Q: I swerved to avoid rear ending a parked vehicle changing a tire in my inside lane without flashers on at night.
The stopped vehicle was over the crest of a hill and I had little time to check following traffic. Can I have my citation for illegal lane change thrown out? There was minor paint damage done to both my vehicle and the one in my blind side on the right when I swerved.
This sounds like an emergency/unavoidable accident defense. Under Georgia Law, if the accident could not have been avoided and you are rapidly (i.e. exigency is key) responding to an emergency, not created by your own negligence, then the accident is just that-- an accident. Thus, you will not be found liable for the accident, or in your case, not criminally liable for the ticket.
The key will be: 1.) whether it truly was an emergency (i.e. again, exigency), 2.) not created by your own negligence, and if 1 and 2 are established, 3.) you acted as a reasonable person would have if faced with the same circumstances you describe above.
Facts you want to highlight for emergency: a. dark; b. no flashers; c. crest of hill (i.e. no visibility); d. etc.
If the trier of fact (i.e. judge or jury) buys an emergency existed and you did not cause it, then proceed to argue that when faced with this sudden emergency, the only reasonable thing you could do was swerve into the other lane.
Counterarguments against your position that immediately come to mind based on this surface level analysis are: a. your speed; b. if you had your headlights on, in distance, when could you first see the vehicle you swerved to avoid based on the alleged "crest/hill"; and c. was the vehicle parked in the roadway where you still could have maintained your lane and avoided the parked vehicle. These points highlight whether an emergency existed and if so, whether you acted reasonably to swerve into the right of way of another car. The Emergency Doctrine is fact intensive. As far as getting your ticket thrown out, bring up these points to the D.A. and/or solicitor general and they may nolle prosequi or dismiss the ticket (note: in my experience most people do not even contest their ticket, so if you go to your court date, the Solicitor may nolle prosequi simply to save time/resources). However if the D.A. isn't agreeable, then be prepared to make these arguments through documentary evidence (i.e. pictures of the roadway) and the testimony of the parked car driver and/or any other witnesses the D.A. presents. Remember, the D.A. has the burden of proof.
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