The consequences of a following too close ticket start with the county where the commercial driver was stopped. In this case, we will examine what happens in Woodland in Yolo County, CA.
Yolo County is a smaller county that gets a lot of trucker traffic because of Interstate 5. Because it is a smaller community, most people know each other in the court system. An experienced traffic attorney that regularly handles tickets in Woodland will know when to set cases on calendar and what to say to give you the best chance at avoiding the 1.5 points associated with following too closely.
How the CA Traffic Code Defines a Following Too Close Violation
“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.” — CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 21703, Driving, Overtaking, and Passing.
When faced with a following too close or tailgating ticket, several defenses might be applicable depending on the circumstances of the incident. Here are five possible legal defenses in CA:
#1 — Lack of Evidence
An experienced traffic ticket defense attorney could argue there is insufficient evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the driver was following too close. For example, if the claim is based solely on an officer’s visual estimate without the support of video footage or other objective measurements, the reliability of the evidence could be questioned. Was the law enforcement officer’s view obstructed or too far away to really tell?
#2 — Reasonable Distance Under the Circumstances
The CA Vehicle Code requires a driver to follow another vehicle at a “reasonable and prudent” distance, considering the speed of traffic and the conditions of the road. A defense might argue that under the circumstances (such as low speed in congested traffic), the distance was reasonable, and the driver could stop safely if necessary.
#3 — Fault of the Leading Vehicle
Another possible defense is if the vehicle in front behaved unpredictably or erratically, causing the following driver to close the distance unintentionally or if the front vehicle pulled back in too soon after passing or overtaking the trail vehicle.
For example, if the leading vehicle suddenly slowed down without reason or failed to maintain a consistent speed, it could be argued that the trailing driver did not have the intention to tailgate.
#4 — Mechanical Failure
There could have been a sudden mechanical failure preventing the driver from maintaining a safe distance. For instance, brake failure might have led to the vehicle inadvertently getting too close to the vehicle in front.
The DOT FMCSA Will Place the Conviction of Following Too Close in the Driver’s PSP for 3 Years
If convicted for following too close, the CA DMV will notify the DOT FMCSA, who will place the record of conviction in the driver’s pre-employment screening (PSP) record for three years.
“Serious offenses require a minimum disqualification of 60 days and include the following: Speeding excessively (15 mph or more over the speed limit). Driving recklessly. Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes. Following the vehicle ahead too closely.
The disqualification period of a driver is determined by the offense and the driver’s record of prior convictions.” — 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5, Disqualification of Drivers.
As stated above, the FMCSA will initiate a driver’s disqualification of 60 days for a second conviction within the three year period after the first, a third conviction will result in a 120-day driver disqualification, and a fourth a one-year ban from driving a CMV.
Get Legal Assistance to Strengthen Your Chances for Success
The most vital portion of any defense is to raise the level of “reasonable doubt.”
When presenting a defense, the defendant or their attorney must provide evidence or testimony to support their claims. It should be noted that traffic court judges have likely heard every excuse in the book, so any defense presented must be credible and, when possible, supported by evidence.
In all cases, it is beneficial to discuss the circumstances of your citation with a knowledgeable and experienced CA traffic attorney before discounting the option of disputing the traffic ticket in court.
This scenario is particularly true of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder with no choice but to dispute the following too close charge if it would mean a second serious offense conviction within three years.
The DOT FMCSA will initiate a 60-day driver disqualification for the second conviction, a third conviction within three years, a 120-day driver disqualification, and a fourth would mean a one-year commercial driver ban.
Therefore, the CDL holder should consult a CA traffic attorney immediately.
Consult Bigger & Harman to Resolve the Following Too Close Ticket in Woodland, CA
Choose Bigger & Harman, APC, when you need assistance with a following too close ticket in Woodland Courthouse in Yolo County. A paid fine or conviction for following too close will blemish your PSP and make it difficult to obtain a better dollar-per-mile rate with a higher-paying fleet if terminated due to a “serious offense” conviction.
Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
CVC Section 21703, Driving, Overtaking, and Passing.
The DOT FMCSA CFR Part 383.31, Notification of Convictions for Driver Violations.
The DOT FMCSA 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5, Disqualification of Drivers.
The DOT FMCSA Factsheet, What is CSA—and how does it affect me?