Assured Clear Distance Ahead (ACDA)

 

A traffic ticket for failure to maintain an ACDA ordinarily is issued when the front of a driver’s vehicle collides into the rear of another vehicle in the same lane. This traffic charge is codified in Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.21(A), which provides in pertinent part as follows:

“No person shall operate a motor vehicle … at a speed greater or less than is reasonable or proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the street or highway and any other conditions, and no person shall drive any motor vehicle … in and upon any street or highway at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.”

The pivotal phrase in Section 4511.21(A) is “reasonable or proper.” A driver is required to drive at a “reasonable or proper” speed under the existing conditions. On a clear and dry day with little traffic, a “reasonable or proper” speed generally is the posted or applicable speed limit. On a foul weather day, or in heavy traffic conditions, a “reasonable or proper” speed may be something less than the posted or applicable speed limit. Applying this same rule of reasonableness, a driver generally is not responsible for being cut off by another vehicle, pedestrian or object. If the driver in the exercise of ordinary care could not have avoided the resulting collision, then he or she arguably has not violated Section 4511.21(A).

Penalty For Failure To Maintain An ACDA

Failure to maintain an ACDA is a minor misdemeanor. The potential penalty for a minor misdemeanor traffic offense includes the imposition of a fine of up to $150, up to 30 hours of community service and court costs.

But if, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to two violations of any provision of Section 4511.21 or of any provision of a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to any provision of this section, then failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead (ACDA) is elevated to a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The potential penalty for a fourth-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the imposition of a jail term of not more than 30 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $250 and court costs.

And if the offender has not previously been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of any provision of Section 4511.21 or any provision of a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to this section and operated a motor vehicle faster than thirty-five miles an hour in a business district of a municipal corporation, faster than fifty miles an hour in other portions of a municipal corporation, or faster than 35 miles an hour in a school zone during recess or while children are going to or leaving school during the school’s opening or closing hours, then failure to maintain an ACDA is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. As indicated, the potential penalty for a fourth-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the imposition of a jail term of not more than 30 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $250 and court costs.

And if, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to three or more violations of any provision of Section 4511.21 or of any provision of a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to any provision of this section, then failure to maintain an ACDA is elevated to a third-degree misdemeanor. The penalty for a third-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the potential imposition of a jail term of not more than 60 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $500 and court costs.

Community control sanctions generally can include residential placement, house arrest, drug/alcohol testing and treatment, specified education and training, community service, curfew, probation, etc. Under certain circumstances, the court also may order an offender to pay restitution to any identifiable victim who incurred an economic loss as a result of the violation.

Additionally, a court is required to impose a fine of two times the usual amount imposed for the given speeding violation if the offense occurs in a posted construction zone, unless the offender is determined to be indigent and unable to pay the fine.

Points Assessed For Failure To Maintain An ACDA

A conviction on a traffic ticket for failure to maintain an ACDA carries two points in Ohio on an offender’s driving record. For more information on how the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) processes points for moving violations and the substantial penalty for excessive points accumulation, press Ohio BMV Points System.

Hire A Traffic Attorney To Represent You

Frequently a lawyer can appear in court and resolve a traffic case in the client’s absence, provided both the court and the prosecutor agree. This saves the client the aggravation of taking time off from work, fighting traffic to get to court on time, waiting for potentially hours for the case to be called, standing in long lines and potentially having to do it all over again if the case is continued.

If you are seeking a traffic lawyer, contact us at 614.695.5000 or online. We offer legal representation to drivers charged with traffic tickets in the Columbus metropolitan area.

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