Amendments to Traffic Citations
In some cases, the law enforcement officer who writes a civil traffic infraction will make a mistake. If the officer needs to correct something on the citation, then pursuant to Florida Rules of Traffic Court 6.455, the issuing officer may amend the traffic ticket with proper corrections:
- before the start of the scheduled hearing; and
- only with the judge's approval.
The official shall grant a continuance if the amendment requires one in the interests of justice.
Attorneys on Amendments to Traffic Citations in Florida
Our attorneys fight both moving and non-moving violations in traffic court. If you were issued a civil traffic infraction in South Florida, then contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney with offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, FL.
From our office in Fort Lauderdale, we represent clients throughout Broward County at the Central Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the County Civil North Regional Courthouse in Deerfield Beach, County Civil South Regional Courthouse in Hollywood, and County Civil West Regional Courthouse in Plantation, FL.
From our office in West Palm Beach, FL, we represent clients throughout Palm Beach County at the Main Courthouse in West Palm Beach, the West County Courthouse in Belle Glade, the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, and the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach.
Our attorneys also represent clients in Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County, Hobe Sound and the Village of Indiantown in Martin County, and in Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami Beach and Miami in Miami-Dade County, FL.
Florida Traffic Court Rules for Amendments
The Florida Traffic Court Rules require that “[n]o case shall be dismissed by reason of any informality or irregularity in the charging document.” The citation is considered to be the charging document in a non-criminal civil traffic violation case.
Florida Rules of Traffic Court 6.455 makes it clear that the court should not grant a defense motion to dismiss due to vagueness and due process violation when the charging document is so vague that it does not put the defendant on notice of which conduct forms the basis of the charge. Instead, the remedy, if any prejudice can be shown before the hearing, is an amendment to the citation which acts as the charging document.
For this reason, the traffic ticket attorney might decide not to raise the issue with a mistake in the citation until after the hearing has begun.
Defects in a Traffic Citation
In some cases, the officer that issued a traffic citation will later realize that he made a mistake when the citation was written. The most serious mistake might be writing down the wrong statute number.
In addition to the wrong statute number, other problems may include using the wrong:
- driver's license number;
- DL class;
- failure to indicate CDL/Commercial Vehicle;
- date of birth;
- spelling of the driver's name;
- traffic light amounts;
- speeding amounts;
- amount for ‘Fix-It’ tickets.
Several courts have considered what relief should be granted when the description of the violation is incorrect. For instance, in Pembroke Pines v. Estrella, 11 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 844a (Fla. 17th Cir. 2004), the first citation stated “Failure to Use Due Care, to wit: Following Too Closely,” and second citation stated “Fail to Use Due Care, Fail to Maintain Control of Vehicle Causing Rear-End Crash,” the court found that there was no prejudice to the defendant when officers wrote down incorrect statute number.
The court in the Pembroke Pines case reasoned that the State’s failure in a criminal case to “precisely specify a charged statute in an indictment or information is not necessarily fatal to the charge.
As long as the charging document does not ‘totally omit an essential element of the crime or [as long as it] is [not] so vague, indistinct or indefinite that he is misled or exposed to double jeopardy,’ the case will not be subject to dismissal.” McMillan v. State, 832 So.2d 946, 948 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002); see also C.S. v. State, 869 So.2d 637, 639 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004).
In some cases, the judge in traffic court will decide that a ticket, which is also a charging document, should be treated no differently.
This article was last updated on Friday, March 23, 2018.
From left to right: Ari Goldberg, Lawrence Meltzer, Steven Bell, Kristie Cohen, Matthew Shafran
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