In a bizarre example of an archaic law brought to light, a Bernards Township woman was fined last month for ‘running in the street’, rather than on the obstructed sidewalk. The facts of the case are disputed, but according to the jogger, Elizabeth Jaeger, she had gotten into a verbal altercation with an officer after she was hit by a backing out car and believes that the fine was an act of personal vindictiveness by the officer. In a time when police and civilian relations have been less than stellar, there’s something greater at stake in getting to the root of Ms. Jaeger’s case.
The law against running in the street is statewide, but rarely followed and even less frequently talked about among the public. When Ms. Jaeger went to court to fight her charge, the prosecutor was so unfamiliar with the statue that he had to look it up before the proceedings, telling her that it was the first time he’d ever seen such a ticket.
The incident in question happened on October 17th, when Ms. Jaeger was out for a run, and was struck by a car backing out of its’ driveway. Although she did not report any serious injuries, she decided to call the police to have the collision on file in case there were any later repercussions. After taking the information of both parties, the officer informed Jaeger that she shared responsibility for the accident because she was not running on the sidewalk. This then dissolved into a series of arguments regarding the state keeping sidewalks clear of snow or fallen branches, Jaeger’s ability to afford a treadmill and the police’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the community.
Once the parties had dispersed, the police officer returned to Jaeger’s house later that afternoon, giving her a ticket for running in the street in addition to finding her 100% liable for the accident. According to Jaeger, he stated this was because of her attitude during their conversation and the fact that she had insulted him. She’s quoted as saying: “Can he fault me for an accident that he did not witness, simply because he didn’t like the way I talked to him? Does the whim of a cop really carry that much weight?”
As we know, ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but New Jersey citizens should be aware of many of the rules and regulations in our state. In Ms. Jaeger’s case, she ended up pleading guilty with a civil reservation, though without ever admitting fault for her role in the accident. This could eventually cause problems for her down the line, and if you’re ever in a similarly sticky situation, you’ll need an experienced lawyer on your side to protect your rights and get you the legal recourse that you need. For the best care in traffic law defense and representation, call me, Leon Matchin, at 732-662-7658 to receive a free consultation on your case and its’ intricacies.