Can You Be Criminally Charged for Tailgating Another Car in Utah?

We all understand the feeling of being in a rush and encountering unbearable traffic or a slow driver. This may cause us to follow other vehicles closely to encourage them to speed up or switch lanes. However, due to the dangers of tailgating, Utah has created laws to deter drivers from tailgating. If you or a family member was charged with tailgating, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City traffic ticket lawyer today. Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson understands how frustrating it is to receive a traffic violation that could hurt your driving record, and he is here to fight for you. Overson & Bugden is here to explain whether you can be criminally charged for tailgating another car.

Utah Laws Against Tailgating

Title 41 of Utah’s Motor Vehicles Traffic Code §41-6a-711 makes it illegal to follow a vehicle too closely. Specifically, Utah’s Code states that a driver must be “reasonable and prudent” when following another motorist and must consider:

  • “The speed of other vehicles”
  • “Traffic upon the highway”
  • “The condition of the highway”

If a driver is following close enough that less than “two seconds elapse” before the driver reaches the vehicle ahead, they could receive a ticket for tailgating. These laws do not apply in certain situations:

  • Funeral processions
  • Traffic jams where motorists cannot drive over 35 miles per hour

Penalties for Breaking Tailgating Laws in Utah

In Utah, tailgating or “following too closely” is an infraction. An infraction is an offense that carries no jail time, but you may have to pay a fine of up to $750. Utah classifies most traffic offenses as infractions. This means if you are stopped for tailgating, you will likely be issued a traffic ticket or citation.

Drivers charged with traffic violations in Utah will be given points on their driving record based on the severity of their offense. Each violation carries a specific number of points that will be charged to your driving record. Tailgating is a 60-point traffic violation.

Once a driver over 21 reaches 200 points or more in a span of three years, they may have their license suspended for up to a year. Drivers under the age of 21 who reach 70 points in three years may also have their license suspended for up to one year.

If you have points on your driving record, there are ways to decrease or eliminate those points. For example, if you drive for one year without getting convicted of a moving traffic violation, Utah will decrease half of the points on your record. If you can go two years without a moving violation, all of your points will be eliminated.

Defensive driving courses are another way to remove points from your driving record. While these courses must first be approved by a court official, they can remove 50 points from your driving record once every three years.

Fighting a Traffic Citation in Salt Lake City

Citations are issued to drivers who are charged with minor traffic violations. A citation will list basic information like your name and address, driver’s license number, and your traffic violation. A citation will also give you more information about your violation like:

  • The Utah court that will adjudicate your case
  • The amount of time you have to pay your fine
  • When you can fight the traffic violation
  • How to respond to the citation

If you wish to dispute your citation, you must appear in court to enter a plea of “not guilty.” Next, the trial for your traffic citation will be scheduled. It may be in your best interest to hire an experienced Park City traffic violation defense attorney to help with your case.

Take advantage of the trial to tell the court why you do not deserve the traffic citation. You have the power to call witnesses to prove your case. However, the prosecution also has the power to call witnesses, and the officer who issued your citation may testify during your case.

In some cases, you can also file an appeal if you do not agree with the court’s decision. Criminal appeals must be filed within 28 days of the judgment and are tried “de novo” by the district court. “De novo” means the case is completely tried all over again by the higher court.

Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Dispute Your Tailgating Citation

If you or a family member was issued a citation for tailgating, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Darwin Overson is here to help you fight traffic offenses that may affect your ability to drive and even your insurance rates. With over 16 years of criminal law experience, Darwin understands how to handle complex criminal procedures and cases. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (801) 758-2287 or reach us online.