Hundreds of traffic tickets are written by police officers every single day in Florida. They are of all different types and carry a variety of penalties. But what people fail to notice are the boxes on the bottom of the citation under statute number filled in by the officer.
These boxes include, whether or not there was crash, was there property damage, injury, serious injury, and a fatality.
In Duval County, if the officer checks the box for “Injury to another” the case will automatically be assigned to a county court judge, it cannot be heard by a hearing officer. In other counties, there are no hearing officers, so this would automatically go to a judge. So when you schedule the traffic ticket for a hearing, you will get one of the judges presiding and it will be on a different day and in a different court room, than a regular traffic ticket.
More significant, however, is when the officer checks the box designated “serious bodily injury to another.” This not only triggers an automatic assignment to a county court judge, but also a mandatory traffic ticket hearing. Most traffic tickets do not require a hearing, you can elect one if you want. A ticket involving a serious bodily injury always must be scheduled for a hearing in front of a county court judge and you must appear. Florida statute 318.19 Infractions requiring a mandatory hearing.
Serious bodily injury ticket also carries severe penalties.
There is a specific definition for “serious bodily injury” under Florida Statute 316.1933 “an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Another relevant statute in this situation is Florida Statute 316.027 “Crash involving death or personal injuries.”
There is always a factual issue as to whether or not the injury sustained by the person does in fact fall under the definition. This is something that will be investigated by your attorney, and there are cases addressing this issue. This becomes a very heated battle in DUI cases, as this can mean the difference between going to prison and going on probation, or a DUI becoming a felony.
In addition to the mandatory court hearing, drivers in traffic ticket cases involving serious bodily injury face a civil penalty of $500.00, along with court-imposed driving school, court costs, and a 90 Day License Suspension.
It is very important that you pay careful attention to the traffic ticket you are given, as it may carry very serious penalties. Please note that sometimes the clerk’s office while scheduling a hearing, won’t catch the designation of a “serious bodily injury” right away, and you will be surprised to learn you are in front of a judge.
Don’t be caught off guard, speak with an experienced traffic ticket lawyer about your options.