In some ways, “assured clear distance” is a vague concept. It’s part of Ohio law that you have to maintain a speed and distance when driving such that you can come to a sudden stop without hitting the car in front of you. That distance between you and the other car that allows you to stop without a collision is the “assured clear distance ahead.”
There is any number of factors that can be at work in determining that assured clear distance ahead. There is, of course, your speed and the distance between your car and the car in front of you. Other factors may include weather conditions, visibility, lighting, and the condition or grade of the road. As a driver, you’re supposed to be aware of all of these factors and make sure you leave a safe stopping distance in front of you.
When you don’t leave enough room to stop, you may be cited for failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead. In Columbus, you most often get an assured clear distance ticket when you rear-end someone in a car accident, but technically that’s not required under the statute. If a law enforcement officer observes you tailgating other vehicles in traffic, you could get pulled over and cited. It’s just easiest to prove that you failed to maintain an assured clear distance when you collide with someone because the accident itself is evidence of the violation.
Penalties for an Assured Clear Distance Violation
In many instances, an assured clear distance ahead violation is a minor misdemeanor. In general, a minor misdemeanor is just a simple ticket. It carries a fine of up to $150 and shows up on your driving record, but it’s not really criminal despite being described as a misdemeanor, and there’s no possibility of jail time.
However, an assured clear distance ahead violation can be a more serious charge when you have multiple tickets. Depending on your prior record, an assured clear distance ahead violation can be charged as a:
- Fourth-Degree Misdemeanor — When you have two prior assured clear distance ahead or speeding tickets within the past year, your third violation can be a fourth-degree misdemeanor. A fourth-degree misdemeanor in Ohio is punishable with a jail sentence of up to 30 days, and a fine of up to $250.
- Third-Degree Misdemeanor — When you have three or more prior assured clear distance ahead or speeding tickets within the past year, your fourth or subsequent violation can be charged as a third-degree misdemeanor. A third-degree misdemeanor may be punishable by a jail sentence of up to 60 days, and a fine of up to $500.
When you receive your assured clear distance ahead ticket in a construction zone, your fines are doubled, and that $150 ticket becomes $300.
Other Consequences of an Assured Clear Distance Violation
When you get a conviction or plead guilty to an assured clear distance ahead violation, you may find that it affects your life in some unanticipated ways. You may face out-of-pocket costs beyond the fines for the ticket.
Some ways that a ticket may affect your life include:
- Driver’s License Points — An assured clear distance ahead violation is a 2-point offense in Ohio.
- Potential Civil Liability — If you received an assured clear distance ahead ticket as a result of a car accident, then a guilty plea or conviction may increase your chances of being found at fault in the crash, and therefore liable to compensate the other driver or drivers in an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
- Insurance Rate Increases — Any moving violation may have the effect of causing your car insurance premiums to go up because your insurance company may consider you a greater risk to insure. If your assured clear distance ahead ticket was the result of an auto collision, you’ll likely have the added black mark in the eyes of your insurance company when the other driver makes a claim for car repairs or injuries — or files a lawsuit. A ticket and an accident could add up to you paying more for car insurance in the future.
- Employment Background Checks — If your employer checks your driving record, or you apply for a job that involves any kind of driving, an assured clear distance ahead violation will show up on your driving record and may affect your employment or potential employment. Employers may be reluctant to hire or keep someone on staff who has an assured clear distance violation, especially if an accident was involved, because they may view your violation as an increased risk of liability for them.
Fighting a Columbus Assured Clear Distance Ticket
There are a lot of good reasons to consider fighting your assured clear distance ahead ticket. As noted, when that violation goes on your record, you accrue points on your driver’s license and may see higher insurance premiums — which could cost you more in the long-term than paying a Ohio ACDA ticket lawyer to fight the ticket. If you have multiple violations, you may be facing jail time, in which case hiring an experienced ACDA ticket attorney may be your best option for avoiding a conviction or for lessening your penalties.
Assured clear distance is a fairly subjective concept absent a car accident. Even when there is a car accident, there may be room to demonstrate that you hadn’t failed to maintain an assured clear distance. You may have a defense to the ticket when another car suddenly changed lanes in front of you and entered your lane, and you didn’t have a chance to react to that and alter your speed or try to get some distance between you and the other car.
A good Ohio ACDA ticket lawyer also may be able to use your driving record to negotiate for a reduction in your charge to a less serious traffic infraction that doesn’t add points to your license or carry some of the other potential consequences of an assured clear distance ahead ticket.
Cited for a Ohio ACDA ticket? Contact Us for Help
If you have received an assured clear distance ahead ticket, contact us for a free consultation with a Columbus traffic ticket lawyer. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and fight your traffic ticket. Many times we are able to get the charges reduced, and at times, dismissed altogether. Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 or email us at [email protected].