Can a police officer issue a traffic citation based on a witness call-in report?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a police officer issue a traffic citation based on a witness call-in report?

Got hit from behind by a truck on the highway while entering and merging into the travel lane. Blinker was on and the lane was open when merging. My husband was issued a citation for ‘careless driving’. Our car was totaled. The truck just had a bent grill. No other witnesses but me saying that my husband was not careless. So, does that mean I can call in a report that my neighbor was driving carelessly and he automatically gets a citation? Is the officer responsible for giving info on the caller? Can anyone just do this at will? Should we get an attorney?

Asked on December 3, 2017 under Accident Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Citations can be issued when the officer is not there if there is sufficient credible evidence for them. That generally means video/photographic evidence and/or physical evidence (nature of the damage; location of the accident; etc.) supporting any witness claims. In this case, the truck driver presumably was the one who claimed your husband was driving recklessly, which presumably, based on the other facts of the accident, the officer found credible.
Hiring an attorney will increase the likelihood of getting fewer points on the license, no points, or even getting the case dismissed. (It doesn't guaranty it, however: there are no guarantees in the law.) It will cost you several hundred dollars at least, in addition to any fines you may still have to pay. If avoiding points is more important than saving money, hire the lawyer; if money is at more of a premium, do not.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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