County Traffic Court: TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS – Record supported trial court’s determination that defendant was guilty of careless driving. The defendant failed to establish that the trial court, in violation of the ADA, refused to provide her with adequate accommodations so that she could participate in her trial. – Judgment and sentence affirmed. Petrano v. State, No. CRC 03-13 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. Aug. 23, 2004).

 

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

MARY KATHERINE DAY-PETRANO

 

            Appellant,

                                                                              Appeal No. CRC 03-13 APANO

UCN522003AP000013XXXXCR

v.

 

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

            Appellee.

__________________________________/

 

Opinion filed ____________________.

 

 

Appeal from a judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Paul Levine

 

Mary K. Day-Petrano, Pro Se

 

Tammi Bach, Esq.

Attorney for appellee

ORDER AND OPINION

 

 

            THIS MATTER is before the Court on the appellant’s appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.

            The appellant was found guilty of careless driving. She was sentenced to pay $80 in fines and costs and ordered to attend defensive driving school. She has appealed that judgment and sentence. This Court has thoroughly reviewed the record,[1] including actually listening to the tape recording of the trial proceedings. The appellant was charged with violating §316.1925, Fla.Stat. (2003) -- careless driving. That statute provides that:

Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within

 the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having

 regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other

attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property

of any person. Failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless

driving  and a violation of this section.

 

There was sufficient evidence brought out at the hearing to support the finding that the appellant was guilty of careless driving. Three witnesses, including a disinterested witness not involved in the accident, all testified that it was the appellant who caused the accident. The witnesses testified that the appellant was stopped at a red light while in the left-hand turn lane. There was one car stopped in front of her. The appellant then apparently changed her mind about turning left, and attempted to move into the lane immediately to her right in order to go straight. Another car, however, was traveling in that lane. The resulting collision pushed the appellant’s car into the car that was stopped in the left-turn lane. The damage showed that the passenger side of the appellant’s car and the front corner of the driver’s side of the vehicle that had been traveling straight had collided. All of the witnesses testified essentially that the appellant had pulled in front of the other vehicle. The appellant herself admitted that, because of a spinal cord injury, she had difficulty looking to her right. Based upon this evidence, the trial judge adjudicated the appellant guilty of careless driving. That adjudication was supported by the evidence. The record is clear that by moving into the path of an approaching motor vehicle the appellant failed to drive in a careful and prudent manner taking into consideration the other traffic; thereby endangering the life, limb, or property of another person. Such a failure constituted careless driving.

            The appellant’s defense is that her alleged disabilities prevented her from being able to mount an adequate defense. She also claims that the trial court, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), refused to provide her with adequate accommodations so that she could properly compensate for these alleged disabilities and participate in her trial.

            First, the appellant failed to adequately establish that her alleged disabilities prevented her from participating in the traffic court proceedings. The appellant made assertions that she had symptoms consistent with Down Syndrome and needed the accommodation of dictation equipment with editing capability or a qualified interpreter for a person with Down Syndrome. None of the medical documentation that the appellant presented, however, supported her assertion. The medical notes just stated that she couldn’t type or write. As the trial judge explained, traffic court does not require any writing. All she needed to do was orally state her case, listen to the witnesses, and ask questions. None of the medical documentation demonstrated that she was unable to adequately participate in the traffic court proceedings. The appellant made it known to the trial judge that she had graduated from law school and had taken the California Bar exam.

Second, a review of the proceedings demonstrates that the appellant was able to adequately participate in the proceedings. The appellant had no difficulty responding to the trial judge and engaging him in a dialogue when he questioned her, and she had no difficulty in responding to the police officer when he made a motion to which she objected. In fact, the trial judge, who had the opportunity to observe the appellant, specifically found that she understood and could hear the proceedings, and that she could respond to the proceedings. The record supports that finding. The appellant was able to explain to the trial judge her belief that the ADA had been violated. The record also shows that the appellant was quite able to mount her defense.   

            As for the alleged improper amendment of the citation, that matter was never presented to the trial court. The appellant, therefore, has not preserved the issue for appellate review.

            In summary, a review of the record indicates that the evidence supported the finding of guilt for the charge of careless driving. The appellant did not adequately establish any defense that the trial court prevented her from participating in the trial by somehow violating the ADA. Therefore, the judgment and sentence are affirmed.

            IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence are affirmed.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of August, 2004.

 

                                                                        ____________________________

                                                                                    Robert J. Morris, Jr.

                                                                                    Circuit Judge

cc:   Judge Levine

       Mary K. Day-Petrano

       Tammi Bach, Esq.



[1] The Court notes that the appellant submitted her own transcript of the proceedings. It was not, however, compiled by an official court reporter. The Court has obtained a transcript prepared by an official court reporter. That transcript, not the one filed by the appellant, shall serve as the official transcript. There are discrepancies.