Following an accident and upon the arrival of the police, a cursory investigation by the officers may result in one or more of the parties to be issued a summons or arrested.
Typically, drivers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol may be placed under arrest at the scene. In this situation, the driver of that vehicle will need to report to the Criminal Court to answer the charges. If that person pleads “guilty” to those charges, that conviction is admissible in Court because it is a statutory violation that directly relates to the operation of that person’s motor vehicle on that day.
If a common carrier such as an 18 wheeler is involved in an accident, the investigating officer may find that the driver has violated section of the Vehicle & Traffic Laws such as failure to properly inflate tires, failure to maintain brakes, failure to yield, etc. Pleading guilty to these charges are also generally admissible in the trial of your accident case.
The Court will weigh each conviction and decide if the probative value of admitting these violations into evidence outweighs the prejudicial effect. In other words, the Court does not want the jury to be unduly prejudiced at the mention of a “violation” unless that particular violation is related to the operation of that driver’s motor vehicle. For example, drunk driving is clearly related to how the driver operated his vehicle, but a suspended license may not. In the latter example, if a driver with a suspended license is stopped and struck in the rear of his vehicle, then the suspended license really has no impact on the how the driver operated his vehicle (i.e., he was stopped and otherwise did nothing wrong).
At the Law Offices of Charles DeStefano, we use the services of an experienced investigator who will be able to obtain the facts (including whether summonses were issued at the scene). Additionally, our investigator is generally able to obtain copies of police reports, 911 Sprint calls, and other evidence to help our clients.