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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2019 1 year ago

'Careless driving' brings no real penalties, says Ormond-by-the-Sea widow whose husband was killed by car

Drivers need to understand they are driving a lethal weapon.
by: Guest Writer

Dear Editor:

The Ormond Beach Observer states that there was only one fatality in 2018 in Ormond. The accident that caused my husband‘s death last year was on State Road A1A in the section they consider Ormond-by-the-Sea. Was that the one death? Are you sure?

While in Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, my family shared the waiting room with the family of a young woman who also died of injuries. Her injuries were due to an automobile running into her while walking on the sidewalk. Another death to add to the tally for 2018.

Did you know you can kill someone in Florida using your vehicle and walk away without a fine or a ticket? A 31-year-old female, A.Z., drove her sister's Volkswagen Tiguan into my husband. She slammed into the back of John while he was at a dead stop on his motorcycle. A.Z. was not speeding, but the impact (posted speed limit 45 mph) was enough to cause his death.

Nearly a year later, the only eyewitness did not show up to court. A.Z. did not show up to court; however, her representative did. Her ticket for careless driving was dismissed. The reason for the dismissal: She was not granted a speedy trial. Keep in mind that A.Z. could’ve just as easily gotten off because the witness did not show up. The woman who killed my husband walked away from the accident without a fine or a ticket. A clean slate, as if it never happen, as if my husband's life did not matter. This does not feel like justice to me.

My new understanding of careless driving is that it is one of the easiest tickets to get out of in the state of Florida. Careless driving is not criminal. Just a traffic violation. Careless driving is an accident without intent. Careless driving needs a witness or it needs you to confess to the accident. Careless driving typically has a fine between $160 and $500. Careless driving is four points on a driver's license. Careless driving is the catch-all ticket for an accident that was not seen by others.

Did you know? If the trooper did not see the accident, what he says is not admissible in court. Anything that driver of the vehicle says to the trooper is not admissible in court. The driver does not have to participate in any further investigation other than the original questioning at the site. Phone records cannot be subpoenaed, because this was not a criminal case. Distracted driving is careless, not reckless, which would be criminal. So in short, it is not criminal to kill with your auto in Florida. Simply retain an attorney immediately and say you don’t know what happened.

I agree with Mayor Bill Partington. Speeding, distracted driving, and recklessness are major causes of accidents. People need to be more alert while driving. Drivers need to understand they are driving a lethal weapon. If we do not have enough of a police force to process these accidents, drivers will continue to get off without a judgment.

Where do we go from here?

Lost my husband, my best friend, way too young.

BethAnne Payne 



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