I made a right turn on red and hit a pedestrian in the adjacent crosswalk who was in the crosswalk illegally. Luckily, the pedestrian had only very minor injuries. I got a citation for "inattentive driving" due to being distracted with oncoming traffic and not paying attention to the crosswalk and another citation for "disobeying traffic light" due to failing to yield to the pedestrian while turning right on red. According to the city code for the "disobeying traffic light" citation concerning turning right on red, "Such vehicular traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk". The police report states "unknown" for whether or not the pedestrian was legally in the crosswalk since the officer and none of the witnesses knew for sure (and the pedestrian that was struck claimed that they didn't know either). My question revolves around the "disobeying traffic light" citation. Do I have a case with this evidence:
1) the city code stating that I must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians "lawfully" within an adjacent crosswalk,
2) the police report stating that it is "unknown" whether or not the pedestrian was legally in the crosswalk,
3) if they don't have any evidence that the pedestrian was "lawfully" in the crosswalk, can they really give me a ticket for "disobeying traffic light" according to the letter of the law?
1 Answer from Attorneys
You may have availd defense, But, by raising it, you might invite a harsher charge. There is the problem with turing on red, and then there is hitting the pedestrian. You might prevail on the disobeying the signal charge, and get hit with reckless driving cahge. These are harsher than either disobeying a signal or innattentive driving. It is likely that your atotnrey will be able to get one of the tickets dismissed, as long as there is no issue of your insurer taking care of whatever claims the pedestrian has.
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