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Failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk Georgia

On Lawyer & Legal » Traffic Law

15,136 words with 11 Comments; publish: Sun, 02 Mar 2008 14:49:00 GMT; (80078.13, « »)

I was issued a ticket for failure to yield to pedestrians in a cross walk, a violation of Code Section 40-6-91. I am planning to appear on the court date provided and plead this case...

I was sitting at a stoplight at the Broad St. and Jackson St. intersection in Athens, Ga. My light had turned green and I was planning to take a right onto Broad St. from Jackson St. In front of me on the other side of Broad St. there was a group of people at the corner waiting to cross over to the side I was on. The light turned green and I assume the walk signal signaled the group that they could walk. Knowing this, I yielded as I waited for the group to make a move. It was a group of young girls and guys and they were not paying attention to the crosswalk signals. Because they were positioned 4 lanes of traffic away from my side of Broad St. and hadn't stepped onto the crosswalk I slowly made the right turn onto Broad. I had a friend in town who was following me and I can only assume that she did not look at the crosswalk and she made the turn directly after me because the light was green. After making the turn, I sat in traffic about 100-150 ft from where I had made the turn onto Broad. As I sat there a cop pulled up behind my friend and asked her to stay put. I saw the officer and his lights in my rear view mirror so I looked over my shoulder to see him signal for me to stay put as well. My thoughts are that the officer who cited both me and my friend, saw her make the turn as the group of kids decided to step onto the crosswalk. Once my friend told him that she was following me, he cited me for failing to yield to the pedestrians as well. My issue is that I did yield to the pedestrians and since they weren't paying attention to the traffic signals or the intersection, they failed to act with due care to the intersection. I tried to begin to tell the officer this and he said that was something I could bring up if I decided to go to court.

Do I have a chance for the judge to understand my side in this case? Is this a citation that would put points on my license if I were convicted with it?

Also, one last question, the officer wrote the wrong zip code on my citation relating to the address on my driver's license, is that a reason the ticket could be invalid or thrown out?

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    • Thank you so much for your input, it has given me some reason to believe that I have a chance in getting this citation dismissed. If it does not get dismissed is there a chance of getting it lessened so I get fewer than 3 points on my license, or is it either going to be 3 points on my license or 0?

      One other thing, I was somewhat confused when you said I would cross examine the officer with questions. If I were to ask, "did you see people in the crosswalk" all he has to do is say yes, and then it is his word over mine so that seems pointless if that is all it takes to convict me right?

      The officer who pulled me over seemed very unsure once I started to tell him my situation and all he kept saying was, well "thats a good point, and you should argue that in court"...almost to the extent that I wanted to ask him why he was citing me to begin with. Do you think there is a chance he might not show up at the court time, and if so, does that automatically drop the charge?

      #1; Sun, 02 Mar 2008 19:54:00 GMT
    • I don't know how you would legally reduce a ticket to a 0 point ticket in Georgia. The points are assessed when the Department of Driver's Services receives the citation. Then again, I generally don't care about or pay attention to sentencing.

      There are all sorts of questions that you could ask.

      Where were you when you observed me making a right hand turn?

      Did you see the pedestrians in the cross walk?

      Where were they at in the crosswalk?

      Did any of them have to stop because I was turning?

      It's hard to say what you need to ask until you hear his direct testimony. the big thing is to nail down facts. The key is whether or not the pedestrians were on your side of the crosswalk. Even if they were in the crosswalk, but still on the other side of the road, you didn't commit the offense.

      If the facts are just as you laid them out, my bet is that the officer isn't familiar with the details of this code section. I had to look it up. I've never heard of it being enforced, but I work in a suburban and rural county. Up near UGA they may have more problems with it. I would think that the problems would lie with the students more. Student pedestrians are always crossing whenever they damn well feel like it. At least that's the way it was when I went to GSU.

      If you do go to trial, ask your friend what she saw. Ask her to come testify for you. She's sort of tainted because she knows you, but it might help.

