Following Too Closely Traffic Offense in Georgia
You are most likely to be charged with following too closely on the roads in Georgia if you end up rear-ending another motor vehicle.
Many of us learn about the “three-second rule” when learning to drive. In reality, though, most drivers often follow other cars much closer than that. Georgia officers frequently issue a following too closely (or “FTC”) ticket after an accident – even if you bumped a family member or friend.
An additional reason that you may be charged with following too closely is if a police officer suspects you of committing other crimes. By following too closely to the vehicle in front, you are giving an officer a valid reason to stop you. During the traffic stop, the officer may attempt to investigate other potential crimes (DUI, drug possession, etc). However, officers are not allowed to unduly prolong the detention to begin other investigations.
Following Too Closely: Points on Drivers License
In Georgia, following too closely will win you three points on your driver’s license and a new line on your criminal record. Before pleading no contest (or “nolo”), you need to consult an attorney to see if there are alternatives available to you.
Most prosecutors and judges will tell you that pleading “nolo” will save you from the points but they often don’t mention that there are other ways to resolve your case with zero points on your license (like winning the case outright!).
To give yourself the best chance of escaping the points and the criminal record, contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown in Gwinnett County’s Peachtree Corners for a free consultation.
Georgia Traffic Law: OCGA § 40-6-49
Traffic Law § 40-6-49 under the Georgia Code states the following:
“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”
The law goes into additional detail about drivers who are “drawing another vehicle” and makes provisions for caravans, stopped and slowed vehicles.
The general rule is that you are supposed to leave enough room for another vehicle to pull into the space between your vehicle and the one in front (morer about this below). In metro-Atlanta traffic and virtually everywhere else in Georgia, leaving that much space is not the usual and customary practice.
Obviously, the statutory terms “reasonable and prudent” are open to interpretation.. This creates levels of complexity for this type of traffic offense, so it is important to understand what is meant by these terms.
It is also important to note that you can be charged with following too closely even if no accident or injury resulted from your actions behind the wheel.
What does “reasonable and prudent” mean in Georgia law?
“Reasonable and prudent” is a subjective term that depends on the speed of the vehicles in question, the amount of traffic at the time, and the roadside conditions.
A police officer who issues a ticket for following too closely has made a judgement that you were not following in a manner that was reasonable and prudent.
If your case goes to court, a jury may be asked to consider if the evidence supports these observations and opinions. Witness testimony may be called and the jury will need to decide whether you were following too closely based on their interpretation of events.
Other elements that apply to following too closely in Georgia
As mentioned, the Georgia following-too-closely traffic laws make additional provisions for drivers of certain vehicles in certain situations.
These include the following elements:
“Motor vehicles being driven upon any roadway outside of a business or residential district in a caravan or motorcade whether or not towing other vehicles shall be so operated as to allow sufficient space between each such vehicle or combination of vehicles so as to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger. This subsection shall not apply to funeral processions, parades, or other groups of vehicles if such groups of vehicles are under the supervision and control of a law enforcement agency.”
Motor vehicles pulling another vehicle
“The driver of any motor vehicle which is drawing another vehicle when traveling upon a roadway outside of a business or residential district and which is following another motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle shall, whenever conditions permit, leave sufficient space so that an overtaking vehicle may enter and occupy such space without danger, except that this shall not prevent a motor truck or motor vehicle drawing another vehicle from overtaking and passing any like vehicle or other vehicle.”
Stopped or slowed vehicles
“Vehicles which approach from the rear any other vehicle or vehicles stopped or slowed to make a lawful turn shall be deemed to be following.”
What is the penalty for following too closely in Georgia?
If you admit to the charge or are found guilty of following too closely, you will have three points added to your driving record and it will show on your criminal record.
Note that an accumulation of 15 points in a 24-month period will result in your license being suspended if you’re an adult. If you’re under 21 years of age, four points on your license in 12 months will lead to a license suspension.
There are other considerations as well, especially if you are under 18 years of age, drive on a Class D license, or drive on another type of license or permit, like a limited driving permit.
Both loss of license and the blemish on your criminal record can potentially affect your employment and your freedom of travel or immigration status (for non-US citizens) in the future.
It’s therefore important to defend yourself with experienced legal representation.
What is the fine for following too closely in Georgia?
There is a good chance that your following too closely charge will end up in traffic court.
Fines for following too closely vary wildly, depending on the court, but the maximum fine allowed under Georgia law is $1,000.00 plus court costs. Following too closely is a misdemeanor criminal offense, so there is a (rare) possibility of 12 months of probation as well.
The potential fines for commercial drivers (CDL holders) driving commercial motor vehicles (CMV) is the same, however, the potential insurance and employment impact is much larger.
The fine for first-time offenders of standard motor vehicles is likely to be around $175.00 plus possible court costs. Commercial drivers could face harsher fines.
Note also that you will likely pay an additional financial penalty in the form of increased insurance premium rates.
Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown Today
If you have been charged with any type of traffic violation in Peachtree Corners & Gwinnett County area of Georgia, our traffic lawyers can help. We have an impressive track record of helping clients get traffic tickets reduced or dismissed entirely.
Don’t attempt to deal with traffic offenses on your own. Contact us today at (404) 418-6395 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.