Is a CITATION against your truck driver admissible in Louisiana?
Following the accident at issue, the defendant truck driver was issued a traffic citation for failing to yield the right of way pursuant to La. R.S. 32:124. Subsequently, the driver chose not to contest the citation and paid the fine for his citation.
First, Defendants present that a traffic citation is inadmissible hearsay to the extent that it is an out of court statement offered in an attempt to prove that the cited person performed a hazardous driving maneuver. See La. Code Evid. art. 801(C).
In a civil case it is inadmissible merely to show that a party was charged by the police with a traffic citation. Maricle v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 2004-1149 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/2/05), 898 So.2d 565 citing Ruthardt v. Tennant, 252 La. 1041, 215 So.2d 805 (1968). Although a guilty plea to a traffic offense is admissible into evidence as an admission, a plea of nolo contendere to such an offense is not admissible. La. Code Evid. art. 410.
The mere payment of a traffic citation is not sufficient proof of a guilty plea to be an admission. Maricle, supra, 898 So.2d at 573. Neither the traffic citation itself nor a receipt for payment of the citation are sufficient proof of a written guilty plea. Id.
Thus, unless Plaintiffs are able to produce a written guilty plea to the citation, any evidence regarding the citation and subsequent payment of the fine must be excluded. Id.
Additionally, article 609 of the Louisiana Code of Evidence governs the admissibility of evidence of criminal convictions in civil matters. The article limits the admissibility of criminal convictions only to those crimes that are: (1) punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of six months or Involved dishonesty or false statement and (2) ten years has not elapsed since the date of conviction.
Furthermore, such evidence is limited to the name of the crime and the date of conviction. La. C.E. art. 609(A). Furthermore, evidence of the arrest, indictment, or prosecution of a witness is not admissible for the purpose of attacking his credibility. Id. at art. 609(F).
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