Social Question

john65pennington's avatar

As the officer, what action would you have taken?

Asked by john65pennington (29182points) September 22nd, 2010

A man is traveling alone from Florida to Maine on the interstate. an apparent reckless driver cuts off the Florida driver on the interstate. Florida driver stops the reckless driver and calls police for prosecution. Florida driver states “I will not be back for court. this jerk needs to be taught a lesson”. You are the officer. Question: Based on the Florida drivers statement, are you compelled to issue the traffic citation, even though you know the prosecutor will never show for traffic court? What action, as the officer, would you take(recommend)?

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24 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

(1) Is the alleged reckless driver disputing what happened?

(2) I’m assuming there was no witness to support this?

(3) What are the consequences for the alleged driver if the citation is issued, and the original complaining witness does not show up to court?

john65pennington's avatar

This was an actual incident. the reckless driver is not talking. no witnesses, only one word against the other. if the prosecutor is a “no show” in court, the case would be dismissed. you know all of this upfront, so what action, as the officer, would you recommend?

diavolobella's avatar

If I was the officer, I’d ticket the man from Florida for making a frivolous report.

(I’d also be really curious how the Florida driver went about pulling over the other driver)

iamthemob's avatar

I wouldn’t feel compelled to issue the citation. I would ask the Florida driver how he or she had stopped the reckless driver. I would ask how he did not endanger the public if there were any possible ways someone could have been hurt while he stopped the driver (which is likely), and why he didn’t report it to the police and let them deal with it in a safer manner. If it seems clear that there was a danger in stopping the driver, I would inform the Fl driver that I would have to cite both of them. I would then determine where the reckless driver was going.

My concern at this point would be what the driving behavior of either would be on release. If there was a way to notify police down the line to check the behavior later on, then that’s the one thing I would do. I don’t think a citation is worth it in this case, considering that both parties may have put people at risk, and it’s unclear based on these facts who did it. I just want to make sure I wasn’t letting anyone go and have harm later on.

If allowed, I would submit both to a sobriety test.

john65pennington's avatar

The Florida driver followed the reckless driver to an off ramp. rd stopped in a hotel parking lot and was confronted by Florida driver, who placed rd under citizens arrest.

iamthemob's avatar

Was that rd’s hotel? Why isn’t rd talking? ...

…I’m beginning to wonder what the hell is in that hotel now…

diavolobella's avatar

@john65pennington. I see, so the Florida driver did not actively pull over the other driver, but followed them and confronted them when they had stopped in a parking lot. Gotcha.

I’d still say ticket the Florida driver. If they won’t testify, they’ve made the alleged offense impossible to prosecute and if the officer ticketed the alleged reckless driver, it would be dismissed in court anyway for lack of evidence. The Florida driver’s failure to cooperate in the prosecution of the situation makes it a frivolous report. They also occupied an officer who might have been legitimately needed in a real emergency situation.

[Of course all this assumes that the officer himself doesn’t see anything wrong with the alleged reckless driver – such as obvious impairment due to alcohol or drugs – that merits a ticket.]

john65pennington's avatar

The hotel was never under suspicion. everything took place in the parking lot. rd never denied the reckless driving. Florida driver insisted on signing a citation.

diavolobella's avatar

RD never denied, but did RD admit? Or did RD simply say nothing?

Also, is there ultimately going to be a correct answer to this question that you will reveal or are you just wanting opinions?

john65pennington's avatar

Rd was mostly quiet during the entire process. he co-operated, by giving me his drivers license, but remained quiet.

iamthemob's avatar

Again – was this rd’s hotel? And Florida drivers insistence on signing a citation should not be a factor in the officer’s reasonable consideration of whether there is a situation calling for a citation here.

iamthemob's avatar

Separate rd from fl driver. Insist on getting his side of the story. Do this in a safe manner. rd may be intimidated by fl driver. Sounds like a pretty forceful individual. It is the officer’s job to get a complete understanding as is both possible and safe of the entire situation before making an enforcement judgment.

john65pennington's avatar

Rd never displayed the right emotions of a person that was not guilty. he never stated, ” i did not do this”. he spoke very little. so, what happens next, after the officer attempts to hear both sides of the incident? decision time.

iamthemob's avatar

@john65pennington

I don’t understand your first sentence. Guilt is not something that can be read easily, as it can be confused with other emotions and may come from other things. If I cannot separate the rd and get his actual information outside the observation of the fl driver, then I’m not doing my job as an officer.

Because I don’t have all the facts I can gather, it’s not decision time.

diavolobella's avatar

I’m not sure that the “right emotions” of an individual can be gauged. People react differently to different situations. The RD might be intimidated, frightened, simply not an emotional person or a person who reacts to stressful situations by closing down emotionally. You can’t know. Either way, the ticket will almost certainly be dismissed for lack of evidence unless the RD just pays it without going to court.

john65pennington's avatar

Neither driver had a criminal record. neither had a serious traffic violation record.

john65pennington's avatar

Conclusion: Since the officer was not a witness to the reckless driving, he had to base his decisions on the facts at-hand. basically, deciding who was and was not telling the truth. since, the Florida driver had already stated that he would not be back to prosecute in traffic court, this was a major decision maker for the officer. it would be a waste of time and taxpayers money. the officer asks the Florida driver, “instead of signing a citation and you not appearing to prosecute in traffic court, would an apology and a handshake be sufficient for you?”. Florida driver said, yes. i discussed this with the rdriver. i advised him also that i was not a witness to this incident and my suggestion is strictly voluntary on his part. he understood and agreed to give the apology and handshake. both drivers left in a friendly manner and that was the end of this case.

iamthemob's avatar

@john65pennington

I don’t understand the point of this. Why are you asking us?

john65pennington's avatar

Just to gather different peoples opinion of any given incident and you as a police officer and how you would have handled it. its all in fun.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Seems to me that the officer involved would end up shaking his head at the peculiar decisions made by drivers under the influence of road rage and walk away from this one without issuing any citation at all.
Florida driver admits he won’t show up if there is a trial. Rd admits nothing. The officer has nothing to go on other than the word of florida driver, who seems to be possibly unbalanced.

isuppose's avatar

Well I don’t think I’d have done anything to him, simply because it doesn’t seem that big of an offense. But on the other hand it doesn’t seem right to not prosecute just because he won’t show up.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@isuppose What good would it do to prosecute the alleged reckless driver if there are no witnesses?
Case dismissed, with prejudice!

Berserker's avatar

It doesn’t matter what he says, I’m sure people say all sorts of shit to cops. You just issue out the court order, and if he doesn’t show up, that’s his problem. Maybe you’ll see him again when a warrant is issued out for his failure to comply.

At least, that is, if for such an issue he has to show up to court. I don’t know, but if it’s mandatory, that’s what I’d do.

Ron_C's avatar

It is not the job of individual citizens to apprehend traffic violations in the same way that you cannot ticket cars for parking in your favorite parking space. I have, however called 911 to report drivers doing reckless and dangerous things. I once reported two 18-wheel dump trucks racing on a two lane road. They almost ran a school bus, and me, off the road.

The police caught them. When did they start issuing CDL’s to 18 year olds?

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