Cited for improper lane change resulting in a 4 car pile up?

by Shay
(Carrollton, Texas)

As I was approaching behind a car in the far left lane of a 3 lane intersection, the light was green. The car was approximately 100 yards from the light and driving rather slowly. There were no cars in front of her. The center lane had approximately 6 cars in the lane.

As I approached the car in the left lane, I reduced my rate of speed as I assessed the speed of the car in front of me. As I realized she wasn't going to accelerate her speed in enough time to make the light, I started to assess my other option to change lanes.

There were no oncoming cars to the center lane, so I put on my right signal light, but I hadn't switched lanes yet. Just as I began to switch lanes, the car in the left lane, hit her breaks. I then switched lanes, not only to prevent from hitting her, but to make the green light.

The only issue with this lane switch is that I was going too fast for the cars in the center lane, resulting in me hitting the car in front of me after I switched lanes. After the accident occurred, I was in shock and everything around me seemed to go in slow motion. My signal light was extremely loud at that point.

That's when I realized that I needed to turn on my hazard lights, because cars had started approaching the center lane, and I didn't want further damage done. I got out of my car to check on the young lady in the car that I hit, and to see if there were anyone other people on the car. It ended up 4 cars were damaged.

I went back to my car after she stated that she was okay and called 911. I had never had the cops called out to a wreck before, so when the officer told me that he had to give me a citation for improper lane change, I disagreed, and told him that. He said signing wasn't am admission of guilt, so I said I guess you have to cite me in order to write the police report... he neither agreed nor denied.

Question: Based on my recollection of the accident, should I have been cited for improper lane change? Am I completely at fault here? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Cited for improper lane change resulting in a 4 car pile up?":

Shay (Carrollton, Texas):

You were likely cited by the investigating officer under Texas Revised Statutes - Transportation Code Section 545.057, which reads in part:

"PASSING TO THE RIGHT. (a) An operator may pass to the right of another vehicle only if conditions permit safely passing to the right and:

(1) the vehicle being passed is making or about to make a left turn; and

(2) the operator is:

(A) on a highway having unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles and sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction; or

(B) on a one-way street or on a roadway having traffic restricted to one direction of movement and the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles."

The investigating officer's decision to cite you for violating Section 545.057 was a subjective one. There is no measuring device an officer relies upon to conclusively establish a driver violated Section 545.057, or most other traffic statutes.

The officer was correct in telling you the signing of the citation is not an admission of guilt. Rather, by signing the citation you are simply agreeing to appear at a certain time and on a certain day to face the charge. At that time you may enter a plea of not guilty and ask for a trial.

You can also attempt to convince the prosecutor you were not in violation of Section 545.057 by relating the facts as you know them, and ask that the citation be reduced to a non-moving violation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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