Aggressive, Compassionate, & Responsive Criminal Defense
Failure to Obey Person Directing Traffic
Under Georgia law, drivers must comply with lawful orders given by:
- Law enforcement,
- Nonsworn employees or volunteers authorized under Georgia law, or
- Other individuals designated under Georgia law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.
The applicable law is O.C.G.A. § 40-6-2.
The Georgia legislature updated this law in 2019. Before 2019, the law stated that drivers must comply with lawful orders of:
- Police officers,
- Police volunteers authorized under [Georgia law], or
- School-crossing guards designated by a local law enforcement agency invested by law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.
As you can see, the new law is broader. While it doesn't specifically mention school-crossing guards, it states that drivers must obey "other individuals" with authority to direct traffic. This change gives the State more flexibility in deciding when to bring charges.
Even if you receive a ticket for Failure to Obey a Person Directing Traffic, you shouldn't lose hope. There are defenses to this charge.
Notably, an officer or other person directing traffic must give a clear order. In the past, courts have overturned charges for Failure to Obey a Person Directing Traffic if the officer's order was unclear or ambiguous. For example, in State v. Shaw, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that the officer's stop was not justified. In that case, the officer slowly drove from left to right over three lanes with his lights on, allowing several other cars to pass. The court found that this was not a "clear directive that cars could not pass the officer." Because the order was unclear, a stop for Failure to Obey a Person Directing Traffic was not justified. State v. Shaw, 353 Ga. App. 102, 836 S.E.2d 208, 2019 Ga. App. LEXIS 668 (2019).
Courts have further held that whether the police gave a clear order is a question for the finder of fact - the jury or judge - to decide. Skop v. City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 10341 (11th Cir. 2007).
Penalties for Failure to Obey a Person Directing Traffic
Failure to Obey a Person Directing Traffic is a misdemeanor traffic offense. That means it carries a maximum total sentence of 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 plus court costs and fees. Most drivers convicted of this offense will not receive such a harsh punishment. Despite that, you should not take this charge lightly. Being charged with any violation means that you will likely spend the whole day sitting in traffic court and will probably still get stuck with a hefty fine.
There are also license penalties for Failure to Obey a Person Directing Traffic. A conviction will result in 3 points on your driver's license. While 3 points may not seem like a big deal, they can affect your ability to keep driving if you have prior traffic violations. For this reason, you should never plead guilty without knowing all of your options. To learn more about the license points system in Georgia, read my article here.
Why hire a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney for Failure to Obey Person Directing Traffic Ticket?
If you have been charged with violating O.C.G.A. § 40-6-2, give me a call for a free consultation. This is especially important if you already have some points on your driver's license. Even though the fine may be relatively minor, any traffic offense can result in spending a whole day in court, losing time at work, etc. Questions about this offense or any other Georgia criminal or traffic matter? Call me today.
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