Friday, January 30, 2009

More Driving Lessons

When I was 16 and had my license for 13 days I was making a left turn onto an on-ramp, misjudged how much time I had, and a car hit me. The poor couple that hit me was getting married in a couple days and I believe their car had to be towed. It was my fault and I received a ticket for “failure to yield right of way”. My dad was so kind and went with me to a driving class that took some money off the ticket amount and some points off my record.

Yesterday I was sitting as a juror in a criminal case of “reckless driving that resulted in an accident which caused injuries” for a 21 year old who made a left turn in front of a couple and their two children. I was grateful that my ticket was so minor and could really feel for the defendant and felt sorry for him. We all make mistakes and here he was facing criminal charges against him. I’m not exactly sure why they were criminal charges, but I do know he did not have insurance (he said he thought his mom had it on him) and the couple that hit him did not realize they did not have uninsured insurance. If the defendant was found guilty then the victims could receive compensation for the car that they had saved up to buy and had $11,000 worth of damages.

The defendant had a spinal cord injury which really messed up the way he walks and a supposed brain injury that caused long and short term memory loss. This memory loss allowed him to not remember much about the accident, except that the light was green for him. The wife in the other car had injury to her knees and still has pain 17 months later and their son had a head injury too. The other 5 jurors and I found the defendant guilty. The judge was very nice and talked to us afterwards. She said he could get 90 days for reckless driving and a year for causing injuries, but she couldn’t see sending him to jail, so I’m not sure what, if any, punishment he’ll get, except restitution.

So this is what lessons I learned and relearned from being a juror on this case:
1. Drive carefully, especially when flustered and you miss the road you were to turn on
2. Drive defensively
3. Wear your seat-belt (I don’t know if the defendant did or not)
4. Have insurance
5. Have uninsured insurance
6. Do not immediately admit guilt if you are in an accident
7. Being on a jury is an interesting, educational process and really isn’t all that bad. I would love to do it again, as long as it wasn’t longer than a few days.

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