the air. Troopers on the ground are then contacted by the aircraft pilot and will pull you over and issue you a uniform traffic citation for unlawful speed.

The Florida Highway Patrol Aerial Unit

The Florida Highway Patrol Aerial Unit

How do they do this? There are white lines in the roadway that are one quarter mile (1320ft) in distance from each other. The pilot in the air has a stopwatch, when you cross the first set of white lines the pilot will start the stopwatch and will then stop it when you cross the second set of white lines. The pilot’s stopwatch has a built in formula which determines your speed and the time it takes you to cross the white lines. The troopers on the ground will then issue you a uniform traffic citation for unlawful speed.

A screen shot of the FHP Aerial Unit locations on I-75

A screen shot of the FHP Aerial Unit locations on I-75

If you aren’t familiar with the app Waze, owned by Google, you should check it out when you travel along the interstate. As you see, other Waze users will usually notify you way in advance that the highway patrol has a saturation / aircraft detail going on, giving you more than enough time to get your speed down to the appropriate limit.

If you should receive a citation from the Florida Highway Patrol give us a call to go over the particular facts of your case at 1-800-Fight-It. In the meantime download the Waze app now!lawplacelogo-red-sm

New Changes to the Florida Move Over Law Go Into Effect

On July 1, 2014, changes to the Florida ‘Move Over Law’ went into effect to include more at-risk Failure to Move over Ticket in Floridaworkers in need of protection on Florida roads.  The Move Over Law made it mandatory for drivers to either move over a lane or drastically slow down when some types of emergency or utility vehicles were on the side of the road.  Until July 1, the law mainly covered law enforcement and first responders; it has now been changed to include other vehicles as well, including utility vehicles, sanitation vehicles and tow trucks.

Under the Move Over Law, if a driver is driving on a multi-lane highway and there is one of these vehicles on the side of the road, he or she must move over a lane if it is safe to do so and slow down by 20 MPH.  On narrower, two-lane streets, drivers must slow down by at least 20 miles per hour when they pass one of these vehicles.  If the speed limit is already under 20 miles per hour, a driver must slow down to 5 MPH.

The fine for violating the Move Over Law in Florida is $120, but this can vary depending on which county the violation occurs in.  There is also a three-point penalty on the violator’s driver’s license.

Nearly every state in the country has some sort of Move Over Law on the books.  They were enacted in response to the high numbers of police officers who are killed every year when they are struck by vehicles on American highways.  By one estimate, almost 165 officers died across the nation over a 10-year period.  This does not include other workers who are often struck on the side of the road that this new law is meant to protect, such as tow truck drivers, sanitation and utility workers.

No Charges to be Filed Against Jacksonville Driver Involved in Deadly Accident

In October 2013, 19-year-old Tyler Self was walking to an appointment in Jacksonville on Mayport Road when he was struck and killed by a car being driven by 22-year-old Christopher Duboulay.  On April 22, 2104, Self’s family shared the results they got from the Florida Highway Patrol that showed that tests done on Duboulay the day of the accident showed that he had no drugs or alcohol in his system and that he had not been speeding.   It appears at this time that Duboulay will not be facing any criminal charges for the accident in October, despite the anger of the Self family over Tyler’s death.  The family also expressed frustration that it took six months for law enforcement to reach a conclusion and that they did not get any of the test results until recently.

Many people assume that every time there is a car accident where someone dies that there must be criminal charges filed against the other driver.  This, in fact, is not the case.  There are many instances where someone may have made a simple mistake that may not even come close to a level that would need to happen for there to be criminal charges or, in some cases, even a ticket.  This appears to be one of those cases.

For criminal charges to be filed, there has to be evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver broke the law through acting in some way that was wrongful.  In order for criminal charges to be filed for vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, this usually means that a person would have to either be drinking or otherwise under the influence while driving or acting in some other outrageous way that is likely to cause someone’s death, drag racing would be a good example of this.  Momentary distraction, speeding to the point of not being reckless or accidentally running a stop sign would normally not rise to the level needed to be able to successfully convict someone of vehicular homicide in Florida.

In the Jacksonville case, it does not appear that there was anything done wrong by the driver to the point where a vehicular homicide charge was warranted, and it seems like a very thorough investigation was done to make sure.  Some reports seem to show this driver will not even be getting a ticket for his actions that day.  Because he wasn’t acting in a way that was criminally wrong, there is no reason for charges to be filed against him.  Prosecutors would not be successful doing this and it would ultimately be a waste of resources.

This does not mean that the family does not have a civil case against this driver for wrongful death and, based on their anger, that seems pretty possible.  Even if the elements of a criminal conviction cannot be proven in court, the elements of negligence for purposes of civil court may be.  Without knowing all of the details of the case, there does seem to be at least one indicator of civil negligence – namely that Self was legally walking on the sidewalk when he was struck.  This indicates that the car left the road at some point, although the reasons for this are so far unknown to the general public.  Whether the car was on the sidewalk because of a momentary distraction or for another reason, it does seem to show that the driver breached his duty of care and makes a civil suit likely to succeed.