      Generally, officers won't show up at the first hearing. That one will be an arraignment. The judge will read off the charges and ask people how they want to plea. If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set, and the officer will probably appear for that. If he doesn't then you can move to have the case dismissed, but it usually depends on the reason he's absent. If he contacted the court beforehand and he has a reason to have missed court (illness, another court, training, leave approved in advance) then the court will probably reset the case. If he doesn't have a reason to be absent, then they'll generally dismiss, and possibly cite the officer for contempt.

      #2; Sun, 02 Mar 2008 20:26:00 GMT
    • First off, the zip code things is a non-issue.

      Yes, but why? How many errors will a judge overlook on a citation before a sloppy officer doesn't get a pass? I don't get a lot of tickets, which is probably why I remember the last few very well. In each case (two parking citations here in Georgia, one moving violation in Ohio) the officer made errors transcribing information onto the ticket. On one, my car was listed as a "SABB," despite the fact that some thoughtful Swedish engineer spelled it correctly at least 7 times on the exterior of the car, alone. On another it was described as "Blue' when it's actually green. For the speeding ticket the officer misspelled my name.

      In each case, the information they were recording wasn't captured with a fleeting glance; my car was parked and the license was in the officer's hand. If these guys can't copy my name from the card on their clipboard, why does the judge believe they can record the numerals on their radar gun? I pointed out the "SABB" to the judge when I contested one of the parking citations, for "Blocking a Driveway" and asked why we were all to believe he'd paid attention to the exact distance, since the officer hadn't actually recorded how far I was the curb cut (I had measured 7.5 feet with a tape and thought a car could get in and out just fine. The code says 10, which I had to look up, myself, since the officer I subsequently flagged down for an explanation couldn't tell me the law.) I further observed that, were this code enforced according to anything other than outright caprice, large residential sections of Athens would lose half of their on-street parking, whereupon she essentially threatened to impose additional fines. This after kid-gloving several underage possessions for kids who brought attorneys. Quite the civics lesson.

      Anyway, I don't mean this as a threadjack, and thanks for the research on the crosswalk law. I've been curious about this, since crosswalks seem to come and go on and around the UGA campus, according to the vagaries of construction, and I've never been sure what drivers are actually required to do in the way of yielding to pedestrians.

      #3; Tue, 08 Jul 2008 13:46:00 GMT
    • Well, I'd like to believe that, as most of the time I'm walking around the campus instead of driving. It's also true, though, that there are "crosswalks" around campus that are sufficiently well traveled that they would block streets, entirely, for 10-15 minutes at a stretch if it were that simple. (Or if drivers believed that.)

      I think Billy Mack's post, above, is rather more nuanced, and captures the crosswalk situation more completely when he cites 40-6-91. Right of way in crosswalks, especially:

      (b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

      So, it seems there's right-of-way and there's law-of-physics...

      #4; Tue, 08 Jul 2008 14:42:00 GMT
    • In Georgia, the pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way.

      This is bad law, and has bad consequences.

      If the pedestrian knows he always has the right-of-way, he gets sloppy, and often tries to cross when there is insufficient time for the vehicle to stop. I have seen it happen, with tragic results. That is why the pedestrian is prohibited from suddenly entering the road in the above cited law (based on the Uniform Vehicle Code).

      The traffic laws must also take into account the reaction times of both drivers and pedestrians, the time it takes each kind of vehicle or pedestrian to stop or take avoiding action, and all of the laws of physics. Legislatures can not repeal the laws of physics.

      Indiana law makes more sense:

      Pedestrians have the right of way:

      - While already crossing within marked crosswalks.

      - Entering marked crosswalks with a WALK signal.

      - Entering marked crosswalks with a circular green traffic light if no pedestrian signals are present.

      - In safety zones.

      - Already crossing the street with a WALK or flashing DON'T WALK signal.

      - When a school bus is loading or unloading passengers with flashing red lights.

      Pedestrians must yield to vehicles:

      - Entering marked crosswalks when traffic is close enough that the driver cannot stop.

