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How Do I Challenge a Following Too Closely Ticket in Riverside County, CA?

undefinedThe best method to beat a following too closely charge in Riverside, CA or anywhere is to avoid it. If you do get one, you should consult a traffic ticket attorney. As a Commercial Driver, you cannot afford to take a point without challenging the ticket. 

One ticket could mean termination from your current fleet. What’s more, you will find it difficult to get another driving job with a competitive fleet. Sure, you might get hired with a small fleet that will pay 25 cents per mile, but you’ll likely spend more than that out on the road. You’ll find it problematic to bring home a paycheck that will make it worthwhile to be out there on the road more often than at home. Always consult a traffic attorney before you pay a fine.

What about the “Three-Second Rule”? 

Many safe driving advocates like the National Safety Council (NSC) advise drivers to stay three seconds behind the vehicle in front of them. However, that is not always realistic for CMV drivers. Three seconds is not long enough to make a safe stop in some circumstances and in other situations there just is not a way to generate that much space. 

The DOT FMCSA advises in their CMV Driving Tips - Following Too Closely, “Following too closely may be defined as, situations in which one vehicle is following another vehicle so closely that even if the following driver is attentive to the actions of the vehicle ahead, he/she could not avoid a collision in the circumstance when the driver in front brakes suddenly.”  

Therefore, they warn that a truck driver traveling at 40 mph should maintain a four-second distance behind the vehicle in front of them to be safe; this is equal to “one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length.” Additionally, they advise doubling that distance in adverse weather. “Adjust your following distance to appropriately match weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and traffic.”

Despite many safe drivers trying to maintain that distance on I-5 or I-10 in Riverside County, without fail, some scrawny Prius will cut back in front of them after they pass because a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class or a Suburban flashed their lights at them. 

The DOT FMCSA says that five percent of vehicle crashes involving a CMV occurred because the CMV followed too close. They probably don’t have reliable statistics about how many times the four-wheeler cut off the tractor-trailer. 

5 Things to Consider about Following Too Closely

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 27103Driving, Overtaking, and Passing states, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”

But, what is a “reasonable and prudent” distance? We already pointed out what the NSC and the DOT FMCSA say, but does the CA Highway Patrol (CHP) or other law enforcement officers (LEO) use that guidance? Probably not. What they use is their viewpoint or their perspective about both the following distance and the roadway conditions.

#1 — What is “reasonable and prudent” is determined by the LEO. To challenge the ticket in court, an attorney must raise the level of doubt about the LEO’s viewpoint.

#2 — The driver can hire an attorney to challenge the LEO’s point of view with the traffic court judge.

#3 — Although the fine is $238, it is a moving violation, which will trigger the DMV to assess 1.5 negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points and notify the FMCSA about your conviction. The FMCSA considers the offense a “serious offense.” A second conviction of a serious offense within three years of the first will result in a 60-day driver’s disqualification and a third, 120-days.

#4 — The 1.5 NOTS points leave a driver just 2.5 points away from a six-month suspension and a twelve-month concurrent probation period. Likewise, the FMCSA will assess Compliance, Safety, & Accountability (CSA) severity points for the violation. Each severity point is multiplied by a time weight depending on the frequency of violations. These are added to both the driver’s Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record and the fleet’s DOT number to determine if additional roadside inspections and other interventions are required for the fleet.

#5 — Commercial drivers get terminated for too many moving violations. Only the fleet manager knows what is “too many.” Some have a zero-tolerance mentality for moving violations. You must consult a traffic ticket lawyer who can help to favorably resolve the following too closely ticket in Riverside County Traffic Court.   

Challenge a Following Too Closely Ticket in Riverside County, CA with Bigger & Harman 

When you get ticketed for following too closely on I-10, 5, or 15, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

We assist CDL holders with traffic tickets in Riverside County, CA, using a flat fee. You will always know ahead of time what our fee will be. Give us a call. 

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications

The DOT FMCSA CMV Driving Tips - Following Too Closely