Lincoln, NE asked in Criminal Law and Traffic Tickets for Iowa

Q: I got a citation in Iowa for not stopping and yielding to the right of way

And my vechile had no AC and I left from a different state from a Abusive spouse and dealing with a divorce and with me driving trying to figure out we’re to go I see a stop sign brake and my brakes squeak and I drift into the right of way car and he hits me totaled my vechile and I feel I was wronged because the person was a old acquaintance who threatened me

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1 Lawyer Answer
Benjamin Kohn
Benjamin Kohn
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Licensed in Iowa

A: It sounds like you have at least three issues: (1) civil fault for the accident; and (2) the two simple misdemeanor traffic charges for disobeying the stop sign and for failing to yield; and (3) being a victim of domestic abuse.

While I can't provide legal advice based on such an abridged and public description of the facts, and the third issue is completely outside of my areas of practice, here are my thoughts for the first two.

Unfortunately, neither the distressed state of mind nor the discomfort from the lack of AC in the vehicle are relevant to the traffic misdemeanors. However, how you respond to them could have significant consequences. If you're convicted or plead guilty to them, those facts they allege will be deemed admitted and not disputable in court or with insurance on the facts being analyzed for who was civilly at fault for the accident.

Moreover, since the accident was a harm those criminal laws were intended to prevent, a conviction of them constitutes negligence per se; that is the hostile acquaintance who was party to the accident would have at least a comparative negligence defense to any claim you might have against them while only having to prove causation and damages (and not negligence) to establish liability against you.

This is especially important if the accident was not, in fact, your fault. Depending on the nature of your acquaintanceship with this person and what you can evidence of it, and of the threats they made, if that and forensic reconstruction of the collision by experts were to establish that they likely intentionally hit you or at least chose not to avert a collision, fault for the accident could be very much worth contesting. Even with the negligence per se, such a fact could prevent them from establishing legal causation for your liability to them, and establish their liability to you instead.

Now, you shouldn't post any more about the facts here or publicly, but I wouldn't know you to be guilty of the traffic charges from what you've admitted. Depending on the location and trajectory of the right of way car, that your brakes squeaked and didn't react in comfortable time isn't by itself the violation if you would have been able to stop by the line had the other car not hit you. Such a thing is at least a consideration if you believe they had motive to hit you intentionally and it might not have required you to reach the path of oncoming traffic.

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