Defenses to a Traffic Ticket for Following Too Closely

If you were served a ticket for following too closely, you can either pay the fine that is shown or you can head to court to contest the charge.

Successfully defending against a following too closely ticket can be a challenging and tricky matter.  An established and experienced traffic violations attorney will know the federal and state laws that apply to your case and will present the strongest possible defense to show that you are not guilty of the following too closely violation or should receive the least amount of punishment under the law if you’re found guilty.

If you are given a ticket for following too closely, you can either pay the fine that is shown or you can contest the charge in court.  If the officer shows up at the trial, you will have to present a case showing why you are not guilty of this charge.  There are two common defenses against this type of traffic violation.

#1 - The Officer is Relying on “Hearsay”

One common argument that an officer will offer is that the other driver claims that you were following too closely.  Regardless of whether the other driver is factually accurate, the fact is that the officer cannot use “hearsay,” or someone else’s testimony, to prove that you were driving too closely. 

Requesting and gaining access to the officer’s notes taken during the traffic stop (via a process called discovery) will enable you to learn ahead of time if this is argument will be used.  If so, your chances of defending against the traffic violation charge will improve.

#2 - The Law Doesn’t Define a “Reasonable and Prudent” Distance

If the officer presents the argument that you were not following  at a “reasonable and prudent” distance, you  can object to the statement and follow with this statement:  “The statute in question does not say what the standard for a reasonable and prudent following distance is.”  You then mention that the witness is speculating on the intent of the law. 

The truth is that most of these laws don’t clarify what a reasonable and prudent following distance is.  There are a few reasons:

  • Drivers are of various ages, mental capacities, and physical reflexes – no one statute could apply to everyone.
  • Various road conditions will affect how quickly a driver can stop his/her vehicle, even if he/she has good reflexes mentally and physically.  A driver can stop more quickly on dry pavement than on wet pavement, regardless of his/her reflexes, so again, no one statute can apply.

The officer, knowing that the statute does not clarify what a reasonable and prudent following distance is, will likely try to divert to the driver’s manual.  You counter this by stating that the statute does not refer to the driver’s manual for the standard, nor is there any correction factor for rain, snow, ice, etc. This argument may not always succeed but it often worth making.

Obtaining Legal Help

Successfully defending against a “following too closely” ticket can be challenging.  An established and experienced traffic violations attorney will know the laws that apply to your case and will present the strongest possible defense to show that you are not guilty of the violation (or should receive the least amount of punishment under the law if you’re found guilty). 

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