How much will this traffic violation cost me?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Recently I was involved in a minor car accident in Savannah Ga. I'll give you guys any info I feel might be relevant and hopefully someone can offer me some advice on this.
Driving down a one way street, I became confused about the nature of the street and tried to turn. I was on the right hand side of the road. I attempted to turn left onto a different road. There were caution lights at this intersection, and while this might indicate in most cases that this was not a 4 way stop, I have seen at least 1 one 4 way stop in Savannah . I tried to turn left, believing that I was at a 4 way stop and that any traffic I would need to take into consideration would come from the left, right, or from the other side of the street. When I turned, I was side-swiped in the passenger side by another vehicle using the left side of the 2-lane one way street. There were no injuries, and damages to both cars were minor. The other car suffered some scratched paint and had a door dented in. My car lost it's left turning light and suffered some scratched paint and a dent.
We both pulled out of the main flow of traffic. Before doing anything else, I made sure that no one was harmed and that there wasn't a need to call an ambulance. The first thing the driver of the other car did was to tell me that the police didn't need to get involved if I paid him money. I didn't feel comfortable with this arrangement, and when I told him that I didn't have any money, he called the police and was almost aggressive about this. There was no reason for me to leave the scene, but he kind of kept insinuating that I'd be in big trouble if I left and that the police would find me. In a few moments I would have called the cops anyway, since, hey, it's a car accident, that's what you should do, but this guy started making this suggestion before he did anything else. He didn't inquire about my safety, he didn't ask about insurance...it just felt really sketchy.
When the police arrived I was given a ticket, and the officer seemed fairly understanding of the situation. Apparently, the accident I was involved in isn't terribly uncommon. Savannah is FULL of one way streets that switch into 2 lane roads, and then sometimes switch back, there isn't necessarily a good pattern to them. Most of the 2 way streets on my side of town have 2 driving lanes, and most people park their cars facing both directions on one side of the street. So this can make it hard to orient yourself. While I am now familiar with the directions each set of streets runs in, I had just moved to a new apartment less than 2 weeks before the accident occurred, so I was still unsure of what each street did.
While the officer was questioning the other driver, I stayed quiet and said nothing, but I couldn't help but take note that when the other driver described the accident, he stated specifically that he thought my driving behavior was odd, but that he did not make any changes to how he was driving. I am fully aware that I am the one at fault, but I find it very odd that he noted that I was not driving appropriately, but did not slow down or drive more cautiously. When he hit me, he was driving at roughly 30 mph. I had come to a complete stop for at least 20 seconds and had my turn signals on, indicating that I was attempting to turn left.
This kind of violation requires that I appear in court. While my driving record until this point has been pretty strong (I only have one violation from when I was 16) I have had an increase in minor parking violations since I came here. (Much like the 2 way street situation, the parking here can be odd. I'm not being reckless, it's just a case of me not understanding the ways in which this driving environment was different from what I was accustomed to.) These have all been paid off, but I don't know if they will affect anything in this case.
After doing my research, I don't think I'll fight this charge. I made a driving error, and I think to claim otherwise would get most judges rolling their eyes at me. At the moment, I think my best option is to accept the judges fine, and to offer to take an optional driving safety class. That being said, I found the behavior and response of the other driver highly suspicious, and feel that the accident could have been avoided had he responded to what he clearly thought was a strange event with more caution. I'm not sure if this is in any way relevant to how I'll be judged, and I don't even know when I would bring it to the attention of the judge.
I tried looking up online how much court costs will be, and I also called the court house, but I could find no reliable information online, and the court house employee's told me that they could not tell me how much things would cost until the trial was over. As far as I could tell 3 points will be added to my license, but this doesn't particularly perturb me as I have no others. My hope is that, court costs included, This will be less than $500, because that's really all I am able to afford at the moment. Has anyone had any experience with this sort of thing? I plan to leave Georgia for the holidays right after this happens, and won't be around for the entire month of December. I really, really don't want to put myself in a position where I'm legally required to stay in the state to do anything. If I take the optional driving safety course, can I take it in Colorado? Otherwise...I'm out one plane ticket, and I can't see my family for the holidays.
Any advice or suggestions guys?