      - Where no crosswalk is marked and no traffic light is installed.

      - When walking linearly along the road instead of crossing it.

      Pedestrians must not cross or start to cross:

      - When the light is flashing or steady DON'T WALK.

      - When a light without pedestrian signals is not showing a circular green.

      - Where a NO PEDESTRIANS sign is present.

      - Diagonally, unless a crosswalk is provided for such a crossing.

      Pestrians are prohibited:

      - On controlled-access highways and interchange ramps.

      - Walking linearly in the roadway where sidewalks are provided.

      - Where a NO PEDESTRIANS sign is present.

      Bicycles are vehicles, not pedestrians.

      #5; Mon, 14 Jul 2008 21:33:00 GMT
    • Good. Smarter heads prevailed.

      For years, I lived in a city with an absolute pedestrian right-of-way passed by a "progressive" administration pushing environmentalism. We had so many pedestrian accidents caused by pedestrians asserting their "rights" in defiance of the laws of physics and physiology.

      I saw one of those accidents on a college campus from a second floor window. A driver accelerated away from an all-way stop sign on one of the two large streets bisecting the campus. Halfway down the following block, a female student who had been walking along the sidewalk turned to go to a sorority house across the street. She stepped into the street without looking. The driver had no chance to stop, and his car hit her.

      Fortunately she had only some broken bones. But she said that he broke the law, saying the pedestrian always has the right-of-way, and tried to sue. I was contacted as a witness, but the case was thrown out before trial by the judge, who criticized the law. The following year, the city council repealed their law.

      #6; Mon, 14 Jul 2008 22:59:00 GMT
    • First off, the zip code things is a non-issue.

      The first place to look is at the code section:

      40-6-91. Right of way in crosswalks

      (a) The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For the purposes of this subsection, "half of the roadway" means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel.

      (b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

      (c) Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply under the conditions stated in subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-92.

      (d) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

      From the sound of it, none of the pedestrians had started across, so there shouldn't be any way that they had made it onto your half of the road.

      For your friend it's harder to say since you didn't state how long it took her to make the turn or if the pedestrians had started into the cross walk at the same time you started into the intersection. It could be that she was guilty.

      For your case, I would show up to court, and say your piece to the prosecutor. He may go ahead and dismiss it. Otherwise, you can take it to trial. Your defense is that they didn't enter the crosswalk when you made your turn. That's what you need to cross examine the officer on. If you do cross examine, remember that you are asking him questions. If you can't get him to testify that he never saw the pedestrians in the cross walk on your side of the road, then you may have to testify. If you get to that point, then you'll probably lose.

      Depending on what your friend observed, she may be a useful witness to you. It's unlikely that you'd be much use to her in her case.

      This is a moving violation, and I think this will count as 3 points our of 12 on your license. I don't recall off the top of my head.

      #7; Sun, 02 Mar 2008 19:30:00 GMT
    • Thank you again, you have been such a help to me! To my knowledge they did seem to be student-aged, and well, I am about to graduate so I can verify that students to cross whenever they feel like it! And interestingly enough, I went to GSU for 2 years so I know what you're saying about it there too!

      Thanks again!

      #8; Sun, 02 Mar 2008 20:34:00 GMT
    • In Georgia, the pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way.
      #9; Tue, 08 Jul 2008 14:29:00 GMT
    • Yes, but why? How many errors will a judge overlook on a citation before a sloppy officer doesn't get a pass?

      What did the judge say when you asked him?

      Since the purpose of the citation is to inform you of the charges against you and to provide you with a court date, I would think that as long as those two things are on there and there's enough information to specifically identify you by OLN or name and DOB, then it should be fine.

      I'm not aware of any actual law on the issue in Georgia.

      #10; Tue, 08 Jul 2008 15:45:00 GMT
    • This is bad law, and has bad consequences.

      cyjeff overstated the law. I posted the actual law above.

      #11; Mon, 14 Jul 2008 21:48:00 GMT