Three Feet Distance Between the Vehicle In Front
The underlying facts in this matter are that the defendant was charged by the Attorney General as filed with the Clerk of Court by Information with one count of the Motor Vehicle Code, 21 Del. C. 4123(a) as follows:
X on or about the 23rd day of November 2000 in the County of New Castle, State of Delaware, did follow a vehicle more closely that reasonable and prudent in violation of 21 Del. C. 4123.
The State presented its case in chief. New Castle County Police Officer X ("Officer X") was duly sworn and testified. Officer X testified that on the date charged in the Information, November 23, 2000, she was traveling on Routes 40 and 7 on routine traffic patrol. She testified that she has been a New Castle County Police Officer since November 1999.
Officer X testified she observed a 1993 Nissan red in color traveling approximately 35 miles per hour. Officer X testified she believed the vehicle, operated by the defendant ("XX") was within three (3) feet of the motor vehicle in front of him.
She testified after following the defendant and observing him change lanes, she activated her lights and stopped the defendant. She thereafter issued XX a summons for a violation of 21 Del. C. 4123(a).
XX was duly sworn and testified. He testified he observed Officer X near the Farmers' Market and moved into another traffic lane and "switched lanes" behind another motor vehicle.
XX testified that he "gets routinely stopped" by police officers and thought the officer was just following him. XX further testified that Officer X followed him for approximately a mile and a half. XX testified that he "did not get pulled over" until he was near the Governor's Square on Route 40.
He testified he believed the Officer was "simply harassing him" as he was not behind a motor vehicle at the time of the stop and did not believe he was two to three (2-3) feet away of any motor vehicle on the roadway. XX testified that if he was three to four (3-4) feet away that Officer X did not stop him and issue him a summons until approximately two (2) miles after the alleged motor vehicle violation.
The State waived its opening and closing statements.
The State has a burden of proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. 11 Del. C. 301. the elements of 21 Del. C. 4123(a) require proof that XX drove behind another vehicle "more closely than reasonable and prudent." State v. Matushefske, Del. Supr., 215 A.2d 443 (1965).
The State also must prove jurisdiction and venue. 11 Del. C. 232, James v. State, Del. Supr., 377 A.2d 15 (1977). Thornton v. State, Del. Supr., 405 A.2d 126 (1979).
Opinion and Order
Based upon the very limited record before it, the Court finds the evidence to be equally balanced. 11 Del. C. 301.
The State did not prove the instant traffic charge, nor any of the elements of 21 Del. C. 4123(a) beyond a reasonable doubt.
Nor did the State even identify with specificity or through testimony of its driver, what car, if any, the defendant allegedly followed too closely. Therefore, the Court must enter an adjudication of NOT GUILTY in this matter.