How much discretion do the police have innot issuing a citation to someone reponsible for a car accident?

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How much discretion do the police have innot issuing a citation to someone reponsible for a car accident?

I was involved in an accident in which the other driver ran a red light. The police said that they were not going to issue a citation to the other driver because he was taking his wife to the hospital. Is this legally correct?

Asked on November 10, 2010 under Accident Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Generally, police do have a great deal of discretion, both legal and  practical (i.e. there's little oversight) in terms of who they issue citations to. I do not believe that a police decision to NOT ticket someone is appealable. Furthermore, there's a legal doctrine called necessity: people can break the law in some instances when they have to save a life or prevent other harm. For example, someone could trespass to assist someone being assaulted or render medical care. In this case, it may be that trying to get a sick (or pregnant) spouse to the hospital is sufficient necessity.

Note though that regardless of whether or not the other driver is ticketed, if he caused an accident, you could file a claim vs. his insurance or bring a civil lawsuit against him. If there's enough damage to justify it economically, you may wish to consult with an attorney to see if you have a viable case.


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