Each week, Scottsbluff Police Cpl. Krisa Brass will answer questions submitted by Star-Herald readers. Send questions for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving your question at 308-632-9057.
A friend had an accident and was really mad because a ticket was not given. A guy backed out of a parking spot and hit her. Shouldn’t tickets always be issued on accidents?
This is a common misconception, particularly regarding parking lots. When it comes to parking lots and other areas which are considered private property; not all traffic laws are enforceable, in fact, many are not. In the described situation where one person backs into another, there is generally not an actual traffic violation (I’m sure we could come up with an extreme circumstance where there may be one) more so just an issue of inattention.
As a result, the officer would complete a parking lot accident form which is essentially just an exchange of information and then the insurance companies would have to sort out the rest.
Now, let’s say you call to report someone backing into you and the officer finds that person to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The person still wouldn’t be issued a citation for the backing portion but if they were deemed to be under the influence as a conclusion of the investigation, the DUI is enforceable.
Parking lot accidents aside, when rules of the road are violated resulting in an accident, a majority of departments agree a citation should be issued.
What is the difference between a written warning, fix-it ticket, and a citation? What are you (the driver) required to do for each one?
A written warning is truly just that; documentation that you were “warned” not to do something again. There is no follow up needed for a written warning but be mindful it creates a paper trail so if you happen to be a habitual speeder, you may get lucky and receive a warning or two but officers will have the ability to check and see if you have had previous contacts for the same violation. In many cases if you have previously been warned, you will be issued a citation the next time.
Equipment repair orders (or better known as fix-it tickets) do require some follow up but do not come with a fine. Generally, repair orders are for defective headlights, tail lights, turn signals, etc. Repair orders issued by the Scottsbluff Police Department in particular need to be repaired, signed off on, and returned to the department within five days. By signed off on, I mean an officer needs to verify you have made the appropriate corrections and sign the order indicating such. You can hand deliver or mail the order back to the police department.
An actual citation will come with a scheduled court appearance. Some citations are waiverable meaning you can pay a fine and court cost prior to the court date and no longer have to appear in court. Some citations require a court appearance.
Even if your citation is waiverable, you have the right to show up on the scheduled date and contest the citation. If you do not elect to pay by waiver and fail to appear on the scheduled date/time, a warrant can be issued for your arrest.